Oscar night is a bittersweet time for the ENT section. On one hand, we get to see all of our beloved stars, their beautiful outfits and their even more beautiful dates. On the other, we’re forced to watch their dreams die, when some undeserving nobody who just happened to land that Word War II biopic about the Titanic survivor undoubtedly takes home their trophy. Or something. Didn’t you just want to cry watching Sandra Bullock beat out Carey Mulligan for Best Actress in 2009? No? Just us?
Rant aside, the Academy has a history of picking winners that make absolutely no sense. Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow, both clear favorites to battle it out for Best Director at this year’s ceremony, didn’t even score a nomination. What the what, Academy? We have a lot of feelings about this.
So without further ado, here are the Oscar snubs that still have us boiling mad.
The films that lost to “Crash,” 2005 | Ross Dickerhoof
Things I learned about life from “Crash:”
-Spike Lee was right: Everyone is a loudmouth racist. And if you aren’t racist now, you will be.
-Dropping the title of your movie in the opening narration isn’t tacky or amateurish, it’s “deep.”
-Ripping off Robert Altman and Paul Thomas Anderson doesn’t make you a hack; it makes you a genius.
-Falling down a flight of stairs will cure you of racism. No, really. Go try it.
-Children are magical angelic saviors with no flaws. Get me a bucket.
-Audiences are stupid, so you should repeat the message of your movie over and over, just so they get it.
-Your movie can suck and still win Best Picture, as long as it’s supposedly about an Important Thing.
Really, Academy? You’d rather give your most prestigious award to a hyperbolic, hammy hot mess of an after-school special full of unlikable jerks than to a well-acted and subtle movie about homosexuality and society, an intense character study about how fame and infamy twist the stories we tell, one of the best movies about journalism and government fear-mongering ever made or a harrowing and thought-provoking film about terrorism? I’ll never understand you.
Well, I guess it’s too much to ask that the Best Picture award go to the best film of the year. Now, it goes to the most didactic and thunderingly obvious. You know what? Fine. I’m cool with that. Give the Oscar to “The Impossible” in a surprise upset this year, for all I care. I’m done trying to comprehend the Academy’s politics, and I’m done hoping for them to consistently honor artistic merit rather than sledgehammer philosophies. Remember kids, racism and tsunamis are bad, mmmkay?
“Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,” Best Picture, 1937 | Nikki Lanka
The Best Picture winner of 1937 was “The Life of Emile Zola.” Zola was a French muckraker involved in uncovering dirt in the Dreyfus Affair, when Captain Alfred Dreyfus was framed for political treason in the 1890’s. Zola helped publicize the cover-up and Dreyfus was eventually exonerated.
That’s cool and all. But the Academy should have chosen “Snow White and the Seven Dwarves” as Best Picture, or at least nominated it.
The pretty lady/handsome prince/bumbling side-kicks/ugly villain formula is something so cliché that we often forget it had to start somewhere, and that somewhere is “Snow White.” It was the world’s first full-length animated feature, and the Academy totally dropped the ball by not recognizing just how groundbreaking the film would be.
Future films (most of them Disney’s), as well as “The Wizard of Oz” weren’t alone in feeling “Snow White’s” influence. Disney filmed it on a multiplane camera that was previously only used on a handful of cartoons, which didn’t become obsolete until studios began turning digital. And an astounding box-office gross of just under $200 million dollars (in 1937!) proved its success would continue for decades to come. It goes without saying just how much the promise of revenue for animation affected films of the 21st Century.
Though if we’re being honest, setting a standard that films can survive as long as a whiny white girl gets saved by a handsome prince while using midgets and animals to do her bidding might not be the most positive influence, but hey. It’s Disney, what did you expect?
“Fight Club,” Best Sound Editing, 1999 | Isaac Noland
1999 was a good year for movies. Specifically, it was a great year for sound in film. “Fight Club” and “The Matrix,” those action/philosophy teenage-boy obsessions went head to head at the 2000 Oscars for Best Sound Editing. The Matrix won. It wasn’t too much of a surprise, considering the sound effects were as complex as the wire-fu tech used to make those crazy action sequences. The sound of cascading computer code and hovering hunter-killer machines drilled into your brain.
But “Fight Club” should have won.
We know that nontraditional doesn’t always mean “good,” but in “Fight Club’s” case, it meant amazing. Director David Fincher tapped the production-duo Dust Brothers because he wanted a score wholly unique to the film. The result is mind-bending. Scratches coincide with “WTF” moments that pepper the film, wrenching the viewer from the comfort of their own mind. Every moment of psychological disassociation is accompanied by a glitchy blip, a subtly warped sample or some other audio emphasis.
The pinnacle of this audio immersion comes when the narrator, “Jack” (Edward Norton) sits listening to his boss after an early fight night. The boss’ voice is muffled and watery. He sounds as far as away as the narrator’s thoughts are from that bland corporate world. When he tosses down a set of reports on Jack’s desk, there’s a light “plip” of water splashing. It is simply beautiful.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Best Actor | Meghan Malone
Leo, Leo, Leo… it’s been a long 21 years on the big screen, hasn’t it? Your career has been littered with extraordinary (“The Departed,” “Catch Me If You Can,” “Inception”) and not-so-extraordinary movies (“Titanic,” “Man in the Iron Mask”—guilty pleasures, yes, good films, no), but despite your great work, the Academy has continually refused to place the Golden Man in your hands. I’m sure you can easily recount each moment of rejection, but let’s run through the list for posterity’s sake, shall we?
In 1994, you received a nomination for Best Supporting Acting for “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?” Did you win? Nope. Instead the Oscar went to Tommy Lee Jones for “The Fugitive.” But that’s okay, Leo. It was your first time. There’s always next year. Eleven years go by and for the 2005 Academy Awards, you were nominated for Best Actor for your portrayal of Howard Hughes in “The Aviator.” Winner this time around? Not even. A big loss to Jamie Foxx (yes, Jamie Foxx) for the movie “Ray.” But who knew Jamie could play a blind man so well? Next year, perhaps. In 2007, Best Actor for “Blood Diamond?”) Once again, it was a no. And this year, you were snubbed again for your brilliant performance as Calvin Candie in Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained.”
Which Oscar snub left you furious with the Academy? Do you think anyone will be screwed over this year? Leave us a comment and let us know, or tweet us @SpeakeasyENT!