This was going to happen eventually. I write a lot of lists and posts about the Oscars on my blog and what better way to combine those two areas by writing about the films that should have made the cut but unfortunately didn’t.
Snubs are inevitable. In a year of highly competent films, with only 5 or 10 movies allowed in any category, you’re going to be faced with some that don’t get a nomination. I won’t be talking about films that didn’t win their category when they should have, because that becomes a much harder task.
I’ve decided to choose 3 films per every year of the 2010s. There will be one pick that broke hearts on nomination morning when it was not read aloud by some half-asleep comedians, there will be one pick that I think was extremely deserving of a nomination but for whatever reason was completely bypassed. Whether this is because of lack of precursor love or just another contextual factor, I’ll be addressing it as my number 2 pick. And thirdly, I’ll be talking about a pick which seemed to fly under the radar, no matter how much critical or commercial love it might have had, it’ll be something that fully deserved to be there, but just didn’t catch the Academy voters’ eyes.
This isn’t ranked, I’ll be going chronologically because ranking things that didn’t make the cut is just painstaking and nobody wants that. If so, I’ll also be providing an example of why the snub should have been included.
Song Kang-ho in Supporting Actor (Parasite)
Definitely one of the nominations everyone wanted to see come nomination morning around four months ago, Song Kang-ho’s performance in Parasite is remarkable in every way. He manages to balance the calmness of being a patriarch and the inner rage of the injustices that have been dealt to him and his family in comparison to the Park family. It’s a deft yet sensitive performance and given the win for the cast at the SAG awards, you would think nominating Kang-ho would have been a no-brainer. Apparently not. The clip I wanted to show is a spoiler but if you’ve seen the film, you know why he’s worthy of a nomination.
Booksmart in Best Original Screenplay
If you’ve read my Booksmart review, then you know how much I adore this film and besides its performances and direction, the screenplay is one of the best things about it. It’s whip-smart, appropriately paced with some absolutely hilarious recurring jokes. It somehow manages to balance that with some genuine heart and a beautiful look at a female friendship that doesn’t fall apart because of boys. Well that’s because one is a lesbian, but still. It’s rare to see. With several high-profile nominations under its belt such as WGA and BAFTA, it was likely the 6th place pick for this category. I would have happily nominated it over OUATIH but that’s just me.
Kelvin Harrison Jr. in Best Actor (Waves & Luce)
This man is the future. Storming onto the scene in 2019 with two stunning performances in Waves and Luce, Kelvin Harrison Jr. has become one of cinema’s brightest young talents. Nominated for BAFTA Rising Star Award alongside Kaitlyn Dever from the above Booksmart, Harrison Jr. has more than proven his talents of taking a script and bringing out its subtleties in his performances, and it seems to be a natural talent of his. Both Waves and Luce showcased this in 2019 and I was disappointed to see neither performance (or film for that matter) gain any critical love. Mark my words: this man will definitely be on that precious nomination list in the 2020’s.
Toni Collette in Best Actress (Hereditary)
You knew this was coming, surely.
Toni Collette took the world by storm with her tour-de-force performance in Ari Aster’s debut feature, the brilliant Hereditary. A similar trajectory to my almost-pick for this year, Ethan Hawke in First Reformed, Collette got a lot of critical and fan support for this performance. Following her Oscar nomination for 1999’s The Sixth Sense and a varied career any actor should be envious of, it looked like Collette was overdue for another nomination. She picked up a handful of critics’ awards for this and for a while things seemed like they might work in her favour. But genre bias struck once more as she was left out in the cold for what might be a career-best performance. Her ability to juggle multiple emotions/states of mind at the same time and a truly committed performance makes it a standout and absolutely one to complain about when talking about deserving nominations. She’s personally my winner in the category that year (but shoutout to Olivia Colman whose performance I also adored).
You already know what scene I’m going to show you.
First Man in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Original Score
This won’t be the last multi-category snub of this post, but this might be the most egregious. I’ll start with the obvious. Not nominating Justin Hurwitz’s blindingly brilliant music was a crime in itself and one of the worst things the Oscars have ever done. Up until the announcement, Hurtwiz seemed like a frontrunner to win the award, picking up the Golden Globe, the Critics’ Choice Award, and various other prizes. And then it was determined that Hurwitz did not make the cut. I can’t even begin to understand this decision. Listen to this:
How do you not nominate that? I firmly believe it should have secured a place in the five and contended for the win, ultimately though I would have picked Nicholas Britell’s exquisite work on If Beale Street Could Talk.
Further, director Damien Chazelle was coming off the back of his Oscars mega-hit La La Land, which tied the record to most nominations with 14. First Man was an extremely ambitious yet measured film and Chazelle’s direction is a huge part of that. The flight scenes are impeccable, the decision to concentrate on Neil’s state of mind as well as the achievement was a brave one given the legacy of the moment, but it worked well. Chazelle deserved a place among the Directors, definitely more than Adam McKay’s controversial work on Vice.
Let’s talk about Ryan Gosling. His performance in First Man is up there with his best, certainly better than his previously nominated performance in La La Land which, while still good, warrants a lot less praise than the internal, emotional work he does in First Man. It confuses the hell out of me that he only picked up TWO nominations in the entire season, one being a well-deserved Critics’ Choice Award nomination. Note the trend, the BFCA know what’s up. The line-up has a lot of room for him: I would replace either Viggo Mortensen’s nonsensical work in Green Book or Willem Dafoe’s nomination for At Eternity’s Gate. Still, though, the win goes to the aforementioned also-snubbed Ethan Hawke for First Reformed. Even so, Gosling should have clinched a nomination.
I’m not including it officially, but can we have a shoutout for Linus Sandgren’s impeccable yet still snubbed work on the cinematography in this movie. EVERYTHING.
And with all that being said, it deserved a place in the Best Picture line-up without a doubt. In fact, out of the line-up, only 2 films that got nominations made my personal ballot: Roma (right now, my winner) and The Favourite. But First Man should have been there, American flag on the Moon or not. It’s a piece of technical wizardry and its 4 nominations (1 win for Visual Effects) don’t do it justice.
Maggie Gyllenhaal in Best Actress (The Kindergarten Teacher)
Now this is a strange one. 2018’s Best Actress race was stacked and you can pick 5 nominees out of a pool of about 15/20 and still end up with a really good selection of worthy nominees. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s performance in The Kindergarten Teacher doesn’t personally make my five slots, but it’s still one that should have been nominated, and could have been. A previous nominee for Crazy Heart, Gyllenhaal has always found success and acclaim for her varied work and intensive character work. The Kindergarten Teacher was a surprisingly anxious movie and her performance only serves to heighten that. In a world where Netflix nabbed its first Best Picture Nominee in Roma, that could have easily extended to having Maggie Gyllenhaal join Yalitza Aparicio in their crop of acting nominees. It’s not a forceful and dynamic performance, and perhaps not as obvious as some of the other nominees, but it’s subtle, nuanced work that transcends genre and, in my opinion, carries the film’s already gorgeous writing and directing to higher heights and packs the punch the film’s finale requires.
Phantom Thread in Best Original Screenplay
Phantom Thread‘s barrage of Oscar nominations was somewhat of a shock to the system come Oscar nominations morning in January 2018. Expected to garner only a few (Actor, Costume Design, Original Score), the movie seemed to be a hit with voters as it picked up nods for Best Picture and Best Director for Paul Thomas Anderson, as well as a surprise Supporting Actress nomination for Lesley Manville.
I think the movie underperformed.
One of the best things about the movie is Anderson’s subversive script. It takes the period piece energy and twists it into a game of manipulation and power dynamics. The dialogue is beautiful, the characters are well-imagined and there’s no reason why the immaculate screenplay shouldn’t have been nominated also. It was a strong year for Original Screenplays, but personally, I would have replaced The Big Sick with Anderson’s knockout script.
Haley Lu Richardson in Best Actress (Columbus)
A slightly left-field pick for the Oscars, but one that is nonetheless deserving. Both Richardson and John Cho give haunting, layered performances that hark me back to the work done by Maggie Cheung and Tony Leung in In The Mood For Love. It’s searingly honest, and Richardson is our anchor and her work is so refreshingly authentic that it’s astounding that she didn’t get recognition for it. After what seemed like her breakout in 2016’s The Edge of Seventeen, she seemed poised for a sprint to awards recognition and Columbus would have been the best vehicle for it. I’m hoping we get another performance of that level from her, perhaps in another collaboration with Kogonada.
mother! in Best Sound Editing
When we think of Oscar snubs, we most likely think of actors of Best Picture contenders that were snubbed. I’d like to focus on the way that, despite the critical and commercial polarisation, Darren Aronofsky’s idiosyncratic nightmare mother! should have been included in the line-up for Best Sound Editing. mother! relies on its slow build and tension that raises to a disturbing level come the third act, which absolutely knocked me silly in my first viewing. And sound is crucial to that. Every creak of a floorboard, every echoed shout that rips through the barren house. And when the nightmare descends, the sound is claustrophobic enough to pull off the desired effect. It’s designed in such a way that the soundscape becomes its own character, interacting with the humans and paving the way for the hellish conclusion to one of the decade’s most puzzlingly brutish yet effectively provocative movies.
Amy Adams in Best Actress (Arrival, Nocturnal Animals)
2016’s Oscar season provided one of the most noteworthy snubs of the decade (one that I would probably rank in the top three if I was to do that) and that is the brutal and unfair omission of Amy Adams in Best Actress for her jaw-dropping work in Arrival. She also did tremendous work in Nocturnal Animals hence why I included it, but Arrival is the one you’ll always remember. It’s dedicated work and her performance is a lot of the reason the third act works. Not the only reason, but she takes us through the story and does some career-defining work…and seemed like a sure thing for a nomination. Academy voters, I will never forgive you for this.
2016: Silence in Best Picture/Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director
It’s equally painful and surprising that Martin Scorsese’s contemplative religious masterpiece, Silence, only garnered one Oscar nomination, rightly so for Rodrigo Prieto’s gorgeous cinematography. But a film as masterful as that one helmed by one of our greatest directors should have received more acclaim. First of all, Andrew Garfield should have been nominated for this rather than Hacksaw Ridge. He was good in both, but better in this by far.
Best Director should have been a sure thing. Scorsese handles the long run time, dense material, and difficult storytelling with relative ease, creating an evocative, emotionally moving picture on the impact that religion can have on a person’s soul. It’s controlled, assured, and everything you would come to expect from Scorsese. Get rid of Mel Gibson for sure, and put Scorsese in!
Best Adapted Screenplay was a tough category that year, with all five choices being stunning pieces of writing. Arrival, Fences, Hidden Figures, Lion, and the winner Moonlight were all great scripts. I probably would have replaced Lion with Silence and then you have an all-time great selection of scripts for that category. The writing is tonally brilliant, affecting, and exactly the right balance of visuals and dialogue for the approach the film heralds.
And Best Picture, a place where Silence absolutely should have ended up. Everything combines together to create a beautiful portrait of religion and it’s something that really does resonate emotionally with an audience. It’s long, but it’s such a worthwhile visual experience.
2016: John Goodman in Best Supporting Actor (10 Cloverfield Lane)
In one of 2016’s best films, John Goodman plays Howard, a mysterious man whose true intentions are muddled. As Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s Michelle (another nomination-worthy performance by the way) deliberates on whether she can trust Howard, it’s Goodman’s fierce yet sensitive performance that keeps the audience and Michelle guessing throughout the film. His quiet strength maintains the tension all the way through the film until we get the answers we needed. Even then, Goodman’s portrayal leaves a lot of uncertainty, even in the face of what we now know about him. It’s a special kind of performance and one that certainly warranted some recognition. And Goodman has still never been nominated for an Academy Award. What a perfect way to acknowledge him…but no. Academy failed yet again to recognise true greatness. I would personally replace Jeff Bridges’ performance in Hell or High Water for this masterful turn.
Carol in Best Picture
Given the controversy of the entire ceremony that year, Carol‘s snub was perhaps read into a lot more than it would have been any other year. Picking up ‘best film’ nominations at a whole host of other ceremonies and critics’ awards and guilds, Carol seemed like a surefire pick for the biggest prize. With 6 nominations in total, it had the same amount as the actual Best Picture winner (more on that below), so it’s absolutely nonsensical that it wouldn’t make the Best Picture lineup. Bridge of Spies, feel free to leave. I actually like that lineup a great deal (yes, even The Big Short). With nominations for its leads (albeit one major category fraud for Mara) and its beautiful screenplay, it just doesn’t compute that it would miss out.
Spotlight in Best Original Score
I’m very happy with this winning Best Picture, and I even think it deserved more nominations than it got. Howard Shore’s swelling piano score feels like such a fitting accompaniment to the film’s colour palette and subject matter. It’s soft in all the right places and never overpowers the gorgeousness of the writing. With it contending for so many big prizes, I thought it might have been able to slip in there. And let’s be totally honest, John Williams did not need another nomination for another Star Wars film. Sicario and Carol are absolutely my favourites from this category and either of them should have taken home the prize, I think Shore’s work was nomination worthy here.
Macbeth in Best Cinematography
Look at that image.
That’s only one of the magnificent visual representations of this film. This would have felt like a no-brainer, but the film got absolutely no love anywhere at the Oscars. Fassbender was already contending for Steve Jobs (SHOULD HAVE WON, COME FIGHT ME LEO STANS), but Cotillard should have been in the conversation too. The cinematography is some of the best I’ve literally ever seen in any film. The use of colours, composition, and framing to not only tell the story but to juxtapose the heaviness of battle with the weight of Macbeth’s guilt, is absolutely sublime all the way through. Besides looking brilliant, Adam Arkapaw’s sense of when to over-stylise a shot is absolutely perfect. It’s not “style-over-substance” by any means, because obviously, Shakespeare’s words are immortal, and the delivery by the actors is nothing sort of excellent.
Jake Gyllenhaal in Best Actor (Nightcrawler)
Ever since his first nomination for Brokeback Mountain back in 2005, people have been clamouring for another nomination for this talented Hollywood actor. Gyllenhaal has delivered several performances that have been deemed worthy of further Oscar consideration. His work in Prisoners, Zodiac, and Stronger come to mind immediately. His dedication to craft is admirable and nowhere more prevalent than in Nightcrawler. Gyllenhaal plays sociopathic videographer Lou Bloom whose desire to capture tragic events firsthand begins to eclipse the lines of basic morality. Gyllenhaal is magnetic here, and he absolutely outperformed most, if not all, of the nominees and contenders in the category. He’s in consideration for the win in my Personal Ballot for this fearsome, intimidatingly good performance. So the fact that he wasn’t nominated is absolutely baffling.
Interstellar in Best Cinematography
Let’s get this straight. I understand this movie not being nominated in Best Original Screenplay, but the technical achievement of this movie is absolutely staggering. Hoyte van Hoytema’s spellbinding work on this movie is one of the greatest things about it, and easily one of the best cinematographic achievements of 2014. The colours are gorgeous, and every shot is composed so beautifully that it feels as ethereal as it’s supposed to, really hammering home the feeling of being in space and searching for something. If pressed, I would replace it with Mr Turner‘s nomination. Not that Pope didn’t do wonderful work, but van Hoytema outclasses most in the category here. It’s truly special work.
Wild in Best Adapted Screenplay
2014 was a year for adaptations of novels that Reese Witherspoon’s production company spearheaded that were deserving of Academy Award nominations and didn’t get them. The first being Gone Girl (a pick I didn’t include simply because it’s somehow too obvious and I wanted to be a bit more open to other ideas), and the second being her star vehicle Wild. She and Dern received nominations for their performances, but the adaptation deserved some love in the screenplay category too. I want to be clear, I haven’t read the novel, but it is supposedly quite introspective which is a hard thing to pull off on screen without heavy narration. That energy is focused into great flashback sequences, some great visual storytelling, and a re-telling that highlights all the best things about adaptations. Considering its love in the acting categories, some appreciation for its screenplay feels fitting, but alas it didn’t receive any. I absolutely would have replaced the screenplay for American Sniper here (and then get rid of The Theory of Everything to make room for Gone Girl). Problem solved.
Her in Best Director/Best Actor/Best Supporting Actress
A lot to unpack here. An acclaimed Oscar winner that was also nominated for Best Picture but failed to garner nominations for some of its most impressive features. Joaquin Phoenix may not give his flashiest performance, but I think that it’s his best in terms of what he’s able to convey in this film. He absolutely should have been nominated in place of Bruce Dern for Nebraska. For me, he contends with Ejiofor for the prize.
Also highly deserving of some love is Scarlett Johansson, who gives what I think is the best voice performance since Douglas Rain in 2001: A Space Odyssey. Through only her vocal control (and Jonze’s immaculate writing), she feels alive in the most real way, which intersects with some of the film’s themes. I’m interested to hear what Samantha Morton’s original take on this film was before her recasting, but it’s safe to say that Johansson is highly deserving of a place. Considering Julia Roberts is absolutely a lead actress in August: Osage County, there would have been room for Scarlett if had they positioned Roberts fairly. For me, she doesn’t win over Lupita Nyong’o, but a nomination is certainly not out of the question.
Best Director is also one that makes no sense to me. In one of the most original depictions of love and AI, Jonze has total control over his world and combines his writing and the stunning craft techniques together for an impressive near-future reality that feels equally close to our world as it does deeply distant. Take out David O. Russell’s uneven work on American Hustle and make a place for Jonze.
Even though it won an award and was nominated for the top prize, Her was absolutely shafted at this year’s ceremony. Just like another masterpiece that year.
Inside Llewyn Davis in All Eligible Categories
Getting a deeply unjust two nominations at the 86th Academy Awards, Inside Llewyn Davis is one of the pinnacles of ‘Deserved More’ from the Academy. One of the decade’s strongest films, I also think this is the Coen’s best film by quite a length. Nothing short of fantastic, I personally would have given Inside Llewyn Davis at LEAST 9 nominations. The one I really want to focus on here is, like the above masterpiece, Best Actor. Oscar Isaac put in a career-defining performance here and it’s phenomenal the amount he’s doing in this film. From singing and playing the guitar to channelling grief, hope, ennui, and ambition in the space of a single frame, this is an actor’s performance. He isn’t capitalising on previous star-power to make the audience feel a certain way, he isn’t over-acting or chewing the scenery, Isaac’s performance is subtle, grounded, and worthy of at least an Oscar nomination. The fact that this man doesn’t have one yet is beyond ridiculous.
I would like to leave this here. This is a musical performance so good and so raw that acting legend F. Murray Abraham wept the first time he sat across from Isaac performing it. He reduced a man to tears through performance. If that doesn’t tell you something about being deserving of an Oscar nomination, I don’t know what would.
Tom Hardy in Best Actor (Locke)
Not to make this year all about the Best Actor race, but Tom Hardy should have gotten a lot more recognition for this film. I was going to talk about Brie Larson’s snub for Short Term 12 (get out of there Judi Dench), but I realised she has a lot more supporters than Hardy’s performance in Locke, and this section is for the ones I don’t see being championed very often.
Locke is a unique little film in which we are with Tom Hardy the entire time. Aside from a few cut-aways to the exterior of the car, Hardy is present the entire time. Through numerous phone calls and conversations with ghosts, Hardy’s Ivan is going through the worst car journey of his life, which is being thoroughly turned upside down. The amount of talent you have to have to maintain an 85-minute film with only yourself on screen is ridiculous. The only other cast members are heard via telephone, so Hardy’s reactions are going to be telling us the story for the most part.
It’s beautiful work. Ivan truly goes through the gamut of emotions in the film, and Knight’s decision to keep the film contained works tremendously.
So with those three actors in mind, how good would the line-up have been if you had DiCaprio, Ejiofor, Hardy, Isaac, and Phoenix? That’s an Oscar line-up for the ages in my opinion. I still would probably say that Ejiofor takes the gold, but Isaac isn’t far behind him for me.
The Master in Best Picture/Best Director/Best Original Screenplay
Paul Thomas Anderson’s movies have scored 25 nominations at the Academy Awards across 22 years, winning just 3 (2 for There Will be Blood and one for Phantom Thread). Those two are the only ones to have been nomination for the Best Picture prize. I would have added The Master to that list. The 85th Academy Award Best Picture nominees were uneven, ranging from excellent (Silver Linings Playbook) to bad (Les Miserables). So surely there was room for one of the best films of the decade, along with the trio of acting nominations it garnered. There was definitely a place for it, and there’s no discernible reason why it was left out of the line-up. That’s a true snub.
Best Director goes hand in hand with that. Again, TWBB and PT are Anderson’s only two nominations for the prize (one of those he should have won) and The Master should have been another. The field was mostly weak, and rich with its snubs. They snubbed the director of the eventual Best Picture winner, the first time that had happened since 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy. They infamously snubbed Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, and PTA’s snub should be up there with them. His idiosyncrasies are all over this film and he handles the material in such a smart way that it’s impossible to ignore his titanic feat of filmmaking.
And now the one that really hurts. Best Original Screenplay. With mediocre scripts like Flight and Moonrise Kingdom (sorry but I said what I said), there was more than enough room for the script that should have been the eventual winner. I don’t think I even need to say anything, I’ll just leave this here.
Ann Dowd in Best Supporting Actress (Compliance)
Here is something that was more overlooked than The Master but yet still had a better chance of happening than The Master getting into the above categories. Ann Dowd received the National Board of Review award for Best Supporting Actress for work in the criminally under-seen Compliance. Her character is so complex, meaning she has to juggle a lot of things at the same time, while also being someone the audience doesn’t quite understand. She’s far from a villain, but she’s not exactly a friend to the protagonist either. She’s manipulated and becomes the centre of a character dichotomy that I’ve always loved. Dowd is excellent in the role and I think that she would have clinched the nomination had more people seen the movie. Everyone reading this: put Compliance on your watchlists!
Mary Elizabeth Winstead in Best Actress (Smashed)
Ah yes. Yet another actress who should have an Oscar nomination by now. The 85th ceremony was middling for Best Actress nominees. I loved Lawrence, Chastain, and Riva. I thought that Wallis and Watts were good, but perhaps would be the ones I would replace.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s career has been full of notable performances in acclaimed films (and some not so acclaimed films) but she’s never seemed to be able to break through to awards contender status. Her work in 10 Cloverfield Lane and Birds of Prey, as well as on TV in Fargo has opened her up to mainstream audiences, but she still seems to be “underrated” in terms of how talented she is versus how recognised her performances are.
2012’s Smashed wasn’t a huge film, but the performances by Winstead and Aaron Paul were both spectacular. The film’s quiet nature drew in the character work very nicely and Winstead’s remarkable range shapes the character so well that it’s hard not to feel something when you watch her. While probably not Winstead’s best performance (another overlooked gem All About Nina has entered the chat), Smashed provides a decent amount of meat for Winstead’s talents to chew on and I think it was deserving of a nomination. Apparently, nobody else did.
Olivia Colman in Best Actress (Tyrannosaur)
This should have been Olivia Colman’s first Academy Award nomination. And while it pains me to say this sentence, get rid of Meryl Streep in that category and you’ve got yourself a great line-up (maybe also get rid of Glenn Close and put in Leila Hatami for A Separation and that’s an all-timer).
Absolutely one of Colman’s best performances, Tyrannosaur showcases her ability to truly embody the circumstances of a character. It’s not method, it’s just a deep empathy for a person and her ability to communicate that to an audience makes her one of the generation’s most natural talents. I’m so glad that she has an Oscar now, but this should have been her first introduction to the coveted nominations list. It’s raw, emotional work that avoids being overly cloying as the film progresses. Already a hard-hitting piece of cinema, Colman’s performance elevates it that much more. It’s honestly a performance that should be studied by any aspiring actor.
Shame in Best Picture/Best Director/Best Actor/Best Supporting Actress
I’m sorry but in what world does Michael Fassbender not get a nomination for this movie? It’s not like the category was absolutely stacked and they couldn’t fit him in. Personally, I don’t love any performance in this category in 2011. Brad Pitt is likely my winner from the five, but I could easily replace all 5 performances with alternatives and it would be a much better category.
I’m getting ahead of myself.
Shame is one of the best films of 2011, likely the best film outside of The Tree of Life. It’s Steve McQueen making something bold and unapologetic that really paid off. It’s a quiet film really about the consequences of sex addiction and the loneliness of life. With some truly excellent sequences and performances, it’s hard to know why Shame didn’t translate to Oscar attention, with not a single nomination.
Fassbender, as I said before, is a no-brainer for a nomination and perhaps the win. He’s my pick for the prize that year and he’s truly incredible. It’s a mostly internal performance that documents a life with little words. It’s an exposing performance in more ways than one, and Michael Fassbender lays it all out on the screen and he’s absolutely flawless.
The same can be said for Carey Mulligan, who blazes through the film and threatens to steal it from Fassbender. Her rendition of “New York, New York” is one of the best scenes in the movie and her eyes tell a complete story. She plays her character with such tenderness and openness that it’s hard not to root for her, even when she’s saying and doing things you’re questioning. Mulligan’s talent is undeniable and she should have received recognition for this performance.
Michael Shannon in Best Actor (Take Shelter)
Michael Shannon is a two-time Oscar nominee for Revolutionary Road and Nocturnal Animals, two great performances. But I think that Take Shelter is his best. In a performance that’s infused with deep paranoia, it can be hard to convey truth. The ending and the film itself are cloaked in ambiguity, but Shannon makes sure you’re thinking as deeply as you can about what’s happening. You believe him because he’s that convincing, but you’re also in so deep with him that it can be hard to properly acclimatise yourself with the narrative he’s telling you. The wildness in his eyes, the ferocity in his mannerisms, they all signify mania, which makes you doubt what he’s saying. It’s a monstrous performance, one that I deeply love and I think should have been recognised by Oscar voters.
Andrew Garfield in Best Supporting Actor (The Social Network)
The Social Network‘s award season running up until the 83rd Academy Awards is infamous for a lot of reasons, most namely its loss to The King’s Speech for the big prizes, which doesn’t sit right with a lot of people 10 years down the line.
But I think the most egregious thing about the ceremony was the decided lack of Andrew Garfield in those nomination slots. In a category that wasn’t particularly stacked that year (I only like one or two of those performances), there was easily room for the best performance in a movie that was widely backed to win Best Picture. As impressive as Eisenberg’s Zuckerberg evocation is, Garfield is better, going from a willing passenger in the creation of Facebook to a determined opponent later in the film, as well as in the deposition scenes. Garfield’s commitment to the role is impressive and he handles Sorkin’s dialogue with ease, creating some great moments of both comedy and drama. It’s just absolutely maddening that he missed out, especially when it wasn’t like there was quality bursting at the seams. I would probably replace Garfield with Geoffrey Rush that year, though that might just be my dislike of all things The King’s Speech coming out. Either way, he deserved a spot.
Certified Copy in All Eligible Categories
I only watched Certified Copy for the first time about six weeks ago, but I’m already enamoured by it and heavily consider it as one of the best of the decade. It absolutely should have gotten several nominations at the Academy Awards: particularly in Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Original Screenplay.
I’ll start with the latter. When you think of ‘original’ screenplays, you think of stuff like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or Get Out, both great winners in the category. But Certified Copy takes what you know about the film and the characters within it and completely flips it, but it’s so subtly done that you’re not really too sure of anything anymore, playing with the film’s brilliant themes in a different way that I’ve ever seen before. The writing is superb and it’s so textured within its own contexts that it’s doubly impressive, and it’s a script that I can’t wait to revisit to see if I get a different thing out of it a second time.
Let’s talk about Juliette Binoche. One of the finest actresses to ever live, she can do anything and everything and has on several occasions. She can win Oscars in typical Oscar fare with The English Patient and she can simulate extreme orgasms in trippy sci-fi-like High Life. Already that’s range. In Certified Copy, Binoche plays a lot of different things often in the same frame, balancing two different versions of the film at the same time. For the impact of the film to hit, Binoche has to be able to be somewhat of a vague canvas while still conveying the necessary emotions in any given scene. She obviously does remarkably and the film is highly successful in what it wants to say.
The category that year was pretty heavy in terms of quality, but if I had to replace Binoche with one of the nominees, it would likely be Jennifer Lawrence (although I’d be comfortable knowing she’s going to win in two years time anyway).
Picture and Director go hand in hand really. Abbas Kiarostami shapes this film’s conceit in the most amazing way and it’s that deft handling that really makes the film work. He doesn’t give the answers away, because the film is used to project our own ideas about cynicism and artificiality within our own lives to decipher what is actually going in with our leads. I’ve left that purposefully vague because to say more would be to spoil something so unique, and I want everyone to experience that breadth of emotion and thought that this film has to offer.
It’s one of the greatest achievements I’ve seen on screen, and Kiarostami pours his genius into this film with such precision that it’s hard not to want to nominate him. Tom Hooper, get yourself gone.
As for replacing a Best Picture nominee, you know what’s coming. It was a terrific year for Best Picture nominees, but The King’s Speech just doesn’t have anything that warrants a place there. Certified Copy is a much richer, more deserving nominee for the top prize. In my revised history, Certified Copy makes it in all of these categories and comfortably so. I think I’d still pick The Social Network for the award, but time may change that.
Ryan Gosling in Best Actor (Blue Valentine)
Was Ryan Gosling sixth place for a nomination for his performance in Blue Valentine? There is no way of really knowing for sure, but I think he should have been nominated.
Along with Michelle Williams, Ryan Gosling is a large part of why Blue Valentine works so well. The improvisation in a lot of scenes really helps to capture the authenticity of their characters and I think they’re just as good as each other. Gosling plays Dean so brilliantly in both of the timelines; he ramps up the charm factor in the flashbacks, helping us fall in love with him like Cindy does, and then he so carefully embodies the desperation in the present timeline as Dean tries to repair his relationship with Cindy. There’s a hopelessness to the character that helps the ending pack that huge punch that murders its audience.
Blue Valentine is an emotionally draining film, but it works because of how honest it is. There’s not a false note to be found among the writing or the performances, which are often intertwined. Gosling and Williams make the perfect windows for this story, and I thought it was only fitting that both of them be nominated.
Surprisingly, The King’s Speech does not lose a nomination here. Instead, I would replace Jeff Bridges’ work in True Grit, a film that I really like. The performance isn’t anything special really, and I think Gosling is much better. In fact, I think he might be my winner in the category as I have it now. I really love that performance and I think it deserved a lot more recognition than it got. Seems to be a trend with Gosling performance on this list.
So there are 30 snubs that I take great issue with. People are bound to disagree with a lot of elements on this list, so I’d love to hear from you! Do you really love The King’s Speech and think I’m crazy for eliminating it? Or do you champion Toni Collette and want to congratulate me on having taste? Either way, leave a comment below with your thoughts!
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