Academy Advocacy: The 10 Best 2013 Films Oscar Forgot to Nominate
by Joey Magidson
January 27, 2014
No, my advocacy pieces are not done yet! In fact, there's a whole new flavor to them at this juncture, as I try to make the case for certain nominees to become winners now. I'll be doing that soon enough, but in the meantime, refer back to my article on Her for a hopefully strong case as to why that movie deserves to win something. Right now though, I want to take Oscar voters to task a bit. No, not for almost completely ignoring Inside Llewyn Davis like I warned that they could in my other advocacy piece, but for the films that they did actually totally ignored. Consider this my look at the movies that voters themselves should have taken a much closer look at. These are the misfit movies on an island all by themselves, far away from the nominated likes of Best Picture contenders like 12 Years a Slave, American Hustle, and Gravity.
Below you'll see ten films that Oscar voters completely shut out. Some of them definitely came close to recognition, while others were just total blind spots for Academy members. The one thing all the films have in common though is they deserved more than they got from the Academy (in my opinion). Here we go:
#10. Labor Day
Yes, there are plenty of better films out there than this latest one from Jason Reitman, but still, I believe this one got a bad wrap unfairly. I always like Reitman's flicks and this is a very solid, if melodramatic one. Kate Winslet deserved more than just a token Golden Globe nomination, though what I really wish voters had noticed was in fact Eric Steelberg's lush cinematography. Factor in how week the Adapted Screenplay category was and a well liked filmmaker like Reitman should have been more in play. The knock on Reitman films sometimes is that they don't have a style or a visual look, but that's certainly not the case here. The shut out doesn't annoy me too much, but they could have at least considered it a bit more than they did.
I do wonder what might have happened with this Jeff Nichols film had it come out during the fall. Could Matthew McConaughey have slipped into Best Supporting Actor? Between this and his scene stealing turn in The Wolf of Wall Street, I think he certainly got votes, so with more attention paid to this one, it could have happened. This movie took a long time to make its journey from 2012 Cannes Film Festival debut to playing at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival to an early year release, so there was just never a consistent buzz, and that includes after it came out. For a profitable indie like this to get shut out, that's a shame, even if McConaughey did get recognized elsewhere for Dallas Buyers Club.
#8. Frances Ha
Back at the 2012 New York Film Festival when I first saw this movie, I thought that it should have come out then and tried to upend the Best Actress and Best Original Screenplay races. The powers that be opted to wait until 2013 to try to make a play in those same fields for Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach, but that never came to pass. Perhaps Nebraska represented the only black and white film they were willing to consider this year? Who knows, but it's still a real bummer that it got shut out like it did.
#7. Stories We Tell
As I wrote about in my surprises and snubs piece, Sarah Polley's documentary not getting nominated was one of the bigger omissions by the Academy. At one point there were drums being beaten for it to get a Best Film Editing nomination alongside a Best Picture citation, back when a Best Documentary Feature win was all but assumed. Whenever you're only seriously competing in a few categories it's hard to be shocked about a shutout, but this doc not being recognized in its category definitely went against what most expected.
#6. Don Jon
Yes, sex makes voters uncomfortable, but what Joseph Gordon-Levitt did here was so clever, you'd think that it would have helped sway them to some degree. The sex thing will come up again in another film on this list, but this was definitely the more accessible contender. They've yet to welcome Gordon-Levitt to the club with a nomination so far, and while he's always getting closer, at one point it looked like he could have at least been in contention for a Best Original Screenplay pat on the back. Alas, it was not to be for him, nor for Scarlett Johansson, who really deserves a nomination for Her anyway.
#5. Short Term 12
I've seen some rumors out there that voters have expressed regret that they didn't see this one in time, but they only have themselves to blame for that. Destin Cretton's film got Brie Larson noticed here and there, but she really did deserve to show up in the Best Actress lineup here. Academy members even had an Original Song to consider, but they opted to go in another direction there too. This is a movie that in a few years folks will be shocked didn't receive any nominations, mark my words.
#4. Blue is the Warmest Color
Though ineligible for Best Foreign Language Feature, Oscar voters still should have watched this one for the performances of Adèle Exarchopolous and Lea Seydoux. Both made my list of the best female performances of 2013, and while the graphic sex steered some away, the power of the acting should have overcome that. Factor in the lack of Adapted Screenplay consideration for Abdellatif Kechiche and while this shutout wasn't unexpected by the time nominations came, it still hurt to see come to fruition.
#3. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
It's no secret (no pun intended too) that I'm a bigger fan of this Ben Stiller project than most, but no technical citations? Really? Best Visual Effects seemed like a solid bet at one point, but when it didn't make it to the bake off that that particular category has, it was easy to see the writing on the wall. That doesn't make it right though, and Stiller's passion project shouldn't have been left out in the cold like it was.
#2. The Spectacular Now
In a weaker than usual Best Adapted Screenplay race, the Academy should be ashamed of themselves for not nominating this script. They supposedly heavily considered The Perks of Being a Wallflower last year, so why not a far superior bit of writing like this one? That's not to mention the performances of Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller, both of whom deserved consideration, with the former not getting nominated again after missing a few years ago for The Descendants a crime. James Ponsoldt is going to catch the Academy's eye with a film of his soon, it's a matter of when, not if.
#1. The Place Beyond the Pines
Another one I'm on an island alone for, but still, this ambitious drama deserved something, somewhere. Derek Cianfrance should have gotten more love for his last film Blue Valentine than just the single nomination that it received, and absolutely nothing for this one broke my heart. It had been in the cards for a while now, but with such great filmmaking on display, I did kind of hold out hope for a surprise Best Original Screenplay citation. I'm sure it helped push Bradley Cooper to a Supporting Actor nod for American Hustle, but he was just as deserving of the nom for this flick, if not more.
Well, there's my bit of finger wagging at the Academy for not finding any places for those ten films. That being said, they did better than usual with their nominations this time around, so I can't get on them too much. Still, they should always be striving for improvement, so consider this my free bit of advice to them. What films were completely ignored by the Academy that really irked you? Sound off below!