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It’s almost impossible to find a year in which the Academy didn’t snub at least one film, but this year is different. There has been a growing disillusionment with the Academy Awards, while prestigious they have always been accused of being slightly “out of touch” but it’s getting harder and harder to defend the Academy when they continue to snub acclaimed films.
The 83rd Academy Awards celebrating the films of 2010 is a perfect example of the Academy’s complete blindness to anything slightly contemporary or modern. The 83rd Oscars were centred on the fight between The King’s Speech and The Social Network. The former being a very traditional Oscar movie and the latter being a bold, relevant and thoroughly engaging masterpiece, is it any surprise which film won “Best Picture”? Tom Hooper took home “Best Picture” (and “Best Director” to boot) for The King’s Speech whilst David Fincher, arguably the greatest director currently in the industry, went home empty handed.
It is Fincher’s latest film, Gone Girl, that is at the centre of the social media storm raging around the announcement of the nominations for this year’s Oscars revealed today (15th January). This year’s nominations have added further fuel to the fire, with more contemporary films being passed up in favour of safe Oscar bait films.
Gone Girl only gaining one nomination, for Rosamund Pike’s incredibly disturbing performance, is a crime on par with Shakespeare in Love wining “Best Picture” over Saving Private Ryan in 1999. Gone Girl failed to receive nominations in “Best Picture”, “Best Director” or even “Best Score” for Trent Reznor’s and Atticus Ross’s incredible work. Putting those snubs aside, the fact the film was passed up for “Best Adapted Screenplay” stinks of being a political move: Gillian Flynn adapting her own bestselling book into one of the most enthralling and disturbing films of the year is inarguably awards worthy.
With so many snubs so frequently it’s kind of amazing that David Fincher hasn’t gone on some sort of Joaquin Phoenix style rant about how worthless the Academy Awards are. Gone Girl is however merely the tip of the iceberg with it being the first in host of confusing snubs.
If you thought The LEGO Movie failing to win the Golden Globe for “Best Animated Film” earlier this week was baffling – the fact it hasn’t even been nominated in the category by the Academy is frankly disheartening. The race is now between average animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 and enjoyable but lacking Big Hero 6 with the other nominees in the category appearing to be merely token.
Selma, a moving film based around the civil rights movement in America in the 1960s, failed to gain nominations in any of the major categories other than “Best Picture”. Of course that is the biggest category of them all but rarely does a film get nominated for “Best Picture” without any nods in acting, screenplay or directing categories. In a year that has been fraught with racial tension in the United States, Selma being included in the “Best Picture” category looks to be nothing more than an appeasement tool.
One of the more expected but no less disappointing snubs is for Nightcrawler, one of the year’s best films about a crime scene journalist whose morality is called into question as he tries to get the best story. Jake Gyllenhaal’s electric lead performance was disappointingly absent from the “Best Actor” category. Nightcrawler deserves nominations in multiple categories including “Best Film Editing” and “Best Director”, but instead it gained only one nomination for “Best Original Screenplay”. It’s further proof that dark films don’t really have a shot at Oscar glory.
The biggest surprise however was just how many nominations Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper managed to land. Sure the film hasn’t been critical lambasted but there has been healthy criticism, particularly by non-American film critics who have accused the film of being a patriotic account of the life of a bloodthirsty killer. “Best Picture”, “Best Actor” for star Bradley Cooper and “Best Adapted Screenplay” as well a few in the technical categories. It’s a disappointing reminder of the blinding value of patriotism in the US, if a film can portray America in a certain light it can rest assured that it’ll be rewarded.
There are a host of smaller issues with this year’s nominations as well but regardless of all these problems I remain excited for the show on 22nd February, perhaps not as excited as before though. The Academy Awards are veering into dangerous territory and risk alienation their primarily audience; hopefully next year the damage to the awards’ creditably (which is slowly but surely being eroded) can be fixed.