Thursday, March 1, 2012

The movies that got away

The Oscar's underwhelmed this year, and for me it was because none of the movies I liked from 2011 were nominated in the major categories. There were enjoyable moments throughout the broadcast, and Billy Crystal can be funny, but when he made the bar mitzvah and Flomax jokes, I inwardly groaned. The Oscars seem to be becoming irrelevant. Case in point: when the biggest surprise of the evening is that Meryl Streep won, we've got a problem. The highlight of my night was when Bret McKenzie (one-half of the brilliant Flight of the Conchords) picked up the Best Original Song Oscar. The Best Original Song award was my highlight, people! So, the Academy needs to find the fine line between good and popular and walk it with expertise. They won't always get it right and they will still take slack for not recognizing the more popular fare (such as Bridesmaids), but I do believe they try to select the best of the bunch, unlike other award shows which will remain nameless.

Okay, back to the point, the nature of art is that it is subjective, so here is my list of films from the past decade or so that I wished had been nominated in the major categories. Here goes ...

50/50 (2011)- Heartbreaking and, gasp!, funny. There should have been an acting nod here for Joseph Gordon Levitt and a Best Picture nod (instead of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, anyone?).
Drive (2011)- Not everyone's cup of tea, but a moody modern film noir.

The Dark Knight (2009)- This could have perfectly bridged the gap between the good and the popular.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2008)- Frankly, all three of the Bourne movies should have seen more love, another perfect example of bridging the gap between the good and popular.
In Bruges (2008)- It was nominated for Original Screenplay, but didn't win. It should have been nominated for Best Picture instead of The Reader or The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. 

The Prestige (2007)- 2007 was a tough year (The Departed, Babel, Little Children, Half Nelson, among others), but I wonder if this shouldn't have made more of an impact, especially in the acting categories.
Zodiac (2007)- Stellar cast, stellar storytelling.
Rescue Dawn (2006)- What I don't understand is that this movie is in the Academy's wheelhouse: historical war drama. This should have at least garnered a nom for Christian Bale.
All the Real Girls (2003)- Not a big, splashy movie, but authentic and well acted. The leads (Zooey Deschanel and Paul Schneider) deserved some recognition, but they were young and relatively unknown.
About a Boy (2002)- Utterly underrated! Hugh Grant's best role, basically playing himself? Plus, a great newcomer in Nicholas Hoult.
Memento (2000)- Inventive and engaging, nominated for screenplay and editing, but it shoulda been a contender for Picture.
Election (1999)- An early Alexander Payne was nominated for the screenplay for this biting film, but Reese Witherspoon should have had her first nomination here for her portrayal of Tracy Flick. Flawless.

Are there any films you wish had gotten recognition over the years? Any comments on the Oscars, in general or specific to the last broadcast?