Oscar Snubs

Brad Williams returns with another guest post

With doodies like Moneyball and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close managing to bag a few Oscar nominations, it seems appalling that so many other great films missed out on any real award recognition for the Oscars 2012. What follows are some films which I feel lost out in some way this Oscar season, with suggestions where they could have got a nomination or two.

We Need to Talk About Kevin

How on earth this one got missed is beyond me! We have Rooney Mara and Glenn Close clogging up space where Tilda Swinton so rightfully belongs. Granted, We Need to Talk About Kevin is not a well rounded film, and it does suffer from the occasional airs of its director. But this realisation of Lionel Shriver’s chilling novel is halfway between American Psycho and Silence of the Lambs, utterly disturbing stuff. The two leads (Swinton and newcomer Ezra Miller) hold the film together like demonic adhesive, drawing you in at every turn whilst they chisel out a dynamic that is both ghoulishly funny and effortlessly horrifying.

Proposed nominations:
Actor in a Leading Role – Ezra Miller
Actress in a Leading Role – Tilda Swinton
Film Editing – Joe Bini
Art Direction – Charles Kulsziski
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – Lynne Ramsay & Rory Kinnear


Ironically, the film’s title is reflective of its award recognition (or lack thereof). Shame is a very powerful movie that could be career defining for both director (Steve McQueen) and actor (Michael Fassbender). For those that don’t know, Shame is the story of a sex addict who gradually spirals into despair when his sister comes to stay. On paper, the film sounds like dull shock schlock, but in reality Shame is something quite brilliant. Dealing with the very real issue of sex addiction, director Steve McQueen and co-writer Abi Morgan handle the subject matter with reverence and care. There are some arguably ironic notions to the film (one being that those who could relate most to Fassbender’s Brandon, probably cannot watch the film due to its overt sexual content – addiction recovery 101, avoid temptation), but there is no denying that the film bubbles away hypnotically for an hour and 40 minutes, and leaves you feeling awe struck by the closing credits.

Proposed nominations:
Actor in a Leading Role – Michael Fassbender
Cinematography – Sean Bobbitt
Directing – Steve McQueen
Sound Mixing – Niv Adiri
Best Picture – Shame
Writing (original screenplay) – Steve McQueen & Abi Morgan


As if you haven’t seen Drive! It was only one of the most hyped indie hits of the year! The result of Nicolas Winding Refn’s neo-noir blood bath is that now everyone has one or all of the following;
a) A man crush on Ryan Gosling
b) A white bomber jacket
c) A toothpick permanently in their mouth
d) The soundtrack
There is no disputing the awesomeness of this 80’s throwback. The dialogue was slick – “There’s a hundred-thousand streets in this city. You don’t need to know the route. You give me a time and a place, I give you a five minute window.” The action was fast paced and brutal. The cinematography was spellbinding. And Gosling was the embodiment of a young Clint Eastwood. A thousand curses on whoever decided NOT to give Drive any nominations.

Proposed nominations:
Actor in a Leading Role – Ryan Gosling
Actress in a Leading Role – Carey Mulligan
Actor in a Supporting Role – Albert Brooks
Actor in a Supporting Role – Bryan Cranston
Cinematography – Newton Thomas Sigel
Costume Design – Erin Benach
Directing – Nicolas Winding Refn
Music (Original Score) – Cliff Martinez
Best Picture – Drive
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) – Hossein Amini

Take Shelter

Jeff Nichols’ slow burning mind screw pretty much came out of nowhere. Take Shelter is the story of Curtis, a simple family man whose world is suddenly torn apart by visions and hallucinations of storms. As Curtis delves deeper into his family past, what seem like daydreams, suddenly become nightmares. If anyone has told you about Take Shelter, then the sentence will probably contain the following words; “Guy from Revolutionary Road”, “brilliant”, “canteen sequence”. American independent cinema has really come on leaps and bounds in recent years. The days when Sundance and Toronto film festival were for Hollywood hating soap dodgers are pretty much gone. I think it’s appropriate to say that at this point in time, some of the best directors in the business are coming out of festivals, and Take Shelter is a prime example of this. I cannot understand how the academy were not blown away…pardon the pun.

Proposed nominations:
Actor in a Leading Role – Michael Shannon
Actress in a Leading Role – Jessica Chastain
Directing – Jeff Nichols
Music (Original Score) – David Wingo
Best Picture – Take Shelter
Writing (Original Screenplay) – Jeff Nichols


It left us all with a horrendous fear of…well, everything. So it’s a mystery to me why Steven Soderbergh’s pandemic-drama got totally biffed off by the Oscars. Tight and well paced, Contagion is a beautifully crafted exploration of what would really happen if things all went south. No stranger to an ensemble cast, Soderbergh uses pretty much all of his actors to great effect (with the exception of a slightly OTT Jude Law). The film’s bio-babble might have put some off, but make no mistake, everything in Scott Burns’ script is functional and central to the film’s plot. Particular moments of note come, not when rousing monologues are given, or even when key cast have emotional breakdowns, but rather in the quiet close ups of hands touching doors, wiping noses, holding hand rails. It’s in these simple moments that Soderbergh creates and propels the film’s horror and tension.

Proposed nominations:
Cinematography – Steven Soderbergh
Directing – Steven Soderbergh
Film Editing – Stephen Mirrione
Make Up – Kate Biscoe
Best Picture – Contagion
Writing (Original Screenplay) – Scott Burns

Another Earth

Mark Cahill’s muted sci-fi tragedy floated around the festival circuit in the early part of 2011. Eventually finding a limited release, Another Earth was one of the hidden gems of the year. It’s the story of young Rhoda Williams (Brit Marling), a tortured University graduate who sees her window of opportunity to escape the past errors of her life with the discovery of a parallel Earth. Much in tone with Take Shelter, this is one of those films which works purely on word of mouth, but for those lucky enough to have seen it what a treat it is. Brit Marling’s portrayal of Rhoda is ghost like; she floats through each scene with dearth…emotionless, yet full of character. She is magnetic, highly watchable, an enigma of a personality, fraught with heartbreak. Somewhat overshadowed by the publicity (both negative and positive) of Lars von Trier’s similarly themed Melancholia, Another Earth has been robbed at every turn. It is a truly poetic and heartfelt little movie that definitely deserved more than it got.

Proposed nominations:
Actor in a Leading Role – William Mapother
Actress in a Leading Role – Brit Marling
Actor in a Supporting Role – Kumar Pallana
Cinematography – Mike Cahill
Directing – Mike Cahill
Music (Original Score) – Will Bates & Phil Mossman (as, Fall on Your Sword)
Sound Editing – Sasha Awn, Ryan M. Price, Steve Giammaria & Sebastian Henshaw
Writing (Original Screenplay) – Mike Cahill & Brit Marling

…and the others

The Beaver
Actor in a Leading Role – Mel Gibson

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Actor in a Supporting Role – Ralph Fiennes

Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Actor in a Leading Role – Andy Serkis
Actor in a Supporting Role – John Lithgow
Sound Mixing – Ron Bartlett & James Bolt

Best Film – Bridesmaids

18 thoughts on “Oscar Snubs

  1. The sad thing about this post for me was that I have not seen a single film you have listed here, except Bridesmaids. I am failing as a human being.

  2. We all have our weaknesses ;) Just saw J,Edgar as well recently, and im pretty satisfied with the lack of attention that got. Love Clint, but a pretty average effort with that one – which is a shame.

  3. I have seen some of these and agree with you that there should have been some nominations handed out to some of these films. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the last Harry Potter film but you may be right that Feinnes deserved some recognition. Or it may just be that acting menacing is much easier without a nose. I thought bridesmades was fantastic. I don’t begrudge the nominations for Moneyball, though.

  4. I heard that whatever the strengths of the movie that J Edgar was among the best performances of Leonardo DiCaprio.

    I’d heard pretty good things about The Beaver as well. It was supposed to have been a pretty heartfelt performance by Gibson who really is a pretty messed up person. But I’m not sure he’s more messed up than dozens of other Hollywood stars. It’s too bad Jodie Foster had to deal with the fall out of his life.

    Quite a few special effects people were pretty pissed Andy Serkis was even considered. I read a few articles about how much work it actually took to “fix” the capture from Serkis. I can understand that concern. But then look at how much voting for best actor or actress depends upon the right script, the right director, and frankly just luck that things came together. Movies have always been a collaborative process.

  5. J, Edgar: I didn’t bother. Clint is getting bogged down in political statements but it’s not his area of predilection. In my opinion, his last good movie has been Million Dollar Baby and everything after that is not going to hit home with me. From your list I have seen 1)Drive, 2)Take Shelter 3) The Beaver 4)Harry Potter 5)The Rise of the Planet of the Apes 1) Just a beautiful collage of styles such as the obvious Michael Mann photographic essays, Lynchean noir fantasies, etc. Possibly a movie that will haunt the mind as everyone wants to sit in that car and have RG as the driver to take us anyplace for a cool experience. That scene early in the movie when he escapes the chasing cops by being steady and then gently reversing in a shed, never hurries nor anxious is just reassuring us into keeping in control at the office Monday mornings or else. 2) That was a miss (but let the Frenchies bath lots of Oscars this year if you don’t mind with The A) and will have to be on my shelves. Something to be owned to comfort my status of film lovers and have opportunities to do quality-entertaining with visitors as this movie is very well known. Magnificent lesson of acting from Shannon to all new comers and dinosaurs who are resting on former glories. 3) Mel Gibson is just too much of a looney in here to be a contender. But this is a brave movie, an amazingly original script and story, acting is intense and ‘in your face’. But the destiny of such movies is to be great finds in blockbusters at best due to their niche-appeal. A great one. 4) I don’t remember how this happened that I was in a theatre and watched Harry Potter. Maybe I was drugged? Oh yes, I was on half-term daddy-duty! A no choice situation and no escape from hell. Not one redeeming feature part from an undeniable amazing CGI technology that enhances the photography. I beg you, studios: no more! Let the weasel with round glasses and his deluded troupe fall into room 101! 5) This Apes version, I loved it. A departing from Pierre Boulle’s original chilling discourse, but a kind message of appreciation of the need to use intelligence first with respect of what we have dominion over. The many americanistic aspects of the movie (laboratory boss’ over capitalist mindset, this at-times fromagy can-do attitude…) cannot spoil what is a clever treatment of that epic story. I love it but agree that there is just too much quality on the Oscars list in terms of fine crafting for this one to be left aside. Just a good year for movies and screen flies. Thanks for posting.

  6. I’ll have to see Another Earth. I saw Bridesmaid (sorry, not bragging, just don’t have much of a life beyond a living room) and had a few laughs. Saw it again on DVDs with my wife and she felt it was daft. I felt daft for enjoying it. Not a contender in any category but can be a pleasing treat for mid-week chill.

  7. Watch Melancholia (Sorry, I realise I’m talking to Brad here). A masterpiece. A cinematographic opera that leaves you question your own reality. It comes from Lars Von Trier self-exploration of mind, depression and coping with anxiety (his words). An absolute work of art. Never seen anything like it this side of sleep.

  8. Brian G – im glad you like the post

    Clark – its not that J.Edgar is a bad movie, far from it. But rather that it feels somewhat empty and muddled. There is a lot in it, and i have no question about the talents involved. It treats the subjet with great care and never veers too deeply into one specific arguement – was he gay? Was he paranoid? Did he really make things up for the sake of himself or the agency image? Was he a victim of presidential interference or of his own obsession?

    The problem is that it looks at it all and never goes too far, which is both a blessing and a curse. There are two or three genuinely brilliant scenes. I would suggest seeing it.

    Its interesting what you said about Andy Serkis, i have not heard that before. I think that a lot of special effects artists are feeling a bit unloved. Its no suprise that their skills really make the character. But i feel its unfair for them to blast the actor. After all, its small details and connection he brings to the rest of the cast that bring it to life. It truly is a joint effort, but if im not mistaken Rise has been nominated in an effects catagory, so they cannot gripe too much.

    Xavier – i disagree with you thoughts on Clint. I feel his art lies in his ability to be sentimental without being tawdry. Whatever political agenda his films carry is the voice of his screenwriter. But i can see how certain films might not appeal to everyones taste. And yes, the french will of course take home a lot of gold come Oscar night. The Artist is a genuinely brilliant film, and there is no shame in anyone losing out to brilliance.

    I have only glanced at Melancholia. But ive tried and tried with Lars and really cannot get on with him so i doubt i will make the effort unless im bored / forced to watch in a Kubrickian style torture scenario. Maybe we should have an arthouse themed shoe box classics film night. You provide the haughty films and i will bring some granola bars and herbal tea. ;)

  9. Regarding Clint, I think Grand Torino is one of his best movies ever – even if a lot of the acting wasn’t that great.

  10. Of these movies, I’ve seen Another Earth. I thought it was good, not super great, and not really worth any nominations.

  11. I watched Moneyball over the weekend. I had a very similar experience that I had when I watched The Social Network (I’m starting to think it’s an Aaron Sorkin thing). While watching it, I found it to be entertaining and have some good performances, but some of the theme development was whack-you-over-the-head subtle. (Billy Beane’s GM was the result of his being a 5-tool player who failed in the Bigs; Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook to show up an ex-girlfriend, etc.). Then you look back on the movie the next day and realize it was less than it seemed while you were watching it. Also (and this is probably controversial) you realize that Sorkin used a lot of cheap artistic license to fictionalize the story (creating the Peter Brand character out of whole cloth in Moneyball and a fictional ex-girlfriend for Social Network). Though it probably shouldn’t, this kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Both movies involved very well-known events and very public figures. Why cheat? Why not stick with the facts.

    Anyway, Moneyball is not a bad movie, but not a great one either. Pitt and Hill are really good, as is Phillip Seymour Hoffman.

  12. Did anyone even bother watching the Oscars? Heard it was horrible. No TV in my house anymore so I couldn’t watch but even if I had network coverage I’d not have watched.

  13. I watched some. It was better than last year, but that’s not saying much. Crystal is definitely past his pull date.

  14. BTD Greg,

    The fictionalized Peter Brand was due to a request of the real person the character is based on. He didn’t appreciate the characterization in the movie. But it wasn’t the writers original intent to completely fictionalized him.

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