I waited until the day after the 86th Annual Academy Awards just in case there were some interesting snubs to discuss. However—aside from my personal preference of Chiwetel Eijiofor over Matthew Maconaughey—the Awards were rather snub-free. My prediction of "Gravity" winning all the technical awards as well as Best Director, but "12 Years a Slave" winning Best Picture, from four months ago(found here and here), were dead on.
The ceremonies had their ups—Lupita N’yongo, Merryl Streep, and Amy Adams boogying with Pharrell—and they had their downs—John Travolta introduced, Idina Menzel, the singer of Frozen’s award-winning song, but called her Adela Dazeem?? It was a very interesting evening as shown by Ellen’s selfie that broke Twitter. You can view my “1st Annual Oscar Live Tweets” here and hopefully you’ll join me in real time next year.
This list is entitled The Christopher Nolan Category for good reason. Nolan, who is one of the visionary directors of our time, has never, ever been nominated for a directing Oscar…EVER! Sure, he’s been thrown a few bones in the writing categories and one as a producer on “Inception”. But his bread and butter is directing, and for all his efforts and contributions he has received zero acknowledgment from the Academy.
We’ll get back to Mr. Nolan in a little bit, but for now we’ll begin our list. In the former articles, the lists have been set in chronological order, but for this entry we will list them in descending order of the most appalling snubs with number one being the most egregious in my opinion.
“The Not Nominated List: The Christopher Nolan award”
(2012) The Avengers – There was still one spot!
Four years earlier the exclusion of “The Dark Knight” from the Best Picture category caused the Academy to raise the number of spots from five to “as many as ten”. Then in 2012 when the next hugely successful comic book adaptation was waiting, they only selected nine films, excluding the 3rd highest grossing film of all-time. The Academy’s biggest weakness? They lack conviction.
(2012) Who Was Nominated: Michael Haneke - Amour/ Who Shouldv'e been nominated: Ben Affleck - Argo
It’s typical for the director of the Best Picture winner to also win the Best Director award. Unfortunately for Ben Affleck, his name was missing from the ballot. Alas, Mr. Affleck (who already has three very successful films under his belt) will have to wait for his recognition from Hollywood. “What starts in farce, ends in tragedy.” Or is it the other way around?
(1998) Who was Nominated: Ed Harris - The Truman Show/ Who Should've Been Nominated: John Goodman - The Big Lebowski
Looking back it is easy to say that John Goodman should have been nominated for the Oscar in 1998 for his endearing, outrageous turn as The Dude’s best friend Walter in “The Big Lebowski.” Instead, Ed Harris was nominated for playing Ed Harris for two hours. It’s as if the Academy has no frame of reference; as if they’re out of their element.
(2004) Who was nominated: Johnny Depp - Finding Neverland/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Paul Giamatti - SIdeways
The Academy favored Johnny Depp’s horrible British accent over Giamatti’s heartbreaking role as a recently-divorced, struggling author. Giamatti made you watch a two hour film about wine and love every second, and yet was surprisingly ignored. That’s an interesting perspective.
(2012) Who Was Nominated: Beasts of the Southern Wild/ Who Should've been nominated: Drive
Drive was the most surprising film I ever sat through. The pulsing soundtrack, the slow burn on the long wick of a bomb that you didn’t know was lit. In a year with 10 possible nominations it was sad to see this shocking treasure get no love. Academy, you’re not very good at this, are you?
(2003 & 2004) Who Was Nominated: Seabuiscit & Finding Neverland/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Kill Bill Volume 1 & 2
It’s still amazing that both volumes of Kill Bill were shut out of the Best Picture category by the likes of “Seabiscuit” in 2003 & the aforementioned mushy “Finding Neverland” in 2004. It’s as if the Academy wanted to see if we thought that they’d recognize excellence over sentiment, and you know, for a second there…yeah, I kinda did.
(2012) Who Was Nominated: Les Miserables/ Who Should've Been Nominated: The Master
The display of directorial craftsmanship and acting at its highest level that “The Master” contained should never have been ignored. Leave it up to the Academy to pick the musical over a film that truly the term magnum opus. It’s almost as if they’re just making it up as they go.
(1993) Who Was Nominated: The Piano/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Philadelphia
“Philadelphia” was the first large scale Hollywood film to deal with the topic of AIDS and discrimination of Homosexuality in America, and the acting is so superb that you can watch a man’s dying struggle over and over again. Who really wants to watch “The Piano” again? Which would make you more comfortable?
(1995) Who Was Nominated: Michael Noonan - Babe/ Who Should've Been Nominated: David Fincher - Se7en
Ugh. Babe. I can’t…I really…I mean…Babe! David Fincher gave us one of the most suspenseful thrillers in years. The man was responsible for giving the late ‘90s the look that pops into your mind when I say “the late ‘90s”. So what, Chris Noonan just directed an episode of “The Time of our Lives”. I want to hear Fincher’s opinion. Become vengeance, David. Become wrath.
(1998) Who Was Nominated: Shakespeare In Love/ Who Should've Been Nominated: The Big Lebowski
That’s right. I’m saying that “The Big Lebowski” was a better overall film than ‘98’s Best Picture winner, “Shakespeare in Love.” It is endlessly quotable and exhibits one of the finest casts of actors of any film you can name. Bridges, Goodman, Hoffman, Turturro Moore, Buscemi and Sam Elliott being more Sam Elliot than ever, but apparently the Academy didn’t think much of it. Yeah, well, that’s just like your opinion.
(1993) Who Was Nominated: Pete Posthelwaite - In The Name Of The Father/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Denzel Washington - Philadelphia
How was Denzel left out of the Best Supporting Actor category in 1993? He and Hanks put on an acting Tour De Force, but Pete Postlethwaite had been great for years without much recognition, so the Academy threw him a bone. But I still don’t get it. Please, explain it to me like I’m a four year-old.
(1999) Who Was Nominated: The Cider House Rules/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Fight Club
What in the hell do David Fincher and Brad Pitt have to do to get a damn nomination, damnit? Everything about this movie nears as close to awesomeness as one can get before the heat from the star turns them to ashes. “The Cider House Rules” is an exercise in tediousness emotionality. I will not soon forget this snub. I am Jack’s unmerciful memory.
(2008) Who Was Nominated: Anthony Minghella - The Reader/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Christopher Nolan - The Dark Knight
Christopher Nolan did the unbelievable in 2008. He made a comic book adaptation that demanded to be distinguished more than any that had come before. “Batman Begins” was entertaining, but nobody expected the follow up to rewrite the rules for an entire genre of films. It’s beginning to appear as if the Academy’s senior citizen voters have stuck around long enough to see themselves become the villain.
(1998) Who Was Nominated: Nick Nolte - Affliction/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Jeff Bridges - The Big Lebowski
Jeff Bridges—an actor not known for his comedic abilities at the time—turned what could have been easily been a forgettable role into one of the most quoted and easily recognizable film characters of all time. You can’t go to the mall without seeing “The Dude” on a t-shirt or coffee mug that says “Hey! Careful man, there’s a beverage here!”
(2000) Who Was Nominated: Geoffrey Rush - Quills/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Christian Bale - American Psycho
Christian Bale burst on to the scene as a psychotic, murderous, stock trader who loved ‘80s pop music and chainsaws. The scene involving the comparing of business cards, Bale gives you a subtle look into the insane man you’ll see later on in physical form. It’s an epic meditation on intangibility.
(1995) Who Was Nominated: Babe/ Who Should've Been Nominated: The Usual Suspects
I don’t know what got into the Academy in ’95. Perhaps “Babe” spent a lot of money campaigning or the old guys voting had their grandchildren begging on its behalf. “The Usual Suspects” is one of very few films in which the payoff unveiling of the truth may be overshadowed by the story and performances that precede it. The voters screwed the pooch big time with this snub. You only get one chance to recognize these great films and then poof…they’re gone.
(2010) Who Was Nominated: The Coen Brothers - True Grit/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Christopher Nolan - Inception
You’d think that the Academy had learned their lesson from “The Dark Knight”, but sadly, they failed to recognize the director of the most original movie in decades that just happened to include some of the most beautiful cinematography and visual effects in years. “True Grit” was entertaining, but a rather straight forward retelling of the novel; nothing that original. Come on Academy! You mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger.
(1995) Who Was Nominated: Il Postino/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Se7en
“Il Postino” was a sweet foreign film, but Se7en was a modern day masterpiece, exhibiting brilliant directing and acting. It was such an original concept brought to fruition with such skill by all those involved that it’s a dark spot on the Academy’s record when you realize it was snubbed.
(1993) Who Was Nominated: The Remains of the Day/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Jurassic Park
Perhaps the Academy was embarrassed to put two Steven Spielberg films in the Best Picture category in 1993—“Schindler’s List” being the other—but “Jurrasic Park” wasn’t just a summer blockbuster. It was a miraculous achievement in filmmaking, the likes of which no one had seen before that also displayed a compelling story with solid acting performances. The visual effects in “Jurassic Park” are as strong as any you’ll see today; it was obvious that Spielberg had spared no expense.
(2012) Who Was Nominated: Alan Arkin - Argo/ Who Should've Been Nominated: Leonardo DiCaprio - Django Unchained
Leonardo DiCaprio is slowly becoming the staple for Oscar snubary. He’s been overlooked more times than four leaf clovers with none more infuriating than not even being nominated for his menacing turn as a slave owner in “Django Unchained”. The Academy loves them some Alan Arkin, but there’s a scene in which Leo slams a glass down on the table—creating a wound that would need medical attention and stitches—but continued the scene that should’ve been his clip during as the read off the Oscar nominees. What’s the matter? Did the voters have nails for breakfast?
(2008) Who Was Nominated: The Reader/ Who Should've Been Nominated: The Dark Knight
As noted before “The Dark Knight” completely overhauled the comic book genre, but this inconceivable denial of a nomination also rewrote history, causing the Academy to begin including up to ten films for the Best Picture category. It must have put the Academy on their heels when things didn’t go according to plan and everybody lost their minds after they snubbed this instant classic.