Famous Oscar(tm) Snubs
Every year the Academy Awards announce their nominees, and every year, there are omissions. There are so many worthy films, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can not honor everyone. What would be the point then?
So this year, if you were snubbed for an Oscar, fear not, you were in good fictional company.
If you want to talk about pure talent to emerge in the new millennium, you have to talk about Britannia Smith. She made her film debut in Straight Flush as an aspiring video poker player and mathematician who lives in a trailer. Critics praised her mixture of vulnerability and logic, but alas no nomination. In her next film, she played lap dancer who falls in love with a tax preparer in Naked Numbers. Even though she was again praised for her vulnerability and dancing ability, no nomination was given.
She then built up a diverse yet impressive series of film credits. In Don't Know Maybe, she tried her hand at romantic comedy playing a young corporate executive with a screwed up love life. In Zombie Queen, she battled with killer zombies. In Judgment of Judges, she had a small but pivotal role as a clerk for a Supreme Court justice.
2012 was a major year for her with the release of three of films. First, in the independent film, Twins, she played twins. Then, in the summer, she appeared as the vulnerable yet lethal Viola Vox in the action hero ensemble film, Team of Warriors. In December, she wowed the critics and won a bunch of awards for her portrayal of Joan of Arc's mother in Hearing Voices. However, when the nomination slate was announced, alas no nomination for Brit. She has stated that she doesn't act to win awards, but we all know someday her time will come. Next year, she plans to release an album of folk songs.
Unlike Britannia, Rufus gets nominated a lot. Since the seventies, he has put together a distinguished acting career. He has won twice. This year, he starred in I Was Wrong, and even though the critics thought he was right, the academy did not nominate him for his quiet performance as naturalist who tries to build a nature center in the middle of a volcanic lake.
This year there was a lot of talk about the nominations for best director. Who was on the list? Who was off the list? Why? Surprise! Eeeek! Ack! Oh! However, there is one brilliant director not on the list. Maybe it's because she's blonde. Maybe it's because film critics will need decades to understand and write about the nuances of her work.
Everyone agrees that Abigail Gardner's Picnic With Fire Ants is visionary filmmaking. She put the camera in the dirt to capture the realm of the fire ants. She sent the camera up into the sky (apparently by attaching it to a lot of balloons) for the hang gliding scene. She took a simple family drama and gave it universal appeal and significance. Every shot was brilliant. Every sound was part of a musically complex soundscape. Audiences laughed and cried and left the theatre feeling a little more connected to their fellow humans until they were awoken from their cinematic dream by the crackle of the toilet in the movie theatre's restroom.
A good movie with a good cast is much better than a good movie with a bad cast. Movie goers do not like to watch bad acting, and they definitely do not want to watch a good actor badly cast. Such bad casting makes the viewer squirm in his seat and wonder why he had decided to see such a badly cast movie.
Some movies have good casts, and some movies have great casts. This year, two films have been praised for the outstanding ensembles, and both films had the same casting director who deserves special praise. Stella Starr (yes, that's her real name) was the casting director for TAFT! The Musical and Snowflakes on Her Nose.
For TAFT! The Musical, she had to find actors who could both sing and debate. Her casting of aging pop sensation, Robbie Robya, as the president was definitely the casting coup of the year. For Snowflakes on Her Nose, the romantic comedy about the assisted living facility in Florida, she not only found a great cast of older actors, but also several great unknown younger actors to create an ensemble with fifty named speaking parts.
In the Valley of Disaster
Many felt that this film was a shoo-in for a Foreign Film nomination. Its story of a young woman's coming of age on a sheep farm had a lyrical quality not often seen in modern filmmaking. It had everything a foreign film could need---sweeping vistas, deep characters, breasts, and sheep. The twenty-minute scene (all done in one take) of the dogs rounding up the sheep could be read on so many different levels. Some said it was a statement on the brutality of our world. Some said it was just about dogs and sheep period. Some said it was a cinematic retelling of Marquis de Sade. All agreed, it was unforgettable.