Henry Bevan on the biggest Oscar snubs…
You can never escape the Oscars. Even once the winner has been crowned, publications start talking about the next crop of hopefuls. There have already been vague articles on this already and people are already talking about Black Panther’s chances at becoming the first superhero movie to get a Best Picture nomination. One of the more fun and subjective lists that appear in the aftermath of Hollywood’s favourite pseudo-event is the “snubbed” list of nominees the writer thought should have won on the night. The type that scream that Laurie Metcalf was robbed!
Well, we at Flickering Myth want to take this one step further. We’ve had a group therapy session and created our “Greatest Oscar Snubs of All Time” list focusing on those great gems that somehow weren’t gifted a nomination.
The Truman Show
Yes, every A-level English teacher’s favourite movie about the fallacy of playing God has made the cut. It is kind of astonishing that Peter Weir’s film didn’t crack the Top 5 as this “comedy” asks striking questions about how we live our lives, the rise of reality TV and our willingness to let cruelty slide for our entertainment. Every actor brings their A-game as they deal with the duality of their characters’ lives, and as Truman, Jim Carrey proves he is as much a dramatic actor as he is a comedic one.
Back to the Future
The Academy is infamously allergic to genre pictures, and while we hope wins for The Shape of Water and Get Out suggest they’ve been prescribed medication to get over their pretentiousness, this wasn’t always the case. Both Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark were nominated in the late 70s and early 80s, so it’s disappointing Back to the Future missed out. Robert Zemeckis’ thrill ride to the 1950s is more intelligent than it deserves to be, and its time-travel rules hold up almost until the end. Zemeckis and co-writer Bob Gayle smuggle in some moving messages about growing up, our relationships with our parents and our need for independence. This is a comedy that only gets better with age.
The Dark Knight
We were tempted to write a long paragraph about Christopher Nolan’s superhero metaphor for the war on terror, but enough has already been said. It is the film that made the Academy change its Best Picture rules. I mean, how could we not nominate it?
Guillermo del Toro delivered his most acclaimed hit last year, but Pan’s Labyrinth is still his best. Ofelia’s fairytale adventure is visual scrumptious, you’d expect nothing less from this director, but his real strength is in his characterisations and how he handles his themes. Humanity is the real monster as the sadistic General Vidal is desperate to stump out the rebels, and del Toro delivers a fantastical rebuttal of fascism.
Hunt for the Wilderpeople
This idiosyncratic comedy from Taika Waititi isn’t the type of film that is normally rewarded, and it’s a shame because it is poignant and charming storytelling is anchored by great direction and performances. Sam Neill (who you should all check out on Twitter) is heartbreaking, but it is Julian Dennison as Ricky, the wannabe gangsta, who delivers great barbs and the best scene related to The Terminator franchise since T2.
Christopher Nolan — Inception
It shouldn’t surprise our readers, or even casual film fans, that Nolan ended up on this list. It also shouldn’t be surprising that Inception is the film we think he should have got nominated for. The Leonardo DiCaprio flick’s infamous ending only works because of Nolan’s ability to keep his complex dream-within-a-dream story coherent. This is a script that could have spoiled in another’s hands, and for those who say his films are too sterile, this is a personal film about man dealing with his grief to see his children again. Albeit, one with rotating corridors and origami cityscapes.
Lynne Ramsay — We Need to Talk About Kevin
With Ramsay recently releasing her first film since Kevin with I Wish You Were Never Really Here, it remains boggling how Kevin never became a major Oscar player. The whole film is worthy of being on this list, and Ramsay’s precise control over every element of the film is why this film, and the material it deals with, doesn’t become septic. She is so attuned with what story she is trying to tell she can make Ezra Miller eating grapes truly terrifying.
Sam Raimi — Evil Dead 2
When this one was put into the pot, many scratched their heads. How could you nominate Evil Dead 2 over Spider-Man 2? While Spidey’s superior sequel (and still the best superhero movie) is Raimi’s best film, the way he pulls off this horror sequel’s tonal whiplash is yet to be matched within the horror-comedy genre. This is a film where Ash (a never groovier Bruce Campbell) fighting his own hand is as scary and as campy as that premise sounds. It’s a neat trick and one that deserves more recognition than how a director films some lovely landscapes.
Alfonso Cuarón — Children of Men
Balletic camera moves are nothing new when it comes to Cuarón’s filmography, but he reached his nadir with Children of Men. From the opening tracking shot of Clive Owen getting a coffee to the famous car attack to the 13-minute long take through a battlefield, this is directing as field marching and Cuarón’s attention to detail and control is masterful. He alone stops this falling apart.
James Wan — The Conjuring
There are so many bad horror movies that when one is legitimately terrifying and suspenseful, it is often overlooked. With the first Conjuring movie, Wan pulls off every horror trick imaginable and fills the screen with so much suspense it is as if Hitchcock has been possessed by the devil. He also smuggles in a nice sub-plot about a family growing closer due to the trauma he inflicts on them. Both sweet and scary, Wan brought his A-game and elevated the material.
Jake Gyllenhaal — Nightcrawler
Gyllenhaal is becoming one of the Academy’s most neglected actors. Even for this performance where he lost weight, something Oscar loves rewarding men for, he wasn’t nominated. As the protagonist of Dan Gilroy’s creepy look at the 24/7 news cycle, Gyllenhaal is as seductive as a snake. The audience is enticed by Lou Bloom that we make excuses for him as his behaviour becomes more and more diabolical. It takes a skilled actor to make you fall for the devil.
Ryan Gosling — Drive
Gosling is now a superstar and is arguably so because of his stoic performance in Nicholas Winding-Refn’s neon-nightmare. Gosling, who also should have been nominated for Blue Valentine and Lars and the Real Girl, moved away from sensitive types to play the head-stomping Driver, and he does a lot with little. It’s a perfect example of economic storytelling and a performance that fits in nicely with the hard-boiled loners of the 1960s and 70s.
Cary Grant — Charade
Grant being great is no surprise, but even by his standards he is bafflingly good in the best Hitchcock film Hitchcock didn’t direct. His partnership with Audrey Hepburn sparkles, but the real reason he gets on this list is because we have no idea who he is actually playing at the end of the film. His character has multiple identities, is both friend and foe, and it is a stroke of genius as the credits role, we do not know what Grant’s character will do next.
Sacha Baron Cohen — Borat
Yes, Borat is on this list and how can he not be considering the dedication Sacha Baron Cohen gives to the role. Stepping out of Ali G’s shadow, Baron Cohen’s performance has arguably made Borat more famous than Slough’s premier gangsta. The actor creates a special alchemy when interacting with the public and it is difficult deciding where the character ends. Also, how can you not find the moment Borat discovers Pamela Anderson is not a virgin incredibly moving and funny?
Mads Mikkelsen — The Hunt
We are able to say Mikkelsen has become the go-to actor Hollywood blockbusters waste because of his performance in Thomas Vinterberg’s The Hunt. As a man falsely accused of being pedophile by his best friend’s daughter, the actor is devastating as he shows the impact of ostracisation and suspicion. It’s a sympathetic performance with enough edge to make us question the reality of the situation and when the credits start, we’re as haunted by Mikkelsen’s performance as his character is by the accusations.
…Click below to continue on for Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor…