In a perfect world, every movie would be Oscar worthy. And in an even more perfect world, every movie could win an Oscar. But we live in a world where there’s limited spots for each category at the Academy Awards. The tragedy of this is that each year, dozens of outstanding films go without their proper praise, excelling in quality possibly equal to or greater than the films that do get nominated, but without the same recognition. So take a moment with me to pour one out in honor of each movie that didn’t get its due. Now quick disclaimer: we aren’t saying the movies that did get nominated shouldn’t have, just that ideally, the ones we mention would have also deserved a spot.
Ever since superhero movies became mainstream, there’s been a stigma around their awards qualification. In part because most blockbusters aren’t the typical auteur-driven drama the Academy likes to award, part because they’re seen as entertainment for children, but also for one big reason: they usually just aren’t as good. The biggest award any superhero movie has ever received is Heath Ledger’s posthumous Best Supporting Actor award for The Dark Knight. But even for an acclaimed, influential, and beloved movie like The Dark Knight, a Best Picture nod was out of the question. Not since then has a comic book based movie come so close to deserving as James Mangold’s Logan.
While it stars characters with superpowers and is part of the X-Men film franchise, Logan is more inspired by classic Westerns than any X-Men movie before it, and it couldn’t be less concerned with spectacle. There are no costumes, no villains trying to take over the world. Logan is about death, about legacy, and about the future. It’s dark, somber, and reflective, showcasing a man who has lived too long and made too many mistakes to consider existing worth it anymore. It’s the kind of movie that, had it been released in November and not been associated with superheroes, would’ve been a shoe-in for Best Picture.
This year’s nominations for The Post and The Darkest Hour are proof of a tried-and-true Oscar bait genre: a true story driven by powerful performances from esteemed actors in the lead roles. But much like the infamous figure skater herself, I, Tonya may have proved a bit too irreverent and unconventional for such a spotlight. Craig Gillespie’s movie about Olympic ice skater Tonya Harding was sharp-witted and funny, taking aim at both the media and the people who happily consume its shameful coverage of real people. It doesn’t fall into the same tropes of many performance-driven “true story” movies which have been nominated before it, and that’s exactly why it’s such a snub.
After being nominated last year for his outstanding movie Arrival, the Academy should have been eager to honor Villeneuve again for Blade Runner 2049. If I had a dime for every time I asked myself how they filmed something, I could’ve paid back my ticket price. The movie is almost three hours long, but nothing is uninteresting or unessential. The craftsmanship displayed in telling this story was phenomenal, and Denis Villeneuve’s work here going unrecognized is truly a shame.
Wonder Woman was not only a critical and box-office success, but also made a large impact in the movie industry by having a strong female superhero in its lead. Millions of girls, and boys, look up to Wonder Woman more than ever, and it’s mostly thanks to Patty Jenkins’ vision. She had the difficult task of bringing the superhero icon to the big screen for the first time, and she truly delivered. Jenkins not only brought out a fantastic performance from Gal Gadot, but also had her encapsulate the same ideals Wonder Woman is known for. Patty did something special here and we believe she was as worthy of a nomination as the rest of the directors.
There was a lot of buzz going into Logan about it being Hugh Jackman’s final film playing Wolverine after 17 years in the role. And that fact doesn’t itself warrant a nomination. But in Logan, Jackman transformed the character into what he was always meant to be. There was no separation between actor and character and an aged Logan went from a sick, bitter, disheartened old man to someone willing to fight for the future and the people he loved who would occupy it. As anyone who saw the movie in a crowded theater can tell you, it was a performance that drew tears and was one that deserved a nomination.
There’s still much debate over how motion-capture performances should be considered for awards. While they are the product of the actor, there’s an inherent collaboration that goes on with the graphic designers as well. But they are technically able to be nominated, and if anyone should be the first to break that barrier, it would be Andy Serkis and his performance as Ceaser in War For The Planet Of The Apes. Serkis is a powerful character actor who has left an impression with every role he’s ever taken. His acclaimed work on the Apes trilogy has pushed the boundary of how motion-capture roles were perceived, and that deserved to finally be recognized.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
The Big Sick came as a big surprise. If you haven’t seen the hilarious and heartwarming comedy about a comedian, his girlfriend, and her parents, I suggest you check it out now on Amazon Prime Video. In a category already stacked with performances from mother characters, maybe they should’ve gone all-in and nominated Holly Hunter as well. Although the whole cast was phenomenal, Holly Hunter is the most nominatable. The film captured parenthood of adult children like few other movies, and Holly Hunter brought a simple refreshing honesty to her character.
You know movies where kids play extremely smart, powerful, or mature characters and it feels disingenuous? There wasn’t a hint of that in Dafnee Keen’s breakout performance in Logan. In a mostly silent and very physical role, the eleven-year-old actress came out of nowhere with a performance that wasn’t just impressive for her age, but for anyone. She was able to switch between violent monster and sympathetic child in an instant, simultaneously coming off as scary and charming. Not only all that, but she was able to act on caliber against Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart, and that is award-worthy indeed.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Speaking of Logan! Sir Patrick Stewart’s first scene in Logan, displaying the sickness and disability of his performance, was nothing short of heartbreaking. Anyone who’s ever witnessed someone lose themselves to dementia can understand just how hard it was to watch the aging Professor Xavier no longer able to control his mind and body. Patrick Stewart is 77, but he could’ve made you believe he was 100. Seeing a character once defined by his idealism crushed by the weight of age and the world was hard, but Patrick Stewart brought real heart to the role to match the heartbreak, and it seriously deserved a nod.
CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE–
No one expected a movie called Captain Underpants to be amazing, but it turned that negative stigma around and made it something heartfelt. It turned being a silly movie for kids filled with juvenile humor into something for celebration. A surprising good and fun movie, if any Dreamworks movie was going to be nominated, it should have been this one (cough cough Boss Baby).
THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE–
When 2014’s The Lego Movie wasn’t nominated, people were outraged. It could have easily won and wasn’t even recognized. After The LEGO Batman Movie took the same beautiful plastic aesthetic and style of humor and once again hit it out of the park, we all assumed it was an obvious nomination. But for some reason, it just wasn’t. LEGO Batman was simultaneously a hilarious parody and a careful deconstruction of Batman. It was a fun movie that delivered a positive message with youthful sincerity. And while it definitely would have lost to Coco, it deserved a nomination.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
First off, while this movie was technically based on real events, it would have qualified for Original Screenplay rather than Adapted, as it was based on interviews done for the movie and not one singular preexisting work. Writer Steven Rogers (not Captain America, sadly) did something you don’t usually see in a movie based on real events: he dared to tell you a lie and be honest about it. What we see in the movie is what he was told by Tonya Harding and Jeff Gillooly, but he makes a note that they might not be the most trustworthy sources. The movie is guided by the characters in mockumentary interviews, commentating on the past events in often contradictory ways. The fourth-wall breaking was reminiscent of The Big Short, which itself scored a nomination at the 2016 awards. Why couldn’t this interesting, subversive script get the same honor?
If you haven’t seen, or even heard of this movie, don’t feel bad. It had a small release would have been a very low-profile nomination for Original Screenplay. But Brigsby Bear was just that- original. It managed to be weird in a completely non-off-putting way, taking the naivety of its main character and translating it into wholesome charm that is guaranteed to move you throughout. A story about understanding, storytelling, and how closely the two are linked, Kyle Mooney and Kevin Costello’s script is exactly the kind of originality that should be noted and celebrated.
BLADE RUNNER 2049
When a veteran like Harrison Ford calls a script the best he’s ever read, and then it doesn’t get nominated, it should raise some eyebrows. Hampton Fancher and Michael Green had a tough job when writing the sequel to one of the most beloved sci-fi movies of all time, and they knocked it out of the park. Taking a world so distinct and memorable as Blade Runner’s and updating it while maintaining and building upon all of the original’s themes, and doing it so darn well, isn’t something to gloss over. Capturing the noir feel with a complex mystery plot that isn’t hard to follow, Blade Runner 2049 suffered a tragic snub in this category.
MAKEUP AND HAIR STYLING
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL. 2
This category seems reserved this year for one actor being totally transformed by their makeup, but it failed to see the many alien heroes that shone as well. From the golden-skinned Sovereign, to the cyborg Nebula, and the many ugly faces of the Ravagers, Guardians Vol. 2 was packed with exceptional makeup work that brought you into the setting. I’m sure the nomination would have made the hour Dave Bautista spent getting scrubbed down in a sauna at the end of every day worth it a little more.
BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
BLADE RUNNER 2049–
Listening to Hans Zimmer’s score, you’d immediately think it’d become a classic, easily ranking among his best in years. It matches and raises the film’s mysterious tone, setting each beautiful visual set piece up with an auditory equal. With nominations in Cinematography and Visual Effects, it’s hard to see how this aspect of the movie got looked over.
BEST ORIGINAL SONG
“THE GREATEST SHOW” from THE GREATEST SHOWMAN-
This year’s premiere musical did score one nomination with “This Is Me”, but it’s absolutely possible for one movie to get multiple nominations in this category, and “The Greatest Show” deserved a place if any did. Much more of the main memorable show-stopping number, “The Greatest Show” shows what kind of movie The Greatest Showman is. And just the possibility of a song called “The Greatest Show” being performed at the greatest awards show being lost is a tragedy to be mourned itself.
Well, that’s our list. Does it match up with yours? What did you think deserved a nomination that didn’t get one this year? Let us know at SuperBroMovies.