5 Oscar Could Have Beens: 2006

Generally considered one of the weaker year’s for Oscars. Yet they failed to find room in the Best Picture category for Little Children, Flags Of Our Fathers, Children of Men, Pan’s Labyrinth, The Last King Of Scotland, Volver, United 93. There will always be alternatives. I, nor any other blogger or movie-goer or critic, tends to agree with the five movies nominated for Picture anyway. Otherwise, what am I doing here?

Best Picture – United 93

United 93 was for many a sheer simulation on the emotions. It gets you as close as what might be possible in a movie-going experience to really hitting the nerve of this chapter of tragic reality. Paul Greengrass (absolutely deserving of his Director nomination) has that realistic jerky camera he so often incorporates, as well as building up genuine tension and that sense of dread, right up until that heart-stopping finale.

This was, then, a rather unique year with the awards for many other reasons. With eight nominations, Dreamgirls was actually the movie with the most nods – but it did not make the Picture or Director list. And rightly so. The movie with the most nominations actually nominated for Picture was Babel with seven. It was still not considered the favorite, even after the win at the Golden Globes. Two movies received six nominations: The Queen was a Picture and Director nominee, Pan’s Labyrinth was sadly not nominated for either. Then the movie that actually went on to take the Picture prize, The Departed. With just five nominations, but won four of them – the most wins of the night.

Best Actor – Leonardo DiCaprio (The Departed)


There were, in spite of what people say was not a strong year, some players not even nominated. And for movies that got some decent attention in other categories. Leonardo DiCaprio was likely mixed up along the way with the Lead and Supporting dilemma, not to mention he may have cancelled himself out with Blood Diamond. In The Departed, though, he is excellent, and Scorsese obviously just lets him loose like a bulldog who is never quite moving quick enough. And this was a lead role, for those still wondering.

Also missing out was Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine), who probably had the greatest on-screen outburst of the year. Michael Sheen (The Queen) reprized his role of Tony Blair (previously on TV show The Deal), but failed to get a mention. And while everything revolved around Forest Whitaker, they forgot about James McAvoy (The Last King of Scotland), who possibly was as excellent as the much more ferocious Whitaker. It would not particularly change for those actors in the following years, were movies Django Unchained, There Will Be Blood, Frost, Nixon, and Atonement respectively would also see them snubbed.

Emily Blunt (The Devil Wears Prada) in classic showy form would certainly have made one of the five could have beens had I not included her in the last one. I like to be diverse. Not diverse enough to suggest Beyonce Knowles should have got in for Dreamgirls – especially as that movie was over-lavished as it was. I can be diverse enough, though, to shine the light on a Bond girl.

Best Supporting Actress – Eva Green (Casino Royale)

Stay with me on this one. It seems to be a bold move for the Academy to acknowledge the Bond movies, period. What is bold is to go back to the start and give 007 some emotional depth by telling the story of his big love. Bold too, was to cast the intense Eva Green, who breathes both affliction and affection into the Bond series (and the man himself). Something we don’t really see in the series. Green has several eye-catching moments (including two contrasting, but notable bathroom scenes).

Best Original Score went to Gustavo Santaolalla (Babel), which was extraordinary has he had won the year before too. I’m not saying he didn’t deserve it, but there were some commendable film scores that year that were not even nominated. Devotchka and Mychael Danna (Little Miss Sunshine), James Newton Howard (Blood Diamond), Thomas Newman (Little Children), John Powell (United 93), and Philip Glass (The Illusionist) could have made a Score list of their own. Rachel Portman (The Lake House) and James Newton Howard (Lady in the Water) were also memorable in lesser well received movies.

Best Original Score – Hans Zimmer (The Da Vinci Code)

I have opted for Hans Zimmer’s score for Ron Howard’s decent enough The Da Vinci Code. Although “Chevaliers de Sangreal” is likely the most accessible and popular choice, the whole score is both emotive and haunting. One of Zimmer’s finest compositions, and likely suffered here through the movie’s inability to capture enough Academy attention. Still, I find that odd, as the score is one of the stronger components of the movie, and stays with you long after. It also serves well in its own right as isolated music.

What stands out for me though in 2006, is not the winners or losers, but rather the prominent appearance of Mexican film-makers. With Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (Babel), and Alfonso Cuaron (Children Of Men) all bringing excellent movies to the table. All three had realistic shouts for Picture and Director inclusions.

Best Director – Alfonso Cuaron (Children of Men)

Alfonso Cuaron’s exclusion from the Director list was perhaps not the shock of the century, but it certainly left us scratching our heads a little bit. Undoubtedly one of the best movies of that year, but it could not break beyond the technical categories, and a well earned Screenplay nod. In hindsight too, this snub has more traction, with fans of Cuaron, or anyone who appreciates his work, perhaps arguing if he can win the Oscar for the brilliant Gravity, he should surely have seen his name on the Director list that year. Just a little bit too dark for you Academy? Yawn.

So those talented Mexicans were nominated in the following in 2006:

Babel (Picture, Director, Supporting Actress, Original Screenplay)

Pan’s Labyrinth (Original Screenplay, Foreign Language Film, Cinematography, Art Direction)

Children Of Men (Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing)

Apocalypto (Sound Mixing)

I wonder if it is any coincidence that the nominations that year were co-announced by the one and only Salma Hayek. The actress was emotional, and got a little choked up during the announcement. She even expressed her delight at the announcement Penelope Cruz was nominated for Volver. It was far moving than some of the moments from the Oscar show itself (not just this one).

Originally posted 17th November 2014.


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