The votes are in, the nominees announced and all that remains now is for Ryan Seacrest to start working on that magical hair of his in preparation for March 2’s big night. But wait! What about the unlucky omissions? The so-near-yet-so-fars? Where was poor benighted Llewyn Davis and that ginger moggy of his? And Robert Redford? And the much-tipped Emma Thompson? Here are ten candidates who’ll be drinking in the Why Not Me? saloon tonight.
Missed out on:* Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor*
The Coen brothers’ tale of a down-on-his-luck folk musician in 1960s Greenwich Village missed out on everything but Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing despite being good enough to deserve a nod for, well, everything. Perhaps the Academy found it too downbeat – like its downtrodden hero. Maybe Llewyn Davis was too subtle to grab attention amid astronauts, pirates and, er, AIDS victims in the eventual nominees. We like to think that, contrary to the evidence, the Academy in fact adores the film, making the rejection a sort of meta, thematically appropriate accolade that reflects Davis’s perpetual failures, and a tribute to the film’s excellent handling of underachievement.
Missed out on:* Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor*
It all seemed to be going his way. The two-time Oscar winner, who’s also been nominated a further three times (and should have been nominated a fourth, for Apollo 13), was an early contender this year. Captain Phillips saw him play stoic, determined and terrified, capped off with one of the most emotionally devastating expressions of trauma we’ve ever seen. Saving Mr. Banks, meanwhile, saw him take on a Hollywood titan (the Academy tends to like movies about movies) and do justice to Walt Disney's public persona as well as (some aspects of) his private side. He was nominated for Paul Greengrass’ film at both the Globes and the BAFTAs, but missed out on the big one. Ah well. At least Hanks already has two Oscars to use as voodoo dolls if he decides to hex the Academy.
Missed out on:* Best Picture, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Supporting Actor *
If you want to keep your Oscar hopes fresh, don’t release your film in September. Atonement demonstrated it before, and now Rush once more demonstrates the perils of an early awards season release date. Admittedly, the film became overshadowed in a crowded December and might not have made the grade for the big categories anyway, but Daniel Brühl’s very unlucky not to get a Supporting nod, and we thought Anthony Dod Mantle was in with a real chance for Cinematography.
*Missed out on: Best Documentary*
Probably the most talked-about documentary of the year was this tale of killer whales in captivity, a powerful discussion of the conditions in which they’re kept and the dangers that the trainers who work with them face. But in this case, there may be such a thing as bad publicity: there have been articles questioning the film’s fairness and accuracy in recent weeks, and stories suggesting that some of the trainers interviewed, who later expressed concerns about the film, were requested to keep quiet until awards season was over. Whether these were true or not, they seem to have damaged its credibility somewhat in what is always a very strong category.
Missed out on: *Best Actor *
There aren’t many actors who can hold a film single-handed, with nary another person onscreen (except perhaps in silhouette at one point). There are even fewer who could do so while saying seven words in total, and while buffeted by water and wind and, er, shipping container. But the Academy apparently wanted more bang for its buck than this understated epic offers, and overlooked Redford’s salty survival tale. Possible explanations: (1) Bruce Dern had already claimed the token-old-man spot amid the hot young contenders for Best Actor this year; (2) the Academy was only willing to consider one all-at-sea tale, which went to Captain Phillips, and one solo outing, which went to Gravity; (3) too many voters were in a film turned down for the Sundance Festival and are holding a grudge.
Missed out on:* Best Actress, Best Director, Best Picture*
They do love Kate Winslet at the Academy Awards – she’s gifted, refreshingly forthright and always scrubs up nicely on Oscar night – so her failure to add to six Oscar nominations with a Best Actress nod could be considered a mild turn-up. In truth, in a fiercely competitive year, the film tickled neither critics’ fancy nor garnered many votes in any of the tell-tale lead-up awards. No jaws dropped at this omission. Despite boasting substantial Oscar pedigree with director Jason Reitman and co-star Josh Brolin a former winner and nominee respectively, Labor Day came up empty-handed in all other categories, even the Best Adapted Screenplay where Reitman is usually a dangerous floater. We blame that missing ‘u’.
Missed out:* Best Supporting Actor*
The late, much-beloved James Gandolfini was widely expected to pick up a nod for Enough Said and join the likes of Peter Finch, Heath Ledger and Spencer Tracy with a posthumous nomination. The ghoulish (and cynical) might have expected voters to use the chance to essentially bestow a lifetime achievement award on the ex-Soprano; the films’ many fans, by contrast, would argue that his performance was absolutely worthy of recognition on its own terms. Neither held much sway with voters. They might want to dust off their Academy DVD of Nicole Holofcener’s sweet-hearted, wise relationship comedy, give it a watch and spot the mistake.
Missed out on:* Best Actor*
There have been plenty of previous Mandelas on the big screen – take a look at our feature on the subject – but no-one has handled the late, great South African civil rights hero quite like Idris Elba, a 41-year-old Londoner best known for playing Baltimore drug dealers and rather SHOUTY and DANGEROUS detectives. He might not have looked much like Madiba, but Elba really got into the leader’s mind, in his younger barrister days or as he grew old in prison on Robben Island. The lack of nomination may be down to the film itself. Let down by the sheer quantity of material it had to get through, perhaps its length and problems with pace were enough to put off voters. But if U2’s credits song for the film could make the cut, you’d hope Idris Elba would too.
Missed out on:* Best Picture, Best Director*
Greedy, you might say, considering that Blue Jasmine has three other nominations under its belt – Best Original Screenplay for Woody Allen, Best Actress for Cate Blanchett, Best Supporting Actress for Sally Hawkins – but it certainly wouldn’t have been a surprise to see Allen’s 738th return to form in both the Best Picture and Best Director category. There are strict conditions that decide whether a film makes it into the Best Picture pen, essentially boiling down to the fact that Blue Jasmine didn’t get at least 5 per cent of first-place votes to qualify. But considering the nominations it did get, it seems odd that it didn’t scrape through. In case you were wondering, Woody Allen has now received 24 nominations from the Academy in his lifetime.
Missed out on:* Best Actress*
Emma Thompson is made of stern enough stuff to no doubt not be much bothered with the Academy failing to recognise her onscreen brilliance in Saving Mr. Banks, but her fans may be running out of sugar to help the big bowl of rejection go down. Possibly shot out of contention because of the liberties taken by Disney, the director and the screenwriter of the film – Emma Thompson’s version of the Mary Poppins author P. L. Travers is much stuffier and “British” than in reality – that came to light after its release, she’s still so darn good it’s not clear why she wasn’t up to stuff in the voters’ eyes. In other actresses-who-missed-out news, it's a shame that Brie Larson's terrific performance in tiny indie Short Term 12 received no recognition, and Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux from Blue Is The Warmest Colour also missed out. In their case, the film was released too late in its native country (it came out in France in October and needed to be released prior to September) to qualify for Best Foreign Film, but they could still have been nominated for Best Actress.