Here We Go Again: Top 5 Oscar Mistakes for 2011

By at February 5, 2011 | 6:57 pm | Print

Every year, we all take part in an annual sporting event, opining and prognosticating before gathering around the TV for a look. No, not for the Super Bowl. We’re talking about the Oscars, and the joy of second-guessing members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, in their recent selection of potential Oscar winners. So get ready to wag your finger, (or thrust one up in the air, if you wish) at the flubs and fumbles for Oscar 2011.

1. Omitting Christopher Nolan for Best Director (Inception)
Okay, let’s get this over with. It’s the most popular complaint for this year’s upcoming awards: How could the creator of one of the most thorough, tantalizing environments of 2010 not be considered for Best Director… when he’s nominated as co-producer (part of Best Picture) and screenwriter for the same movie? There’s no good answer. Voters could view Nolan as too “commercial” a filmmaker, but that doesn’t seem to bother them about James Cameron. Maybe they think he’ll win Best Screenplay, and don’t want to put all the Hollywood eggs in one box-office basket.

Writer-Director Christopher Nolan

For as much as we adore the Coens — their sure hand behind the camera, their unique control and fascinating output of films — they should not be nominated for True Grit. The film is a down-the-middle Western, certainly not the type of off-genre, often indefinable movie the Coens should be most proud of. This is clearly the case of voters following their comfort level, knowing the Coens are seen as “artistic” directors. They are. But, in this case, their spot should be Nolan’s.

2. The Kids Are All Right and Black Swan for Best Picture
Fine, you guys opened up Best Picture to ten nominees. That kind of widespread recognition and visibility to more movies can only be a positive for the industry, so we’re cool with that. But as Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right has been identified as some sort of door-opening breakthrough about gay relationships, it sure doesn’t feel that way. Oscar nominee Annette Bening and Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All RightIt plays too cutesy-trendy, inserting (hah!) a standard plot twist that’s anything but indie. A touching finale but, all in all, much ado about not much.

As for Black Swan, I’ve heard someone say it’s a crappy movie made incredibly well, and our opinion is close to that. This is super-high melodrama, never meant to be taken seriously for a moment… except as a filmmaking exercise, at which Darren Aronofsky has excelled. There’s a consistent tone upheld throughout the movie, no easy feat considering the psychosis and paranoia, and the technical wizardry is creepy, even shocking at times. Aronofsky’s nomination for Best Director is understandable; the film’s Best Picture nod is not.

3. Mark Ruffalo for Best Supporting Actor (The Kids Are All Right)
We happen to really dig Ruffalo. He’s an easy charmer — a trait that actually works in his favor in Shutter Island — and knows how to deliver a line. But what the hell’s the big deal here? This is a matter of lazy voters selecting an actor as a by-product of already throwing a bunch of nominations at the film in which he appears. Ruffalo has already delivered us performances better than this one, most notably in We Don’t Live Here Anymore and Zodiac. Upon hearing his nomination, Ruffalo said “I’m completely blown away…” Yeah, us too.

4. Omitting The Oath for Best Documentary Feature
Ridiculous. Laura Poitras’ daring documentary about two men formerly connected with al-Qaeda is simply one of the best movies of the year (in our Top Ten), but is excluded in this year’s documentary category. In fact, it didn’t even make the much-drooled-over “shortlist,” one that happened to be far better than in previous years. So consider this a sort-of complaint. No matter, make sure you see The Oath.

5. “Best Song” is Still An Award
Can we stop already? This category was slightly more viable up until the early 80s, when films like Tootsie and Arthur included songs within the film’s narrative (ick), widening the variety of songs one might hear in this category. Now, these songs are either in musicals or running in the closing credits. We’ve only got four nominees this year, and three of them have already won in this category. (The fourth is a country song. Get us out of here.)

What are your thoughts on the Oscar nominees? Which nominations do you appreciate? What exclusions are bugging you?

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12 Comments


  1. Chris, 6 years ago Reply

    Don’t disagree with any of that, especially the omission of Nolan. And I’m sorry, have you seen the original True Grit? Can’t see what’ so special about the Coen’s version. Just ain’t much different.

    But what I really want to ask — The Social Network as Best Picture? Really? I finally saw it, and don’t get what all the hoopla’s about. How did this trifle of a movie end up as so many critics’ best of the year? It’s good, yes, and the performances are good. But really, best picture? Pshwaw!!


  2. Adam Roffman, 6 years ago Reply

    I agree on all counts except for Black Swan. It’s definitely worthy of the nomination now that there’s 10 nominees.

    Other thoughts:

    1) TOY STORY 3 should not be nominated for Best Picture. First, it’s a cartoon. I don’t think it’s comparable, and if it is, why aren’t documentaries. There were documentaries that are better films than Toy Story 3 that came out this year (Exit Through The GIft Shop, The Oath), so if they aren’t nominated I don’t want to see the third installment of a cartoon there either.
    Live action films that could take its place (and the places of The Kids Are Alright and 127 Hours while we’re at it) are The Town, Blue Valentine, and Somewhere, all superior films.

    2) Hallie Steinfield is up for Best Supporting Actress. She is in every frame of True Grit. She is in the film more than anyone else. That is a Lead Actress, not a Supporting Actress. I’m not saying she should be nominated for anything at all, but if she is nominated she shouldn’t be taking up a spot in the Best Supporting Actress category. That spot should be going to Blake Lively for The Town. Everyone expected her to be terrible and she actually nailed her part.

    3) Agree that Ruffalo should not be nominated. Very likeable guy and actor, but he was just being himself, not acting. Someone that this nomination could have gone to and been justified is Barry Pepper in True Grit.


  3. Norm Schrager, 6 years ago Reply

    Hey guys, thanks for joining in.

    Chris-
    You can add me to the list of moviegoers impressed by The Social Network. I think those early scenes have the excitement of something that’s about to happen… and the later ones play with time and the idea of “good guys” and “bad guys”. Very impressive acting in most cases too. I really like it.

    Adam-
    I disagree on animated movies, but completely agree on documentaries. Both categories serve up some of the best films year in, year out. Great point about Hallie Steinfeld! I had to laugh that the first release of the nominees on Oscar.com didn’t even include her photo — further proof of how “supporting” they think she is. And I’m all for Blake Lively in that category. She really did nail it.


  4. Adam Roffman, 6 years ago Reply

    Hey Norm,

    My point about Toy Story 3 is more that it is also nominated for Best Animated Feature, so it seems silly that it’s nominated for Best Picture as well. It seems to make the Best Animated Feature category irrelevant because Toy Story 3 HAS TO WIN it since they deem it one of the 10 best films of the year, but not the other animated nominees. It just seems like an insult to the other animated features to have the dog-and-pony show when everyone knows that Toy Story 3 has to win.
    That and that it pisses me off that cartoons are considered more valuable than documentaries.


  5. jack prosser, 6 years ago Reply

    I agree with pretty much all of what you said except for “Black Swan” , easily my favourite out of all the nominations, and am i the only person that thinks “Winters Bone” is way overrated? I mean – sure its not a bad film and yes she can definately act, but i really dont think its all that special?!


  6. Norm Schrager, 6 years ago Reply

    Adam-
    I see your point about Toy Story 3 being nominated in both categories. It does pretty much erase any question about the Best Animated Feature award, you’re right. I do love the animated medium, and understand why it’s considered “separate”; how about any animated feature up for Best Picture is disqualified from the Best Animated prize? Same thing with documentaries.

    Jack-
    Yeah, I seem to be in the minority on Black Swan. I don’t think Winter’s Bone was overrated. Different kind of story, great acting (as you said), controlled, moody storytelling. There was a point where I thought it might jump the rails, almost become a joke of “Okay, how poor were they?!?!” But that cleared up pretty fast, in my opinion.


  7. v3, 6 years ago Reply

    great post… thanks for share


  8. cinema news, 6 years ago Reply

    I agree on all counts aside from Black Swan. It’s positively deserve the nomination currently that there’s ten nominees.


  9. Shaz K, 6 years ago Reply

    I find it amusing that people still recognize Oscars as relevant and just. Each year there are goof-ups and each year people come pissing and moaning about them.


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