Overture to Oscar: Surprises and Snubs
I’ll be doing a series of blog posts related to Oscar in the coming weeks, going in-depth in the various categories. For now, here’s a quick reaction to the initial nominations, which include some pleasant surprises as well as some mind-baffling snubs.
For a complete list of this year’s nominees:
BIGGEST (PLEASANT) SURPRISE:
Best Supporting Actor – John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Best Supporting Actor nominee John Hawkes was deservedly acknowledged for his multi-faceted and at times terrifying performance as Teardrop, uncle to teenage heroine Ree Dolly in the incredible Winter’s Bone. Teardrop, as a character, begins the movie as a shadowy bulldog protecting his community and his brother’s memory, but ends up along the way as something much more complex and surprisingly sympathetic. Hawkes is a tremendous character actor, perhaps best known for his role as the silent and often suffering Sol Star on HBO’s Deadwood. I’m impressed that the Academy recognized a subtle performance that the awards circuit seems to have criminally overlooked this season.
Not Nominated – Best Supporting Actress – Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Thank you to the Academy for NOT nominating a performance that was mildly interesting at best. Kunis’s portrayal of Lily by no means (or on any level) approaches the other ladies in this category in terms of depth, grit and talent. Kunis is charismatic and more than capable, but her role in Swan is as more of a mirror/foil to Portman’s Nina. The character of Lily was more of an impetus for madness than a show-stopper of a supporting role. The other ladies in this category are far more deserving – most notably Hailee Steinfeld, who although she SHOULD have been nominated in the LEADING actress category, managed to outshine both Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon in True Grit, which was a movie full of truly remarkable supporting performances.
Not Nominated – Best Director – Christopher Nolan (Inception)
Once again, the curse of “the movie that directed itself”. Remember Moulin Rouge? Well, despite being nominated for Best Picture, Rouge‘s director, Baz Luhrman, was left off the Director’s list come Oscar time. Here we go again. Chris Nolan’s stunning and innovative Inception was (rightly so) nominated for Best Picture, but Nolan himself is noticeably absent from the Best Director roll call. This is an outright travesty. Who should have been left off the list? Sorry, but Coen brothers, I’m looking at you. True Grit was a great film, but to outright “diss” a director’s original, startling vision(Inception) in favor of what is essentially a fairly straightforward remake? I’m guessing the Coen brothers should feel a tad guilty for occupying a slot that by all rights should have gone to Nolan. For shame, Academy!
Not Nominated -Best Supporting Actor – Andrew Garfield (The Social Network)
I’ve not been a huge fan of the wave of support and accolades for The Social Network on the whole. I think the movie is more than a little overpraised, especially considering some of its preachy undertones and the in-your-face “see how witty and timely I am” script by Aaron Sorkin. Still, the performances by many of the younger actors, including Garfield, Jesse Eisenberg and Justin Timberlake, were fantastic and no-holds barred, bringing these pop culture icons to life. Andrew Garfield as Eduardo Saverin had the toughest role, as the “straight man” facing some pretty obnoxious techno-geeks trying to leave him out of the equation. It’s unfortunate he didn’t make the cut, as his performance was the most sympathetic and touching in the film.
Tune in all throughout the month of February for more “Overture to Oscar” entries. This season, I’ll be focusing on some of the more obscure categories, including musical scores, costumes, and more.