I look forward to the Academy Award nominations each year with the fervour of a child anticipating Christmas morning.
Only every single year, when I open the proverbial gift box of Oscar nods, all wrapped neatly with the cursory bells and whistles, I find that the shiny new bicycle I wanted has magically transformed into a practical pair of socks. Thanks a lot, mom.
This happens annually without fail, and yet the sadistic optimist in me keeps expecting a different result. That’s the Einstein definition of insanity right?
The morning after the Academy lists its nominations traditionally consists of choleric grumbles and ornery eye rolls as I whine about why, oh why, my favourite actor/actress/film/director/caterer wasn’t given the recognition it/he/she deserved to anybody willing to listen.
Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange, Jeff Bridges in The Big Lebowski, Fight Club, City of God, Naomi Watts in Mulholland Drive, Memento, John Malkovich in Being John Malkovich are just a few of the snubs of that have gotten me riled up in the past and this year is no different.
The following are just some of my personal preferences that have been overlooked. They are by no means exhaustive or definitive but they’re certainly the most glaring.
The list for Best Actor in a Leading Role is a solid one this year, and I certainly have no gripes about the merits of any of the nominees. Except for the fact that Sam Rockwell’s intensely magnificent performance in Moon pretty much blew them all away.
Moon was a philosophical and profound science fiction exploration of the human condition and a spectacular showpiece for perpetually underrated character-actor Rockwell.
I figured Moon would be his breakout pièce de résistance. Apparently not.
I foolishly thought the same thing about Rockwell’s neurotic brilliance in Charlie Kaufman’s Confessions of a Dangerous Mind but he was snubbed by the Academy for that as well. They sure hate him don’t they? Or worse, they don’t even know he exists.
Sony bafflingly refused to support an Oscar push for the film by sending out screeners or arranging screenings for Academy voters. Moon director Duncan Jones vented about the lack of support on his Twitter, “We have more than asked. We've knocked heads. They have chosen the films they are backing and we are not in their plans."
Speaking of lack of a push, the latest Miyazaki masterpiece, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea was also ignored in the Best Animated Feature category. It’s hard for me to pinpoint which movie to replace on that list (because I enjoyed them all) but if I had to pick, The Princess and the Frog is nowhere near as deserving as Studio Ghibli’s gem.
Disney practically shunt aside Ponyo and hedged their bets supporting Up and The Princess & The Frog. I can’t really blame them but given Miyazaki’s reputation in the animation industry, Ponyo’s snub is bewildering.
Miyazaki’s Howl's Moving Castle and Spirited Away have been nominated (Spirited Away won) in previous years so a one-off omission in this instance doesn’t irk me so much.
Perhaps no other film has gotten the short end of the stick more often that Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are. This astonishing film adaptation of my favourite childhood book about childhood is entirely absent from the Oscar proceedings.
I’m not even calling for a Best Picture or Best Director nod (although both are deserving), the least the Academy could have done is nominate it for the technical awards (Costume Design, Art Direction, Cinematography) because its impressive visuals thoroughly merit it. It appears this awards season should be tag lined Where the Wild Things Aren’t.
The Karen O-composed score for Where the Wild Things Are is alternately eerie and tender and mightily deserves a Best Original Score nomination as well. How on earth Sherlock Holmes’ pedantic score managed to get on that list and not Karen O and The Kids’ vivid euphony, is beyond me.
I apologise to any Sandra Bullock fans out there but I did a face-palm (doh!) of incredulity when I saw her name on the Best Actress list. Abbie Cornish’s sparkling role in Bright Star is far worthier than Bullock’s clichéd showing in The Blind Side.
Cornish is equal parts intoxicating and disarming as Fanny Brawne, the secret lover of poet John Keats, and yet has been egregiously shunned. Other than Rockwell’s, this neglect annoys me the most.
Another actress criminally underappreciated this awards season is Melanie Laurent. Her role in Inglourious Basterds deserves a lot more acclaim than it received.
It appears that with all the hype surrounding Christoph Waltz (rightfully so), people have somehow forgotten that it was Laurent’s poetic performance that was the heart and soul of Basterds. I would have loved to have seen her rewarded with a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
Before we roll credits, here are a few other noteworthy Oscar exclusions for you to grind your teeth over: Julianne Moore (A Single Man) for Best Supporting Actress, Fantastic Mr. Fox for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay, Thirst for Best Foreign Language Film, Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) for Best Actor, and Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs for Best Animated Feature.