“It’s a clean sweep!” Steven Spielberg announced enthusiastically as he declared The Return Of The King winner of Best Picture – like we did not know that was going to happen considering the movie had taken each of the ten Oscars it was nominated for that far (remarkably though, no nominations in Sound Editing or Cinematography). It was touted as the possible winner before the show, but it was an unprecedented steam-roll that became more obvious as the night went on. It was clearly a reward for all three films, but did the trilogy deserve this kind of recognition finally. Yes. And did The Return Of The King warrant eleven Oscars? No. Was this fair on other contenders? No. The main contender was Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation (with just four nominations – what?), marking the first time an American woman was nominated for Director. If that does not make you feel a shameful disbelief, not much in the movies can surprise you.
Original Song — Gollum’s Song (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers) 2002 — Robin Write
Comparing them purely on their merit within their trilogy, I am just going to come out and say The Two Towers was The Empire Strikes Back or The Godfather II of The Lord Of The Rings series. Forget about, for now, what would happen the next year when The Return Of The King would stampede over everything as the Academy compensated for neglecting the incredible trilogy. Those three years that The Lord Of The Rings movies were released really fucked with the voting system. For these movies, this was its worst year (winning two Oscars from six nominations), but the superior movie of the three. There were no nominations for Screenplay, Cinematography, Costume Design – and not even Make Up, where there were just the two nominees that year. What?! Oh yeah, and Peter Jackson was not anywhere to be seen on the Director list. There was no room for Score either, which moved toward a different, and possibly better theme this time around. Howard Shore also wrote the music to Fran Walsh’s lyrics for the also missing Song, performed by the heavenly Emiliana Torrini. I wonder how Oscar history would have altered had this been given the love it deserved.
Picture — Almost Famous 2000 — Al Robinson
One of the biggest snubs ever in Oscar history is when in 2000 Almost Famous was not nominated for Best Picture. WHAT? HOW? This is what I was thinking on nomination day, and frankly, what I still think now. It’s easily one of the 5 best films of 2000 and it is now considered a classic. The pieces were all there for a Best Picture nomination. It was about an interesting subject, rock and roll, journalism, it had great music, interesting characters, and it was based partially on a real story of what happened to a young Cameron Crowe as he was a teenager. Crowe wrote and directed it, and poured his heart and soul into it, and it shows greatly. The film is a beautiful heartfelt story about coming of age at a time when rock and roll was trying to figure out where to go next. I don’t know why the Oscar voters didn’t nominate it, but I blame The Weinstein Company at the time Miramax for getting Chocolat in instead. The irony now is that if it was this year, this wouldn’t happen, and I’d probably get that happy ending. Oh well…
Supporting Actor — Armie Hammer (The Social Network) 2010 — Steve Schweighofer
There are two things that Oscar voters don’t usually reward: Blockbusters and Handsome Actors. Perhaps they feel these two entities already have an abundance of riches and require no further validation. Or, more likely, they are simply jealous. Whatever the reason, Armie Hammer’s portrayal of the celestial Winklevoss twins was left out in the cold, despite his perfect balance of casual entitlement, jockishness and arrogance, an irresistible target for The Social Network’s protagonist. His double duty that required him to play off of himself as his characters slide from relaxed confidence into anger and panic enhance the tonal change of the film. The fact that Hammer shared a well-to-do background similar to the Winklevi may have seemed like not that much of a stretch to Oscar. With his good looks amplified by playing the rowing twins, Oscar was having none of it. Hopefully wiser heads will forgive his perfections when they cast their ballots this year.
Leading Actress — Scarlett Johansson (Lost in Translation) 2003 — Matt Fisher
Scarlett Johansson plays Charlotte, a woman who befriends aging actor Bob Harris played by Bill Murray. The film was nominated for 4 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Murray, Best Director for Sofia Coppola and Best Original Screenplay. The biggest snub was Johansson for Best Actress. Lost in Translation is the kind of movie that is only as good as its actors and Johansson delivers. As you watch her performance, you believe without a doubt that she is falling for Bob Harris. Her subtle innocence is delivered with just a glance or a slight smile. Very few actresses can make a story like this one convincing. Her choice of films in the last few years certainly have not shown what she is fully capable of, but her performance in Lost in Translation most certainly does.
Cinematography — Lance Accord (Lost in Translation) 2003 — Robin Write
Lost In Translation won Original Screenplay, with so little dialogue. This does not mean this was did not warrant the win. A screenplay is words describing dialogue and actions – what you see not just hear on a movie screen. And Lance Accord delivers a beautiful visual landscape here, of both the expanses and the isolation of Tokyo, and of the characters Bob and Charlotte themselves. There maybe are no words, then, for the composition of the chalky brightness, or the dark frames full of colorful lights, or the reflections from a swimming pool, or views beyond a hotel window. Some of it hand-held, some of it just sitting there, a wandering gaze. I’m sure there a thousand ways to interpret every color and frame and vivid light, but what is not really up for debate is how marvelously Accord’s camera captures everything it needs to. Superb. See for yourself:
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