Academy Advocacy: The 10 Best 2013 Films Oscar Forgot to Nominate

January 27, 2014

Oscars / Stories We Tell

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

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.

#9. Mud


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!

Find more posts: Awards, Editorial




Alessandro Rodrigues on Jan 27, 2014


No seriously, why not Rush?

Zade_92 on Jan 27, 2014


Same answer as above. I liked Rush, but not as much as those.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


Simply put...I like those ten films better.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


Rush is a great film!

Isildur_of_Numenor on Jan 28, 2014


I think it's very solid, but nothing to go crazy over, personally.

Joey Magidson on Jan 28, 2014


I see. It's one of my favorites (note that I didn't use "one of the best") of the year but I'm a Howard apologist so that's just me. 🙂

Isildur_of_Numenor on Jan 28, 2014


I'm hit or miss with Howard, though this is one of his better ones in some time.

Joey Magidson on Jan 28, 2014


No surprise that The World's End wasn't nominated for anything but that doesn't make it right. Will the Academy ever get around to valuing movies that are labeled comedy? I thought this was one of the best movies of the year.

rsnation on Jan 27, 2014


Every so often they go for a comedy, but less than I like, that's for sure.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


true! it was amazing and fucking funny!

Avi on Jan 28, 2014


I liked This is the End better than The World's End, but both were very enjoyable.

Joey Magidson on Jan 28, 2014


i'd also put This Is The End, The Conjurning, and Hunger Games

John on Jan 27, 2014


Duly noted.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


this is the end the best movie I've seen in 2013, What a great script! It had everything, but it's a comedy so no chance at the Oscars...

Avi on Jan 28, 2014


I was quite fond of This is the End too, but we all knew it was never getting any traction.

Joey Magidson on Jan 28, 2014


I loved the cinematography in Walter Mitty and I loved the film too. It was a really simple story that was put together wonderfully by Ben Stiller. It was a nice change and I would have placed it in my top 10 for 2013. I would have put it up for VFX and original song. That soundtrack was great.

TK on Jan 27, 2014


I'm with you there.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


Couldn't agree more with you on your #1 choice! When you ride like lightning you're gonna...get ignored by the Academy.

Not Just a Movie on Jan 27, 2014


Well said.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


Inside Llewyn Davis...?

Jameson Cyr on Jan 27, 2014


Inside Llewyn Davis has 2 noms.

Pop Ninjas on Jan 27, 2014



Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


It wasn't shut out, so it wouldn't count here.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


When it comes to the Oscars these days I always think of it as, "Most Popular Vote Wins". Also while you did mention the "graphic" content within Don Jon and Blue is a Warmest Color look at the Wolf of Wall Street and how much of that movie is filled with that content with being said it was nominated. I highly doubt they would have ever been swayed away from content like that. It's in terms of which movie gets the better reception. Heck, The Silence of The Lambs won best picture.

Damon King on Jan 27, 2014


The other difference is that Martin Scorsese directed one of them...that helps.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


Really disappointed that WALTER MITTY did not get more love. Stiller was on his game.

DAVIDPD on Jan 27, 2014


Agreed and likewise.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


Good list. I wasn't as high on Don Jon as a lot of people. I would have swapped that for The Way Way Back. Sam Rockwell deserved some supporting recognition for that role.

Pop Ninjas on Jan 27, 2014


Fair enough...ironically, I wasn't as high on The Way Way Back as most, though Sam Rockwell was quite good.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


I also liked Don Jon and The Spectacular Now, so it's a shame about them.

Marty on Jan 27, 2014


Indeed it was.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


Mud was an incredible film that stayed with me for days. I really thought it deserved more attention come awards time. I'm certainly glad to see McConaughey get an Oscar nom for his work in Dallas Buyers Club, and I personally would be glad to see him win for the body of work he did in 2013.

Quanah on Jan 27, 2014


Well said.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


Except for Labor Day (still didn't watch that one) i kind of agree with almost all your choices. Mud, definitely in my top 10 of the year for best picture.

Christian on Jan 27, 2014


I recommend Labor Day, even if most don't.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


I will catch it when it gets here, thanks!

Christian on Jan 29, 2014


My pleasure.

Joey Magidson on Jan 29, 2014


I'm usually at a few events each year with Academy members and they always ask what they should see as opposed to telling me what they liked, so I know that all too well. I did my part this year by mentioning a lot of those, and Her too, so maybe that last one actually did make a difference. As for becoming a member...I certainly wouldn't turn it down.

Joey Magidson on Jan 27, 2014


Place Beyond the Pines def should get more praise, cinematography, music, story, one of the best films from last year

Simon Dark on Jan 28, 2014


It was ok

ff on Jan 28, 2014


Fair enough. I remain a big fan of it.

Joey Magidson on Jan 28, 2014



Joey Magidson on Jan 28, 2014


I was a little bummed that "Blackfish" wasn't nominated, but as far as documentaries go (editing, cinematography etc.) I guess it was somewhat inferior to some of the nominations. However, the topic (which is what makes documentaries compelling) was fascinating and had a lot of weight. Despite the snub, I hope the film achieves what it set out to do.

TheOct8pus on Jan 28, 2014


It certainly has higher aspirations that simply a nomination, yes.

Joey Magidson on Jan 28, 2014


Mud is five times better than DBC for Matthew in everyway. DBC is the perfect example of the Oscars copping out, Mud is a much more powerful movie to me and The Spectacular Now was just incredible. Pitch perfect performances all the way around. John Hughes would be proud. KYLE CHANDLER.

speedracer on Jan 28, 2014


I'm with you on The Spectacular Now for sure.

Joey Magidson on Jan 28, 2014


It is my understanding that "Blue is the Warmest color" did not qualify for this years academy awards because of its release date. It hasn't therefore been snubbed. This was the case with "The Hunt" which many of us were watching in Europe over a year ago but did not qualify because of its US release date. Maybe " Blue is the warmest color" will get a well deserved nomination next year.

Thaddeus Mooney on Jan 29, 2014


It didn't qualify for Best Foreign Language Feature. They have separate eligibility requirements. Every other category was in play this year.

Joey Magidson on Jan 29, 2014


I didn't think the performances in Place Beyond the Pines Oscar worthy as those that were nominated but I thought the film itself had a lot of depth to its message and story that deserved some screenplay love. Completely agree with Mud and Spectacular Now too. I think as time passes Spectacular Now will stand out as a top 3 of the year for me (Little Miss Sunshine and Perks of the Wallflower stand out to me this way too. Films that I saw in the midst of the summer blockbusters that got lost in the mix until retrospect). As for Mud, Nichols is another director where its only a matter of time before the academy gives him some love. First they've got to get past their man crush on David O Russel (American Hustle was Ok, but I'd take any film on this list over AH. Kind of a crime drama hack job). I'm always disappointed when they don't give more consideration to animated films for best picture. Personally I thought Frozen was surprisingly good for a cartoon. The story had some slight leaps, but overall I was completely sucked into the story and spectacle of the visuals. I know it got some nods, but its time the academy started recognizing animated films as more than just the best of the niche.

UrAllThumb on Jan 31, 2014


Duly noted on all counts.

Joey Magidson on Feb 1, 2014


I have to agree with the stellar cinematography in Labor Day. While the film was a bit melodramatic, I thought Kate Winslet's acting was outstanding and that the movie should receive more acclaim than it has.

Patricia Vesey on Feb 17, 2014


I'm with you there.

Joey Magidson on Feb 17, 2014

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