Hello g33ks, m33ks, and anyone else that got picked last for kickball every single time. I am here to discuss the 2012 Academy Award Nominations in sort of a different light. I wrote a traditional Oscar nominee who do I think will win article yesterday; and when it gets closer to the show I think we’ll still run it on the site but for now I’m going to talk about films I think were unfairly overlooked and what got attention and why.
This year’s darlings/front runners are really good but are exactly the type of film that is expected to be praised by Hollywood. These are movies that the general public will not have any attachment to and it will be difficult to express why they should in the course of the evening. That isn’t to say that these films aren’t good in fact both lead nominees are better than The King’s Speech by a great deal but neither could be considered hands down better than The Social Network or Inception.
The Artist – 10 nominations and even though it doesn’t seem likely to win in acting it has a real chance in nearly all the “minor” categories and the “majors” of directing and best picture. Its exactly the type of film generally lauded by Hollywood at this time of year. Its a small movie that you have to go out of your way to see in a small theatre. It has period costumes, it is itself about the film industry and it features foreign actors playing Americans. Add in the factor that its about the golden age of silent films and the birth of the talkies and you’ve got Oscar gold. Interestingly enough I believe that this is the best film of 2012 … sometimes I disagree wholeheartedly with The Academy but for a film that is a front runner I believe this one is on the money. That said it deserves the best films of the year as its competition and sometimes that means stepping outside the box.
Hugo – 11 nominations is also inside that same box. Its a film based on a fantastic piece of YA fiction called The Invention of Hugo Cabret (A book you should buy for any young boys in your life who may not like to read.) Directed by Martin Scorsese it was supposed to be a huge blockbuster complete with “the best 3D” of the year. If this film had found commercial success I’d imagine that this would be on my snub list below but since it did not do well getting to educate audiences on how wonderful it is might be enough for it to pull off a surprise win. This film unlike The Artist might actually translate to an audience watching on television and might get parents to bring their kids to the theatre to see one of the best theatrical film experiences released last year. This would be easier if the film had an acting nomination for Chloe Moretz or Ben Kingsley but still this type of flick will be easy to put on stage and celebrate and of course Scorsese probably has two or three directing Oscars owed to him so perhaps they’ll give him his second here. Again this is a great film and deserving of being an Oscar Darling but I don’t believe if it had made huge profits and was beloved by the masses it would be getting the love it deserves. Also, it is about the birth of the film industry, classic stage magic, and a period piece in which Americans play foreigners. So once again Oscar gold.
George Clooney – 2 nominations (One for Best Actor and One for Best Adapted Screenplay) Clooney once again is nominated multiple times in disparate categories for different films (The Descendants, The Ides of March) in the same year. This is the second time this has happened for Clooney; in 2005 he was nominated for 3 awards (Best Director, Original Screenplay, and Supporting Actor) for 2 films (Good Night and Good Luck, Syriana) and actually snagged a trophy (Best Supporting – Syriana). So with his third Best Actor nom since 2007 it may just be “his time”. Again, this is nothing against Clooney and he is worthy of these nominations but there’s definitely no stretching here by The Academy. Its not tough to nominate George … he’s consistently fantastic and one of the most likeable guys in the world. Eventually, he’s going to get his Best Actor trophy and teasing the audience with him earning one is an on again off again poker game.
Its hard to really argue with the quality of the films nominated this year … its just also full of really safe choices. Movies you knew would get the attention when you saw them advertised, like The Help and Extremely Loud, and Incredibly Close are all over the place but … 2011 featured some critically acclaimed films that were also extremely popular profitable films. Recognition of those types of films is why Best Picture was extended to 10 nominees in the first place. The hope being these films would be recognized at the top and perhaps filter through the evening in some of the other categories bringing the minds of the masses closer to the desires of Hollywood.
Last year I was watching a discussion with a lot of Hollywood insider types and was almost made ill by the level of snobbery on display by the majority of the speakers. They felt like its time to go back to 5 Best Picture nominees and that by nominating things like UP, District 9 and Inception over the last few years … the general public should be happy and that all they have to do is nominate one blockbuster every once in a while and people will shut up and the ‘real’ best pictures will win. The one person with a different opinion was also the only one willing to go against the will of Hollywood and say he voted Inception and The Social Network as his top two picks. The others were basically aghast and one even said that he was just wasting good votes and he hoped no one else with a Best Picture ballot would do the same.
The reason I bring up this conversation is that it seems like the chasm has grown again between Hollywood and the movie going public. Instead of 7 traditional best picture choices and 3 off beat ones we have 10 that easily could have been nominated at any time. It makes me wonder if this is some sort of pre-emptive strike against The Dark Knight Rises.
So onto those who deserved a shot and were overlooked.
Super 8 & X-Men: First Class – These are extremely popular films, that made a huge amount at the box office, and were two of the best reviewed films of the year. I’ve lumped them together in the Blockbuster category. Either of these films could have been nominated for Best Picture this year and while they wouldn’t have won they would have gotten the praise and attention they were due. JJ Abrams and Matthew Vaughn put together two incredible films (82% and 87% positive reviews respectively) with engaging casts (Joel Courtney, Elle Fanning, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy) and their nomination would have brought an interest into the show that will definitely be lacking on Awards night. Super 8 even had the factors of it being about film making and Steven Spielberg behind it and it still failed to get nominated. First Class continues the trend that will come to a head next year. If you make a Superhero film … even a fantastic, best films of the year level Superhero film … you will not get nominated.
Drive – So a film that features Ryan Gosling, Albert Brooks, Carey Mulligan and Christina Hendriks garners a single Academy Award nomination. Yeah … now wait this is snubs and one nomination is some recognition right? Not if its in the Sound Editing, category. No offense to sound editors but there was a lot more to love about this film than its audible integrity. That said maybe this film wasn’t acknowledged anywhere else and its a good film that doesn’t deserve awards … Aside from garnering a 93% positive rating from Rotten Tomatoes and a Top 10 listing from The National Board of Review this film won Best Director at a little event called the Cannes Film Festival. To call the Academy’s apathetic response ignorance is an understatement. This film had excellent performances, writing, directing and its soundtrack was one of the best of the year. Also, Ron Perlman was in this film.
Michael Fassbender & Ryan Gosling – Both of these men are excellent actors. Both of these men were in profitable, critically acclaimed films; X-Men: First Class and Drive respectively. Both of these men could never hope to be nominated for portraying characters named Magneto and The Driver. So what am I up in arms about? The other two critically acclaimed films and amazing portrayals for which they should be nominated; Shame & The Ides Of March. These two men are likely future winners of little golden men and while I think it would be incredibly tough to beat Clooney and Dujardin in the Best Actor category I think they beat two of the remaining three. (Hint not Gary Oldman).
So after all is said and done the nominees this year aren’t all that far off … I’d have liked to see the Academy start to naturally move in the direction that it seems film critics as a whole appear to be going. It is now possible to see populous films become critically acclaimed. If only the industry would embrace that notion it would find that there would be interest in their self indulgent self important pageant to their own wonderfulness once again. Instead only film g33ks like myself will care and plod through the evening hoping Billy Crystal is enough to keep the night interesting.
How do you feel about the Darlings and Snubs? Anything else you wanted to see make the list that did not? Do you even care anymore what films win at the Academy Awards?
– Mr. Khon