Today is the day when so many on your Facebook feed likes to pretend they’ve seen all the recent movies as they band together to vocally dispute the Academy Award nominations. In reality, most have seen four or five movies from the previous year in total, and maybe one – two, if they’re lucky – of the major award nominees. Yet, somehow they feel justified in proclaiming how it’s a tragedy that somehow Pauly Shore wasn’t nominated again. (By the way, these people know better than the professional critics. If you don’t believe me, just ask them.)
I have done my best to actually see the movies I expected to be nominated and therefore grant myself the blessing of an informed opinion. Of the major nominees, I’m missing three: Roman J. Israel, Esq., Call Me by Your Name, and The Phantom Thread. I would have seen the latter two if they had been granted an expansion before last weekend. I was tied up with family, then, and will be out of town this upcoming weekend. I’ll catch up on them over the first weekend in February. And I’ll catch Israel in its post-theatrical run before the ceremony.
Anyway, what I’m going to do now is list the unlucky losers who I believe should have been nominated but weren’t. Why twelve of them? Because that’s how many I truly feel were snubbed! Along the way, what I’m also going to do that virtually nobody else will is name who or what the snubbed should have been nominated over. It’s easy enough for someone to loudly proclaim that Fifty Shades for the Price of Thirty was robbed but how do they actually know unless they’ve seen the others and can say with confidence that at least one wasn’t as worthy? (Note: I will not expunge any nominees from the above trio of films as that would be unfair for the very reason that I just outlined.)
And, one more thing: I want to state that the Academy did a mostly fine job. These nominations are done by blind, anonymous votes, not by a stuffed-shirt committee who commiserate and come to a consensus. So, I’m not pointing fingers at anyone specific, no one is a villain, and almost all of the nominees are deserving to one degree or another. They have earned respect and I will not deny them that, even if I find someone else more worthy of awards recognition.
So, in order from the snub that I’m least worked up over to the one that I’m most upset about, let’s proceed! The further we go, the angrier I get!
12. “Never Enough”, The Greatest Showman – Original Song
(Nominated over: “This is Me” from The Greatest Showman) Benj Pasek and Justin Paul got an Oscar nomination for another song from The Greatest Showman, “This is Me”. I understand that that song, in particular, represented the message behind the film’s narrative and that’s unquestionably important. And it’s also generally considered the crowd-pleaser of the film. But “Never Enough” is the showstopper and that rates higher for me. As fun and thematically resonant as “This is Me” is, “Never Enough” is on another level both artistically and from a performance perspective. Perhaps, as I theorized, the song was hurt by the fact that Rebecca Ferguson, who portrayed the song’s performer Jenny Lind, was not actually responsible for the vocal track, itself, with that duty falling to Loren Allred. But Ferguson wouldn’t have been nominated, anyway. Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter, though, and I’m sure Pasek and Paul aren’t crying, today. (Original review.)
11 and 10. Jason Mitchell and Garrett Hedlund, Mudbound – Supporting Actor
(Nominated over: Richard Jenkins for The Shape of Water and Willem Dafoe for The Florida Project) Mary J. Blige is getting all of the press for Mudbound but Jason Mitchell (right) and Garrett Hedlund are the collective heart and soul of the film. And they both give powerful, memorable performances that wrench at the gut and pull at the heartstrings of everyone that is fortunate enough to possess a heart. This should be their year but they have consistently been overlooked. Richard Jenkins and Willem Dafoe both turned in fine performances in their respective movies but neither are as memorable, moving, or paramount to their films as either that of Mitchell or Hedlund. (No original review because I only review my theatrical viewings. So, I’ll just say that you should all stop watching Netflix’s other big original film Bright and watch Mudbound, instead.)
9. Hong Chau, Downsizing – Supporting Actress
(Nominated over: Octavia Spencer for The Shape of Water) Hong Chau has fallen victim to circumstances not of her own doing. Not only do I believe that her complex, charming, entertaining, and touching performance in Downsizing warrant her a nomination in the this category, but I would vote to give her the win, if I had any say in it. But people are mad at Matt Damon for daring to view a complicated issue as being complicated (while still condemning the guilty, no less) and now Downsizing isn’t going to get any nominations. Instead, Octavia Spencer gets nominated for a fine, but unspectacular turn in The Shape of Water. Hold your head high, Ms. Chau! Hopefully, your time will come! (Original review.)
8. Wind River – Best Picture
(Nominated over: Nothing. This could be the allowable tenth nominee.) I knew this was going to happen, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be upset about it. Wind River was an excellently crafted thriller based on a true story that called attention to several ongoing societal issues including one that few wish to talk about – the number of unreported missing Native American women. Unfortunately, the film was a Weinstein production, so that put an end to any awards hopes. Even after director Taylor Sheridan and stars Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner took tremendous pains to disassociate the film from Weinstein, it’s a no-go. Do yourself a favor and check this one out. It’s a winner on every possible level. (Original review.)
7. Patty Jenkins, Wonder Woman – Director
(Nominated over: Christopher Nolan for Dunkirk) Whether it was originally going to happen or not, after Natalie Portman called out the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for not nominating any female directors at the Golden Globes, at least one was bound to get a nomination at the Oscars. And one did. Only one. And that one was Greta Gerwig for Lady Bird. Gerwig earned it but so did Patty Jenkins for Wonder Woman. Jenkins took a property that had been wallowing in developmental hell for years and turned it into an inspirational theatrical anthem for not only women but anyone who had lost hope in humanity. She made us believe that there are still heroes and she entertained us along the way. Nolan’s Dunkirk was a technical achievement but a narrative bore that cut his cast off at the knees and failed to deliver anything truly memorable. Jenkins deserved his spot, instead. (Original review.)
6. Elizabeth Olsen, Wind River – Lead Actress
(Nominated over: Sally Hawkins for The Shape of Water) As I documented a couple of spots up, Olsen is facing the same problem that Hong Chau is, but to a much greater degree. Being that this is a Weinstein film, she’s just out of luck, this year. That’s a shame because there’s simply no one better in the business and this could have been her chance after also getting snubbed for her performance in 2011’s Martha Marcy May Marlene. Despite the irony of a woman being punished for the sexual indiscretions of a man, Olsen deserved a nomination, this year (though I admittedly would have to give the win to another, who had a meatier role), as her performance was gritty but nuanced, with her turn showcasing plenty of subtle vulnerability in the face of her character’s overwhelming professional responsibility. It’s a brilliant and layered performance and she deserves better than to be ignored. Again. (Original review.)
5. Wonder Woman – Best Picture
(Nominated over: Darkest Hour) This is the one all of your Facebook friends are whining about, today. Most of them haven’t seen the other nominees but, because Wonder Woman was amazing, they just assume it deserved to be nominated. Well, it may be primarily by coincidence, but they happen to be right, this time. This isn’t the first time this has happened for a comic book film. 2008’s The Dark Knight deserved a nomination. 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy deserved a nomination and, quite frankly, the win. Wonder Woman doesn’t quite deserve the win – and there are other snubbed films that are actually more deserving than this one (we’ll get to those) – but a nomination should have been a given. Too many members of the Academy simply aren’t ready to admit than many comic book films have more to offer than their superficial entertainment value. As time goes on, I expect that to change. Too bad it couldn’t have changed, this year, because the interminably dull Darkest Hour sure didn’t measure up to this gem in any way outside of Oldman’s performance. (My emotional response to my second viewing of the film.)
4. Aaron Sorkin, Molly’s Game – Director
(Nominated over: Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water) I know by this point it feels like I’m picking on The Shape of Water. I’m not trying to. I enjoyed the film. But I don’t count it among del Toro’s best nor does it measure up to many of 2017’s other films. Such is the case when it comes to the direction. Where del Toro presented an unconventional tale in a slightly unconventional way, Sorkin, in his debut as a director, took a story that wasn’t made for a visual medium – a story that by all rights should have been boring – and turned it into one of the most engaging, enthralling, entertaining films of the entire year. I’m not so sure that anyone else could have pulled it off to the degree that Sorkin did. If that doesn’t warrant a nomination, what does? (Original review.)
3. Molly’s Game – Best Picture
(Nominated over: Dunkirk) Speaking of Molly’s Game, I’m not sure how a practically flawless film with immense entertainment value, a razor sharp script, masterful direction, and a career-defining performance by a star who has a history of career-defining performances gets passed over for Best Picture. Everybody involved came to work with their game faces on and everyone knocked it out of the park. Yet, again, because Nolan made a war film, it gets the token nomination instead. It’s a shame and don’t let Molly’s Game‘s lack of awards attention fool you into passing this one up. (Original review.)
2. I, Tonya – Best Picture
(Nominated over: Lady Bird) I enjoyed Lady Bird. I enjoyed it quite a bit. But, at its core, while it’s exquisitely crafted, it’s more of the same. It doesn’t stand above other films of its ilk and it just doesn’t bring anything new to the table. Meanwhile, I, Tonya is nothing but fresh material. Director Steven Rogers has a clever presentation, the script is simultaneously laugh-out-loud funny and heart-wrenching, and Margot Robbie (who was rightfully nominated for her part in the film) gives a performance that will shift paradigms. So, as much as I enjoyed Lady Bird, I, Tonya was not only more enjoyable but also artistically superior. This is a true snub that should never have happened.
1. Jessica Chastain, Molly’s Game – Lead Actress
(Nominated over: Anyone but Margot Robbie. Okay, fine. Meryl Streep for The Post.)Well, the Academy did a much better job with the male-related categories and films than those that center around women. I suppose that’s no surprise. Even so, I’m absolutely floored, disappointed, and even angry that Jessica Chastain didn’t earn a nomination for her work in the aforementioned Molly’s Game (which, if you haven’t yet gathered, is tremendous). The film is as fantastic as it is primarily due to two people: Chastain and Sorkin. Neither could have done it without the other but Chastain just cant catch a break. Despite two Oscar nominations, she has yet to win, and this is the second year in a row in which she’s been snubbed of a nomination (following her knockout 2016 performance in Miss Sloane). Meryl Streep did a great job in The Post and even provided the film with its emotional center. But she didn’t have the same responsibility to carry her film as the other nominees nor the same amount of screen time to do her thing, so I would boot her by default, not due to any flaw or shortcoming of her own. Regardless, Chastain is one of the best in the business and finally deserves to be recognized as such.
And there you have it! I won’t be able to catch any movies this weekend, so I’ll be coming at you with another column inspired by a friend who asked for my opinion on something. I realized that I had a lot to say on the subject and you’ll most likely see that on Friday night. And there will be a new #ThrowbackThursday, this week, as well. Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to share and follow us on Facebook!