The 2012 Oscar Injustices
January 29, 2012 1 Comment
The nominees who should-have-been at the 84th Academy Awards
1) Michael Fassbender for Best Actor in ‘Shame’
The man behind the year’s big ‘Ooooh-matron’ moments, Michael Fassbender was extremely unlucky not to pick up an Oscar nomination for Shame. His performance as Brandon Sullivan, a character whose fractured sexual psyche leads him into some of the most intense movie moments since, well, Hunger, was the kind that normally has the Academy in raptures (see also: Midnight Cowboy and Last Tango In Paris). Sadly not this time. Possibly he’s too young for the Academy, which has a terrible record when it comes to awarding lead actors under 40, or possibly he hasn’t quite broken through in the US yet. Still, if he keeps producing work of this standard, and maybe keeps at least some of his clothes on next time so the male voters don’t get an inferiority complex, he should take home the prize in the near future.
2) Albert Brooks for Best Supporting Actor in ‘Drive’
Albert Brooks’ turn in Drive was simply revelatory, a suddenly, terrifyingly psychotic turn from an actor we had all previously considered rather cuddly and avuncular. Turning from calm to killer on a dime, displaying a ruthless side that would put Liam Neeson to shame, and generally scaring cinema-goers everywhere, it’s a brilliant piece of acting. So the Academy turns up and gives him an Oscar, which he takes home and puts next to his collection of knives. Simple, right? Except… not. As Brooks has since wistfully tweeted about the Academy: “You don’t like me. You really don’t like me.”
3) Kirsten Dunst for Best Actress in ‘Melancholia’
Lars von Trier’s Cannes diatribe meant that he could have made Battleship Potemkin, Citizen Kane and Forrest Gump this year and still been overlooked by the Academy. If the controversy tarnished the film in the eyes of voters – and, let’s be honest, namedropping Hitler hasn’t won anyone Hollywood brownie points recently – it’d pretty rough on Kirsten Dunst. She’s magnetic in a hugely challenging role that calls on her to carry a film while lookingly catatonically at a giant planet. Think Armageddon with Patrick Moore, with Dunst as Patrick Moore.
4) Tilda Swinton for Best Actress in ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin’
We Need to Talk About Tilda. Specifically, how the Academy overlooked her terrific, fractured performance at the dark heart of Lynne Ramsay’s domestic horror film. Not to knock a blistering turn from Dragon Tattoo’s Rooney Mara, but Swinton is deeply unlucky to be the only one of the SAG’s Best Actress nominees not to make the Academy’s cut. Also, apart from perhaps Tom Ford, she’s the most stylish star in Hollywood, so her absence automatically makes the Kodak red carpet 27 per cent less interesting. Seriously, she might have turned up in a ball gown and moon boots.
5) ‘Drive’ for Best Picture
We accept that not everyone has recognised the godlike genius of Nicolas Winding Refn’s LA noir. It’s even possible that some people – whisper it quietly – found it all a bit slow and mysterious, and didn’t much like the bit where ‘Him from the Notebook’ turned that elevator an interesting shade of head. But we’re confident they’ll come around one day. Sadly, it’ll be too late for Academy members who will rue its omission forever. After all, a nod for Drive might finally have made the Academy look cool, hip and in touch with the kids. Instead, they nominated ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’. So there you go.
6) ‘The Skin I Live In’ for Best Foreign Film
It’s a minor surprise that Pedro Almodovar’s ‘The Skin I Live In’ still hasn’t picked up an Oscar nod to go with its BAFTA nomination. The Spaniard has previous form in the category, having won for ‘All About My Mother’ back in 1999, and his wonderfully macabre body horror is all kinds of terrific. Still, with Iranian drama ‘A Separation’ is garnering huge amounts of buzz among the brainy arthouse crowd, the category is looking like a foregone conclusion.
Nothing really new here. The Academy (AMPAS) does not have a history of favouring ‘unusual’ or ‘uncomfortable’ films no matter how good they were. ‘Drive’ and ‘The Skin I Live In’ contain many controversial scenes. ‘Let’s Talk About Kevin’ and ‘Shame’ deal with a very controversial issue. ‘Melancholia’ is far from mainstream, full stop. The fact that the Academy has chosen to ‘ignore’ these films (to a larger extent) only points to its own incapacity to embrace all kinds of films, depicting all kinds of behaviour. It is true that all of the above films have grasped awards during various film festivals, such as the Cannes, but it is hardly fair to contain them only at that platform, and to deny them a truly global critical acclaim, which they clearly deserve. The Academy’s biased picking of its nominees, favouring ‘traditional’ timeline epics over other films, may have been a wise move in the beginning of 20th century, but it does not remain so today. Perhaps, for now, we should just be happy for ‘Tree of Life’s nomination in the category of Best Picture and hope for better things to come.