If last year the Academy Awards ceremony surprised us all with an unbelievable envelopes’ swap, and hence, provided a lot of entertainment as a result, this year the Academy Awards had the distinction to be so predictable as to verge on absolute boredom. I am glad though that “The Shape of Water” won the Best Picture Award and that “Coco” was considered the Best Animation. However, the question still remains – what injustices the Academy committed this year? What great films and performances it unjustly ignored? The following films, scripts and performances were arguably so good that they should have been acknowledged.
1. “The Florida Project“
First of all, the fact that “The Florida Project” was not among the Best Picture Oscar nominees is one of the greatest Academy Awards’ injustices. This movie was just one of a kind: emotional, inspiring, insightful. Sean Baker has done a tremendous job with a relatively small budget, and the acting was excellent, especially from little star Brooklynn Prince and from Bria Vinaite. The movie was not only well-made, it has a social importance, and, yet, the Academy only nominated Willem Dafoe in the category of the Best Supporting Actor. “The Florida Project” is such a great movie that the Academy should have nominated it not only in the category of the Best Picture, but Sean Baker should have also received his Best Director nomination.
2. “Blade Runner 2049”
For all intents and purposes, “Blade Runner 2049” is the movie of great significance cinema-wise. It was ambitious enough to break from many previous cinema traditions and risked a more thought-provoking, nuanced and aesthetic look/approach. It is definitely the movie to show aliens out there what cinema is capable of here on Earth. It is true that the film’s length is worrying and its story is not that well thought-out, but there were certainly far worse Best Picture nominees in the past. All reason point to “Blade Runner 2049” being recognised in the category of Best Picture. “Get Out” was recognised in the Best Picture category as a mix of horror and social satire, so this science-fiction sequel should also had a chance to compete (on top of its Oscar tech nominations).
3. Florence Pugh for “Lady Macbeth”
I know the talk about how competitive the Best Actress category was, but I still wanted to push the message that Florence Pugh was deserving of a nomination in the Best Actress category. Pugh was ravishing in “Lady Macbeth“, and it is largely thanks to her outstanding acting that this budget film has turned out so good. Pugh played a very complex character who first arouses our sympathy and then makes us question our perceptions and beliefs: the performance to be recognised and applauded, especially since Florence Pugh is a relative newcomer. What made her absence from the nomination list even more significant was that Daniel Kaluuya, also a relative newcomer, was nominated in the category of Best Actor for “Get Out“, and, arguably, Pugh’s turn as a young wife to an abusive middle-aged man was no less outstanding than that of Kaluuya’s (performance).
4. Robert Pattinson for “Good Time“
This criminally underseen movie was just shoved aside and unfairly so. Robert Pattinson gives an electrifying performance in the movie as a street hustler “Connie” Nikas. A number of film circles rightly nominated Pattinson in the category of the Best Actor of the year, seeing that the actor’s performance definitely rang much truth and conviction. This is the kind of a strong performance we all have been waiting from Pattinson. The Academy did not apparently see anything special (and it is not their kind of a movie anyway), so the unfortunate consequence was that Pattinson’s performance was simply ignored.
5. Jessica Chastain for “Molly’s Game”
The movie may not have been up there with all the greats, but, arguably, it was so good because Chastain was there, demonstrating her phenomenal acting skills. It seemed that Chastain was born to play this role of a would-be-Olympian-turned-leader-of-a-large-shady-gambling-business. The actress is her best when she shows the intelligence, perception and drive to succeed – exactly what the role required. I still think it is due to the high competition in the Best Actress category this year that we did not see Chastain’s name among the nominees. A real pity.
6. Michael Stuhlbarg for “Call Me By Your Name”
Michael Stuhlbarg (“Blue Jasmine” (2013), “The Shape of Water“) had an incredible year and appeared in three pictures that were up for the Best Picture Award: “The Shape of Water“, “Call Me By Your Name” and “The Post“. However, it is probably his turn as Professor Perlman in “Call Me By Your Name” which is his most distinguished and memorable of the three. In the movie, he delivers one of the most memorable monologues, and, even though much praise is also to be given to the script/original material, Stuhlbarg still contributes much to making the scene both heart-breaking and uplifting at the same time. Thus, his omission from the Best Supporting Actor nomination list was also perplexing.
7. Martin McDonagh for “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri“
“Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is a great cinematic feat with the stellar performance from Frances McDormand; it had won over critics and audiences alike, gripping awards at numerous festivals. Hence, it is even more surprising to discover that the lead behind the film – Martin McDonagh – was not nominated for the Best Director Award, an omission which is hard to understand. Incidentally, neither Steven Spielberg for “The Post” nor Luca Guadagnino for “Call Me By Your Name” were to be seen in the Best Director nomination list. This points to the idea that the Academy decided to favour young or up-and-coming talent over heavyweights. Thus, we saw in the nomination list both Jordan Peele for “Get Out” and Greta Gerwig for “Lady Bird“.
8. Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou for “The Killing of a Sacred Deer“
Much like “The Lobster” (2015), a film which was nominated for the Best Original Screenplay Oscar Award the year before, Yorgos Lanthimos wrote an epic, thought-provoking screenplay for “The Killing of a Sacred Deer“. The film raises numerous questions and grips the viewer from the very beginning with its fascinatingly jaw-dropping disturbance and constant intrigue. It is unthinkable how the Academy could have ignored a script of that quality in their category. The inspiration for the story was a Greek myth, but the script just shouts originality, which could not really be said for some films that were nominated (and won!) in this category this year, such as “The Shape of Water” (for the plagiarism accusations read this news) and “Get Out” (for the plagiarism allegations read my review).
9. “First They Killed My Father” (foreign-language film)
Angelina Jolie’s movie is an unflinching, moving portrayal of a story which is of great importance in the world history – the Cambodian genocide. This submission from Cambodia deserved its place among foreign-language films nominees for various reasons, not least because it is such a powerful rendition of a war story told through the eyes of a child, which still remains both sensitive and convincing. Other films such as Austria’s “Happy End” and France’s “120 BPM (Beats Per Minute)” were also left out, showing just how competitive this category had been this year. Apparently, the Academy received a record number of submissions with 92 different countries participating.
10. “Jane” (documentary)
Brett Morgen’s documentary on Jane Goodall, who was a pioneering primatologist, was surprisingly left out of the Oscar race. This was a very unfair decision since the documentary is excellent no matter how you look at it, and was once considered a front-runner for the competition. Some sources suggest that the reason the documentary did not compete was that it was too good, and if it were allowed to compete – it would have won. This outcome is something which should not have been allowed because other “politically important” documentaries, such as “Icarus“, – which can reflect the Academy’s politics (political statements) better – should win or be front-runners.
Other injustices include the omissions of “Wonder Woman” from the Best Picture race, Tom Hanks from the Best Actor race, and the fact that we did not see any Japanese animations (such as “In This Corner of the World” and “Mary and The Witch’s Flower“) being nominated in the Best Animation category. Surely, both of the mentioned Japanese animations were better than Tom McGrath’s “The Boss Baby” (which, astonishingly, was nominated!)