27
Jan
2012
You're Doing it Wrong: the 2012 Oscars
Notable Oscar Snubs
Jordan & Rachel
It's that time of year again, dear readers: Oscars Season is upon us. For one night a year, movie royalty descends upon the Kodak Theater for an evening of revelry and self-congratulations, recognizing the most talented among their ranks for a job well done in the year of movies.

But, unfortunately, that doesn't always happen. And this year, we were particularly disturbed by who was nominated and, more significantly, who wasn't. The fact that three of the six participant's in this year's Newsweek Oscar Round Table, typically a barometer for winners, weren't even nominated, is really saying something.

We're not going to make this into a long diatribe about how the Academy is completely out of touch and irrelevant; how, far too often, an actor is awarded and not a performance, and how such a tendency weakens the legitimacy of the award; how voters tend to skew towards the safe and predictable. You'll have to wait for the series of Modest Proposals we're going to use to write about these subjects (and more) over the next month (you didn't think we were going to be mature about this, did you? Come on). Instead, here, we will give some space and some much deserved recognition to the people we feel were unfortunately overlooked. Also, all of this is evidence that Patton Oswalt's twitter allusion to a party for all the Oscar snubs is a great idea.

If you think someone is missing, just wait: we're not done bemoaning the Academy's blind spots just yet.


The supporting cast of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

TTSS

Don't get us wrong, we are REALLY GLAD that Gary Oldman got a best actor nomination (we might not understand how its his first ever, but we digress). But it isn't like he was the only one that made Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy such a compelling film. He was surrounded by a supporting cast that puts most ensembles to shame. Whether it's Benedict Cumberbatch's quiet discomfort, Colin Firth's smooth smarm, Tom Hardy's terrified desperation or Ciaran Hinds quiet menace, the supporting cast of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is basically a master-class in how to make the most of limited screen time. And for that, if nothing else, its supporting cast deserved some recognition.


Brendan Gleeson in The Guard



As Gerry Boyle, a drunken, drug-fueled, whore-loving...police officer, Brendan Gleeson is a vulgar joy in a performance that single-handedly elevates The Guard from a Guy Ritchie/Quentin Tarantino riff into a smart, darkly hilarious buddy cop comedy. Sure, the excellent script and the great supporting turn by Don Cheadle helped, but Gleeson plays Boyle with such joy, such vitality, and such hard-nosed honor that it is hard not to become invested in the character and how he gets out of an increasingly dangerous situation. This is the sort of performance the Academy should be vaunting--smart, funny, and completely indispensable to a film that could have been good, but never would have been great without him.


Charlize Theron in Young Adult



Mavis Gary is nothing short of a hurricane. She tears into her hometown in a whirlwind of booze, deluded snark, and poor decisions, wreaking havoc wherever she turns and never looking back. Many people would have toed the line between hateful bitch and sympathetically pathetic protagonist or leaned a bit more toward a sympathetic portrayal, but Charlize Theron is all edges. She is unafraid to make you hate Mavis, and when you feel sorry for her, it is only because you recognize your own self-destructive tendencies on the screen (please say that isn't just us). It is a fearless performance, and a funny one to boot, the sort of thing that makes us sit up and take notice of an actress who has often underwhelmed us in the past. If Young Adult is any evidence of what Theron can do, we can't wait to see what's next. And even if this is her at her apex (yeah, we'll argue this performance at least matches Monster), well, isn't that what Oscars are for?


Actors in Midnight in Paris

Midnight in Paris

The fact that Midnight In Paris picked up nominations in half of the major awards (Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director), but none of the acting categories seems both unfortunate and indicative of an interesting Academy conundrum: how can a film be so lauded, but not it's cast? Owen Wilson plays the Woody Allen role well, managing to turn down the annoyance factor significantly, but it was a tough field this year. Rachel McAdams was rightfully overlooked, but not by any fault of hers: the character she played, the Woody Allen staple of a terrible harpy woman, didn't give her room to breathe. We were generally more impressed by the supporting cast: Marion Cotillard as the emotional anachronism that is Adriana, Tom Hiddleston (definitely one to watch) as an F. Scott Fitzgerald striking a perfect balance between angst and optimism, Kathy Bates turning Gertrude Stein into a loving matriarch, and Corey Stoll instilling a brooding intensity into Ernest Hemingway that seems incredibly realistic and perfectly suited for the film. The film was full of performances that made it Allen's strongest showing in a long time, and it's sad that the recognition came in a trickle-down fashion.


Steve McQueen for Shame



Shame was probably just too much movie for the Academy to consider properly. The NC-17 rating clearly scared many people away, and the uncomfortable, complicated, generally unpleasant subject matter that the movie handles were probably enough to make most Academy members cluck like a bunch of Victorian ladies over weak tea. Add an actor who seemed to be everywhere this year (o, Fassbender. Wait til I get to you later...) and the scandal of male full frontal nudity and you've got a resounding snub. McQueen directed the film with a a brutal honesty, keeping the audience at the same emotional distance protagonist Brandon instills in his relationships, while still managing to draw us in. He definitely deserved recognition, and Shame's across-the-board snubbing is just the latest evidence of the Academy being too afraid to stick up for a good product, no matter the controversy.


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