OK, now that the excitement over the actual nominations is dying down a little, let’s talk about the holes in the list. Who should have been there and isn’t? Who was robbed or denied by the voters this year? Now of course we know that not everyone can get a place, and much as we love Fast Five, some cherished nominations were never going to happen, but it’s still fun to consider the Oscars that might have been. We’ve profiled some of the most glaring omissions and possible candidates here – have a read and see who you would add...
Movie: We Need To Talk About Kevin
We Need to Talk About Tilda. Specifically, how the Academy overlooked her terrific, fractured performance at the dark heart of Lynne Ramsay’s domestic horror film. Not to knock a blistering turn from Dragon Tattoo’s Rooney Mara, but Swinton is deeply unlucky to be the only one of the SAG’s Best Actress nominees not to make the Academy’s cut. Also, apart from perhaps Tom Ford, she’s the most stylish star in Hollywood, so her absence automatically makes the Kodak red carpet 27 per cent less interesting. Seriously, she might have turned up in a ball gown and moon boots.
Movie: Young Adult
She’s won before, of course, but Charlize Theron should have been in the shake-up for another ballsy career move in Jason Reitman’s black comedy. Alas, at no point did Academy members decide that this was the year for sociopathic drunkness, projectile vomiting or Michael Fassbender’s nudey bits - although Melissa McCarthy’s bathroom antics did cut the Oscar mustard – so it’s been thin pickings for Young Adult, Carnage, A Dangerous Method and Shame. All four boast exemplary acting from big names. All four were terrific. Theron, though, is the only one to give “psychotic prom queen bitches” a bad name. Possibly her shallow, bitter character was a little too close to the bone for many of the voters. Perhaps they just couldn't bring themselves to vote for someone that unlikeable.
The man behind the year’s big ‘Ooooh-matron’ moments, Michael Fassbender was extremely unlucky not to pick up an Oscar nomination for Shame. His performance as Brandon Sullivan, a character whose fractured sexual psyche leads him into some of the most intense movie moments since, well, Hunger, was the kind that normally has the Academy in raptures (see also: Midnight Cowboy and Last Tango In Paris). Sadly not this time. Possibly he's too young for the Academy, which has a terrible record when it comes to awarding lead actors under 40, or possibly he hasn't quite broken through in the US yet. Still, if he keeps producing work of this standard, and maybe keeps at least some of his clothes on next time so the male voters don't get an inferiority complex, he should take home the prize in the near future.
Albert Brooks' turn in Drive was simply revelatory, a suddenly, terrifyingly psychotic turn from an actor we had all previously considered rather cuddly and avuncular. Turning from calm to killer on a dime, displaying a ruthless side that would put Liam Neeson to shame, and generally scaring cinema-goers everywhere, it's a brilliant piece of acting. So the Academy turns up and gives him an Oscar, which he takes home and puts next to his collection of knives. Simple, right? Except... not. As Brooks has since wistfully tweeted about the Academy: “You don't like me. You really don't like me."
We accept that not everyone has recognised the godlike genius of Nicolas Winding Refn’s LA noir. It’s even possible that some people – whisper it quietly – found it all a bit slow and mysterious, and didn’t much like the bit where ‘Him from the Notebook’ turned that elevator an interesting shade of head. But we’re confident they’ll come around one day. Sadly, it'll be too late for Academy members who will rue its omission forever. After all, a nod for Drive might finally have made the Academy look cool, hip and in touch with the kids. Instead, they nominated Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. So there you go.
Movie: Captain America
Alongside the odd pick of nine Best Film nominees (did they miscount this or was someone sending a message to every other film this year?), it was a surprise to see only two Best Song selections this year, half as many as 2011. Apparently when Randy Newman takes the year off, everyone in Hollywood throws their iPods away. It’s the only explanation for the absence of eight-time Oscar winner Alan Menken and his wonderful George M. Cohan-homaging, USO-style show tune in the middle of Captain America. It was on the longlist, so we know it met the eligibility requirements - so what went wrong? We can only comfort ourselves with the knowledge that Menken's robbery should be (if there's any justice) Bret McKenzie's gain.
It’s a minor surprise that Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In Still hasn’t picked up an Oscar nod to go with its BAFTA nomination. The Spaniard has previous form in the category, having won for All About My Mother back in 1999, and his wonderfully macabre body horror is all kinds of terrific. Still, with Iranian drama A Separation is garnering huge amounts of buzz among the brainy arthouse crowd, the category is looking like a foregone conclusion. Then again, we said that about A Prophet.
Lars von Trier’s Cannes diatribe meant that he could have made Battleship Potemkin, Citizen Kane and Forrest Gump this year and still been overlooked by the Academy. If the controversy tarnished the film in the eyes of voters – and, let’s be honest, namedropping Hitler hasn’t won anyone Hollywood brownie points recently – it’d pretty rough on Kirsten Dunst. She’s magnetic in a hugely challenging role that calls on her to carry a film while lookingly catatonically at a giant planet. Think Armageddon with Patrick Moore, with Dunst as Patrick Moore.
Nominated for the ace Hoop Dreams in the Best Editing bracket back in 1995, Steve James can count himself very unlucky not to be dusting off his tux again this year. The Interrupters, which follows a group of seriously courageous ex-offenders as they mediate gang violence on Chicago’s mean streets, is as timely and topical now as his high-school basketball doc was then. James holds a mirror up to society in the way the best documentary makers do and serves up a stunning, scary look at The Wire of today. The Academy’s labyrinthine rules for the documentary category seem to have blocked its path to wider recognition.
It’s increasingly difficult to define what’s an animated film and what’s not. Tintin was performance captured, so it seems unfair on the likes of Daniel Craig, Jamie Bell and Andy Serkis to call it such – and yet, when it comes down to it, Tintin has to be an animated film. Just ask BAFTA voters. Animators have always used live performance as a basis for their work; the only difference being that it's usually the animators doing the acting, not name stars. And in a year where so-so spin-offs like Puss In Boots can nab a nomination, it’s crazy that an exceptionally well-made, entirely delightful movie like Tintin can’t beat Kung Fu Panda 2 into the top five – even if, admittedly, it doesn’t feature Gary Oldman as a kick-ass peacock.
Timing is the only possible reason why Senna might have been overlooked. Released in some territories in 2010, others in 2011, there’s still a question over whether it came out at the right time to qualify. It's a shame, because there’s no doubting its brilliance. So consummately crafted, so fantastically edited, Senna’s astonishing story gripped even die-hard Formula 1 haters. And as one of the precious few docs to get attention from mainstream media this year, it’s another one to add to the list of “Well-known documentaries Oscar has snubbed”, alongside Anvil and King Of Kong. Why is it this category where the Academy always chooses to go against the populist grain? It sometimes seems sheer perversity.
Movie: War Horse
Spielberg’s detractors will say that War Horse is overly-emotional gush that didn’t deserve a Best Picture nod (although neither the book nor the hugely successful play get the same criticism, which seems odd since they're the same story), let alone a Best Director nomination, but there’s no denying War Horse's bravura moments. Spielberg’s touches can be felt at every turn, from the visceral moments in the barbed-wire to that unforgettable cavalry charge, and it feels like a belly punch that he didn’t get a tip of the cap. Spielberg, for all his towering reputation, only gets an Oscar when he gives the Academy absolutely no choice - hence he’s only taken the big prize for Schindler’s List and, even when he got Best Director for Saving Private Ryan, didn’t get Best Picture to go with it.
Movie: Take Shelter
Take Shelter had next to no buzz this year. In fact, we doubt Jeff Nichols’ apocalyptic drama was seen by many Academy voters at all – and without that access, it’s nigh-on impossible for little indies like Take Shelter to get the attention they deserve, even with powerhouse performances like Michael Shannon’s. Winter’s Bone managed it last year, with good word of mouth and Jennifer Lawrence’s innate charm carrying them through, but Take Shelter just couldn't build that momentum. Perhaps with his high-profile role as Zod in Man Of Steel hitting cinemas in 2013, 2014 could be Shannon’s year – as long as he manages to pull off a performance like Take Shelter's again. No mean feat, but we wouldn't bet against him.
By rights, 2012 should have been Colman’s year. Her jaw-dropping performance as the kind-hearted but damaged Hannah in Paddy Considine’s Tyrannosaur would get a more established actress, in a film with a bigger publicity budget, an instant nomination. Instead, she’s been overlooked by not only the BAFTAs, but the Oscars too. Even her supporting role in The Iron Lady – a movie pretty much every Academy voter will have watched – wasn’t enough to increase her profile. Perhaps her prosthetic Carol nose left her too unrecognizable and failed to produce The Kidman Effect. Still, with her role as Queen Elizabeth in Bill Murray’s FDR drama, Hyde Park On Hudson, coming up later in the year, perhaps 2013 will be her year... for the BAFTAs, at least.
Studio Ghibli's latest outing may not have had Miyazaki at the helm, but his touch can be felt in every frame of this Borrowers story. Arrietty and her tiny family live under a human house, which they mine for forgotten trifles that can provide them with a living, just as in Mary Norton's original book - but only Miyazaki could make the film into a parable about humanity's unthinking jealousy of the other beings that inhabit the planet, or make us weep for the small family's fate as they come under threat from the house's giant inhabitants. The animation is gorgeous too, and every bit as good as the Japanese maestro's best.