Film Feature: The 11 Biggest Oscar Snubs of 2012

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6. Best Supporting Actress: Vanessa Redgrave for “Coriolanus”

Vanessa Redgrave
Vanessa Redgrave
Photo credit: The Weinstein Company

She was never really in the conversation during awards season, but I chose to include her because her exclusion speaks volumes about the way both the Academy and its biggest outside player works during Oscar season. If Harvey Weinstein had put his notable weight behind this film with even a quarter of the effort he did with “The Artist,” this amazing performance could have made the cut. It is a deeply flawed system in which the amount of effort put forth by a studio head can determine whether or not a performance as good as Redgrave’s is considered. The fact is that not enough people saw “Coriolanus”. It’s the only possible answer. A number of living legends made the cut this year. I just wish there could have been one more.

5. Best Supporting Actor: Albert Brooks for “Drive”

Albert Brooks
Albert Brooks
Photo credit: Film District

The legendary comedian changed his course so significantly this year that he won several precursor awards, including Best Supporting Actor from the Chicago Film Critics Association. But I had a feeling he was going to be outside the party, looking in. There’s a CLEAR trend this year in that small films aimed more at young, hip audiences than traditional Oscar fare were screwed — “Drive,” “Martha Marcy,” “Take Shelter,” “Shame,” “Melancholia.” History will look FAR more kindly on these films than half the Best Picture nominees, but it’s clear now that last year’s embracing of “The King’s Speech” was not a fluke. Rather it was a return to the norm — a return to the Academy falling head over heels for obvious Oscar bait like “War Horse” and “EL&IC” rather than taking a chance on more unique choices. And Brooks got caught up in that market correction back to more conservative Oscar fare. It’s a shame.

4. Best Actress: Elizabeth Olsen for “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

Elizabeth Olsen
Elizabeth Olsen
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight

Once again, like Redgrave, Olsen didn’t really have the precursor award love that she should have had, so this wasn’t an entirely surprising snub, but I’ll never understand how her work went so unheralded through awards season. Same with Kirsten Dunst. And Juliette Binoche. You know what, I hate this category. I’m incredibly excited that Rooney Mara got the recognition she deserves, but too many safe choices were made here, especially in the personage of Meryl Streep, one of our best living actresses giving one of her most average performances. Streep does a lovely impersonation, but Olsen, Dunst, and even Tilda Swinton took risks and put themselves out there in unique, captivating ways. Argh.

3. Best Actor: Michael Fassbender for “Shame”

Michael Fassbender
Michael Fassbender
Photo credit: Fox Searchlight

I was THIS close to predicting this would happen (but never would have guessed Bichir, so it doesn’t really matter), but it’s still a devastating snub. The actor of the year, who delivered in an amazing variety of films (“Shame,” “X-Men: First Class,” “A Dangerous Method,” “Jane Eyre”), should have been recognized just for the range of his ability, if not for the searing strength of the riskiest performance of the year. I have a feeling that Michael Fassbender will be around for YEARS and notch several Oscar nominations and, when future generations go back and look at his career, they will be stunned that he wasn’t nominated for either of his films with director Steve McQueen. Truly shameful.

2. Best Director: Lars Von Trier for “Melancholia”

Melancholia
Melancholia
Photo credit: Magnolia

It would have taken an Academy miracle, especially after Von Trier’s comments at Cannes, but this is not about playing the right politics with the powers that be, it’s about who deserved a nomination. Lars Von Trier absolutely deserved to be in here, more than Mr. Allen or even Mr. Scorsese. And, yes, that’s something, especially after “Antichrist,” that I never thought I’d write. “Melancholia” is an amazing piece of emotional auteurism, a piece in which a filmmaker uses his own battles with depression to create art. It is what I personally want so badly out of film, to hear an artist’s voice and not feel like I’m watching a product of a machine. I understand that, for Von Trier to have gotten a nomination, it would’ve taken the existence of some imaginary alternate universe, where public displays of bad taste could actually be removed from an assessment of artistic accomplishment, but a boy can dream about other worlds, can’t he?

1. Best Picture: “Drive”

Drive
Drive
Photo credit: Film District

This far into the feature and there hasn’t been too much vitriol against “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” So, I’ll close with it. It’s, without much of a contest, the WORST Best Picture nominee of all time and proof that something shady must have gone on. Yes, I’m saying something underhanded and borderline illegal. That’s the only way I can wrap by brain around how a group of intelligent people deemed Stephen Daldry’s exploitative, manipulative junk as a superior film to “Drive” or “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” or, literally, a HUNDRED other better choices. Of course, now is a good time for a little perspective. What do “Fight Club,” “Zodiac,” “Seven,” “The Shining,” “Requiem For a Dream,” and “Reservoir Dogs” have in common? They all have as many or fewer Oscar nominations than “Drive.” And all have fewer than “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” Maybe being snubbed is the best thing that could have happened to the Driver.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

By BRIAN TALLERICO
Content Director
HollywoodChicago.com
brian@hollywoodchicago.com

Rutledal's picture

Thomas McCarthy - Oscar nominated

McCarthy does have an Oscar nomination, for Best Original Screenplay even for Pixar’s Up.

BrianTT's picture

McCarthy

Absolutely right. And I knew that but was considering his live-action solo work and wrote too quickly — The Station Agent & The Visitor — both nomination worthy, in my opinion. It’s been clarified.

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