Any true film fan will tell you that awards don't mean much, regardless of who gives them out. Now, I'm sure most people have seen a film that was advertised as an ward winner and wondered, "What idiot thought that film deserved an award?" Well, here's my and your opportunity to take it out on those mainly responsible: The Academy Awards (a.k.a. the Oscars). 2009 proved to be a pretty dismal year for cineastes, yet there were some great films that were released. However, many of these great films were overlooked or dismissed by critics and awards shows. Here's my list of those films that didn't get credit where credit was due. Note: Rather than use a separate topic for each nomination, I've simply selected the film that was in some way snubbed. It goes without saying that I didn't necessarily like the film over all, but rather some individual component of it. However, some of these films were extremely good.
Should have been nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay:
Although the film received mixed reviews, no one familiar with the graphic novel could deny that Alex Tse and David Hayter did an amazing job in translating a thematically complex story with a non-linear narrative and a plethora of characters into a faithful and comprehensive screenplay. The story, although altered numerous times throughout production, manages to convey most of the ideas that were there in the book. And what is most remarkable is that Tse and Hayter were able to do such a great job despite the pressure of adapting one of the graphic medium's most beloved stories and adding to the stress level is the fact that the story's creator Alan Moore disapproved of a film adaptation from the start.
Should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actor:
While much of the acting in Watchmen could be easily criticized as shallow or over-the-top, there were a trio of very strong performances given by actors Billy Crudup, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and especially by Jackie Earle Haley who played the psychotic vigilante Rorschach. Out of all the performances, Haley's was the most remarkable in that he made a downright unpleasant character a likeable anti-hero. With his gruff voice, Haley breathed fresh life into the film and gave a career defining performance.
Should have been nominated for Best Visual Effects:
Well, this one doesn't need a whole lot of explanation. First of all, you have a naked blue man who glows and can change size at will. Secondly, you have numerous scenes that take place on Mars. Thirdly, there was quite a bit of green screen and compositing done during the action scenes. Of all the films that I've seen this year, Watchmen had the best special effects by far. It's a no-brainer!
See the full review, ""Who Watches the Watchmen?"".
Although Where the Wild Things Are may not have been the biggest hit with audiences or critics, it was certainly a great film and one of this year's most underrated family films. A huge part of the film's success comes from its talented and eccentric director, Spike Jonze. Jonze imbued the entire film with the frenetic energy of a hyper-active child who is unaware of the consequences of his actions. The entire story flows so beautifully and in such a surreal manner that one forgets they are watching a children's film.
Should have been nominated for Best Lead Actor:
One of the most extradordinary performances of the year was given by Max Records as the character Max in Where the Wild Things Are. Quite simply, Records had one of the most difficult roles of the entire year from where I stand. First of all, he had to play Max as an overly imaginative and hyper child with no self-discipline and to do so without being obnoxious. Secondly, he's performing actors in huge puppet suits and he has to give a realistic performance. Thirdly, without his performance the whole film would be a disaster. It's his character and his acting that carries the film. Why he wasn't acknowledged shows a serious lack of judgment on the part of AMPAS.
Should have been nominated for Best Supporting Actress:
Marion Cotillard's portrayal of John Dillinger's girlfriend in Public Enemies is stunning. Not only did she have to hold her own against acting talents like Depp and Bale, but she also had to create a memorable character in a limited amount of screen time and help to make the relationship between herself and Depp believable. Why she wasn't even nominated is a mystery.
Should have been nominated for Best Music (Original Score):
Although the film lacks the spirit and the cohesive vision of Mann's other movies, Public Enemies had one of the most exciting and original scores that I've heard all year. Combining modern film compositions with blue grass and jazz to come up with something new and wholly original, film composer Elliot Goldenthal should have been given the attention that he deserves for an astounding score.
Should have been nominated for Best Animated Feature:
I don't know who thought that films like Up! and The Princess and the Frog deserved the kind of attention they're getting, but the clear best animated film I've seen so far is 9. Not only is the film extremely inventive both visually and in terms of storytelling, but it also had a great voice cast and was the first film of a talented new director. The fact that it wasn't even given a nomination pretty much proves that AMPAS doesn't know jack.
District 9 was fortunate in that it earned quite a few awards, although in categories that seem rather odd. I think perhaps the biggest surprise is that the film's strongest element was Sharlto Copley's performance as Wikus. The fact that he wasn't even nominated for such an intense, memorable, and unique role is just silly on the part of AMPAS.
See the full review, "When Humanity Is the Real Monstrosity...".
While I felt the film was a huge disappointment and had very weak direction and a terrible script, I can't help but be surprised that the young actress Saoirse Ronan wasn't even acknowledged for her powerful performance. Not only was her role demanding, but she also had to narrate the film and try to develop her character when the sreenplay all but forgets about character development.