Post-Oscar: Pan's Labyrinth and Children of Men Robbed!
by Alex Billington
February 26, 2007
Children of Men director Alfonso CuarÃ³n applauds a winner at the Oscars.
There were a few sure fire winners at last night's Oscars: Jennifer Hudson for Supporting Actress, Helen Mirren for Actress, Forest Whitaker for Actor, and yes, Pan's Labyrinth for Foreign Language Film and Children of Men for Cinematography. But wait - Pan's Labyrinth didn't win Best Foreign Language Film, and Children of Men didn't win Best Cinematography. What happened? They both got robbed of the awards they deserved and that they were supposed to win. There have always been upsets at the Oscars, but this year these two were almost beyond frustration in their loss.
I always love a good bit of controversy and a good bit of debate, because it gets people talking and thinking. How do these two films, some of the very best of last year, get completely robbed of their deserved Oscar wins? Of course like SlashFilm after the Golden Globes you can attack the process and voting system, calling it flawed despite being a couple thousand industry professionals who are hand chosen. However, there's no need to jump onto that, but instead to rather focus on the point that both Pan's Labyrinth and Children of Men should not go overlooked. It's not that there is an issue in the Academy's choices, but that these two films should still be recognized above all others for their achievements.
First things first, Pan's Labyrinth did win a number of Oscars, 3 in total, the second highest amount next to Best Picture winner The Departed. And interestingly it did steal Children of Men's Cinematography win. As much as I loved the cinematography in Pan's Labyrinth, I wanted Children of Men to win something, and if anything it was cinematography. The long uncut scenes were so amazing and vastly ahead of their time technically, visually, and artistically. The few that have been able to see this movie have certainly been in agreement with the fact that it was amazing and undoubtedly had the best cinematography of 2006. I suppose that Pan's Labyrinth had the second best cinematography, but Children of Men deserved something, and it didn't win editing either (the only other category it was nominated for). It's a shame that one of, if not the most visually astounding movies of 2006, didn't win an Oscar at all, the highest achievement in film. If anything we'll regret years from now not recognizing the brilliant cinematography work in Children of Men, so let's not let that happen and keep the spirits high - go see it if you haven't, or if not, it will be coming out on DVD in late March.
Jumping back to Pan's Labyrinth. Guillermo del Toro is one of my all-time favorite directors. He doesn't exactly have a list of classic films as long as Spielberg, but after this year that may begin to change. This film made one of the most powerful impacts in Hollywood and the movie-going public as being a fairy tale for grown ups that was beautifully imagined in every way, from the visuals and cinematography, to the acting and script, as well as the directing. I think if Robert Ebert had his single choice at the Oscars, he would've chose Pan's Labyrinth for Foreign Language - he's been supporting it endlessly and has had his glowing quote featured on the poster since Cannes last year. It was one that I knew was going to win this Oscar ever since it was announced as Mexico's entry back at the end of September. It didn't take home anything from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association at the Golden Globes, but it has been receiving endless praise and record earnings (for a Spanish language independent film) at the box office. I just knew it was going to win… but I guess not.
The best thing I can do is strongly urge you to go see both of these movies as soon as possible. They need as much recognition and support as possible so they're not soon forgotten. No, Pan's Labyrinth didn't win Best Foreign Language, and no Children of Men didn't win Best Cinematography, BUT that doesn't mean that you can appreciation them yourself as the best achievements in those categories. There are plenty of others out there who already do this and were cheering both of them on. And of course they were as upset as I when they were robbed of the Oscars that they deserved.