This is the final part in the series “They Didn’t Win” which maps the Oscars from the very first Ceremony in 1929 until the last one in 2010.
Although I give the winners and those who were nominated I also take a deeper look at the losers and those movies and performers who were not even nominated.
Time will, of course, tell which ‘blockbuster’ won’t be glanced at in two years and which unnoticed presentation will join the classics.
What I have found is that the public plays very little part in the selection of winners; hence Avatar can gross nearly 3 Billion dollars and not win, the Hurt Locker can barely break even and be rewarded although no one has seen it, nor cares to.
Movies which set a trend or where lines of dialog or characters become part of the culture are almost always ignored for those presentations which no one recalls and which don’t even get much of a TV audience or many
The years 2005 – 2009 have so many ‘losers’ which have garnered other awards, done fabulously well at the box office and the DVDs sell rapidly, while the winners are forgotten one tends to question what does the Academy actually award?
A big surprise was Crash, taking Best Picture over the touted Brokeback Mountain, Capote, Good Night and Good Luck, and Munich
The Best Animated Feature Film went to Wallace & Gromit in the curse of the Were-Rabbit, over, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride (which was expected to win)
Philip Seymour Hoffman took Best Actor for Capote, over Terrence Howard in Hustle & Flow, Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain, Joaquin Phoenix in Walk the Line, David Strathairn in Good Night, and Good Luck
Reese Witherspoon won Best Actress in Walk the Line, over Judi Dench in Mrs. Henderson Presents, Felicity Huffman in Transamerica, Keira Knightley in Pride & Prejudice, and Charlize Theron in North Country
The Best Supporting Actor went to George Clooney in Syriana, over Matt Dillon in Crash, Paul Giamatti in Cinderella Man, Jake Gyllenhaal in Brokeback Mountain, and William Hurt in A History of Violence
The Best Supporting Actress was Rachel Weisz in The Constant Gardener, over Amy Adams in Junebug, Catherine Keener in Capote, Frances McDormand in North Country, Michelle Williams in Brokeback Mountain
Ang Lee took Best Director for Brokeback Mountain
There were so many omissions this year; George Lucas’ final installment of Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Memoirs of a Geisha, Walk The Line, Pride & Prejudice, King Kong, The Constant Gardener, Cinderella Man, Jarhead, and Kingdom of Heaven to name a few movies. As to Acting; Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man, Ralph Fiennes, in The Constant Gardener, Donald Sutherland in Pride & Prejudice, Nicolas Cage in Lord of War, Anne Hathaway in Brokeback Mountain George Clooney, (who won for Syriana,) should have been nominated for Good Night, and Good Luck along with Frank Langella. Ed Harris was unseen in A History of Violence as was Johnny Depp in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Orlando Bloom in Kingdom of Heaven,
The Best Picture went to The Departed over Babel, Letters From Iwo Jima, Little Miss Sunshine, and The Queen
Happy Feet won best Animated Feature Film
The Best Actor Award went to Forest Whitaker for The Last King of Scotland, over Leonardo DiCaprio in Blood Diamond, , Peter O’Toole in Venus, Ryan Gosling in “Half Nelson,“ and Will Smith in The Pursuit of Happyness.
Helen Mirren took the Best Actress Award for The Queen, over Penelope Cruz in Volver, Judi Dench in Notes on a Scandal, Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada, and Kate Winslet in Little Children.
The Best Supporting Actor went to Alan Arkin over Jackie Earle Haley , Djimon Honsou, Eddie Murphy and Mark Wahlberg.
The Best Supporting Actress went to Jennifer Hudson over Adriana Barraza, Cate Blanchett iAbigail Breslin and Rinko Kikuchi
Martin Scorsee Finally won Best Director
As in the previous year, the most critically acclaimed films and directors went unhonored. The most shocking Best Picture omission was for Dreamgirls followed by Pan’s Labyrinth, Blood Diamond, Apocalypto, Children of Men, Flag of Our Fathers, Robert De Niro’s The Good Shepherd, Venus , V for Vendetta Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, Casino Royale, Overlord, Half Nelson, The Proposition, Infamous, Stranger Than Fiction, and The History Boys, (Just to name a few flicks)
The biggest un-nominated acting roles included: Sacha Baron Cohen, followed by Lili Taylor, Maggie Gyllenhaal. Naomi Watts and Edward Norton in The Painted Veil, Jack Nicholson Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon in Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, Ken Watanabe’s role in Letters for Iwo Jima, Daniel Craig as James Bond in Casino Royale, Michael Sheen in The Queen, Sandra Bullock in Infamous, Catherine O’Hara in For Your Consideration, Annette Bening in Running with Scissors, Jamie Foxx in Dreamgirls, Sylvester Stallone for his sixth portrayal of Rocky Balboa, Bill Nighy , Keira Knightley and Johnny Depp for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, Ben Affleck as Superman star George Reeves in Hollywoodland and Adam Beach in Flags of Our Fathers.
Best Picture was No Country for Old Men over, Atonement, Juno, Michael Clayton, There Will Be Blood
Ratatoille won best Animated film.
Best Actor was Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be Blood, over George Clooney in Michael Clayton, Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Tommy Lee Jones in In the Valley of Elah, Viggo Mortensen in Eastern Promises
Best Actress was Marion Cotillard in La Vie en Rose, over Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Julie Christie in Away From Her, Laura Linney in The Savages, Ellen Page in Juno
Supporting Actor went to Javier Bardem over Casey Affleck , Hal Holbrook , Philip Seymour Hoffman and Tom Wilkinson.
Best Supporting Actress went to Tilda Swinton over Cate Blanchett , Ruby Dee, Saoirse Ronan and Amy Ryan.
As to Omissions, Hairspray, comes to mind. This flick received multiple nominations and awards was not seen by the Academy.
As to Acting, a number of excellent performances were unseen; Denzel Washington was not nominated for American Gangster, nor in the Great Debaters. Other actions, such as Josh Brolin Jack Nicholson, Brad Pitt, Russell Crowe, Tom Hanks, Don Cheadle all had excellent but unseen performances in major roles. In supporting roles; Tommy Lee Jones, Jack Black , Russell Crowe, Tom Cruise Albert Finney, Heath Ledger, Robert Redford, and Forest Whitaker
Snubs for Best Actress included Angelina Jolie, Keira Knightley , Helena Bonham Carter , Jodie Foster, Jennifer Jason Leigh , Queen Latifah , Susan Sarandon Meryl Streep Julia Roberts and Kate Winslet.
There were enough excellent performances for two or three years worth of Awards.
Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture over The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, and The Reader
Animated Feature Film went to Wall-E
Sean Penn took the Best Actor Award for Milk, over Richard Jenkins in The Visitor, Frank Langella in Frost/Nixon, Brad Pitt in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler
Kate Winslet finally got her Oscar as Best Actress for her role in The Reader, over Anne Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married, Angelina Jolie in Changeling, Melissa Leo in Frozen River, and Meryl Streep in Doubt
Best Supporting Actor went to Heath Ledger, (posthumously) over Josh Brolin, Robert Downey, Jr. Philip Seymour Hoffman, Michael Shannon
Best Supporting Actress went to Penelope Cruz over Amy Adams, Viola Davis, Taraji P. Henson and Marisa Tomei
This year was a mix of the kitch with compassion awards. It seems, having been afraid of Brokeback Mountain Heath Ledger had not been honoured. Now that he was dead he was given the Oscar posthumously, and Sean Penn was rewarded for playing a Gay Role.
One felt the ‘pity’ Oscar ought have gone to Mickey Rourke for the Wrestler, as he was making his own ‘comeback.’
Interestingly, The Dark Knight did not receive a Best Picture or Best Director nomination. Doubt did not receive either a Best Director or Best Picture nomination.
Slumdog Millionaire was lacking in any acting nominations.. Oliver Stone’s biopic W. received no recognition.
Kate Winslet won for The Reader but ought have been nominated, along with her co-star, Leonardo DiCaprio for Revolutionary Road. Benicio del Toro as the revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara was unseen.
Serious question was asked about Brad Pitt’s nomination for his role in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, as most of the acting was special effects.
Best Picture was won by The Hurt Locker, Avatar, The Blind Side, District 9, An Education, Inglourious Basterds, Precious, A Serious Man, Up, Up in the Air
The Award for Animated Feature Film went to Up
The Best Actor Award went to Jeff Bridges in Crazy Heart, over George Clooney in Up in the Air, Colin Firth in A Single Man, Morgan Freeman in Invictus, Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker.
The Best Actress Award went to Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, over Helen Mirren in The Last Station, Carey Mulligan in An Education, Gabourey Sidibe in Precious, Meryl Streep in Julie & Julia
Christoph Waltz won Best Supporting Actor over Matt Damon, Woody Harrelson, Christopher Plummer and Stanley Tucci
Mo’nique took Best Supporting Actress over Penelope Cruz , Vera Farmiga , Maggie Gyllenhaal and Anna Kendrick
The Best Director went to Kathryn Bigelow; the first such award to a woman, beating the favourite Avatar, which was directed by her ex-husband, James Cameron
As to Omissions; Star Trek received technical nominations but was not nominated as Best Picture. Clint Eastwood’s Invictus, about Nelson Mandela and a white rugby team, came up with two acting nominations but there was no Best Picture or Best Director nomination
Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones and Nine with a star studded cast was ignored.
Michael Jackson’s This is It, The Road starring Viggo Mortensen and Charlize Theron, The Informant! with Matt Damon, Public Enemies starring Johnny Depp (as John Dillinger), and Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, were ignored. Hilary Swank was unseen, as was Jamie Foxx
As I said in the opening paragraphs, the public’s choice means nothing. For example, besides Avatar, which is the highest grossing film in history, other Box-office success (films topping $100 million), were virtually non-existent in terms of Oscar:
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince The Twilight Saga: New Moon, The Hangover, Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, l Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, The Proposal featuring Sandra Bullock, Taken starring Liam Neeson, Dan Brown’s best-seller Angels & Demons the fourth Terminator film, Paranormal Activity, all received the public’s note, but not the Academy’s.
What can we expect in 2011?