The AMPAS vs Christopher Nolan

Hey g33ks and m33ks and anyone else who happens to fall upon this diatribe about the unfairness of life at the top of the Hollywood ladder. The reason it’s taken me so long to write about how angry I am at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences over their Best Director nominations is I’ve been swamped with my first draft of a spec script for a major fellowship. I’m in that period of time where you step away for a couple of days and come back to rewrite before throwing the whole thing out and writing it all again 2 days before deadline. Anyway, what is going on with Nolan’s missing Best Director nomination? In a word its retribution.

Right now the big front runner for the big winner of the night is The King’s Speech. Its got multiple acting noms, a writing nom, best director and best picture nominations. The Social Network will likely be the bridesmaid all evening. You’d still be able to say oh well Inception is in the best writing and best picture discussion and I’d say yeah well so is Toy Story 3 and there’s no hope that either will win Best Picture. This is why Christopher Nolan’s snub is such a big deal in my opinion and why I’m so angry. After Beauty and The Beast was nominated for Best Picture the Academy went on to create a Best Animated Feature award because they couldn’t have a cartoon win Best Picture. Thankfully this pretentiousness still translates to big super industry changing films like Avatar because it meant that The Hurt Locker won Best Picture over Pocahontas and The Last Samurai Dances With Wolves in Ferngully. (Apparently I can’t do this without the tangents I’m sorry.) The fact that The Dark Knight wasn’t nominated by the voters also caused a major awards change in that they had to add 5 nominees to the Best Picture category. This could have been quelled if Nolan came out and said any of the code phrases publicly that amount to, ‘my film was great but it wasn’t better than any of the 5 nominees.’ (The Reader, really?!) Nolan let the world push the issue so far it caused a change in the formula and this was his great crime against the voters.

So now here we are a way for the Academy to make up for snubbing The Dark Knight. For Nolan to win Best Director would mean he becomes part of an elite club with less than 100 members, he becomes one of the most sought after Directors in the world by actors and all of his work becomes ‘important’ and worthy of study. That would mean ‘comic book movies’ could be considered artistic films, and big budget movies not focused on period costumes/accents would begin to invade the conversation for awards. It also means that those technical award winners might start winning some of the ‘major’ awards at the end of the night too.

I’ve heard many excuses for why Nolan was snubbed but after talking to some people I know in the industry and reading a lot of reviews and interviews I have come up with a couple of thoughts. I’d love to hear your opinion on them as well in the comments.

1) Inception was ignored by the Academy purely out of spite over The Dark Knight.

The Dark Knight should have been a Best Picture nominee and giving Ledger the award posthumously did not appease fanboys/girls. We were meant to be grateful that Ledger won for playing a Comic Book Supervillain; we weren’t supposed to recognize the rest of the film was incredibly well made and worthy of a win on its own merits.

2) Inception was purposefully placed strategically into the Best Picture nominees because it’ll shut up g33ks worldwide.

Basically, “here’s your 800 million dollar grossing blockbuster, look it can win Best Picture, shut up until the end of the night.” It will invariably lose to The King’s Speech or The Social Network, but the show will be over by then.

3) Nolan was snubbed because the Academy had to adjust the Best Picture nominees from 5 to 10 because of The Dark Knight and that means films like District 9 and Up became Best Picture nominees.

There’s more to this than just growing the list, The Academy had to as good as admit that The Dark Knight is the reason for this rule change and that’s embarrassing to the voters. Why? Because it means that their predictable and narrow minded nominations are actually being called out in the public eye.

4) The nearly 2 billion dollars of box office his last two films earned means that Nolan cannot be considered an artist.

Nolan’s movies have made too much money worldwide and are much too popular for them to be well made artistic films. Let it be known that The King’s Speech has made over 100 mil worldwide but that was Inception’s budget so that justifies the point.

5) Here’s the kicker, Inception was the object of editorial and political attacks. Just like a presidential election.

I have seen film reviewers, writers, producers and industry types basically rope Inception into the same old sequel argument. People who know that its an original film, totally created from Nolan’s mind have said things in the industry trades and blogs suggesting that its a “more of the same” film not worthy of voter’s time. Then while watching Encore’s In The House program I saw someone site an article about the ‘Death of the Movie’ which is focused on the sequel assembly line we’re getting from Hollywood in his reasoning why Inception won’t win. When the other commentator had the audacity to suggest that Inception is in fact an original popular blockbuster worthy of best picture discussion. The original commentator said well just because its popular doesn’t mean good, people vote a lot of idiots into office as well.

This could go on and on. Nolan was sunk because he makes comic book movies, his last comic book movie was so good the Academy’s ignorance forced it to change its own rules, and he made a wholly original film a major success artistically and commercially. I don’t know what else the man has to do to win a best director award except maybe make a movie that’s a commercial failure.

– Mr. Khon

Joseph Valenti

Founder of g33kWatch, Joe is the guy who makes sure nobody hurts themselves. Connect with me on Google+


  1. It really is a shame that Nolan got snubbed. I can’t profess to claim I know why, but I lean toward the box office success logic. Admittedly, I tend to sufer from this bias sometimes, too, when the Justin Bieber movie and a formulaic Adam Sandler movie top the box office. I’d like to think the Academy members know better than to vote based on box office profits, but if it walks like a duck and talks like a duck…

    In the end, though, I’m not really sure it matters. I pretty much gave up giving a crap what the Academy things a long time ago. Nolan will continue making movies, which will more than likely continue to be awesome regardless of the support of critics or the academy. It would make a bigger difference if he was an unknown filmmaker on the cusp of making it in Hollywood, but he’s already there.

  2. I love Christopher Nolan, I have been a fan obviously since the beginning with Memento. He has the ability to take a very complex storyline hook, and making it very easy to follow and understand.

    When the Dark Knight was snubbed I didn’t think much of it. Sure it was an amazing movie and it probably should have been Best Picture nominated, but it just didn’t bother me. It’s a tough sell and you don’t make superhero movies for that kind of recognition. With Inception though, I thought there was no way he would be snubbed. It’s an unbelievable triumph of screenplay, writing, acting and especially directing. That movie couldn’t have been successful without Christopher Nolan.

    I think they took out the other bullshit and simply asked if Inception could be as successful without Christopher Nolan, they would realize it couldn’t and they would have nominated him. Alas =P

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