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Top Ten Oscar Snubs And Surprises

 

While most of the Oscar nominations announced last week were rather predictably the names and titles that we have been expecting, there were a number of surprises and snubs. Although the Academy has expanded the Best Film contender list to ten titles in order to spread the love, the acting and directing categories still can only include five people, so invariably there are those worthy of attention who fall off the list. Maybe there were number 6 or number 7, but if they did not make the top 5, the rest is speculation.

Here are my Top Ten snubs and surprises:

1. Although their films were nominated for Best Picture, neither Christopher Nolan of INCEPTION or Danny Boyle of 127 HOURS made the Best Director cut. Boyle has already won one for SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE and his 127 HOURS has secured a Best Actor nomination for James Franco, along with some other technical awards, but he will have to wait for a second statute as a director. Nolan, one of the true visionaries working in films today, unfortunately makes whizbang big budget fare that rarely gets the love of Oscar voters (although they are international box office powerhouses). Maybe Nolan needs to try his hand at an intimate, uplifting personal story in order to be recognized, but his highly imaginative turn this year was not.

2. Ben Affleck, whose career was considered DOA just a few years ago, has re-emerged not only as a viable leading man again but also as a sharp director. His heist thriller THE TOWN, a sleight of hand crime drama with atmosphere to spare, got great reviews but was left out of the Best Film and Best Director nominations. Only its supporting actor Jeremy Renner is in contention. Surprising that this superbly cast and assuredly directed did not register more with Oscar voters.

3. Although she was recognized by both the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards for giving one of the Best Supporting Actress performances of the year, Oscar voters apparently did not agree and did not include Mila Kunis of BLACK SWAN on their list. She gave an electric performance that was the evil twin counterpoint to star Natalie Portman's lead role. This former television actress has definitely gotten the career mileage out of this film, but it is a shame that she is a no-show on Oscar night.

4. While it is great that little known character actor John Hawkes, who plays the met-addicted uncle in the indie it film WINTER'S BONE, received a nod for Best Supporting Actor, his inclusion apparently knocked out the chances of Andrew Garfield, who gave an assured performance in THE SOCIAL NETWORK that provided the film with its conscience. Of course, as the new SPIDERMAN, his career is hardly lagging. For that matter, Justin Timberlake also was deserving for his swaggering internet entrepreneur. Neither will walk the Oscar red carpet, however.

5. Although he did win the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film Festival, the announcement of a Best Actor nomination for Javier Bardem for the resolutely bleak BIUTIFUL has to register as a major surprise. He was not included in either the Golden Globe or SAG Award lists and the film's downer theme will definitely be a marketing challenge for its distributor. However, the Academy, who has already honored him for his supporting role in the Coen Brothers' NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, cannot seem to get enough of this Spanish hearthrob.

6. It must be hard when everyone else in your movie gets a nomination and you don't hear your own name called. That is the case for Mark Wahlberg, who gave a quiet, internalized performance in THE FIGHTER, a film that he also nurtured during its years of development as executive producer. His intense performance served as a balancing fulcrum for the more out-there turns by co-stars Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams. He may be Hollywood's most underrated actors.

7. Although it won a Golden Globe for Best Song, "You Haven't Seen The Last of Me" from the musical BURLESQUE was not even included in the nominations for an Oscar in the same category. Oscar voters should be wary of the wrath of Cher on this one.

8. Did the bleak story of NEVER LET ME GO, a film that featured excellent performances by Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield and Keira Knightley, doom its chances of Oscar success?  The film did not rustle any interest from Oscar voters, despite its strong reviews and a raft of BAFTA nominations.

9. The Best Foreign Language Film category inevitably misses out on some of the most celebrated international titles of the year. With BIUTIFUL surprisingly making the cut, such celebrated and well received films such as I AM LOVE (Italy), CARLOS (France/Germany), OF GODS AND MEN (France) and WHEN WE LEAVE (Germany) did not get the Oscar love.

10. The film that swept the European Film Awards, Roman Polanski's political thriller THE GHOST WRITER, was a complete no-show at the Oscars. Neither the film, its director or its actors were singled out, despite excellent reviews and the fact that this might be the film master's last great film.

Any other snubs or surprises you want to share?

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor 

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