The Oscars are just a week away. As happens most years, some of the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards are less deserving of awards and praise than others. Like some of these, for example.
I had high hopes for ‘Steve Jobs‘. Even after its somewhat tortured production, I thought the film stood a chance of topping ‘The Social Network’. But once it arrived, phew, it was a lifeless mess. Michael Fassbender is pretty good as the lead, but really, nothing about this movie is stellar. One element I found especially strange when I first saw the film was the fact that in the second segment, Kate Winslet suddenly had a strong and unconvincing accent. It was either absent in the first part of the film or completely missing, but suddenly, in the second of three (plodding) segments, her lifeless performance also featured an out of the blue accent. Anyway, the accent is bad, and she’s entirely unremarkable. So that’s my pick for the least deserving nomination this year.
I’ve heard a lot of complaints about Christian Bale (‘The Big Short’) not being deserving of a Best Supporting Actor nod, or even the movie itself (which is now one of the three or four top contenders) not being worthy of its Best Picture nomination. However, I’ve yet to see the movie, so it felt dishonest to call it out here.
Instead, I’ll go with John Williams’ umpteenth nomination for Original Score, this time for ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens‘. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the film and think it’s about the best ‘Star Wars’ movie we could have hoped for, but Williams’ score is his laziest effort since ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’. The movie has no memorable new themes and the only good pieces of the score are new takes on themes Williams created for previous ‘Star Wars’ movies. Even as bad as the prequels were, Williams delivered some great new tracks for that trilogy (“Dual of the Fates,” “Anakin and Padme’s Theme” and “Anakin vs. Obi-Wan” being among my favorites). There’s nothing in ‘The Force Awakens’ noteworthy and certainly nothing worth an Oscar nomination.
Once more, the Oscars are devoid of surprises with the bulk of categories dominated by perfunctory nominations. Still, when looking over the short list, the nomination of ‘Inside Out‘ in the Original Screenplay category seems completely off. The second and third acts of that movie waste a fun and potent premise and opening. All of the talent was there, but the story stumbled in more ways than one. The nomination of ‘Inside Out’ makes the category seem like an afterthought, which isn’t helped by a lack of high-profile original scripts.
There are too many safe picks in the Best Actor category. Michael B. Jordan delivers a better and more layered performance in ‘Creed’ than Bryan Cranston (‘Trumbo‘) or Eddie Redmayne (‘The Danish Girl’) did. Either of those nominations could be thrown out for Jordan. If I had to pick one, I’d drop Cranston. His performance feels too much like an imitation to be convincing or engaging. Cranston is a great actor, but ‘Trumbo’ is only a so-so movie. The same goes for his performance.
I’m going against popular opinion here, but the most undeserving nomination this year is ‘The Martian‘ as Best Picture. Don’t get me wrong, ‘The Martian’ is a fun popcorn movie, but it’s total fluff. Aside from the visual and sound effects, there’s nothing special about it. It’s a ’70s disaster movie that takes place on Mars and Earth and in space. It’s filled with bad science talk and far too many characters that have to work together, wherever they are, in ‘Apollo 13’ fashion. The too-cool-for-school script, which feels like it was written by Marvel (including a geeky ‘Iron Man’ reference), definitely isn’t worthy of the screenplay nomination either. ‘The Martian’ is worth watching on TBS on a lazy Saturday afternoon, but that’s about it.
Adam Tyner (DVDTalk)
Since I hardly ever seem to step into a movie theater these days, I’m at a bit of a disadvantage. Many of these films haven’t found their way to Blu-ray quite yet, and I’ve really enjoyed those few I’ve seen that have. Until I’ve caught up the way I should, the one nomination that baffles me is Sam Smith’s ‘Spectre‘ theme song “Writing’s on the Wall” getting the nod for Best Original Song. Smith’s approach is understandable following the colossal success of Adele’s ‘Skyfall’ theme. Still, that tepid orchestral number devoid of any real hook threatens to put me to sleep, only to jolt me awake with a falsetto that sends me screaming out of the room.
Adam stole my first choice here. That Sam Smith song is horrid, easily the worst James Bond theme and simply unlistenable by any criteria. I have to assume that some money changed hands for it to get nominated for “Best” anything.
I know that this will draw the ire of its many fanboys and fangirls, but I’m also utterly perplexed at how ‘Mad Max: Fury Road‘ scored a Best Picture nomination. I just don’t get the love for this movie at all. I found it aggressively obnoxious and unpleasant, like going to a bad punk concert and sitting directly in front of the loudspeaker for two hours until your brains are pummeled into unconsciousness. It’s not just that the plot (what little of it there is beyond CAR CHASE CAR CHASE CAR CHASE CAR CHASE) is thin or that I have some aversion to the franchise. I’m a fan of ‘The Road Warrior’, which has a genuine elegant simplicity. ‘Fury Road’, however, is just loud and cartoonish and very, very dumb. While it may not be among the worst movies I’ve ever seen, it has no business on a Best Picture list.
I expect that the Comments section to this post will get flooded by people yelling at me for not loving ‘Fury Road’. So be it. Let’s see if we can also get you to tell us which of this year’s Oscar nominees you find most unworthy.