It is common law for many, many popular films, those loved by the moving-going public, and even professional film critics, to not make it big with the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts, and Sciences. If at all. Fine screenplays by super-established brothers, huge successes outside of the live action format, even one of the filmmaking greats can miss out for one of his very strongest works, directorially. There are no guarantees. The penultimate five in our Oscar-nomineeless series are very good examples of such misdemeanors.
Animated Feature — Toy Story 1995 — Robin Write
Animated movies have not really got a great history for Best Picture opportunities. Only Beauty and the Beast managed to squeeze into the big list, before the category Animated Feature was created. Things changed again when five became ten for Best Picture in 2009. Further voting rule changes in 2011 now means animated films will struggle once again. Back in 1995, Toy Story sent animated movies soaring, a new generation of this genre. And it is a real emotional adventure of a movie experience. The modern audience, in hindsight, and with it’s equally fantastic sequels, might not fully appreciate what all the fuss was about with the original Toy Story. I would suggest to them, watch it again, because this was simply one of the best movies of that year. And would have won Animated Feature had it not taken them a further six years to establish the category.
Original Screenplay — Joel & Ethan Coen (Inside Llewyn Davis) 2013 — Steve Schweighofer
The Coens are not exactly Oscar drought-stricken, but, boy, did they get that shaft when Oscar snubbed this one. Film, director and actor omissions aside, one would think that the screenwriters’ club, known for being a bit more progressive than most of the geezer membership, would have recognized the intimately detailed script about a singer/songwriter of good-to-mediocre talent with an uncanny knack for making terrible decisions — and generally behaving as a frustrated shit — would have been just what the doctor ordered. Apparently not. Regardless, it’s a brilliant film that blossoms from a thoughtful, multi-layered script that towers above the likes of the pandering Dallas Buyers Club or puerile American Hustle. Both the BBC and the New York Times put it on the list of the best films of the 21st Century so far, the only film from that year, so the hell with Oscar, anyway. As the song says, “Hang me, Oh, hang me.”.
Original Score — Danny Elfman (Edward Scissorhands) 1990 — Robin Write
Tim Burton, there was another film-maker who would not catch a break with the Academy. Like he cares. This film ticked many of their boxes though, a great cast, a heart-warming story, and general crowd-pleaser. What is maybe most memorable perhaps is Danny Elfman’s wistful score, that bears all the magic and romance of Edward’s story. Shame on you, heartless Oscar voters, who instead chose the likes of perfectly okay Home Alone and Ghost, and far less memorable Avalon and Havana.
Director — Steven Spielberg (Jaws) 1975 — Al Robinson
It must’ve been a mistake. “Robert Altman, Federico Fellini, Milos Forman, Stanley Kubrick, and Sidney Lumet”… but wait! Where is Steven Spielberg’s name from the field of 5 nominated for Best Director for 1975?? Steven Spielberg directs Jaws, one of the most beloved films of all time, and he’s not nominated for the Oscar. This must be a mistake, but it wasn’t. Back in 1975, he was not a household name like he is now. He had just come off directing his debut feature film in The Sugarland Express, and he wasn’t respected the way those other 5 were. It’s understandable now to think why he wasn’t nominated, but it still seems like it was an error that the Oscar voters made. Jaws was a perfect film in a sea of other great films of an era that gave us many great films. I bet if the voters could do it over, they would most certainly nominate him. Now the question is, who would they eliminate?
Film Editing — Bonnie and Clyde 1967 — Robin Write
An incredibly innovative time in American cinema was highlighted in 1967, with crime flick Bonnie and Clyde just one outlandish, brilliant motion picture to break into the somewhat familiar cookie-cutter style Academy selections. Winning two Oscars from ten nominations (joint highest that year), Arthur Penn’s movie, like the aforementioned Best Picture nominee The Graduate, was somehow missing in the Editing category. By today’s seemingly altered standards the editing nod would likely have been default, but who am I to say exactly how back then perceptions of such tech categories went hand-in-hand with the movies they shortlisted in the top tier. It also has one of the most famously, masterful quick-cut sequences in the entirety of the history of cinema.
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