Sometimes, the Oscar nominations depress me. Well, it’s not just Oscar nominations, but the state of the movie industry in general, which I addressed in a recent post. And what better reflection of this state than the Oscars nominations, which were announced this morning?
Don’t get me wrong–a lot of fine films, filmmakers, actors and technicians were nominated. But certain things made me want to scream. (Which I almost did in my cubicle at work as I watched the nominations streaming on my phone.)
First, the snubs:
Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck: The way the nominations are set up now, snubs in the directing category are a yearly event because there are more Best Picture nominations (up to ten) than Best Director nominations (only five), but I can’t recall two more absurd snubs.
Kathryn Bigelow directed Zero Dark Thirty and was the first woman to ever win Best Director (for The Hurt Locker). Either the academy feels like they gave her one so she’s done, or some of the political fall-out concerning the film impacted her negatively. However, the political issue didn’t prevent the film from being nominated in several other categories.
It would be tempting to blame the fact that Affleck is an actor for his snub, except that many actors have not only been nominated, but won in the Best Director category in the past, including Warren Beatty, Robert Redford, Kevin Costner, Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson.
What gives, Hollywood? Affleck has directed other films that were also received positively by the critics (Gone Baby Gone and The Town) and he’s already an Oscar winner as a screenwriter (for Good Will Hunting). It can’t be that you still haven’t forgiven him for Gigli, can it?
I don’t begrudge the lesser-known directors their nods (Michael Haneke for Amour and Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild). In my opinion, they should also expand the directing category to up to 10 nominations. It’s hard to make the argument that a movie is among the best of the year if the director does not also get recognition for his or her work. (Same goes for the writers.)
Other snubs that bug me:
How come Leonardo DiCaprio is a shoe-in for a nomination every time he makes a stuffy biopic, but he gets snubbed for a deliciously villainous role like the one he played in Django Unchained?
Was hoping John Hawkes would grab a nod for The Sessions. Have adored John since he played Sol Starr in the HBO show Deadwood. He’s one of the best character actors in Hollywood right now. I hope he gets recognition for that soon.
Cloud Atlas. Yes, I know it had zero chance for a major nomination, but it was absolutely robbed by being shut out of the technical awards, especially make-up and special effects.
Same for The Hunger Games–zero chance for a major nomination, and while the special effects were disappointing (they didn’t budget enough for them) it certainly deserved one for Ve Neill’s fantastic make-up, including the now-iconic beard she created for the character of Seneca Crane.
Nominations that made me go, wha—?
So many for The Silver Linings Playbook. I recently wrote a review about why I didn’t like it. However, the acting WAS uniformly terrific, and I kind of love that little-known Australian actress Jacki Weaver was nominated.
If Bigelow and Affleck hadn’t been snubbed, I might have been able to bear that David O. Russell got a nod, even though the direction was just O.K.
Here’s my big problem with all the nominations it received: it has the Weinstein Oscar machine behind it, which means it may waltz away with a Best Picture win, whether it truly deserves it or not. The Weinstein Company has managed to score a lot of Best Picture wins for their films, including Slumdog Millionaire, The King’s Speech and The Artist. I wish the Academy could find a way to rein in the Weinsteins, because though I love many of their movies, their Oscar campaigns often result in better films losing out.
Not to pick on little kids, but I kind of wish Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild) had not been nominated. When I was ten years old I thought it was awesome that Tatum O’Neal won for Paper Moon, but now I don’t like it when kids that young get nominated. It’s tough enough for adults to handle all the Oscar media madness.
Don’t get the Best Picture nomination for Les Miserables, considering it did not receive directing or writing nods. How can it be a best picture if the director and screenwriters are not among the best in their categories?
So what did I like?
The acting nods all seem deserved.
It will be fun to see if Joaquin Phoenix shows up the night of the awards, after bad-mouthing them.
Seth McFarlane and Emma Stone’s announcement of the nominations was great–they were both funny and breathed a little life into a usually staid occasion. It bodes well for the Oscar telecast, which may actually be watchable this year.
It’s nice that several movies nominated were movies people actually went to see. Or movies people have at least heard of. That’s a small step in the right direction.