We've all had a few hours now to process this year's Oscar nominations, to scream to the heavens demanding justice for Ben Affleck or running through the forest with fireworks to celebrate Beasts of the Southern Wild. So now that the dust has settled, what are the snubs that are still burning us up? Who are we going to miss the most on Oscar night?
We've already gone over the curious case of Ben Affleck who will have to console himself with his beautiful wife and daughters and giant biceps, but what other people are we really sore about this morning? Read below for what we consider the 5 most criminal omissions from this year's Academy Award nominations-- and let us know in the comments what you're steamed about too.
Skyfall for Best Picture
No matter what happened with the Oscars, 2012 was always going to be James Bond's year. It was the spy's 50th anniversary onscreen, and he celebrated it with his most financially successfully and critically acclaimed movie ever, Skyfall. No James Bond had ever been nominated for Best Picture, or even an acting prize, but this year seemed like the time to break that streak, with acclaimed director (and previous Oscar winner) Sam Mendes lending it enough gravitas to make the cut.
But alas, this is still the Academy that famously snubbed The Dark Knight Rises and gave Best Picture to The Hurt Locker instead of Avatar; they do not want their movies to be too huge, and Skyfall in the end was too much of a blockbuster to allow them to take it seriously. Yes, it scored 5 nominations in the end, and could very well win for Adele's theme song and Roger Deakins' gorgeous cinematography. But call us selfish if you want-- we just thought it deserved even more.
Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director
After seeing Kathryn Bigelow's breathtaking follow-up to her Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, I walked out of the theater and into the crisp December air, where I joined a bundle of other critics in the resounding consensus that poor Ben Affleck had just lost his shot at the Best Director Oscar. Both filmmakers seemed a lock whenever talk of Oscar contenders arose, and today the director category offered the biggest shocks and snubs of all. Katey's already addressed Affleck, so allow me to talk Bigelow.
Focusing on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, it would have been understandable if Bigelow had favored sensationalism and nationalism-inspired revenge in Zero Dark Thirty. Instead, she rejected both and showed a remarkable restraint, offering a riveting war drama that was presented the complexities and moral quandaries of the War on Terror in a way that was hard-hitting yet not exploitative. While much has been shouted about the film's inclusion of torture, I think Zero Dark Thirty commands its audience to question the cost paid for the death of Bin Laden, but doesn't offer us the salve of a "right" or "wrong" answer. It's a brave move that sadly was not recognized by the Academy.
Looper for Best Original Screenplay
The Academy might not be known for jumping out on a limb to recognize fun box office hits, but now and again, voters are willing to go there in the screenplay categories. From Bridesmaids to Wall-E to When Harry Met Sally…, there are plenty of examples in the past, and given the WGA and National Board Of Review nominations among numerous others, there was hope Looper’s clever, wonderful science fiction writing could break through and earn Academy recognition for scribe Rian Johnson.Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.
In the end Looper was bested by Amour, Django Unchained, Flight, Moonrise Kingdom and Zero Dark Thirty. Some of those screenplays are not only deserving, but better than Looper. Flight, however, not so much. The former is an extremely clever, well-conceived vision that utilizes every one of its characters and offers a wonderful blend of intrigue, action and one-off quips. Conversely, the latter is a good premise that winds around, wastes some of its supporting characters and relies almost entirely on Denzel’s incredible performance. The Academy flat-out got it wrong here, but considering Johnson also wrote the brilliant Brick, he should have more shots at nominations in the future.
Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Supporting Actor
Watching Leonardo DiCaprio work it’s easy to see how seriously he takes his craft. With each new role he brings a unique level of intensity and charisma and it’s established him as one of the premiere actors working in Hollywood today. But never has he looked like he was having more fun or put on a better performance than in Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, which makes his snub in this year’s Best Supporting Actor category all the more harder to take.
From the moment that he turns to greet Django (Jamie Foxx) and Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz) in his first scene, DiCaprio is completely invisible within evil plantation owner Calvin Candie, and while his turn is certainly not without some purposeful scenery chewing, it’s all part of the big picture of his performance. Much like what Waltz did with Col. Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds, DiCaprio’s Candie is able to flip the switch back and forth between magnetic and terrifying throughout the film, which not only makes it fully emotionally engaging but also deeply entertaining. It’s obvious how much the Inception star wants his piece of Oscar gold, and it’s a tragedy that Django Unchained won’t help him get closer to his dream.
Cloud Atlas for… anything
Cloud Atlas earned as many Oscar nominations this morning as you and I: Zero. The sprawling tone poem of a movie swung for the fences by completely struck out with the Academy, posting a giant goose egg when all the nominations were revealed. We never expected Cloud Atlas to compete for Best Picture. But surely the genius of Cloud Atlas could be recognized in an Adapted Screenplay category by Academy members who marveled at the seamless way the film merged the seven storylines from David Mitchell’s massive tome into one interconnected dialogue? Or the herculean efforts that went in to shape-shifting the cast for plotlines in vastly different worlds would be acknowledged in the Make-Up, Visual Effects Production Design or Cinematography categories?
Nope. Instead, Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman scored Oscar nominations, while Cloud Atlas was sent packing. Bashing the Oscar nominations is fruitless, the cyber equivalent of spitting in the wind. Cloud Atlas wouldn’t be a better movie had it scored 11 nominations, and it isn’t a worse movie because the Academy failed to recognize it. The movie remains the movie, and one I deeply admire for its ambition, its courage, its confidence, its lunacy and its impeccable craft. But by failing to recognize the passion and precision that went into such a massive project, the message being sent to filmmakers is, “Stop trying so hard,” when the absolute opposite should be Hollywood’s message, year after year.
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