So with all the movies released in the year 2013 it came down to two apparently. The Picture / Director split at the Oscar was on the cards for a long time in my eyes. The third wheel thought it was as good as those, but thankfully, in spite of it being lavished with acting nominations in all four categories it was, as I predicted, in a more realistic position to come away with zero Oscars than take Best Picture. Elsewhere, Paul Greengrass was missing, as was Tom Hanks (but not here). No The Butler, Fruitvale Station, Inside Llewyn Davis, Saving Mr Banks for Best Picture. Documentary Feature, there was no Blackfish (more on this to come) or Stories We Tell (this too). In the acting categories, I have tormented over and over on the fascinating actresses that didn’t make the Best Actress five. And there would be no default invitation to the Academy Awards this time around for the much fancied Robert Redford. On that note…
Director — Stanley Kubrick (The Shining) 1980 — Robin Write
The flowing, mesmeric construction of The Shining is unforgettable. Stanley Kubrick’s excessive, obsessive techniques and execution show on screen. A pain-staking journey of surreal suspense and unshakable anticipation, with some of the most memorable tracking shots ever seen in cinema. The heavy whiff of madness, suffocation, and fear infiltrate your psyche, this is a remarkable motion picture experience you can’t shake off in a hurry, a true directorial masterclass. But, alas, not a single nomination. I mean, as far as voters went that year, Kubrick was no Robert Redford it seems.
Art Direction — Ferdinando Scarfiotti (The Conformist) 1970 — Steve Schweighofer
Many films in the mid-seventies pioneered new directions for various departments involved in filmmaking, and the seminal milestone for production design was Scarfiotti’s work on The Conformist. It should be noted that in the decade between following 1963, Italy had a nominated submission every year except one, and nearly half of those went home with the Foreign Language Film Oscar, yet it is hard to reason how this film, the recognized high point by most critics, didn’t make more of an impact on AMPAS. Director Paul Shrader commented that the Bertolucci (not nomimated for Best Director)/Storaro (not nominated for Cinematography)/ and Scarfiotti were “one of the most incredible visual troikas in the history of movies,” and its omission from these three categories remains a head-scratcher. Scarfiotti’s sets ranged from richly colored and imaginatively shadowed rooms to stark exterior settings using existing period art and architecture, creating a virtual buffet for the eyes. Here is a three minute sample of what they missed:
Leading Actress — Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks) 2013 — Robin Write
Someone who was in the top tier for Best Actress consideration pretty much the whole awards season was Emma Thompson with her commanding performance in Saving Mr Banks. The dismal thing here is the movie’s popularity seemed to wane rather quickly towards arrival of the Academy Awards nominations, and it did not even make the Best Picture short-list – and likely Thompson (and a less certain Tom Hanks) suffered as a result of this.
Original Score — Ennio Morricone (Once Upon a Time in the West) 1968 — Steve Schweighofer
La Cage aux Folles, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Once Upon a Time in America, The Battle of Algiers, Days of Heaven, Heaven can Wait, The Mission, and Cinema Paradiso. These are a few of the films scored by arguably the greatest film composer of the past five decades, and there’s not one Oscar win – and few nominations – among them. When he finally did win the Oscar, it was for a minor work in a minor film, supposedly because guilt had set in within the music hive in AMPAS and they are afraid he would die before being acknowledged and they would look like fools. One of his most famous scores he composed for Sergio Leone’s spaghetti western trilogy, Once Upon a Time in the West. It’s unique, memorable, and elevated the film to classic status, all with a wave of his baton. If you think you don’t remember it, here’s a clip, pure and completely out of context:
Picture — Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind 2004 — Robin Write
The two Screenplays winners this year were possibly the best two movies of the year. Depends who you ask. Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind did have reasons to show up to the Oscars, but there were no nominations for Picture, Director (Michel Gondry), or Actor (Jim Carrey). It is quite simply one of the most original ideas every written and brought to the screen in such an affecting way. It see-saws between that very thin line of comedy and drama, just the way life in your head can. It has a superb cast, and a narrative so jumbled up and head-spinning, it is actually the deepest love story you might see. It can hurt, it can bemuse, but it is wonderful.
What a mixture of terrific non-nominees – comment away below.