Road to the Oscars: Best picture nominations omit instant classics - Tucson Local Media: Liven Up

Road to the Oscars: Best picture nominations omit instant classics

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Evan Hofmann

Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 4:00 am

Though the final announcements for the ever-coveted Academy Award for Best Picture will not be made until March 2, the rather customary cacophony of public response has already spread across all media outlets. Nine films have been elected for contention for Hollywood’s most desired award: “American Hustle”, “Captain Phillips”, “Dallas Buyer’s Club”, “Gravity”, “Her”, “Nebraska”, “Philomena”, “12 Years a Slave”, and “The Wolf of Wall Street”.  

With a world-class list like that, it would seem that this has been one of the strongest Oscar seasons in recent memory, but as such, that also means that a number of worthy productions were overlooked come nomination time. 

The Cohen Brothers-written “Inside Llewyn Davis” was one of the more profoundly structured stories of the year. Following an odyssey/character study formula, the film follows the life of a struggling folk musician in a 1960’s backdrop. Starring in the film’s leading role, Oscar Isaac delivers an incredible performance that solidifies him as one of Hollywood’s big up-and-comers. 

Another film penned by a writing savant and subsequently passed over by the academy was “Blue Jasmine”. Written by Woody Allen, the work has been referred to as one of the filmmaker’s best. Cate Blanchett stars in the title role as Jasmine, a member of the social elite who has fallen from economical grace. As with most of Allen’s films, “Blue Jasmine” possesses an unmatched ability to portray idiosyncratic characters in such a way that mesmerizes audiences. This is what Allen does best, and he triumphs in his latest effort. 

Perhaps a victim of the academy’s notoriously short memory was the summer release “Fruitvale Station”. Based on the tragic true story of Oscar Grant, a 22-year-old man who was killed by police officers in 2008, “Fruitvale Station” was by far one of the more poignant films of the year. The film stars the young and bright Michael B. Jordan, who has already been called the second coming of Denzel Washington. “Fruitvale” was also directed by a Hollywood new comer, Ryan Coogler, thus showcasing two talents that are sure to become staples in the future of cinema.

One of the most discussed films of the year, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” was also waived away from the academy plate. The film had seemed tailor made for Oscar nominations, being one of the more stylistic and intricate movies among its peers. Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey fit perfectly into their roles as they play out the story of a Cecil Gaines, a presidential butler who serves eight presidents in times of turmoil. 

The final film that was unfairly neglected this Oscar season was the almost completely silent “All is Lost”. Starring Robert Redford, the film is a tale of the struggle and survival of a sailor lost at sea. Many believed that Redford should have also received a nod for a Best Actor nomination, as he completely carried “All is Lost” despite being the only character on screen.  

Though these highly regarded films have been unjustly passed over for the Best Picture nomination, this is not to say that they will go unsung throughout the course of movie history. In the past, timeless classics such as “King Kong”, “Some Like it Hot”, “The Rear Window”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Blade Runner”, “The Empire Strikes Back”, “Manhattan”, “Reservoir Dogs”, “Jurassic Park”, “The Matrix”, and “Requiem for a Dream” all went without nomination for Best Picture, and that is not bad company to be in.

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