Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Ah, January. A month of cold, slush, snow, sleet and general shit that signifies the beginning of the end to winter. A month of perpetual monotony and crushing boredom that toys with our sanity on a daily basis as we are forced to remain locked up in our homes, protected from the terrible weather that howls and threatens us outside. We survive this long and brutal month with a carefully chosen supply of beer, movies, books and video games, relishing every new moment that manages to squeeze through the repetition, and cursing the ones we miss out on.

Yes, January is a cruel month devoid of any redeeming qualities whatsoever.

It is also the month when the Oscar nominations are announced.

A joyous time for filmmakers and film fans alike (but mostly for the filmmakers), this years nominations are a fairly predictable, but no less deserving, lot. However, as with any awards year, one can still wonder about the movies that didn’t make it – the good movies that apparently just weren’t “good enough” as it were. Deserving of an Academy Award? Perhaps not. But that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve any kind of recognition.

Here then, are a few movies that could have (and in some cases should have) been considered in this years Oscar race. (And a few I’m genuinely surprised didn’t make it).

The Town

Ben Affleck’s crime opus “The Town,” despite receiving rave reviews across the board (currently holding steady at 94% on Rotten Tomatoes) was pretty much universally snubbed come Oscar time. Sure, Jeremy Renner received a nod for Supporting Actor (and thank Xenu for that, I guess) but otherwise, nothing. While a nomination for Best Director might have been a stretch (though with this, and “Gone Baby Gone,” Affleck has shown that he is unequivocally a much better director than he is an actor, and will hopefully one day Kevin Costner himself a trophy) I was genuinely surprised that it was left out of the Best Picture category – especially considering the recent addition of five more spots. Sure, it’s not “True Grit” or “Winter’s Bone” good, but it’s at least on the level of “The Kids Are Alright,” “Toy Story 3” or the much over-hyped “The Fighter.”

Tron: Legacy/Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Let’s get one thing out of the way right off the bat in regards to “Tron: Legacy.” “Tron: Legacy” is by no means a good film. It is, in fact, a quite terrible film. However, that doesn’t necessarily take away from its technical achievements. The special effects are quite good throughout the film (including the de-ageifying of Jeff Bridges) and hold up with the effects on display in any of the other nominees. Ditto “Scott Pilgrim” a movie that benefits from not only having original and intriguing special effects, but by also being good. I was also amazed that neither film made any impact in the musical categories. “Pilgrim’s” songs, while perhaps the weakest part of the film, were no worse than anything else nominated this year, and "Tron's" Daft Punk enhanced score was also quite excellent. But, least "Tangled" got nominated for something, right?


“Monsters” is an odd choice, I know. I honestly can’t think of any category where it really belongs. While it is somewhat similar to last year’s dark horse best picture nominee “District 9”, it’s not nearly on the same level as that film – or any film nominated this year for that matter. And, with a budget of under $500,000, the special effects aren’t remotely Oscar worthy, especially when compared to such visual juggernauts as Inception or Harry Potter. Still, it’s hard not to root for such a great little flick, especially one with such a small budget and little to no fanfare or support surrounding it. Was there a place for it in this year’s Oscar race? Probably not, but few people would have complained if it had slipped in, and any sort of recognition for an original, independent production is always welcome - especially during this reboot and sequel happy era of film-making.

The Ghost Writer

Despite being hailed by many critics as Roman Polanski’s best film in years (and, despite his questionable legal troubles, the man does shoot a good picture), “The Ghost Writer” didn’t really make much of an impact when it was released. Thrillers aren’t normal Oscar fodder for sure, and as such “The Ghost Writer’s” genre may have been it’s eventual undoing. Still, there’s a lot to like here. Polanski’s assured direction is the main attraction, but it’s Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal of a Tony Blair-esque prime minister that’s really underrated. With this film, Brosnan has shown that he’s a more capable actor than most people normally give him credit for, shedding his James Bond image to deliver a fine performance that could have been Oscar worthy. While I have no complaints with the actual supporting actor nominations this year, it’s nice to see that Brosnan may get recognition in the future, as he capably enters the twilight of his career.

I Am Love

This might be the most mind-boggling omission on the nominations list. While it was nominated fore best costume design (a worthy nomination) it was inconceivably left of the best foreign film ballot, a nomination that many thought it was a lock for. While it’s snub for best foreign film is fairly ridiculous, I was also surprised that there was no recognition for Tilda Swinton’s performance. Her performance in this and 2008’s “Julia” are both magnificently acted, and were both worthy of best actress accolades. Perhaps the film’s low distribution did it in; regardless, Swinton remains one of the most brave actresses working today, and deserves to be recognized as such.


Apparently "Inception" directed and edited itself. If there was one category where this film should have been nominated, it was film editing. That snub, combined with Nolan not be recognized as one of the best directors of the year, suggest that the only reason it was nominated for best picture in the first place was to please the general public, and hope that they actually tune in this year. If you thought Nolan was robbed when "The Dark Knight" was shut out, you ain't seen nothing yet.

Final Thoughts

So, there you have it. When you’re frantically trying to catch up on all of the major nominees this year in preparation for the Academy Awards telecast in February, throw a few of these into the mix as well. They may not be Oscar material, but that doesn’t mean they should be forgotten.

(For the record, I expect “The King’s Speech” to clean up this year – and deservedly so).


  1. I see very clear why some of these movies were not nominated. For instance, “Monsters” doesn’t show that much and “Tron, The Legacy” looks too unreal - at least for my taste. On the other hand, I saw a good plot and delightful roles in films like “The Town”, “The Ghost Writer”, "Inception", and "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World." About the other movies, I can’t make any comments because I haven’t watched them, but while I'll look at those other films, I’ll think of other good movies that deserved a mention this year.

  2. I agree with everything except the following:

    -Scott Pilgrim's music was, I feel, actually the strongest part of the film. The title shot with the stretched room set to "We Are Sex Bob-Omb" is one of the single best introductions to a film last year (along with the quiet opening of The Social Network) and it largely benefits from Beck's brilliant songcraft. The fact that "Ramona" wasn't nominated for Best Original Song is a crime. Nigel Godrich's score is likewise wonderful, being the first film score I've heard since The Powerpuff Girls Movie(a film that is woefully underrated in a good many ways but nowhere so dramatically as in this area) to be both representative of melodic ambience and forward-moving drum-focused action beats. It's an aural treat all around, really.

    -I expect that either The Social Network will win Best Picture or Toy Story 3 will, as a pity vote for what some may have perceived to be an oscar snub last year with Up. While King's Speech is excellent it's most likely not going to win in this category, most likely gaining a Best Actor nod but little else. If neither Social Network or Toy Story 3 win then the crown has been sent to True Grit, which was a favorite for audiences and critics alike.

    If I had my way, Scott Pilgrim would be best picture, but that's an axe to grind another day.

  3. Tron Legacy's main failing was hiring the Lost writers. Since Lost's story was lost much of the time, writing wise, it makes perfect sense why Tron Legacy also got lost. Unfortunately, the writers took too many liberties with the original story and broke too many original rules. So, what was left was eye candy without a structured defined story. The story could have worked with the right writers at the helm and better pacing in the film. Unfortunately, Disney failed that part as so many filmmakers do today.

    I just don't understand how studios greenlight and outlay so much money on these projects without a solid story foundation. I guess someone thinks that even if the story flops, the effects will make up for it. That may have worked in the 80s, but not today. Perhaps they make up for lost time in Tron 3 (assuming it even happens).


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