The biggest night in Hollywood is just around the corner and, once again, the Academy has managed to baffle film buffs all over the world with some unusual omissions from its nominations. Here is a look at some of the biggest snubs at this year’s Oscars.
For the past two years, there have been ten Best Picture nominees instead of five. This year, the Academy decided to change its rules to allow anywhere between five and ten nominees with each nomination requiring a minimum of 5% of the votes to make it to the final shortlist. This was intended to make sure that all nominated films were worthy of receiving the honour instead of just being there to fill in spaces. For the 2012 Academy Awards, nine films have received nominations in this category – with some very notable exceptions. Drive was considered by many critics and fans to be one of the best films of the year – Rolling Stone Magazine dubbed it the very best – and seen as a brilliant homage to film noir. Despite its overwhelming success, both critically and commercially, it was left out of the final list. The Ides of March, the best political drama of last year (that is, a seemingly sure-fire nominee) was also left out. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is probably the most realistic spy thriller ever made, but it failed to attract a Best Picture nomination. Additionally, Bridesmaids and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 failed to clinch the popular blockbuster slot filled in recent years by Avatar and Toy Story 3. The fact that Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close was nominated, despite having been critically-panned – it is the first ever Oscar nominee with a rating of less than 65% on Rotten Tomatoes – means that two worthy films were shut out of this year’s category.
While War Horse may not be Steven Spielberg’s best work, it still shows the director’s talents. From the visceral moments in the barbed wire to that magnificently-filmed cavalry charge, Spielberg’s genius can be seen at every gut-wrenching turn. It seems the Academy, however, will only give him a nomination when there is simply no choice left – as was the case with Schindler’s List and Saving Private Ryan (which shockingly lost Best Picture to Shakespeare in Love). Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn may not have Spielberg’s reputation, but his work with Drive was an even better effort than the latter’s War Horse. Despite that, Refn’s film missed out on getting a nomination in both of the biggest categories of the night.
Best Actor in a Leading Role
While the Academy should be applauded for rewarding Gary Oldman’s extraordinary and highly-underrated performance in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy with his first ever nomination, their decision to leave out both Ryan Gosling and Michael Fassbender from this year’s list is nothing short of criminal. Gosling turned in two fantastic performances this year in Drive and The Ides of March and even received two Golden Globe nominations (Best Actor – Drama for The Ides of March and Best Actor – Comedy or Musical for Crazy, Stupid Love). Apparently, that was not enough for the Academy and they snubbed him for the second year running, having also ignored his performance in Blue Valentine last year. Fassbender, meanwhile, has been showered with accolades for his role in Shame which saw him pick up the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actor earlier in the year. But, like Gosling, the Academy decided not to follow suit and left him out of the running. What is particularly shocking is that, unlike some of the snubs in other categories, both Gosling and Fassbender could potentially have scored an upset win over Jean Dujardin (The Artist) and George Clooney (The Descendants) if the latter two ended up splitting the vote.
Best Actress in a Leading Role
Granted, no one apart from BAFTA and Golden Globe winner Meryl Streep, and SAG Award winner Viola Davis is expected to leave with the trophy this year. This category is definitely a two-woman race; the remaining three slots are nothing more than consolation prizes. Nonetheless, no one could quite fathom how Tilda Swinton’s work in We Need to talk about Kevin was not nominated, given the fact that it was even better than her Oscar-winning turn in Michael Clayton. Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia) and Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene) were also snubbed, though both their films had very early releases and likely ran out of steam by the time nominations were announced. As for Olivia Colman (Tyrannosaur), she was probably ignored to guarantee a local winner for the Academy.
Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Christopher Plummer has to be thanking his lucky stars that Albert Brooks did not receive a nomination. His chilling performance in Drive (a pattern seems to be emerging) was nothing short of revelatory. The Academy should have given him the statuette – or at least, made him part of the final list of nominees. Brooks has since tweeted about the Academy, “You don’t like me. You really don’t like me.” Both Tom Hardy and Benedict Cumberbatch were also ignored for their work in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but, given the general lack of love the Academy seems to be showing that film, their omissions can hardly be called shocking the same way Brooks’ can.
Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Once again, the Brits seem to be getting the short end of the stick. Carey Mulligan (Shame) and Olivia Colman (The Iron Lady) were fantastic in their respective films, going so far as to steal the spotlight from the likes of Michael Fassbender and Meryl Streep in the scenes they were in. Mulligan’s role in the upcoming The Great Gatsby should see the Academy nominate her next year, but Colman’s best chances seem to be behind her.
Best Animated Feature
Wow! The Academy sure does dislike Steven Spielberg. Despite enthralling moviegoers and impressing critics with The Adventures of Tintin – this year’s Golden Globe winner in the Animated Feature category and a BAFTA-nominee – he will have to be content with a few technical nominations to go with his Best Picture nod for War Horse. Many have said that the motion capture technology used to film Tintin might have prevented its nomination on a technicality. The same excuse cannot be made for Arrietty. Studio Ghibli’s latest masterpiece might have been lacking Miyazaki’s touch at the helm, but the animation was gorgeous and heart-warming. Perhaps the Academy simply forgot to watch it? That seems to be the only possible explanation.
Best Documentary Feature
Senna was that rarest of rare gems – a documentary that appealed to the mainstream audiences, going so far as to grip the most die-hard Formula 1 haters. It was exquisitely crafted and filmed, and was a beautiful tribute to the racing great. While there might have been some confusion regarding its release timing (it came out in some territories in 2010 and others in 2011), 2012 was the last year in which it was eligible to get a nomination.
Best Original Song
Alan Menken has won an amazing eight competitive Academy Awards in his career (more than any other living person) and was nominated last year in his triumphant return to animated soundtracks for his work in Tangled. His contribution to cinema in 2011 was ‘Star Spangled Man’ in the Captian America: the First Avenger soundtrack. But, in a decision even stranger than having nine Best Picture nominees, the Academy not only snubbed Menken, but only nominated two songs this year. This also meant that Golden Globe-winning ‘Masterpiece’ from the Best Costume-nominated W.E. also got the boot. Both were on the Academy’s longlist, so they definitely met the requirements. One can only wonder why they did not make the final cut.
Best Foreign Language Film
Angelina Jolie’s In the Land of Blood and Honey could not qualify for this category as it was an American production, but Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In had no such problems. But, despite its critical acclaim and its BAFTA nomination, the film did not get any love from the Academy. Granted, Iran’s A Separation still would have been the frontrunner, even if Almodovar’s macabre tale was nominated, but its absence is just another example of the Academy’s extraordinary oversight this year.