Oscarbation: 11 Oscar Nominee Snubs That Agitate Us

by Gabe Toro
January 25, 2011 4:32 AM
33 Comments
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Every year, we wake up for the Academy Award nominations expecting a surprise, hoping the same ten or fifteen movies don't keep getting referenced, honored, what-have-you. Last year, the Academy did a decent job as the field of Best Picture candidates swelled to ten, allowing for more exposure for films from different categories. We're not going to go around endorsing "District 9" as one of that year's finer films, but we were happy it got to sit at the table.

This year, while some of us are as pleased as punch about the Academy's annual Celebration Of The Middlebrow, there are some nominations we expected that went unrealized. There's a couple we counted on (even bet money on), but by and large, these were gatecrashers we had hoped would receive some recognition. Guess the right people didn't get paid.

BEST DIRECTOR
Christopher Nolan, "Inception"
Someone out there does not like Christopher Nolan. With a Best Director nod seen as an admission that the recipient film might be among the five best films of the Best Picture ten, color us surprised that Nolan would make his second straight critically-adored blockbuster only for the Oscars to react indifferently. While "Inception" made the final ten, Nolan's work in assembling the complex dream world of his film went unrecognized (the film was also unfairly boxed out of Best Editing). A craftsman who makes intensely personal blockbuster films that still thrill and titillate, "Inception" was big intelligent, puzzlebox, created for public consumption but without sacrificing an inch of its intelligence. Not being honored in this category seems like a tacit admission that the Academy really didn't get all that dream-hopping business at all.

Debra Granik, "Winter’s Bone"
All of the accolades for this film have been going to Jennifer Lawrence, for what is indeed a powerful performance playing Ree, but the heartwrenching, stagnant atmosphere of the character’s surroundings is owed to Debra Granik and her direction. Without the ramshackle house, barren trees, rolling hills and incredibly menacing midnight water scene (to name a few elements), the film would be just another tale about a young girl’s journey. Granik turns the story into one about the foreign places in our own country and how women navigate and survive them. It’s a powerful movie dominated by a powerful performance, but without Granik’s assured hand, Ree's plight would never have resonated as deeply in our hearts as it did.

BEST PICTURE
"The Town"
We're not exactly going to go to bat for Ben Affleck's second directorial effort as a huge leap in skill from "Gone Baby Gone" -- in fact, the entertaining crowd-pleaser is more of a sideways step -- but "The Town" is one of the more well-accomplished genre films of the year. In Affleck's behind-the-camera Sidney Lumet impersonation we saw a film with all the ingredients that would appeal to both younger Academy voters and older, with the wanton violence and intriguing ethnography of the film's setting playing off well against its measured storytelling and pacing. That the film was also a surprise box office hit was a feather in its cap, and considering it was Warner Bros. only real horse in the Oscar race this year, we figured it would bounce out one of the smaller indie films in the big ten. But don't fear, while the Oscars rightly favored the indies this time round, it probably won't be long before Affleck earns his first Best Picture nod.

"Never Let Me Go"
When “Never Let Me Go” was announced as a late season release, we figured it would be an awards contender given the pedigree of the source material and the considerable talent involved. This was before Fox Searchlight left the film out to die with a muted September release, so that the quiet, haunting story of doomed youth playing out a nature vs. nurture horror story was ignored by the general public and blasted by ignorant critics as “cold” and “distant.” As a result, Mark Romanek’s elegiac picture, with its deliberate pace and obtuse alternate reality setting, has been conspicuously absent from awards season chatter, despite boasting first-rate performances and an emotionally urgent screenplay, in a story that plays as the disturbed flip side to the “Harry Potter” fantasies Hollywood indulges annually. As an appropriate side note, given the Oscars’ love for montages, we’re betting we see Ronald Weasley’s scrunty mug during the telecast more than Carey Mulligan’s defeated, heart-breaking visage.

BEST ACTOR
"Blue Valentine," Ryan Gosling
While none of us really expected to see Ryan Gosling earn a nomination for the indie drama "Blue Valentine" -- it's too small of a picture, and Michelle Williams seemed to carry the weight of the Weinstein Company's campaign -- it is a bit of a bummer and well, as you can see by our comments section (and/or Twitter), many think that the young actor (who scored a Best Actor nomination for "Half Nelson" at the age of 26) was more deserving than Colin Firth (who might just win this year; he's due, even though his piece de resistance performance was last year in "A Single Man"). So, again, not really shocking that Derek Cianfrance's film didn't score a Best Picture nomination, nor did Gosling, but it's a two-hander, so if Williams gets one, so should Gosling. You really can't have that picture work without two great stellar leads. Next year, Ryan. Keep those gloves on.

BEST ACTRESS
Lesley Manville, "Another Year"
It’s a shame that awards season turns everyone into an anal-retentive ass who obsesses over where to “slot” movies, and which “categories” people should go in. Performances are performances, and if an actor creates a compelling, full-sized character, the notion of who or what they are “supporting” should go out the door. But, if you were to be pedantic about these things, then the characters with the most lines and scenes in a film would be the leads. Sony Pictures Classics disagreed, championing Lesley Manville for Best Actress despite her having less material than that film’s own Ruth Sheen. This caused confusion among the pedants who couldn’t understand that Sony didn't want to campaign for Manville in what the industry would consider a “lesser” category, thus confusing the narrative -- a narrative which, for the record, should have discussed the raw emotional force that Manville draws from in creating her tragic, lonely would-be spinster, an avatar for the disenchanted and disappointed and arguably the year’s best female performance.

Julianne Moore, "The Kids Are All Right"
Ok, yes, Annette Bening was always going to take the Oscar nomination over Julianne Moore, we knew that. Why? Because well, her performance is truly the better one -- yes, she plays a vile character, but hell, she knocks it out of the park and you truly hate her -- and secondly, she's old, meaning she's Oscar royalty, and most importantly, she's never won an Oscar before and has been nominated three times previously. Hmm, anyone smell a lifetime achievement Oscar? The one thing standing in her way is Natalie Portman, but don't be totally shocked if the Academy decides to give Bening a "thank you for all these great performances" award over the "Black Swan" ballerina.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jim Broadbent, "Another Year"
Despite having the most screen time of the male actors in “Another Year,” Broadbent’s character is distant, quieter than the other, more hearty, working class members of the typical Mike Leigh repertoire company. His role is reactionary, and so the character is brought to life by Broadbent’s typical expressiveness. What’s wonderful about this characterization is that there are the working class tensions that bubble when he becomes frustrated or judgmental, but there is also the innate love behind all such outbursts, the genuine affection he has, if not for those surrounding him, than for the camaraderie they bring to his household and the happiness that they bring to his wife. It’s the sort of understated performance that gets overshadowed by some yelling, screaming, awards-hungry lunatic annually, so we’re not surprised to see Broadbent absent.

Andrew Garfield, "The Social Network"
While Oscar prognosticators are gonna have to adjust their crystal balls after "The Social Network" came in a distant third this morning with eight nominations (actually tied for third with "Inception"), it seems Academy voters missed one of the most compelling elements of David Fincher's film. No, we're not talking about Jesse Eisenberg, giving a helluva turn as the ruthless Mark Zuckerberg. We're talking about Andrew Garfield as his best friend and colleague Eduardo Saverin. Garfield is arguably the beating heart of the film which, honestly, otherwise doesn't have much of an emotional core. The frail and then fractured friendship between Zuckerberg and Saverin would not have worked as well as it does without Garfield nailing the sensitivity and vulnerability -- both weaknesses for driven entrepreneurs -- that knock him out of Facebook in a bracing wake-up call to the cutthroat world of internet start-ups.

BEST SCREENPLAY (ORIGINAL)
Nicole Holofcener, "Please Give"
The little indie film that got no love in 2010, Nicole Holofcener’s “Please Give” was every bit as tough, warm, smart and funny as “The Kids Are All Right” but never quite got on the radar of critics or audiences. And it’s a real shame. The original screenplay by Holofcener intelligently tackles thematic territory largely unaddressed in films big or small, exploring the fine line one walks with everyday decisions about caring for oneself vs looking out for the bigger world that needs a hand. While the film boasts strong performances from all involved -- Rebecca Hall, Catherine Keener, Amanda Peet, Oliver Platt -- they are aided by a screenplay that gives their characters the depth to make it work. Scripts like these don’t come along very often and this is one the Academy should have recognized.

BEST SCORE
Daft Punk, "Tron: Legacy"Maybe the rumors are correct, and the Academy greybeards are becoming more progressive in their choices -- it's not every day that someone like Trent Reznor is being invited to the Oscars. But, that doesn’t mean that they’re going to look at the words “Daft Punk” on the ballots and not think that was a typo. “Tron: Legacy” has a score that bridges the gap between operatic blockbuster and arcane experimentation, but to most, the presence of the French mixmasters suggests a series of dance compositions more than the dense-wall-of-sound-with-traditional-motifs that this voting body roots for. Better luck for “Tron: Threegacy.”

We were also expecting a little love for Robert Duvall in "Get Low," for his cranky old codger act, and one of the supporting actresses (Mila Kunis, or Barbara Hershey) for "Black Swan," but no dice. Early award favorite Sam Rockwell was also shut out, though no one saw "Conviction." And we liked the experimental cues of "Tron: Legacy" but also the sumptuous "Never Let Me Go" compositions from Rachel Portman far outshone any of the Best Score nominees. And how about some more daring choices? Richard Jenkins dazzled as the harried caretaker in "Let Me In," a role that required an uneasy balance of faded love, world-weariness and due diligence. Ben Stiller should've gotten more due for his turn in "Greenberg" but was likely shut out largely because misanthropes don't register well with voters, and the public wasn't too keen on the pic. And how about some visual effects love for Gaspar Noe's wildly ambitious "Enter The Void"? Certainly it was more memorable that the ten-minute "Waterworld" sequence that opened "Hereafter." And if France had their wits about them, they would have served up Claire Denis' "White Material" as their foreign submission instead of the stoic and dull "Of Gods And Men" (which didn't make it in anyway). - with contributions from Catherine Scott, Kevin Jagernauth and RP

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33 Comments

  • Chris | January 28, 2011 11:52 AMReply

    "Really, Chris? The only race here is to win an Oscar." - Frank Armitage

    Way to side step our argument. Regarding Tron = "blatant rip-off" Perhaps you'd like to back up your claim with a specific reference? Or would you prefer to slink back to being a couch expert?

  • Jim | January 28, 2011 5:50 AMReply

    "Daft Punk is only heard in 20% of the score. - By Powerup on January 25, 2011" - Daft Punk wrote the whole score, including the orchestral bits, they had help arranging it and turning it into sheet music, but the music you heard was daft punk.

  • mars | January 28, 2011 3:54 AMReply

    i agree with you on andrew garfield 10000000 percent! he soooo deserved it. i remember leaving the cinema thinking what great of an actor he is! :(

  • Frank Armitage | January 26, 2011 11:23 AMReply

    "Honestly I think it’s the audio equivalent of people who think other races all look alike."

    Really, Chris? The only race here is to win an Oscar.

  • Geoffrey Beauchamp | January 26, 2011 3:39 AMReply

    The biggest omission, which you idiots also omitted, is Barney's Version. Paul Giamatti should be in contention for Best Actor. Any person not afflicted with terminal star-fucker syndrome would know that. So are you folks afflicted? Seems like it....

  • Bob Jones | January 26, 2011 2:08 AMReply

    If Natalie Portman does not win the Oscar for Best Actress this year, and loses to Annette Bening, I will never watch another oscars telecast again. Bening keeps turning in bitchy performances the oscar voters blow loads for, when its everything is a goddamn retread of what she did before. She hasn`t done anything worth consideration since The Grifters. Portman`s performance was a complete polar opposite, of what is expected from her. The way that character begins and ends the movie show a complete transformation. She is the only choice.

  • joe | January 26, 2011 1:23 AMReply

    Its mind-boggling that this site truly thinks the Town is a good film. It's Heat for Dummies and you guys should know better.

  • Chris | January 25, 2011 11:48 AMReply

    Powerup - "Tron Legacy’s score didn’t just sound like Hans Zimmer, it actually WAS. Look at the credits: "

    One thing is clear: you have no idea how a score comes together. The supporting roles you mentioned came into play once the score was written, approved, and orchestrated. A single additional arranger credit (Toby Chu) means he maybe helped on a couple cues for time constraints. I like that you see that credit and think he had a major creative impact. Laughable.

    "Daft Punk is only heard in 20% of the score."

    Sorry, saw the thing go down. Your conspiracy theory is rubbish.

    I also love the Inception comparisons, given that the Tron score existed at least a year before Inception score was written. Had they been released in the order they were written everyone would be bashing Zimmer for ripping off Daft Punk, which would have been equally unfair given they had nothing to do with each other.

    In truth - I think they probably approach things the same way, they are both synth gurus and are going to gravitate towards that arpeggiator sound for strings, have simple melodic themes across pop chord progressions... etc...

    Honestly I think it's the audio equivalent of people who think other races all look alike. Frank Armitage, Powerup and the like - aren't as familiar with the music as they think they are. They hear Synths and Minimalist Orchestra and immediately think "Zimmer." He doesn't own that sound folks, and he sure as hell didn't invent it. Popularized it though. Same thing with synth score = John Carpenter. Man, what a bunch of couch experts.

    Not complaining too much since it's not the academy's usual vibe, but the Tron score would not have been undeserving had it been nominated.

  • Joie | January 25, 2011 11:45 AMReply

    Tron definitely for Visual Effects and Score (it was a rich hybrid of orchestral/digital elements, something both John Carpenter nor Hans Zimmer can pull them on their own). And WTF, Alexandre Desplat for King's Speech (which ended with Beethoven's Eroica for that matter), he should have been nominated for The Ghost Writer, which was the more memorable score of the two, plus it actually enhances the narrative action in that film compared to the background fodder of King's Speech. Kudos to the production design of The King's Speech, I mean the mesmerizing graffiti-esque wall of Geoffrey Rush's office, and that's it!

    Ditto, Andrew Garfield in Social Network > Mark Ruffalo of TKAAR, sorry but this isn't Mark Ruffalo from You Can Count on Me, so blatant extraneous inclusion here.

    And I'm really sad Japan's CONFESSIONS didn't make to the final five Foreign Film noms, which is so much better than that awful French/Algerian film OUTSIDE THE LAW.

  • Navatar | January 25, 2011 11:25 AMReply

    Tron should have at least gotten *nominated* for best costume, best art direction, best score, and best visual effects.

  • bobo | January 25, 2011 9:29 AMReply

    The Town sucked b*lls

    stop calling it for what's not

    it just a mediocre movie

  • sp | January 25, 2011 9:11 AMReply

    Too bad for Julianne Moore, she was attached to TKAAR before Annette Bening, and she lost another worthy Oscar nomination.

    Even though I knew Anne Hathaway wasn't going to get an Oscar nomination ( LAOD) because of the tough competition, I really enjoyed Anne's gutsy performance- bitchy, abrasive, smart alecky and compelling. At least Anne will be co-hosting the Oscars.

  • sp | January 25, 2011 9:00 AMReply

    I respect Mark Ruffalo , but he didn’t deserve a nomination over Armie Hammer ( he never got the Oscar push that he deserved) or Andrew Garfield.

    How the hell did Christopher Nolan not receive a director nomination ? This is beyond ridiculous ! The Academy is constantly ignoring his peerless directing talent. His track record is extraordinary- not one bad film.

    I am sure Ben Affleck is not too happy about being snubbed for his film/direction/screenplay. Ouch ! Now, that had to hurt.

  • Frank Armitage | January 25, 2011 8:20 AMReply

    John:

    It sounds A LOT like Zimmer. To the point of me being distracted by the similarity while watching the movie. It's more than an influence; it borders on blatant rip-off. Again, enjoyable? Yes. "Great"? No.

  • Kathleen Walsh | January 25, 2011 7:42 AMReply

    Oh, jimmiescoffee, you and me are gonna have a fight!

  • Raz Cunningham | January 25, 2011 7:22 AMReply

    i would have loved ANY love for "Never Let Me Go" this year, but no, nothing. Its such a beautiful, artful and heartfelt film.

  • jimmiescoffee | January 25, 2011 7:16 AMReply

    i like david o russell and i always have but he does not belong in the best director category.

  • john | January 25, 2011 7:08 AMReply

    Just because Daft Punks's score for Tron Legacy sounds like a little like Zimmer doesn't mean it wasn't great. Every composer is influenced by other musicians.

  • M | January 25, 2011 6:40 AMReply

    The Town? Sorry I got bored with it, doesn't deserve a nomination.

  • paul | January 25, 2011 6:31 AMReply

    Gosling, Broadbent: couldn't agree more.

  • cirkusfolk | January 25, 2011 6:29 AMReply

    The King's Speech - 12
    True Grit - 10
    The Social Network - 8
    Inception - 8
    The Fighter - 7
    127 Hours - 6
    Black Swan - 5
    Toy Story 3 - 5
    Kids Are All Right - 4
    Winter's Bone - 4

    Personally, despite being snubbed for Director and Editing, I bet Inception walks away with the most total wins. I think it will take everything it is up for, except Screenplay and Picture, thus giving it 6. But of course, depending on how much they like King's Speech, which they seem to do, it could sweep (like films used to do) and get wins for things it doesn't deserve like Score, Cinematogrsaphy, etc.

  • Lauren | January 25, 2011 6:29 AMReply

    Could not agree more with, "...than Colin Firth (who might just win this year; he’s due, even though his piece de resistance performance was last year in “A Single Man”)."
    Firth was absolutely robbed in last year's awards. His performance in A Single Man was so amazing and heartbreaking that I personally felt snubbed when he didn't get the Oscar. Hopefully he'll get it this year though!

  • Powerup | January 25, 2011 6:28 AMReply

    Tron Legacy's score didn't just sound like Hans Zimmer, it actually WAS. Look at the credits: Gavin Greenaway (Hans' Conductor), Alan Meyerson (Hans' Music Scoring Mixer), Toby Chu (Harry Gregson Williams' Arranger)... Daft Punk is only heard in 20% of the score.

  • RJ | January 25, 2011 6:27 AMReply

    "The Town" was a lot less silly than "Black Swan" which was trying way to hard and just ended up being laughable

  • Jeff | January 25, 2011 6:21 AMReply

    For the life of me, I cannot figure out why David Lindsay-Abaire's name has been left out of discussion of Best Adapted Screenplay. Is it because the same play already won him the Pulitzer? I'm glad to see Kidman get the nomination, and I acknowledge the movie's not perfect, but I'll be damned if the screenplay isn't.

  • cirkusfolk | January 25, 2011 6:20 AMReply

    Even though Black Swan earned some of the major noms, including being the front runner for Best Actress, overall it only scored 5 total noms. This places it tied with Toy Story 3 for 6th place amongst the Best Pic nominees. Hell, even the "thought to be dead" 127 Hours got more noms with 6. Most surprisingly is the absence of Mila Kunis, though I didn't think she did anything special...other than eat out Natalie Portman that is. But then again, I didn't envision the Academy connecting with the movie, so I guess they should be happy with what they got.

  • Frank Armitage | January 25, 2011 6:15 AMReply

    Tron: Legacy score talked about in 20 years? Really, Jim? There's really nothing special or innovative about it. The electronic stuff sounds like John Carpenter, and the orchestral stuff sounds like Hans Zimmer. It's enjoyable, sure, but not worthy of a nomination.

  • Deborah | January 25, 2011 6:09 AMReply

    Could not agree with you more on "The Town", Katie.

  • Jim | January 25, 2011 5:58 AMReply

    Tron: Legacy's score will be heard and talked about 20 years from now, something better than an oscar nomination. Should have been nominated though

  • DuluozGray | January 25, 2011 5:56 AMReply

    Can anyone in their right mind explain why Mila Kunis is deserving of an Oscar nomination for her performance in Black Swan? I see everyone saying she should be nominated, but no one says exactly why. What did she do in that film that ranks it as one of the best performances of the year?

  • Kathleen Walsh | January 25, 2011 5:37 AMReply

    Come on, at the end of the day, the best thing about "The Town" is Jeremy Renner and the car chases. I liked the movie but it's pretty silly.

  • john | January 25, 2011 5:35 AMReply

    no Tron Legacy? :(

  • Marko | January 25, 2011 5:09 AMReply

    I'm more surprised by Tron Legacy being snubbed for Visual Effects than Score, ecspecially when Hereafter got in there for some reason.

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