Every year during the last week of February I wait in anxious anticipation for the most glamorous night of the year. No I am not talking about the upcoming Masquerade Ball…I am talking about the legendary Academy Awards. Each year since I can remember I have eagerly waited for Oscar Sunday: the perfect occasion to forget about looming midterms and get lost for a few hours in the spectacular Red Carpet and awards. The Oscars have a magical quality for me, as they let the world glimpse into the last true remnant of Old Hollywood glamour. So, you can imagine my excitement of reading this years nominees list after hours spent watching movies over winter break to make sure I was ready with my picks. However, this years nominee preview ruined some of the Oscar magic for me and really showed how the most prestigious awards in cinema are no longer based on artistic merit. Recently it seems as if the director or actors names are more important than the quality of the film itself. I question if some Academy members even watched War Horse or simply voted for it because of Steven Spielberg (seriously, when did laughably cheesy scripts and even worse acting come back in style?!). So disheartened by the obviously absent nominees this year, I have decided to lay out for you a list of the top ten biggest Oscar snubs of 2012.
Lets start with the best of the best, the one award that you should tune in for even if you skip the other six hours…
First of all, this movie stars Ryan Gosling. Need I say more? But what really makes it Oscar worthy is the incredible script, cinematography and acting in this thrilling drama that takes us into the life of a getaway driver in Los Angeles. Supported by Carey Mulligan in the leading female role, Gosling shines in this unexpectedly violent yet very smart and excellently directed film. I admit you might have to cover your eyes at certain moments, but this film is definitely on my must watch list for the 2012 Oscar season.
2. The Ides of March
I think it is fitting that we transition from one Ryan Gosling film to another equally overlooked film this year. Not only do Gosling and George Clooney prove themselves as more than just eye candy, but the entire premise of the film is very intriguing and has a particularly strong cast (including Philip Seymour Hoffman and Evan Rachel Wood). Exposing dirty politics through the story of the campaign team of a presidential candidate (Clooney), The Ides of March leads you through emotional twists and turns in a very smart depiction of political corruption. I thought for sure this film would be nominated, especially with Clooney attached to it, and so this is my pick top for the most underrated film of the year.
3. The Iron Lady
I was happy to see that Meryl Streep received an Oscar nod for her portrayal of Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady, however the fact that the film itself is not nominated is shocking. Although American audiences might find this politically charged movie a little lackluster with the shortage of action, I found it to be surprisingly objective and well made. Not only does Meryl Streep succeed in eliciting a certain amount of sympathy for the normally demonized Thatcher, but the film also succeeds in seamlessly combining real newsreels within the film. I found myself laughing, crying, and thoroughly enjoying this film about one woman’s rise and fall from power in British politics. And for that it at least deserves a nomination.
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Before the nominations were released I already had this film pegged as my favorite to win Best Picture. Imagine my disbelief upon seeing the ballot and realizing that it hardly received any nominations this year. I was especially shocked after all of the hype surrounding the book and mounting buzz about Rooney Mara’s brilliant performance. Maybe I am just naïve as I have not actually read the books yet myself (I am waiting for Spring Break and a poolside piña-colada to get me in the mood for a good read), but I found the movie to be incredibly entertaining and sophisticated. The acting was fantastic and although I may have needed to close my eyes at a few parts of the more disturbing parts, the film as a whole was amazing and I was instantly hooked into the series. So why is the Academy so against this film? At least Rooney Mara was nominated, but as is the case for The Iron Lady, the film as a whole deserves recognition. There goes my shoe-in for Best Picture…
Actor in a Leading Role:
1.Ryan Gosling, Ides of March
As I have already gone into the obvious visual appeal of Ryan Gosling, I think that he has really emerged this year as a serious actor with an incredible range. He starred in some of my favorite films this year, including the HILARIOUSLY funny Crazy, Stupid, Love, Drive, and the Ides of March. So why was he snubbed when he could have been nominated for any one of these roles? Maybe Old Hollywood just isn’t ready yet to replace their beloved Clooney and Pitt with the tremendous new talent of young stars such as Gosling.
2.Daniel Craig, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Now although I may have started out on a bad foot with Craig because of my dislike of his casting as 007, he has grown on me the past year and I cannot deny his outstanding performance in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Not only did Craig win me over, but I am now eagerly awaiting the second film to see him and Rooney Mara together again. I guess I can just add this to the list of reasons why I am jealous of Rachel Weisz!
Actress in a Leading Role:
1. Tilda Swinton, We Need to Talk About Kevin
Tilda Swinton continued to impress me this year with her role of a conflicted mother in We Need to Talk About Kevin. This disturbing piece made me respect her acting immensely as I can only imagine how hard it was to successfully portray a woman struggling to love her complicated and ultimately deadly son. Swinton definitely deserves an Oscar nomination for this role, especially as she was snubbed last year for her equally brilliant role in one of my favorite films, I am love (2009).
Music (Original Score)
Although I am glad this film was at least nominated for Costume Design, I cannot believe that it was not even considered for Best Musical Score. Whatever you think of Madona’s directing, nobody can deny the enchanting musical score that accompanies this artistically-gutsy film. Composed by Abel Korzeniowski, W.E.’s music is enchanting and even genius at times. In my favorite scene, the song “Pretty Vacant” by the Sex Pistols is paired with a wildly decadent party scene from the 1930s. This brilliant juxtaposition is just one example of how the film pairs the musical score with the emotionally charged content: an artistic balance that deserves the Best Music Score award (or at least a nomination!).
Foreign Language Film
1. The Skin I Live In (La piel que habito)
This creepy yet though provoking thriller stars my favorite hunky Spaniard, Antonio Banderas. The Skin I Live In follows the story of a plastic surgeon (Banderas) so haunted by his past that he attempts to create a skin to withstand any trauma. I do not suggest watching this one alone, so cuddle up with some popcorn and a few girlfriends and give this suspenseful drama a chance to win you over. You will find yourself asking how far is too far to go in the name of scientific progress, while reliving Banderas’ Zoro days.
Animated Feature Film:
Even if Cars 2 was not nominated, a shocker in itself, I expected Rio to be a strong contender for best Animated Feature Film. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the humorous appeal of Puss in Boots and maybeee even Kung Fu Panda 2, but I am shocked that this Fox feature was not nominated. Although it did receive a nomination for best Original Song, Rio should have definitely been among the contenders for best Animated Feature this year.
One last plug before I get over my astonishment of these snubs and try to enjoy the Oscar magic. How was The Artist nominated for best Screenplay when it is a silent film??? And don’t even get me started on Hugo or War Horse…Here’s hoping next year the Academy gets it right and stops nominating based on directors names.
Happy Oscar Sunday! I guess this year I will just have to watch the red carpet and make a ballot for Best Dressed instead of the questionable film ballot nominees.