Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Forgotten Five of 2007

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. The Forgotten Five is the first in a series of projects looking back at the past eight years of the Oscars, dating back to the first ceremony I watched and closely followed.

Each year, a number of films are left off of Oscar’s Best Picture list. This year, even with ten nominees, films still didn’t make the cut. What I’m interested in looking at is the Forgotten Five – five films that probably came closest to getting nominated for Best Picture and ended up without a single nomination.

Each week, I’ll be working backwards one week. The rules are that the film cannot have earned any Oscar nominations at all. These are the movies that came so close and had buzz but just couldn’t ultimately cut it. If you disagree with my choices or think I missed one, please leave a note in the comments. This is designed to be a fun look back at some of the movies that may have been great (or not) and just missed the mark.

The Forgotten Five of 2007:

Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead was directed by five-time Oscar nominee Sidney Lumet, who at the time of the film’s release was 83 years old. Lumet had previously helmed four Best Picture nominees but never won, and he was a strong contender for a Best Director career nod. The film didn’t pick up enough buzz, and ended up being the only one of three Philip Seymour Hoffman movies in 2007 not to be nominated for an Oscar.

The Great Debaters came from out of nowhere with a lone Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture – Drama with an expanded seven-nominee field. In a year where there were eight legitimate contenders for Best Picture up until the very last moment, there was no room for this film that had no other precursors of any kind except Image Award nominations, and it got shut out, just like director Denzel Washington’s previous feature, “Antwone Fisher.”

Hairspray had everyone singing and dancing at the Golden Globes with three nominations, including one for a cross-dressing John Travolta. While it was likely a long shot for the Best Picture prize, people definitely loved it and its colorful visuals. On nomination day, it wasn’t just missing a Best Picture nod, but also mentions for Best Art Direction and Best Costumes, among others. Perhaps it was a victim of another much drearier musical, “Sweeney Todd.”

Knocked Up was even more popular and well-reviewed than director Judd Apatow’s first feature film, “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” and earned a WGA nod. It probably didn’t help that similar films like “Superbad” and “Walk Hard” were released in the same year, but the biggest challenge it faced in winning over Oscar voters was its use of gross-out humor and foul language, which the Academy still hasn’t endorsed with two thumbs up.

Zodiac was made by a great filmmaker, but despite having directed cult hits like “Se7en” and “Fight Club,” David Fincher had never been nominated for an Oscar, and he would have to wait another year until he finally landed his first nod for “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Many liked his dark examination of 1970s menace to society, but it may have been too dismal and grisly to win. It probably helped to reboot Robert Downey Jr.’s career, though he too would have to wait another year to earn an Oscar nod.

Get started on 2006 and come back next Wednesday for a look at the Forgotten Five of that year!

1 comment:

G1000 said...

I seem to remember you ripping "The Great Debaters" apart when it came out. I don't know, I thought that it was good for what it was. Hairspray, on the other hand... Overrated. It had a lot of energy, but very few quality songs and a preposterous plot. Much weaker that 2007's best musical, "Once".