Regardless of whether they win or not on Sunday, all of this year’s Academy Award nominees have already earned the respect of their peers in the industry and the privilege of announcing that fact on their résumés. (You just know that Jonah Hill will never let anyone forget that he’s a two-time Oscar nominee.) The real losers, of course, are the movies, performances or technical achievements that the Academy failed to recognize despite their worthy artistic merits. In today’s Roundtable, we take a look at some of last year’s movies that Oscar forgot, but shouldn’t have.
One of the disadvantages of releasing a movie early in the calendar year is that, no matter how good your film might be, it’s almost always forgotten come awards season. Such was the fate of ‘42‘, which I still rank as one of the best movies of 2013. However, I’m not here to argue for the movie, but rather for the missed opportunity the Academy made by not considering Harrison Ford for a Best Supporting Actor nod. His portrayal of Branch Rickey, the General Manager and President of the Brooklyn Dodgers who made the bold choice to sign Jackie Robinson to a Major League contract, was not only one of the best performances last year, it was perhaps the best performance Ford’s given in his entire career, and certainly the best one he’s given since 1993’s ‘The Fugitive’. It’s perhaps the only time in Ford’s career that he’s disappeared inside of a character so much that you forget you’re watching the actor and believe you’re watching Rickey Branch. Sadly, Harrison Ford looks like he’s going to be one of those actors who sold a ton of popcorn for Hollywood but never got the golden statue.
M. Enois Duarte
I think the biggest snub of the year must be Tom Hanks, a two-time Oscar winner who delivered not one, but two excellent performances in 2013. Although ‘Saving Mr. Banks‘ may have been a pleasant enough if average drama, Hanks’ portrayal of Walt Disney was admirable and, frankly, quite deserving of some Academy attention. If not for that film, then why the heck not for the stunning work he did in ‘Captain Phillips‘? Granted, there were several other amazing performances last year, but couldn’t Hanks at least receive a nomination?
I have to go with a slightly lesser-known category and person here. Editor Thelma Schoonmaker was robbed of a nomination for her editing of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street‘. Instead, the Academy nominated ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ and ‘American Hustle’ over it, even though ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ is much more about the way its edited together than either of those other two films. Schoonmaker’s editing drives that story, keeps it packed with energy, and ultimately makes the entire experience as surreal and crazy as possible. A Scorsese mainstay, Schoonmaker has won Oscars for ‘The Aviator’ and ‘The Departed’. With all its nuttiness and crazy action, ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ outdoes those two movies in the editing department by a long ways, not to mention some of the 2013 movies that were nominated over it.
For the second film in row, Jeff Nichols and his movie have been completely shut out of the Oscars. In 2011, despite an impressive screenplay and performances from Michael Shannon and Jessica Chastain (she was nominated for the wrong role that year), Nicholas and his film ‘Take Shelter’ weren’t nominated for a single award. The same thing happened again with his 2013 movie ‘Mud‘. After giving it a view, ‘Mud’ is one of those films that resonates with you for a long time. It’s meaty, with a lot to chew on. It’s full of great symbolism, genuine characters, high tension and fantastic performances. If I had my way, ‘Mud’ would be in the running for Best Picture, Original Screenplay, Directing and Supporting Actor (which would give McConaughey noms in both acting categories).
I’m still perplexed that ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ received so few nominations. I suspect that the film’s less-than-uplifting story unsettled a lot of people, but Oscar Isaacs turned in a revelatory performance, and the screenplay was extraordinary. WTF?
Best Supporting Actor is always a crowded field, but nominating Jared Leto for ‘Dallas Buyers Club’ over Will Forte in ‘Nebraska‘ is a travesty. Putting on women’s clothes does not equal a brilliant performance, and I found Leto’s acting impression about as skin deep as every other performance he’s ever turned in. Forte, on the other hand, delivered a pitch perfect performance as a son coming to grips with his father’s gross inadequacies in a film that I’ll never forget. I guess he’s not as pretty as Leto…
On the documentary front, I was equally thrown. ‘Blackfish’ and ‘We Steal Secrets’ were two of the most powerful titles I’ve seen in years, yet neither got nominated. I’m a big fan of Jeremy Scahill’s work, but ‘Dirty Wars’ isn’t anywhere near as good a film, yet it beat both out. Absurd.
Although it can be argued that his modern-day, black-and-white adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing‘ was a throwaway movie that Joss Whedon tossed together as a lark in between his mega-budget ‘Avengers’ extravaganzas, the film was delightfully light and breezy entertainment for literate viewers. No, I never realistically expected this movie to be remembered at Oscar time, but it contained a luminous starring performance from Amy Acker and a hilarious supporting turn from Nathan Fillion that deserve some recognition.
Which movies from 2013 do you think were snubbed by the Academy? Tell us in the Comments.