The 8 Ball 02.19.13: The Top 8 2013 Oscar Snubs
Posted by Jeremy Thomas on 02.19.2013
From Skyfall for Best Picture and Samuel L. Jackson for Best Supporting Actor in Django Unchained to Looper for Best Original Screenplay, Ben Affleck as Best Director for Argo and more, 411's Jeremy Thomas counts down the top 8 Oscar nomination snubs of 2012!
Welcome, one and all, to the 8 Ball in the Movie Zone! I'm your host Jeremy Thomas and as always, we will be tackling a topic and providing you the top eight selections of that particular category. Keep in mind that this list is meant to be my personal opinion and not a definitive list. You're free to disagree; you can even say my list is wrong, but stating that an opinion is "wrong" is just silly. With that in mind, let's get right in to it!
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Top 8 2013 Oscar Snubs
The big week is upon us; yes ladies and gentlemen, Oscar has almost arrived. This Sunday sees the 85th Academy Awards ceremony where the best films, acting performances, directing jobs and so on of 2012 will be honored. Or rather, SOME of the best will be honored, as some were left out of the cold last month when the nominations were announced. 2013 perhaps saw the biggest number of surprising snubs in the last several years and that has shaped the Oscar race in interesting ways. With the telecast set for Sunday, it's time to look at my 8 nominations that should have happened but didn't for this year.
Caveat: Like last year, I tried to keep my Top 8 to one snub per film. It wasn't easy, considering the high amount of snubs this year for certain films (see: Django Unchained, Argo), but I pulled it off.
Just Missing The Cut
The Intouchables - Best Foreign-Language Film Perks Of Being A Wallflower - Best Adapted Screenplay
Helen Mirren for Hitchcock - Best Actress
#8: Skyfall - Best Picture
The idea of a James Bond film being nominated for Best Film would have been ludicrous once upon a time. To be honest, I think anyone would have laughed at the very notion all the way up to 2012, before EON Productions, MGM and Sony decided it was time at last to get a big name talent behind the camera. Sam Mendes delivered a Bond film that shattered expectations of what was possible with the franchise, crafting a story with an important emotional heart amidst all the (incredibly-shot) action sequences and the nods to the previous elements of the franchise. More so than The Dark Knight Rises or The Avengers, Skyfall was the film that was most commonly believed to be the big crowd-pleaser that the Academy would accept and there was a lot of surprise when it was left out in the cold, scoring five nominations for technical and music awards but nothing else. It is unfortunate because it was certainly a better film and would have had a better shot of winning than some of the lower end of the nominations; it is even worse when you consider that, per the nomination rules, there were nine out of ten possible films nominated so it wasn't even a space issue; the Academy just felt that there were a total of nine films that were worthy of consideration. They missed one.
#7: Marion Cotillard for Rust and Bone - Best Actress
The Best Actress field is a tough one this year, as you can see here. Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain and Emmanuelle Riva are all potential contenders, albeit with Lawrence having a distinct lead in momentum. I have to admit though, that even as much as I loved the performances, I raised my eyebrow to see that Naomi Watts and young Quevenzhane Wallis were nominated. Not because they were unworthy, mind; I feel that Wallis did an amazing job with a difficult role and that Watts gave a powerful performance. But the lack of a nomination for Marion Cotillard for her work in the French-Belgian film Rust and Bone was a shocker. Cotillard is deservedly an Oscar favorite and as Stéphanie, a killer whale trainer who loses her legs in an accident who finds an emotional connection with a kickboxer, she delivered another fantastic portrayal in the kind of role that Oscar loves. I could understand the snub on some level as it is a foreign film if this wasn't the year that Amour got a lot of (well-deserved) love; perhaps voters thought the Academy could only support one foreign language-speaking actress for the US-heavy telecast? Whatever the reason, it is an absolute shame that Cotillard did not at least earn a nomination here because she certainly deserved it.
#6: Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty - Best Director
Zero Dark Thirty has become one of the most controversial films of the year for its depiction of torture and what a lot of people believe that depiction is trying to express. It is unfortunate then that this controversy seems to have left the film's director out in the cold, as the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences decided to honor the film with five nominations (including Best Picture nomination, Best Actress and Best Screenplay) but not one for Kathryn Bigelow. There are several possible reasons why this might be the case; it is entirely possible that the Academy felt that it was too early to nominate Bigelow again after she became the first woman to win Best Director just three years ago. It is also possible that the controversy was laid at the director's feet (see also: Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained). Whatever the reason, it is a disservice to Bigelow who crafted a top-notch military thriller that takes a hard, if uncomfortable, look at the methods used to track down the world's most wanted terrorist but more importantly looks at the people who were involved in that hunt. Bigelow's vision for the film is laid out with near-perfection on the screen and the film smartly doesn't tell us what to think; instead it merely presents details and allows us to come to our own conclusions. Bigelow absolutely deserved to be listed among the nominees for this one and it is a shame that she is not.
#5: Looper - Best Original Screenplay
When Looper was first unleashed upon the public in September, there were some who were calling for a hefty amount of Oscar nominations for it. I can't deny that in a perfect world it would have received them, but the Academy is not part of a perfect world and we have long known their bias against genre filmmaking. Thus, the odds of it receiving nods for Best Picture, Best Director or the like were close to nil and I understood it, even if I didn't necessarily like it. However, I felt it was a shoo-in for Best Original Screenplay. Rian Johnson has become increasingly known for his direction skills and he did a fine job with them, but it was his screenplay that really stood out the most with this film. Johnson's script is a tightly-wound creation that not only did a great job establishing its world but also asked some powerful and thought-provoking questions about morality, free will and the like. It is so difficult in the explosion of genre filmmaking that has brought about by the rise of geek culture to create a science fiction film that is truly original and says something new, and Johnson not only accomplished that, he did so with flying colors. That he did not earn a Best Screenplay nod--especially when Flight did for what was the weakest part of that film--is extremely perplexing.
#4: Samuel L. Jackson for Django Unchained - Best Supporting Actor
The amount of times that the Academy snubbed Django Unchained this year in the major categories was stunning. I could have almost made a list of the top 8 Django Unchained Oscar snubs between the acting of Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio, the direction of Quentin Tarantino, the production design of J. Michael Riva...I could go on. But the most single-glaring slight was against Samuel L. Jackson, who plays the villainous house slave Stephen. Jackson is truly fantastic in this role, making Stephen an intriguing and thoroughly monstrous individual. While he clearly plays the part of a loyal and happy house slave in front of DiCaprio's Calvin Candie, there is something deep within the character that is incredibly sinister and he lets it out in measured doses, using it to terrorize the house staff and connive his way around the house until the final act when it comes out in full. Jackson tears into the role with a relish that even makes DiCaprio's character look a little less evil by comparison. There's no doubt that the character is controversial and that may well have scared Academy voters way from honoring him, but that doesn't make it any less of a cold shoulder on the Academy's part.
#3: John Hawkes for The Sessions - Best Actor
John Hawkes has been quickly establishing himself as one of the go-to actors for great character work in Hollywood. He delivered a wonderfully-conflicted performance in 2010's Winter's Bone and thrilled audiences with a charismatic turn as the cult leader Patrick in 2011's Martha Marcy May Marlene. His best work to date though has been as Mark O'Brien, the polio-stricken poet looking for intimacy in The Sessions. Hawkes puts himself through physical torment to portray Mark, contorting his body for the entire film and spending much of his time in an iron lung. It is a deceptively good performance as some might not find it difficult for an actor to just lie there; however, that belies the fact that he really only had his head with which to convey his performance. Hawkes makes O'Brien a sympathetic character, which is an easy enough feat considering his situation; he also makes the character a complex one which is much more difficult. His chemistry with Helen Hunt (who was, thankfully, nominated for her work) is off the charts as is his dynamic with Moon Bloodgood, Annika Marks and basically everyone that he interacts with in the film. Hawkes' biggest problem was simply that he was up against some serious competition but I would have certainly rather seen him nominated than a couple of people who were. The future is bright for Hawkes and I have no doubt he will be standing among the nominees in years to come, but he should have received the nod this year.
#2: Cloud Atlas - Best Production Design
I am certainly not going to deny that Cloud Atlas was a divisive film. There are some who feel that the Wachowskis' adaptation of David Mitchell's 2004 novel was too ambitious for its own good and collapsed under the weight of what it was trying to accomplish, while others took offense to the casting of Caucasian actors in Asian roles to maintain the idea of multiple characters connected through time. Others, like me, felt that the film achieved what it was going for and became a fantastic and epic tale that successfully conveyed its themes. Whether you loved the story or hated it, I can't believe that anyone would have taken exception to the film's production aspects. Production designers Hugh Bateup and Uli Hanisch had an incredibly daunting task in realizing seven distinct time periods with their own looks and feels and they carried it off brilliantly. Whether you were looking at the ship sailing the Pacific in 1843, the San Francisco of 1973 or Neo-Seoul in 2144, every set and every aspect of the design was immersive and distinct, yet carried common themes through. No film attempted to accomplish so much in its technical arts, much less achieved it. I realize that the film was poisoned by its relatively low box office and the contentious critical and audience reactions, but not honoring its technical merits was simply bone-headed.
#1: Ben Affleck for Argo - Best Director
This shouldn't come as a surprise that Affleck is number one, to be honest. The biggest story to come out of the 85th Academy Awards was the cold shoulder that Affleck received, as Argo was nominated for Best Film but its helmer was denied nominations on both the directing and acting fronts. Acting I can understand to a degree, as the Best Actor field was a difficult one this year. Not honoring Affleck as a director was just silly though. As a director, Affleck has maintained a more-or-less perfect record between Gone Baby Gone, The Town and now Argo which is his finest work to date. He worked with production designer Sharon Seymour to paints an impressive look at the 1970s setting and wrings a hefty amount of drama and tension out of the story without going over the top. Affleck has a perfect grasp of tone here and you could practically hear a gasp make its way across the internet when the nominations were announced and his name wasn't on the list. Since that snub he has cleaned up at the awards shows, picking up wins for Best Director at the BAFTAs, Golden Globes, Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards and the DGA. All of this has combined to make the Academy look increasingly eggy in the facial area; if the likely happens and Argo becomes the first film since Driving Miss Daisy to win Best Picture without being nominated for Best Director, it will be the vindication that Affleck deserves but frankly doesn't particularly need at this point.
Note: Now that I am caught up to current, I have gone back to watch the episodes that have become available in the US since I started watching and thus were previously unavailable to me (thus why I have episodes remaining despite being caught up).
Current Series/Season:Season Nine (1971) Episodes Watched: 593 Last Serial Completed:Day of the Daleks - The Doctor and Jo are sent by UNIT to investigate reports of a ghost appearance in a house where a critical peace conference is being held that could prevent world war. Before long they are plunged ahead 200 years into a future where the Daleks reign supreme over Earth, with a small human resistance with a way to jump back to the past their (and mankind's) only hope for aid. Surviving Episodes Remaining: 36
And that will do it for us this week! Join me next week for another edition of the 8-Ball! Until then, have a good week and don't forget to read the many other great columns, news articles and more here at 411mania.com! JT out.