12 Missed Chances

presented by J:

with this being the week before the Academy Awards, there’s lots in the news and internets about who will win, who should win, who won’t, and lots of complaints about past years and whether anyone should care about the Oscar or not.

so in honor of all the “controversy,” i will be doing 3 Oscar-related posts this week, as follows:
“12 Missed Chances” – a look at 12 times that AMPAS has failed to honor a notable work/performance,
“12 Smart Choices” – a look at 12 controversial Ocar-winners that i agree with, and
“24 Guessed Categories” – my personal guesses for this year’s winners, despite the fact i haven’t seen many of the nominees this year

please continue below for “12 Missed Chances.”

“12 Missed Chances” refers to twelve instances that stand out in my mind of when the Academy should have nominated a particular artist or film and failed to do so.  i will start with this year’s biggest Oscar snub (in my humble opinion):

12. Will Reiser – “50/50” – Best Screenplay – 2011
mr. Reiser used his real-life cancer experience to write his first screenplay.  “50/50” is a better-written piece of work than 99% of the films that are released every year.  it is everything a good screenplay should be and more.  unfortunately, AMPAS instead gave the nomination to the informative, but dull “Margin Call,” which is a well-written film also, but not as good as “50/50.”  so sad.

11.  “Tangled” – Best Animated Feature – 2010
“Tangled” got locked-out simply because of an Academy rule that would not allow more than 3 nominees in a category with only 15 competitors.  this is sad, because in 2011, the offending rule was changed – but one year too late.  in my opinion, “Tangled” was an even better and clever-er film than “Toy Story 3,” which ultimately and predictably won this category.  don’t get me wrong…TS3 is great, but not as great as the funny and wonderful “Tangled.”  it’s on par with Disney’s best films.  it lost in the one category it was nominated, Best Song, which it also lost to “TS3” for a Randy Newman song that is plain at best and forgettable at worst.  perhaps the Academy can find room in their hearts to rectify the situation by nominating (and awarding) “Tangled Ever After” next year in the Animated Short category.

10.  Dana E. Glauberman – “Up in the Air” – Best Film Editing – 2009
it is not often that people complain about a film being snubbed for a category like Best Film Editing, but this one is different.  part of what made “Up in the Air” so good was its excellent editing and pacing, provided by ms. Glauberman.  look no further than the opening sequence for proof that she should have easily nabbed a nomination here.  “Up in the Air” earned 6 nominations total (even without the film editing nod) but, sadly, didn’t take home any of the golden guys.

9.  Kate Winslet – “Revolutionary Road” – Best Actress – 2008
yes, Kate Winslet won the Oscar in 2008 for Best Actress after being denied five times before, but lots of people think she won it for the wrong movie.  her performance in “Revolutionary Road” is flawless and painful to watch (painful in a good way).  everyone knew she had it in the bag.  but then AMPAS nominated her not for the excellent “RR,” but for the “meh” “The Reader.”  apparently being more naked gets more Oscar votes.  can’t complain too much, though, since she actually won, though – right?

8.  “Come What May” – “Moulin Rouge” – Best Original Song – 2001
like Tangled’s exclusion, the song “Come What May” was inadmissible for nomination consideration due to a somewhat arbitrary rule.  the song had been composed for Baz Luhrmann’s “Romeo+Juliet,” but was not used in the film.  instead, mr. Luhrmann saved it for his next project, the excellent “Moulin Rouge,” where it proved a much better fit in addition to giving the film some of its finest moments.  the song is easily better than 3 of the nominees from that year, though it probably still would have lost to Monsters, Inc.’s fun “If I Didn’t Have You” by a much-overdue Randy Newman (see above).

7.  Ron Howard – “Apollo 13” – Best Director – 1995
one of the biggest oversights of Oscar history is the exclusion of Ron Howard from 1995’s Best Director race.  he had already won the Director’s Guild of America award for “Apollo 13” and was considered a shoo-in for the top prize.  then the nominations were announced, aaaaand…no Ron Howard.  no disrespect to the other directors who were nominated, but Ron Howard deserved to be in there for one of the most technically outstanding films of the ’90s.  lucky for Opie, he finally was nominated (and won) for 2001’s A Beautiful Mind.

6.  Christopher Lloyd – “Back to the Future” – Best Supporting Actor – 1985
Doc Brown has become an iconic character for the 80s generation, and something of a godfather for the modern “mentor” archetype found in many of today’s films.  Christopher Lloyd’s performance was overlooked no doubt because it was a comedy role in the midst of a year that was stifled with stuffy, dramatic dribble like “Out of Africa.”  Lloyd’s performance is still as funny and heartfelt as ever and, in today’s Oscar race, would almost certainly get a nomination.  instead, he had to make “Angels in the Outfield” starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

5.  Bill Murray – “Tootsie” – Best Supporting Actor – 1982
most people would cite Bill Murray’s snub as “Groundhog Day,” but let’s face it – every Best Actor nominee that year deserved their nomination.  no, the real snub was Bill Murray’s excellent, perfectly deadpan performance as writer/waiter/roommate Jeff in “Tootsie.”  he improvised much of his dialogue for the movie and nailed it, especially the famous line: “you slut.”  though the film garnered an incredible 10 nominations in a year rife with competition like “E.T.” and “Gandhi,” Supporting Actor was not among its nods.  mr. Murray holds his own and more in every scene he shares with Dustin Hoffman (who was nominated for Best Actor).

4.  “Das Boot” – Best Foreign Language Film – 1981
Wolfgang Petersen’s epic German WWII submarine movie “Das Boot” garnered a whopping 6 Oscar nominations, including Best Director…but not Best Foreign Language Film.  granted, the Foreign category has some weird limitations since countries are only allowed to submit one film for consideration.  in a 10-nominee year, “Das Boot” could easily have gotten a Best Picture nomination.  it is still one of the best suspense and war films ever made.  instead, another Nazi-themed movie won: Hungary’s “Mephisto,” which no one talks about any more, while people still rave over DB’s amazing production.

3.  “Paper Moon” – Best Picture – 1973
not only should Peter Bogdanovich’sPaper Moon” have been nominated for the top prize, but it should have won – in my opinion, of course.  it also missed out in the categories of Best Director for mr. Bogdanovich and Best Actor for Ryan O’Neal.  now it is a mostly-forgotten movie remembered only for featuring the youngest Oscar-winning performance from Tatum O’Neal, who should have been nominated in the Lead Actress category instead of Supporting.  granted, she would have lost in the Lead category.  nonetheless, it is a wonderful movie with or without a Best Picture nomination.

2.  “Life with Father” – Best Picture – 1947
“Life with Father” based on the play based on the memoir of the same name is still one of the best family-themed comedies ever made.  William Powell got a well-deserved Oscar-nomination for his performance as Clarence Day, Sr. but the film missed out on a Best Picture nomination.  instead, the winner that year was the drab “Gentleman’s Agreement,” which was heavier on political statement than it was in production value.

1.  Bela Lugosi – “Dracula” – Best Actor – 1931
the Oscars were still in their infancy in 1931, but that’s no excuse for the exclusion of Bela Lugosi from the Best Actor race.  especially when considering that one of the Best Actor winners that year (it was a tie year) was Fredric March for playing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the classic horror film – you guessed it – “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”  throw in the fact that there were only 3 nominees in the Best Actor race that year (Alfred Lunt went home the only loser for a role aptly named “The Actor”), and it’s a crime that mr. Lugosi was not nominated.  in “Dracula” he defined the future of the vampire role beyond Nosferatu and even by today’s horror standards, his performance is still legitimately creepy.  64 years later, Martin Landau, would actually win an Oscar for playing the talented but disturbed Lugosi in the delightfully quirky/sad “Ed Wood.”

and with that, i will see you all on Wednesday with “12 Smart Choices.”

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