Unfortunately, it has gotten to the point where the surprises are few and far between by the time we reach this very anticlimactic (done at 5:30am West Coast Time) presentation of the year’s Oscar nominations. Everyone agrees the Oscars are the most prestigious of awards shows and the only one anybody cares about, however, they happen after months and months of reading the same list of films and performers over and over again in regards to the appetizer award shows; the SAGs, the Globes, etc.
People don’t watch the Gone in 60 Seconds (ironic as this film would have never been considered) announcement on Tuesday in the end of January to see who will make up the categories. For the most part, everyone knows who 90% of the nominees will be. People watch to see who will make up the 10% for which we are not completely certain, the 10% that makes the Oscars different and has the power to leave you pleasantly surprised or more likely, spitefully befuddled.
Below are the top five omissions from this year’s nominees that I feel are the most indefensible. Some of these might feel like personal preference but a few of them have been mainstays at awards shows thus far, and have suddenly dropped off the list at the most important time. All of which are unforgivable.
5) Best Director – Nicolas Winding Refn – Drive
Whether you loved it or hated it, chances are Drive is one of the films you spent the most time talking about this year. There is no surprise here as Refn failed to receive any awards recognition for his most Hollywood film yet, after taking home the gold in what some consider THE most prestigious distinction one can receive: Best Director at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival. The movie itself was completely overlooked, receiving a bit of recognition in some of the technical categories but failing to recognize the film for captivating the minds and eyes of its audience, for better or for worse.
As we will learn further down on this list, even some of the performers who had been celebrated for their work in Drive up until this point managed to be left off the Academy’s final list. The visual roller coaster that Refn takes you on in this campy, over the top genre film is one that will not soon be forgotten, and his hard work played a much larger part in the success and reception of this film than say, Woody Allen’s did for Midnight in Paris. Drive will likely be viewed as Refn’s break-out film when the Danish director is raking in statues somewhere down the line and we will have to look back with astonishment as we collective say, “He wasn’t even nominated for that!?”
Best Director Nominees:
Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life
4) Best Actor – Ryan Gosling – Ides of March
It sort of feels like when Ryan Gosling didn’t show up at the Golden Globes last week that maybe the Academy threw out a couple ballots with his name on it, knowing that having the young stud up for the award with the chance that he would opt out of appearing in exchange for a poker night or something was just a waste of space.
Let’s be honest, this is a two man race. It’s “the guy from The Artist” Jean Dejardin and George Clooney. No one else has a shot. However, that doesn’t mean that the other three spots shouldn’t be used to display the other fantastic break-out work by lead actors this year. As good as Moneyball was, are we all so sure it was because of Brad Pitt? Have you ever REALLY been able to watch a movie with him in it and NOT think, “That’s Brad Pitt, I wish I had his facial structure.” the whole time since…Snatch maybe?
Then there is the mysterious fifth man in, after Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy, which no one can disagree with, Damien Bichir for “A Better Life.” I’ll tell you one thing, beginning at about 5:45 PST this AM, that guy is having…a much…better life…
Ryan Gosling carried three movies this year; Drive, Crazy Stupid Love, and Ides of March. For the Academy, a group that tends to like to award bulk performance, a real break out year, and give credit where credit is DUE, it seems like Gosling should be one of the five actors chosen to represent 2011 for their brilliant work. In Ides of March, Gosling is given the material that most suits his strengths. He can be charming and alluring in scenes with Evan Rachel Wood and he can be smart and ambitious with his campaign higher-uppers like Clooney and Hoffman. He doesn’t miss a beat in this movie and really carries the entire thing, even when sharing the screen with other people on this list and other Oscar winners.
Best Actor Nominees:
Demián Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball
3) Best Picture – The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The reason they went from five nominees to ten nominees is simple. The Dark Knight, the best film of its year, wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, losing the final spot to The Reader, a very good, but a very SMALL movie about Kate Winslet playing a Nazi who screws a teenager while he reads to her. One can only imagine how many more viewers the show might have gotten if a fraction of the millions and millions who loved The Dark Knight had a horse in the final race that they could cheer on. The following year it was ten nominees and we had films like The Blind Side make the cut, causing the Academy to change the rules again so somehow we could have more than five nominees but the vote-counting system would not allow for something so low brow to make the cut.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo was a suspenseful, visually-stunning, well acted (Rooney Mara is The Girl With the Best Actress Nomination) movie that did one thing very well, it managed to please its audience even while having a very successful and beloved film AND book to live up to. David Fincher was robbed last year for possibly his best achievement of all time, The Social Network, and this is the second year in a row that the Academy is choosing to be put off by the best director in the game.
The film has been nominated for a few of the technical awards, including cinematography, as well as Best Actress. It’s not like it isn’t deserving of a Best Picture nomination. Could it be that since the film is not only a remake, but a remake of a film that came out less than five years ago, that it is being overlooked? Could it be the jarring rape scenes in the center of the film? Could it be that even though it is dark and twisted, it is certainly the most “fan friendly” of the awards season films? Who knows? Either way, there aren’t too many people who have seen The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and hated it and most people think it is right on line with the brilliant work that David Fincher has been putting out consistently for almost twenty years now.
In a year where so many of our nominees are films that are about the love of film, art and nostalgia in one way or another, like Hugo, Midnight in Paris and even War Horse to a certain degree, why can’t be also recognize the film that was the most suspenseful, enjoyable film experience of the present, the type of films that we now make BECAUSE of our shared wonderment of the past, as well.
Best Picture Nominees:
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
2) Best Supporting Actor – Albert Brooks – Drive
Brooks had been nominated almost everywhere else until this morning. It is hard to explain why he was left off the list. Nick Nolte, who has failed to appear on some of the previous lists for his work in Warrior, DID make the cut today, but that was absolutely deserved. The last guy into the category was Max Van Sydow, who is being recognized for his work in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the movie that wasn’t really on many past lists or anyones radar for that matter, as in most areas of the US it only came out last friday. However, there is a good chance that Max Van Sydow was less nominated for his work in that particular film and more so for the fact that he and Christopher Plummer are essentially the same exact person. Might be the first time someone has actually been nominated for playing the frontrunner in the category in real life.
Brooks was brilliant as the sometimes charming but always dangerous bad guy in Drive who slowly but surely becomes more and more of a monster. Brooks is a fantastic performer who is known for his sense of humor, something that DOES come through in this otherwise stoic performance as a crime boss who refuses to be undermined by a rogue getaway driver.
Even though this category has been written off this year as The Christopher Plummer Lifetime Achievement Award it still would have been cool to see Albert Brooks nominated for his work as the complete opposite for what he has become known for, serving as the ultimate compliment for an actor who does really appreciate the craft. Brooks joked on Twitter yesterday “tomorrow morning I’ll find out if I have to go to any more events where Christopher Plummer wins” and unfortunately he now knows that he does not. It WAS good to see this AM however that he could still joke about the disappointment, tweeting “I GOT ROBBED. I don’t mean the Oscars, I mean literally. My shoes and pants have been stolen.”
Best Supporting Actor Nominees:
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
1) Best Supporting Actress – Shailene Woodley – The Descendants
This is the most indefensible out of all. For a lot of people who saw The Descendants, a very hard movie to get through without crying, the best part of the Best Picture nominated film, and possibly the best performance of the year by any woman, came from Shailene Woodley as George Clooney’s rebellious daughter, coming to terms with the loss of her mother and the reacquisition of her father.
For a film that got so much recognition in almost every other area that matters, it doesn’t make sense that the very young and talented Woodley who is going head to head with George Clooney in almost every single scene of the film, would not also get some credit. She had been receiving love in almost every awards scenario up until this point, even winning some of them.
A lot of people didn’t like Descendants because it was just too damn sad. That is an argument that makes sense. However, for those who DID like this film, if you WERE able to dry away all the tears and appreciate it for what it was, than there simply is no way those you shouldn’t have also acknowledged that with an actress with even slightly less talent than Shailene Woodley carrying what might be the heaviest family drama in recent history that there is no way it could have had the same effect. Movies that are this emotional from opening credits to closing credits come along once every few years and when they somehow manage to connect with audiences it is almost a give-in that the main cast members receive nominations from the Academy.
Whether it is because Woodley is a relative unknown whose one notable credit is playing a pregnant teenager on a youth TV drama or whether it is because for some reason, people think Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids deserves to be acknowledged more than Russell Brand in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Sean William Scott in American Pie, Dana Carvey in Wayne’s World or ANY OTHER GREAT SUPPORTING ACTOR OR ACTRESS IN A COMEDY THAT GETS LAUGHS!!!!!! either way…one thing is certain…SHAILENE WOODLEY GOT SCREWED.
Best Supporting Actress Nominees:
Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Help