Another Oscar telecast is in the books, and now the over-analyzing and incessant complaining by angry film geeks begins. Including yours truly.
“Why watch the Academy Awards?” you ask. After all, the winners are always boring period pieces that everyone forgets about three weeks after the show. For the most part that’s true – but there have, on rare occasions, been times when some truly bad-ass movies not only scored covered nominations, but went home with the golden statue. For every snoozefest like The King’s Speech or The Artist there was a polar opposite that received the Best Picture nod – The Hurt Locker, Braveheart and The Silence of the Lambs all spring to mind. This year Argo took home the big prize, which, while not exactly action-packed, is a slick, fast-paced thriller.
While there were some bright spots in the evening, there were some very questionable ones as well. Every year’s ceremony is marred with so-called controversy, and it’s impossible to please everyone…but this is my article, so the only person that needs to be pleased here is me. And I’m not.
Here are the 5 biggest screw ups of 2013, and why they’re burning my toast:
1. No Oscar Nom for Leo
Leonardo DiCaprio got robbed of a best supporting actor nomination after giving arguably the best performance of his career, portraying slave owner Calvin Candie in Django Unchained – the most layered and terrifying villain since Heath Ledger’s Joker.
This was Leo’s year to win, period. He should have been nominated, he should have won. But instead the category was dominated by senior citizens who already have closets full of awards.
Take 78-year-old Alan Arkin for example: he took home supporting gold in 2006 for his role in Little Miss Sunshine, so he certainly didn’t need to be nominated again this year for his extremely small role in Argo; he makes a few blink-or-you’ll-miss-them appearances on screen and is given two memorable lines, but it was hardly a performance worthy of bumping Leo completely out of the running.
At this point DiCaprio has to be asking himself what, if anything, will earn him a nomination — let alone a win at the big show.
2. Science Fiction Gets Snubbed…Again
The Academy, historically, has been extremely unkind to the geekier among us. While we’re salivating about the next installment in the Star Trek and Iron Man franchises, they’re watching a subtitled French film about an old lady who suffers a stroke. I understand that these two camps will never see eye-to-eye, but come on, throw us a bone once in a while.
There have been a couple times the Academy celebrated a real sci-fi/fantasy film (Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings spring to mind) but for the most part, the genre is ignored. I thought that 2010 would be a turning point when both Avatar and District 9 were nominated, but that seems to be an anomaly.
With the release of The Avengers this year, how could it not warrant a nomination? It’s the highest grossing movie in America that doesn’t have the name Cameron attached to it, and it was universally loved by fans and critics alike (according to Rotten Tomatoes it scored a 92% from critics, which is unheard of for a “comic book” movie – and audiences rated it at 96%).
3. Why Not Fill The Mystery Slot?
Back in 2009, the Academy made a very rare change to the rulebook: it was announced that a whopping 10 movies could be nominated for the coveted Best Picture trophy, instead of the traditional 5. This was a great move that allowed some more commercial successes (ie. movies people went to see in theaters and have actually heard of) to receive some acclaim – even if it’s just the right to have the distinction of having been nominated.
But three years running, there have been 9, not 10 nominees, leaving a mystery slot open.
The billion-dollar success story The Avengers should have been given that spot, but there were other great films that were left out in the cold. Why not Skyfall – the most successful James Bond movie of all time? Or Magic Mike? The Dark Knight Rises? Looper? The Hobbit? There were a ton of fan favorites that could have been dropped into that spot, but it remained ominously empty once again.
4. There is a Foreign Movie Category for a Reason (Hint: It’s for Foreign Movies)
This is baffling beyond words. The Oscars are a celebration of American film. No one says this out loud anymore, but it’s implied by the very existence of a “Best Foreign Language Film” category. If it’s now an international award show, why even make the distinction with two separate categories?
Last year The Artist – a movie that was watched by dozens of people across France – gets nominated and actually WINS the Best Picture. This year Amour, another obscure French film, scores a nomination for the top prize.
Does the Academy really love French filmmaking this much, or is it a not-so-subtle attempt to throw in a “We’re smarter than you” pick every year, just to maintain their street cred with some of the snobbier American critics?
5. The Affleck Hate Train Continues to Roll
The most juvenile grudge that the Academy, and America in general, hold against any actor is the incessant bagging on Ben Affleck. Yes, he was a wild, douchey kid…yes, he was part of “Bennifer,” the obnoxious Jennifer Lopez-Affleck duo that adorned the cover of tabloid magazines seemingly forever.
And yes, he made Gigli. A movie that will undoubtedly haunt him until his final breath.
But this is 2013. Get over it. He’s now a Hollywood heavyweight and deserves some recognition. Affleck wrote, directed, and starred in The Town, which should have been nominated for best picture (remember that empty mystery slot phenomenon we discussed above?) and his excellent Argo won the top honor on Sunday night, taking home the Best Picture statue…yet Affleck wasn’t even nominated for best director.
Really? So the best movie of the entire year, according to the Academy, didn’t have the best director? Or even a top 5 director? It’s been more common in the last decade for Best Picture and Best Director to be split between separate movies, but this case seems like an intentional kick in the shins to someone who clearly deserved a pat on the back for his efforts.
I hope you liked my top 5! There are a lot of other complaints I have, but if I listed them all this wouldn’t be an article – it would be a novel.
Feel free to tell me your best and worst moments of the Academy Awards in the comment section.
Blake Northcott is an author, Twitter-er, and occasional Slayer of Vampires (only the ones that sparkle).You can follow her on Twitter, or pick up her best-selling Sci-Fi/Superhero books Vs. Reality and Relapse over at Amazon.com.