13 February 2013

The Academy Awards That Should Have Been, Part I

Look, I don't want anyone thinking I take these kinds of things very seriously. I don't. This is just idle conversation about Oscar snubs that kind of annoyed me (and still do). I've confined these snubs to just movies I've seen since I began paying attention to such things, so you're not going to find me pitch a fit about something that happened in the 50s. Because of the length, I'm breaking this into a few different parts. Without further ado, I present...

The Academy Awards That Should Have Been
Part I: Actors and Actresses

ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE
SNUBBED: Pierce Brosnan -- The Matador {"Julian"}

NOMINATED (79th Academy Awards, 2006)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio -- Blood Diamond {"Danny Archer"}
  • Ryan Gosling -- Half Nelson {"Dan Dunne"}
  • Peter O'Toole -- Venus {"Maurice"}
  • Will Smith -- The Pursuit of Happyness {"Chris Gardner"}
  • Forest Whitaker -- The Last King of Scotland {"Idi Amin"} <--winner li="">
I've only seen two of the nominated performances: DiCaprio and O'Toole. Sure, Blood Diamond was a more compelling human interest film and yes, DiCaprio gave a solid performance (dubious accent and all). But was it as daring as Brosnan's turn as the narcissistic hit man past his prime? Likewise, I was impressed by O'Toole's dirty old man and in truth, if I'd had a vote, I'd have voted for O'Toole to make up for decades of him being denied a much-deserved Best Actor award, but for my money it was Brosnan who gave the best performance of the year.

ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
SNUBBED: Val Kilmer -- Tombstone {"Doc Holliday"}

NOMINATED (66th Academy Awards, 1993)
  • Leonardo DiCaprio -- What's Eating Gilbert Grape {"Arnie Grape"}
  • Ralph Fiennes -- Schindler's List {"Amon Goeth"}
  • Tommy Lee Jones -- The Fugitive {"Samuel Gerard"} <--winner li="">
  • John Malkovich -- In the Line of Fire {"Mitch Leary"}
  • Pete Postlethwaite -- In the Name of the Father {"Giuseppe Conlon"}
Again, I've only seen two of the nominated performances. This time, it's Fiennes, who should have won; and Jones, who did win, but shouldn't have even been nominated over Kilmer. Long after the comparisons of Tombstone and Wyatt Earp have been relegated to Western history magazines, Kilmer's pitch-perfect Doc Holliday casts a shadow over both films. Kevin Jarre's screenplay was full of rich dialog anyway, but Kilmer got the best lines - or perhaps, he made the most of them. He dominates every frame he's in, and he's missed in every frame he's not.

It's a bit harder for me to think of actress snubs that really bug me, which may be an indictment of how poor the offerings for female roles are in any given year or maybe a reflection of how poorly I've explored films that feature prominent female roles. Maybe both. For the next two, I kind of got a bit nit-picky.

Also, even more egregious than Kilmer's snub is Djimon Hounsou's heartbreaking performance in Amistad

ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE
SNUBBED: Audrey Tautou -- Amélie [aka: Le Fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain] {"Amélie Poulain"}

NOMINATED (74th Academy Awards, 2001)
  • Halle Berry -- Monster's Ball {"Leticia Musgrove"}
  • Judi Dench -- Iris {"Iris Murdoch"}
  • Nicole Kidman -- Moulin Rouge {"Satine"}
  • Sissy Spacek -- In the Bedroom {"Ruth Fowler"}
  • Renée Zellweger -- Bridget Jones's Diary {"Bridget Jones"}
It's not often that a foreign language film is nominated in other categories, but Amélie netted five total nominations including Art Direction, Cinematography, Sound and Writing (Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen), so I see no reason why Audrey Tautou should not have been nominated for her insanely charming performance in the title role. If you can watch Amélie and not fall in love with Tautou, you shouldn't get to vote on awards based on movies.

I've only seen Zellweger's performance of the five actual nominees and even though I enjoyed that film and Zellweger herself in it, there's just no way I could have picked her over Tautou.

ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE
SNUBBED: Maria Bello -- A History of Violence {"Edie Stall"}

I've classified this performance as supporting instead of leading, despite the fact Bello is billed second after Viggo Mortenson for this picture, because it suited me to do so. I invoke Rule Six, section 3 from this year's Academy Awards guidelines:
The determination as to whether a role is a leading or supporting role shall be made individually by members of the branch at the time of balloting.
NOMINATED (78th Academy Awards, 2005)
  • Amy Adams -- Junebug {"Ashley"}
  • Catherine Keener -- Capote {"Nelle Harper Lee"}
  • Frances McDormand -- North Country {"Glory"}
  • Rachel Weisz -- The Constant Gardener {"Tessa Quayle"} <--winner li="">
  • Michelle Williams -- Brokeback Mountain {"Alma"}
I've only seen Rachel Weisz's performance of these nominees. Bello's rawness resonated with me much more strongly than did Weisz's aloofness. Sure, her character was ultimately more tragic but does that make for a more compelling performance? I don't think I could have voted that way.