Worst Shortlist Ever?
Last year wasn’t a great year for cinema; even Pixar couldn’t make a good movie. But there were enough quality films that there should have been a fair fight come awards season. Two weeks ago, the nominations for the 84th Academy Awards were released, and not only were a lot of these films ignored, but we also got the worst Oscar shortlist in a long time.
The main injustices came in the acting categories. There was surprisingly no sign of Tilda Swinton for her sublime performance in Lynn Ramsey’s haunting We Need to Talk About Kevin, but the most shocking omission was that of Michael Fassbender for Best Actor. maybe the Academy preferred the superstar status of Clooney and Pitt on their shortlist over the newly risen Fassbender. Or maybe Shame, in which he plays a sex addict, was just too edgy for Academy. These disappointing choices are made worse by very bland shortlists.
Discussing Best Actress is hardly a moot point as it will undoubtedly go to Meryl Streep for playing Thatcher in The Iron Lady. Best Actor is more up in the air; a mixture of nominations representing Best Picture and a couple of out there choices. One can only hope Gary Oldman will walk away with the prize for the underrepresented Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy; how long can such a consistent actor go without being rewarded?
Bizarrely, many deserving films have been left out altogether. Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive was universally accepted by critics as film of the year, but gained only one nomination, in a technical category. It could quite easily have swept the board with Best Picture, Director and Supporting Actor for psychotic Albert Brooks’ seemingly obvious nods. The aforementioned Shame and We Need to Talk About Kevin could also have had mileage beyond acting, as could The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which got only one serious nomination, for Rooney Mara’s vulnerable turn as the title character.
Hugo, on the other hand, recieved far too much praise, with a total of 11 nominations. It may be a film about the birth of cinema from directing legend Martin Scorsese, and while it is technically impressive, the film itself is far from best of the year. It’s interesting that none of the above got into the Best Picture category, which contains some undeserving films; Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close sounds like Oscar bait but got a critical drubbing and The Tree of Life was so loathed by half its audience its inclusion here is as confusing as the film itself. Ultimately, the appalling nominations don’t matter, as only one movie stands a chance.
Come February 26th, the night will belong to a silent, French, black and white film that has all the momentum and, more importantly, quality to snap up the big prize; hilarious, moving and ingenious, The Artist will go home with all the gongs.