Had a certain movie budget-bombed as it looked for a while it would, then 1997 at the Oscars would have been a well fought out race between LA Confidential and Good Will Hunting. With nine nominations apiece there was a lot of love for both movies. Amidst the ridiculous, record-breaking sweep, they managed an acting support and screenplay win each – fine consolation. I also had a glitch with Gloria Stuart being nominated. And then Celine Dion wearing the heart of the ocean necklace as she sang that song at the awards ceremony was a sickening gimmick. Equally matched by James Cameron’s king of the world declaration. A technically accomplished blockbuster, it had no right making such an influence for it to be a Best Picture contender. Not the Academy’s finest hour. The silver lining is, of course, that Cameron was not nominated for Best Original Screenplay.
Supporting Actress — Sigourney Weaver (The Ice Storm) 1997 — Robin Write
Robbed. That’s what people were saying, or feeling, about Sigourney Weaver suddenly disappearing from the Best Supporting Actress radar and not making the list when the nominations were announced. In fact, The Ice Storm was forgotten altogether when it came to the Oscars. The critics for the most part seemed to fall in love with it, and it did well in Cannes. Weaver was nominated for a Golden Globe, and went on to win the BAFTA. In the Oscar line-up too, other than Julianne Moore (Boogie Nights) I would have happily swapped any of them out for Weaver. Maybe it is just me too, but as much as I love L.A. Confidential, I still don’t quite share the love for Kim Basinger.
Director — Alfred Hitchcock (Vertigo) 1958 — Steve Schweighofer
If one requires proof that Oscar has no clue, one needs to look no further than this – not only did they fail to award Alfred Hitchcock with a competitive Oscar – ever. They only nominated him a couple of times for his early work. The cherry on the top of this crap cake is that Vertigo reached the number one position on the definitive Sight & Sound list of the best films ever made in the mist recent survey – and Hitch couldn’t even snag a forgettable nomination for his directing. Although he had been nominated five times, none of those were for Notorious, North by Northwest, or Strangers on a Train, which, along with Rear Window, are personal faves. There is no better proof that legacy trumps Oscar.
Original Score — Howard Shore (The Silence of the Lambs) 1991 — Bianca Garner
How does one capture the horror of the events that take place in The Silence of the Lambs? How can you inspire and both shock the viewer without resorting to big booming drums and loud trumpets? How do you score a horror film without everyone instantly comparing your score to Psycho? What Howard Shore’s beautifully haunting score manages do is create a moving world with sinister undertones, perfectly complimenting the film’s visuals. One of the strongest pieces is at the start of the film, the music starts off optimistic, almost upbeat, but slowly becomes far more sinister and unnerving, our first indication that all is not as it seems. The Cellar theme is the most chilling, making the very hairs stand up on the back of your neck and sending a chill own your spine. Shore’s unnerving score heightens our fears. In 1992, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast stole the Oscar for Best Original Score, but it was a safe bet going with a Disney film. Personally, I am not moved by the sickly sweet score of Beauty and the Beast. Shore’s score is dark, it’s disturbing, it’s not music you want to listen to on your own, but it will almost always stir up a response in you, flee or fight.
Picture — Carol 2015 — Matt Fischer
In 2015 Carol trampled through awards season. It is a period romance about the love that blossoms between two women in New York in the 1950’s. Director Todd Haynes made every shot look like a postcard from that era. Carol captures the excitement of falling in love at a time when the world was not ready to accept them. Rooney Mara (Therese) and Cate Blanchett (Carol) brilliantly portray their forbidden love with such restraint. A simple gesture like Carol placing her hand on Therese’s shoulder in public is much more intimate than you will see in other love films. This is the stuff that Oscar-bound films are made of. Carol received a 10-minute standing ovation at Cannes, 5 Golden Globe nominations, 9 BAFTA nominations, 6 Spirit Awards nominations and 9 Critics Choice nominations. The New York Film Critics Circle awarded Carol with Best Film, Best Director, Cinematography, and Screenplay. Almost everybody had Carol on their Oscar list as a sure thing. When it was all said and done Carol was completely left out of the Best Picture list. There is plenty of speculation as to why. The Oscars have always had a diversity problem. Was it the 85% white male Academy members that are still living in the 50’s and was this was too much for them to handle? Are their artistic tastes threatened by strong women? Was it just plain “too gay”? We will never know the answer, but we can hope that as younger members join the Academy, they will recognize great art when they see it.
Original Screenplay — Rian Johnson (Looper) 2012 — Robin Write
As screenwriting is my field I often can’t talk the Oscars (snubs or otherwise) without delving into the conceptual categories. Especially when a screenplay like that of Looper by Rian Johnson is not nominated as Original Screenplay. Knowing how it all works generally this still felt like a long shot in practice – but it should have got in. They say it starts with the writing, and Johnson follows through with his expert execution. A narrative that shifts you out of the way just when you think you are figuring out where it is going. The time-shifting is a real testament to creative story-telling, and grabs hold of you right until the very end when you can only watch the characters reach their destiny, whether we want it or not, we accept it is the right conclusion.
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