Monday, January 23, 2012

Don’t You Forget About Me: The Worst Oscar Snubs According to Me

Tomorrow the Oscar nominations for the 84th annual Academy Awards will be announced. I took it upon myself to make a list of some of the Oscars snubs that I’ve been personally offended by. This is by no means an exhaustive list of traditional Oscar “snubs.” I don’t really care that Jimmy Stewart wasn’t nominated for “Vertigo.” This is a list of people and films in categories that I personally thought should have at least been nominated. Some are more obvious than others. Even with all of the following snubs there are still plenty of things the Academy gets right, but sometimes they need a push in the right direction. All of the following people and films could have been nominated, believe it or not, if other factors played a part, but unfortunately they're relegated to a list like this instead. Onward and upward!

Michael Fassbender, Best Actor - Shame
The newest member of the Snub Club is Michael Fassbender who had a simply terrific year in 2011. He starred in several films and played various characters ranging from Magneto in “X-Men: First Class” to Brandon the sexaholic in “Shame.” His emotionally wrought, super-acclaimed performance in this wonderful film should not only have been nominated for an Oscar, but it should have WON an Oscar. And now he won’t even have a chance. I’m wondering if the Academy felt their own shame and refused to watch the film – NC-17 rated films are notorious for getting the snub. The Academy likes happy, not depressing (tell that to Ellen Burstyn). At the end of the day, Fassbender was an actor that was respected I’m sure, but not enough for the Actor’s branch to get behind. At least he joins an eclectic list of performers and filmmakers whose work, although not nominated, still ranks as award-worthy.

Amy Adams, Best Actress – “Enchanted”
It’s the general consensus that performances in “family films” rarely get nominated and that’s true. The Academy loves Amy Adams (they’ve already nominated her three times) but they didn’t love her enough to nominate her for her outstanding lead performance as a cartoon princess come to life in the wonderfully witty “Enchanted.” Hey, if Julie Andrews can WIN an Oscar for “Mary Poppins” then why couldn’t Adams at least be nominated for this?

Jamie Lee Curtis, Best Actress – Freaky Friday
I know what you’re thinking, I’m crazy. This is another one of those, “it can’t be a good performance because it’s a Disney kid’s film.” Not true. Curtis (who got a Golden Globe nod) has never been better playing basically two roles in one. She plays a busy mom trying to take care of her kids while dealing with getting remarried after her husband has recently passed away and also playing her own rebellious teenage daughter after they switch bodies by opening a cursed fortune cookie. She’s never been more charming, likeable, silly, and just downright perfect.

Bernard Herrmann, Best Score – Psycho
I can almost forgive the Academy for not nominating “Psycho” for Best Picture because it wasn’t exactly the most well-received film upon its initial release. However, I can’t fathom in what alternate universe the members of the Music Branch were living in when they snubbed Herrmann’s classic strings only score for “Psycho.” Perhaps, Herrmann didn’t submit the score? There has to be a rational explanation, right? This is one of, if not, THE, most recognized pieces of film music in all of cinema.

Christopher Nolan, Best Director – Inception
A lot of people understandably made a big hubbub about The Dark Knight getting snubbed for both best picture and best director in 2008. I wasn’t so shocked since Batman movies never exactly fare well with the Academy. But I was truly shocked two years later when Christopher Nolan failed to make the list of five Best Directors for “Inception.” I figured not only was it one of the most visually interesting and intricate films of the year, but it seemed like Directing was an award it had the most chance of being recognized for. Until it was announced that it didn’t get an editing nomination either. What gives Academy?

Eddie Vedder, Best Original Song – Into the Wild
“Into the Wild” was my favorite film of 2007, so I wanted it to be nominated in every single category. I don’t know how but I figured it could find a way to make it into Best Foreign Language Film or Best Documentary Short. But all it did was come up short on nomination morning, earning two measly (but deserving) nominations for Best Supporting Actor (Hal Holbrook) and Best Editing. However, I was completely shocked that none of Eddie Vedder’s haunting songs failed to make the cut. Did the Music Branch have their hearing aids turned down or something? Never have so many original songs been so well integrated into such a moving piece of filmmaking. WTF Academy!

Anthony Perkins, Best Actor – Psycho
Ok I’m a big fan of “Psycho” obviously. It’s one of the few films made over fifty years ago that I can watch over and over again. And that’s probably because it was way ahead of its time and is considered the grandfather of the Slasher Film. The fact that it’s a “horror film” is no excuse for not nominating Anthony Perkins for his career best performance as Norman Bates (don’t forget Janet Leigh was nominated). I’d like to assume the Academy was confused and wasn’t sure if he was lead or supporting which split all of his votes – it’s very possible. Category placement aside, it’s one of the best performances in all of cinema.

Catherine O’Hara , Best Supporting Actress – For Your Consideration
I think the Academy felt that Christopher Guest’s hilarious Hollywood satire “For Your Consideration” was a big F. U. to them. I disagree, I think it’s a wonderful tribute to moviemaking and it lovingly pays homage to the idea of “Oscar buzz” that mystical thing that leads many actors and filmmakers to be recognized for their artistic work – even if they don’t always totally deserve it. O’Hara plays the appropriately named Marilyn Hack, who becomes the subject of Oscar buzz on the set of her pretty awful looking film “Home for Purim” which causes a stir among the cast and crew. What a funny and silly movie-but what a great standout performance from one of the best character actresses out there. Winning a supporting Oscar for a comedic role is not unheard of however – Marisa Tomei pulled the upset of all upsets back in the 90s for “My Cousin Vinny.”

Bill Murray, Best Actor – Groundhog Day
The lack of Oscar love for Billy Murray in general is due most likely due to the fact that mostly appears in comedies. That was righted with a nod for “Lost in Translation,” but his best work remains in “Groundhog Day” a funny time warp comedy in which Murrary’s cynical weatherman Phil Connors is stuck repeating the worst day of his life in the worst place ever: covering the unveiling of the groundhog in Punxsutawney, PA. A story in which a character relives the same events over and over would seem redundant and boring, but Murray makes it fascinated to watch as his character constantly grows and changes while everyone around him stays the same.

Naomi Watts, Best Actress - Mulholland Dr.
The Academy loves nominating hot, fresh faces and discovering new talent - as does the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn – yet both groups failed to recognize Naomi Watts for her glowing performance as a wide-eyed naïve actress in “Mulholland Dr.” Her performance is just simply radiant. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, director David Lynch changes things up more than halfway through the film, and Watts plays an entirely different character. I’d like to think the reason for the lack of love for Watts was due to the confusing and ultimately mindboggling nature of the film. Just as bizarre as the film itself Lynch was the film’s sole nomination (for directing). Also, Ms. Watts should have been nominated for "King Kong" as well.

Steven Spielberg, Best Director – Jaws
There’s a video floating around – on YouTube – of Steven Spielberg watching the live Oscar nomination announcement waiting for his name to be called for Best Director. It didn’t happen. “Oh I didn’t get it! I didn’t get it! I wasn’t nominated!” proclaims. How embarrassing for him. But also, how embarrassing for the Academy to snub the director of the most popular film of that time. They showed their artistic side and went with Fellini instead. It’s not that much of a loss since Spielberg would go on to be nominated six times for Best Director –winning twice – and a bunch more for producing (He was snubbed again for The Color Purple after it was nominated for 11 Oscars including Best Picture). Before the film was released Jaws was thought to be a horrible failure with an over budget production and a mechanical shark that hardly worked right. But after the film’s release it was clear that Spielberg was a filmmaking talent to be reckoned with. Let’s face it, he was just too young (only 29 at the time) and there were far too many old codgers in that Director’s Branch.

Jim Carrey, Best Actor – The Truman Show
What does a comedic actor need to do to get an Oscar nomination around here? You need to star in a drama of course! And “The Truman Show” was the perfect vehicle for comedian Jim Carrey (known for raunchy humor in Dumb & Dumber and Ace Ventura) to breakout and show his serious side (and I’m not talking about his buttocks which he always seems to be talking out of). “The Truman Show” a disturbingly wonderful satire about the country’s obsession with reality TV (before it was even as obsession) was nominated for three high profile Oscars – but Carrey didn’t make the cut. And he won this award at the Golden Globes. Carrey has been snubbed many times since, including “Man on the Moon” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” For shame!

Scott Neudstater & Michael H. Weber, Best Original Screenplay – (500) Days of Summer
This one stings the most because not only was the wonderfully original script for “(500) Days of Summer” practically a lock for a nomination, but it had a very good shot of going all the way. Of course all of that ended when nominee announcer Anne Hathaway failed to cite the film as a nominee. It seems indie favorite “The Messenger” had taken its place and 500 Days of Summer’s chances at being an “Oscar nominated film” were over. I was crushed as it was my favorite film of the year and remains as one of my all time favorites. I guess I just have to be content with it being a Golden Globe nominated film instead.

Ryan Gosling, Best Actor, Lars and the Real Girl
Ryan Gosling always gives riveting performances, but he’s rarely rewarded as a result. He gives one of his most compelling, comical, and heartfelt performances in “Lars and the Real Girl” in which he plays a slightly delusional young man who orders a sex doll off the internet and begins introducing it to his family and the townsfolk as his girlfriend. The script was justly rewarded with a Screenplay nod, but Gosling was shut out and left scratching his head wondering if he’d ever be nominated after his awesome performance the year before in “Half Nelson” an achievement that has eluded him ever since. Whether you think him not being nominated for “Lars” was a snub or not check this out – he was nominated for a Critics Choice Award, a Golden Globe and a SAG – to be left out at that point was definitely a snub.

Thelma & Louise, Best Picture
"Thelma & Louise" is not one of my all time favorite movies, though I like it very much. The sheer fact that it failed to get a best Picture nomination has nothing to due with it being one of my favorite films. And I only bring this one up for one reason – take a look at all of the other nominations the film received, and tell me it shouldn’t have also been nominated for Best Picture. It was nominated for Directing, Writing, Editing, Cinematography and twice for Acting. Like the recent film “The Diving Bell & the Butterfly” it had all the other key nominations right, but failed to make it to the top. It’s too bad because both films deserved to be recognized as one of the five best of the year.

David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, & Jerry Zucker, Best Original Screenplay – Airplane!
This is just sheer travesty. A script that is not only side-splittingly funny but intelligent and even ended up creating an entirely new genre of comedy failed to make it to the big party. It won a Writers Guild Award and was even nominated for a Golden Globe for best comedy or musical (it’s actually both). Just because it’s my own personal favorite film of all time doesn’t mean it didn’t deserve some love. And I'm not even sure it would be considered Original since it's based on a crappy made-for-TV movie called "Zero Hour!" Surely, the Academy has realized was a big mistake they made… (I’ll let you finish the joke)

James Newton Howard & Hans Zimmer, The Dark Knight – Best Original Score
Say all you want about “The Dark Knight” getting snubbed for Best Picture – the film was nominated eight times deservedly so but failed to make the cut in the most deserving category – Best Original Score. For some reason, the Academy’s music branch deemed the score ineligible. I have no idea why to this day – but the film’s music remains one of its great strengths. Seriously, the music branch needs to open their freaking ears sometimes.

Best Sound Editing – Twister
Granted the summer blockbuster “Twister” isn’t typically the type of film the Academy enjoys rewarding but even they recognize good filmmaking crafts when they see some. Twister was nominated for Best Sound that year (which includes the overall mixing of sound in a film including dialogue and score… usually the louder the better for them). But it failed to get nominated for the craft category it most deserved – Sound Editing. Sure, most people can’t tell the difference between this two “boring” categories, but as someone who knows the difference I can tell you that it deserved to be cited here. Sound Editing has to do with recognizing the people who make all of the sound effects found in a film – and Twister has some amazing effects. They used so many different types of sounds for those scary tornadoes – including a camel – and all those sounds of metal scraping and debris being dropped to the ground deserved to be recognized.

Henry Thomas, Best Actor – E.T. The Extra Terrestrial
The Academy is notorious for snubbing child actors. Most of the time they move them to the Supporting categories as not to upstage the grown up actors. Henry Thomas, who dominated nearly every frame of Steven Spielberg’s wonderful sci-fi drama as Elliot the boy who befriends an alien from outer space, completely deserved to be recognized for his amazing performance. And it was his first! He was just too young and we couldn’t have such a newbie upstaging Mr. Gandhi himself Ben Kingsley. There was no way the Academy could justify putting this kid in the Supporting category since he’s so obviously a lead role that instead he was placed no where, instead being having to live with the fact that even though he was nominated he to this day has given one of the best child performances of all time. This incident was repeated in 2000 when Jamie Bell wasn't nominated for "Billy Elliot."

John Williams, Best Original Score – Jurassic Park
John Williams almost gets nominated for every film he scores and with five wins and a countless amount of nominations failing to get recognized is hardly a snub. But his score for Jurassic Parks is one of the most memorable of his entire career. The film isn’t usually the type that gets nominated for awards beyond categories like Visual Effects or Sound, but even crappy movies get nominated for Best Score – like “The Village.” There was no reason Williams – who was nominated that year and won for “Schindler’s List” – shouldn’t have been a double nominee.

Reese Witherspoon, Best Actress – Election
It’s hard enough to be nominated for giving a lead performance in a comedy, it’s even harder to be recognize for a film as sharp and acidic as “Election.” Based on the book of the same named, “election” gives a backstage look at high school politics told from several characters’ points of view. The best is that of overachiever Tracy Flick who will stop at nothing to be elected Student Body President. It’s a wonderfully wicked satire and it’s script was deservedly nominated (and remains Alexander Payne’s best film to date) but the fact that Witherspoon was looked over is just sad. Fortunately, Witherspoon would go on to great success after this breakout role and win an Oscar for playing June Carter in “Walk the Line” – a much more Oscar-friendly film.

Danny Elfman, Best Original Score – every Tim Burton movie except “Big Fish”
If there’s a polar opposite of John Williams it would be Danny Elfman. Not a classically trained musician at all, Elfman’s scores are well known for their fun, quirky sounds, but they’re no less catchy and fun to listen to. Almost all of his work with frequent collaborate Tim Burton has gone unnoticed – safe for a nomination for his must un-Elfman like score for “Big Fish.” It’s just jaw dropping how many times this composer has been snubbed. He’s received three other nominations – for “Good Will Hunting,” “Milk” and his most Burton-esque, “Men in Black” – it’s a shame that he’s not as recognized as often as other composers.