Friday, February 05, 2010

Top Ten Fridays: Decade's Oscar Snubs

While we're on the topic of what's wrong with the Oscars, I thought it would be worth taking some time to note where Oscar got things most egregiously wrong. In my opinion, and with all due respect to Bill Murray, the only real snub is failing to garner a nomination.

You miss out on the big dance. No glamour. No after-parties with hors d'oeuvres provided by Wolfgang Puck. No chance to caress George Clooney's man-stubble. So yeah, here's my picks, in list form.

10. Wall-E (Best Picture) - If the expansion to ten best picture nominations accomplishes anything, hopefully it will be to end the prejudice against animated films. Pixar has, flatly, put out the best work of any studio over the last ten years. Wall-E, arguably the greatest animated film ever made, lost out to a host of mediocrities, proof that animation will never get the respect it deserves.

9. King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters (Best Documentary) - The lamentable exclusion of masterpieces like Hoop Dreams led to a reform in the way Documentary nominees are selected. While films like Born Into Brothels and Man On Wire benefited from these reforms, the Oscars continue to ignore populist fare, even when it is brilliant and inspired.

8. Jim Carrey (Best Actor) - I can understand the snub for The Truman Show. Peter Weir has established an excellent track record when it comes to getting something more out of comedians, and Carrey's role kind of acted itself. But his performance in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind absolutely deserved a nomination. Most male leads simply can't compete with Kate Winslet's enormous talent (think Leonardo DiCaprio, whose career she almost accidentally ruined), but Carrey was with her step for step. Did any piece of his performance feel contrived or inauthentic? No, and that is the hallmark of a great performance.

7. Kill Bill Vols. 1 & 2 (Shutout) - These films arrived at a time when Tarantino was experiencing quite a bit of backlash. Films with political statements were en vogue, and Tarantino's movies are about, well, other films. How else to explain shutouts, not only in the major categories, but screenplay, editing, art direction, and cinematography? Which movie's visuals are more memorable, Kill Bill's or Girl With a Pearl Earring? For crying out loud.

6. United 93 (Best Picture) - While Paul Greengrass was the beneficiary of the annual "we can't just nominate the same movies for director and picture" nod, United 93 was shutout in favor of Babel and Little Miss Sunshine. The movie clearly got the shaft because of its political content, or rather, lack thereof. If Greengrass had interspersed the action with scenes of George W. Bush at Booker Elementary school, United 93 would have swept the ceremonies.

5. Mark Ruffalo (Best Actor, You Can Count on Me) - It's not as though the Academy overlooked this movie (it received nominations for actress and screenplay), so why overlook Ruffalo's yin to Linney's yang? His performance ushered in a decade of outstanding naturalistic performances by young actors, many of which have earned nominations (Gosling's turn in Half Nelson, for example) themselves.

4. Royal Tenenbaums (Art Direction) - You could make the case that great art direction does not call attention to itself, and Wes Anderson's films are therefore two self-conscious to merit consideration. But, then, you'd expect the category to play host to a variety of subtle films with an underlying beauty that... Well, whatever it is, I'm pretty sure the Harry Potter movies don't have it.

3. Carter Burwell (Best Score) - You'd think he'd at least get a make up call for his Fargo snub, but one of the great film score composers has yet to receive even a nomination for his work. Burwell approaches his work from a very tactical standpoint. As such, he does not have the definitive style of uber-composers like Philip Glass or Thomas Newman. His are not the sort of scores you buy as albums, but rather the ones that make movies better. Which is the point, no?

2. Let The Right One In (Best Foreign Film) - This was beyond stupid. The film would have been a no-brainer, but for the process which requires countries to settle on one work for nomination. The Swedes, in their infinite wisdom, chose a different film, thereby screwing themselves out of a guaranteed nomination (and likely win).

1. Paul Giamatti (Best Actor) - Giamatti was snubbed for his role in American Splendor. Fair enough, it was an under the radar flick that was grim and angry to boot. Besides, his performance in Sideways was an easy make-up call. Until it wasn't. His bizarre exclusion ranks as one of the Academy's greatest slights, and makes you wonder if he's a closet Republican or something.


Blogger Adam Omelianchuk said...

Giamatti was excellent in Cinderella Man too.

7:26 AM  

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