What's worse than having to hear Seth McFarlane do stand-up comedy at 8:30 a.m. EST opposite Emma Stone? Hearing the 2013 Academy Awards nominations that were to follow. On Thursday morning, this year's Oscar host McFarlane (and Stone, promoting her new film, Gangster Squad) gave us the year's best, according to the crusty, old, elitist group known as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
I'm not usually one to pan the Oscars, although each year brings with it new reasons to question its integrity. Perhaps it was just because this was a pretty exceptional year for great films, so it was to be expected that several of them would get the shaft.
But this year, the Oscars got a lot inexplicably wrong. Below, in no particular order (heck, a snub is a snub is a snub), here are the biggest blunders and omissions from today's Oscar announcements:
Moonrise Kingdom and/or The Impossible not nominated for Best Picture. A few years back the Academy expanded this coveted category to include up to 10 nominees. In order to get nominated this year, you had to receive at least 5% first place votes. This year, nine films apparently made the cut: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty. I won't bore you with my minority opinion about Cloud Atlas (but it was the best film of the year...just sayin'), but there are other notable snubs. Where was Moonrise Kingdom on this list? Each year there seems to be a select handful of "smaller" films that the Academy tends to appreciate in the Screenplay categories, but doesn't give them "serious" consideration. Apparently, Moonrise Kingdom was that film this year (nominated for Original Screenplay). But there is no explanation for how The Impossible wasn't included. In fact, Naomi Watts for Best Actress is its sole nomination.
The Impossible and Cloud Atlas not nominated in technical categories. Love the films or hate them, don't tell me that they weren't technical masterpieces. Did you know that Snow White and the Huntsman got a nomination for Costume Design and Visual Effects, yet Cloud Atlas had zero nominations? That the ever stinkier Snow White film, Mirror, Mirror, has as many nominations as The Impossible? Most common movie-goers don't get riled up over sound technique, but if asked I bet most would tell you that there was nothing more powerful on the ears this year than The Impossible, with the muffled underwater chaos and the harrowing sounds of destruction. Nope, a film like Argo was nominated in both Sound categories instead. Argo was a good film, but come on man. Its as if voters simply fill in a straight-ballot for their Best Picture nominee in all of these technical categories.
Speaking of Argo, no Ben Affleck? For Real? Rarely does anybody start their directing careers with three consecutive home runs, but that is exactly what Ben Affleck did with Argo (following Gone Baby Gone and The Town). Gaining seven nominations including Best Picture, Supporting Actor (Alan Arkin) and Best Adapted Screenplay, the Academy dropped the ball big time by not including Ben Affleck amongst this year's list of Best Director nominees. This perhaps, is the biggest snub of 2013...unless you consider that:
The Perks of Being A Wallflower was completely shut out of the Oscars. I mean, wow. As the awards season rolled on, it became more and more clear that Perks was going to face an uphill battle for a Best Picture nod, so I get that. Performances by Logan Lerman and especially Ezra Miller had gained notice here and there, but neither actor received recognition. But almost tragically, the biggest snub of 2013 has to be that author, writer and director Stephen Chbosky failed to get nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay. If anything, this film was hailed as a miraculous adaptation, which of course makes sense since Chbosky wrote the novel as well. But my God, Academy.
Many big-time directors were left off the list. Due to the new nature of the Best Picture system, it is a new Oscar reality that several films will get nominated each year, where their directors will not. This year, in addition to Ben Affleck (Argo), Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) was snubbed, even though his film got nominated for Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actress and several technical categories (seven noms in all). Then there was the omission of Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), who seemed one of the front-runners in the category. Lastly, no Quentin Tarantino (Django Unchained), Paul Thomas Anderson (The Master) or Wes Anderson (Moonrise Kingdom).
The Imposter and The House I Live In didn't make the cut for the Documentary category. Nobody really quite cares (how many documentaries did you catch in 2013?), but it is a big snub that The Imposter didn't receive a nomination from the Academy. They tend to be more politically driven in the documentary categories and all but one nominee (the great Searching for Sugar Man) dealt with social issues this year...which is why I figured the "War on Drugs" doc, The House I Live In was a sure thing. But also, seek out The Imposter and tell me if you've ever come across a more riveting and uniquely creative documentary in your life.
Animated category gets it all wrong. One of the most laughable selections of the entire nominations ceremony was the inclusion of The Pirates! Band of Misfits in the Best Animated Picture category. Especially when you consider films that didn't make the cut. It may not be the hip choice, but Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted was one of the best animated films of the year. Far better than Pirates! and more deserving than Brave, by a long shot.
Where was The Kid With a Bike? Not many saw this film, but it should have most definitely made the cut for Best Foreign Film. I know, I know, not entirely fair since I've seen a total of zero of the category's nominated films. But still.
Leonardo DiCaprio, John Hawkes headline the biggest acting snubs. DiCaprio was thought to be a strong contender for Best Supporting Actor (Django Unchained) and John Hawkes as well for Best Actor (The Sessions). Neither were nominated. Or how about Jamie Foxx, or Samuel L. Jackson for Django? Really, Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook) over Dwight Henry (Beasts of the Southern Wild)? Jackie Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) instead of Samantha Barks (Les Miserables) or Ann Dowd (Compliance)? And sorry, Matthew McConaughey fans (Magic Mike and Killer Joe), his best year yet on film was not noticed. Let me also take one last time to pout about Benicio Del Toro being over-looked for Savages. By far one of the most memorable screen villains in recent memory, for those who saw the film. Oh yeah, and the Academy is still not ready to look at comic-book movies with any seriousness. Andrew Garfield was awesome in The Amazing Spider-Man, but many were afraid to mention him, for fear of critical backlash (I'm assuming).
The Academy shows no balls by snubbing Joss Whedon. It was the biggest blockbuster of the Summer, but Marvel's The Avengers came away only with a nomination for Visual Effects. Many were pulling for it to nab a Best Picture nod, but to no avail. Then there is the case of The Cabin in the Woods, one of the most inventive original scripts in years (co-written by Whedon). Sadly, Whedon was shown no love for either films.
Agree or disagree? Comment below and tell me your thoughts on this year's Oscar nominations.
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