Top 5 Oscar Snubs of 2012

You know the Oscars are here when they snub a deserving film or actor. Scheduled to be broadcast on the morning of 27 February (Singapore time), the year's most anticipated film awards ceremony promises to be a glamourous affair. But as we await the excitement, here are some unglamorous moments that happened when the Oscar nominations were officially announced.

#5 Snub! - Will Reiser for Best Original Screenplay for 50/50

Why the snub sucks? Reiser's sensitive screenplay touches all the right buttons as it balances precariously but safely on the knife-edge between comedy and drama. In the end, we find humor in the drama, and drama in the humor as we empathize with Joseph Gordon Levitt's character, who is stricken with cancer and has a 50-50 chance of surviving. 

[Film still of 50/50]

Based on the life experiences of Reiser, 50/50 is a light-hearted look at a serious issue. While it could have tragically tipped into the direction of unintentionally mocking cancer patients, 50/50's firm control of tone is simply brilliant as the film illuminates hope through a potent mix of laugh-out-loud humor and overwhelming emotions. 
Reiser's introspective screenplay should have been rewarded with an Oscar nomination and I am quite sure anyone who left the theater catching 50/50 would have left with a rare positive vibe.


#4 Snub! - Drive for Best Picture or Nicholas Winding Refn for Best Director

Why the snub sucks? Okay there are actually two snubs here. But if there is one snub less, I will still be pleased. There is still one more slot in the Best Picture category, so it's confounding to know thatDrive (or for that matter, any other worthy films such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) failed to make the grade. 

[Film still of Drive]

The Academy had the chance to be retro-cool and hip, but by snubbing Drive, they have sent out the message that they are actually boring, conservative folks with no life. The snub for director Refn is also disappointing as it was his vision that made Drive such an intoxicating slow-burner. There has never been an arthouse action-thriller this skillfully-crafted for a long, long time. 


#3 Snub! - Steven Spielberg for Best Director for War Horse

Why the snub sucks? "Because it is Steven Spielberg!" is not a good reason. Perhaps a better reason would be that his work on War Horse has nostalgically reminded us of his evergreen ability as a star director, a filmmaker who is able to weave the magic and beauty of cinema in the most unabashedly sentimental way possible. 

[Film still of War Horse]

This may be an old-fashioned, straightforward family melodrama by the master director, but War Horseis still an admirable technical feat as Spielberg recreates the "trench warfare" of WWI that bears homage to classic films such as All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and Paths of Glory (1957). However, it is his cinematic tribute to John Ford in the epilogue that left us quite simply speechless and in a bucket of well-earned tears. 


#2 Snub! - Michael Fassbender for Best Leading Actor for Shame

Why the snub sucks? There is no doubt that 2011 was Fassbender's year. After all, he starred in Jane Eyre, X-Men: First Class, A Dangerous Method, Haywire and Shame. Is there a more hardworking actor working today than Fassbender, plying his trade in films as diverse as acclaimed indies and mainstream blockbusters?

[Image of Michael Fassbender in Shame]

An Oscar nomination may be an icing on the cake, but even if Fassbender doesn't win the golden man, it would still be a very well-deserved nomination. It was a brave performance by him in Shame, directed by Steve McQueen, who last directed him in another stunning performance in Hunger (2008), in which Fassbender shed tens of kilos for the role. 

Perhaps playing a sex-addict, and nonchalantly displaying frontal nudity in Shame was much too liberal for the Academy? But whatever the reason for the snub, the shame is strictly on the Academy.


#1 Super-duper Snub! - The Adventures of Tintin for Best Animated Feature

Why this super-duper snub sucks? If you recall, The Adventures of Tintin was the other Spielberg movie of 2011. And yes, he was snubbed again. When an average animated film like Puss in Boots can get into the Oscar race ahead of the likable, lovable, and highly-entertaining Tintin, then something must be seriously wrong. 

It seems like the Academy has a very big issue with motion capture technology. While we can forgive the Academy for snubbing The Polar Express (2004), arguably the first animated feature shot using this technology (which at that time is still at its infancy), we are absolutely frustrated at the sight ofTintin missing the boat. 

[Film still of The Adventures of Tintin]

The Academy's argument is that motion capture uses live actors so it is not really animation. Gee, that's one of the worst arguments I have heard all year. It's like saying the Nissan Leaf uses electricity so it is not really a car. First and foremost, can't the voters see that Tintin is animated? Even a 3-year old who hasn't seen Bambi knows that. 

Second, with Tintin winning the Golden Globe for Best Animated Feature over strong contenderRango, its inclusion in the Oscar race in this category would surely make for an exciting watch. Now it's a foregone conclusion that Rango will win the coveted prize. 

[Film still of The Adventures of Tintin]

Last but not least, Tintin is technically astounding. I have never seen a more realistic animated feature. An Oscar nomination (at least) would send the message that motion capture, like 3-D technology, is a viable use of technology in film. If the Academy could embrace Avatar as a 3-D extravaganza, I don't see what's stopping them from rewarding Tintin.


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