Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. The Big Snub is the second 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, the Oscar nominations announcement presents several notable omissions. This series is devoted to analyzing the biggest and most shocking snub of all (in any category). It has nothing to do with personal opinion but rather with what seemed likely at the time and what most people were predicting. Once again, this is a film/director/actor who didn’t even earn a nomination.
“Invictus” for Best Picture
Why it was all set to happen: Even though it didn’t score a Best Motion Picture – Drama nod at the Golden Globes, the expanded field of ten Best Picture nominees seemed like it would certainly welcome it in. A Globe snub isn’t a death sentence: “Milk” made it in the previous year, and “Crash” even won without one. Clint Eastwood did earn a Best Director nomination, however, and also took home the National Board of Review prize. In 2006, his film “Letters from Iwo Jima” managed a Best Picture nomination somewhat surprisingly after winning the Best Foreign Film Golden Globe, and his 2004 film “Million Dollar Baby” came out of nowhere in November to eventually take home the Best Picture award. Good buzz for actors Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon made its chances seem even more secure. Some prognosticators even though of it as a safer bet than choices like “District 9” and “A Serious Man,” ranking it higher on their prediction lists.
Why it probably didn’t: There are likely as many Eastwood haters as there are Eastwood lovers in the Academy, and many who felt that “Million Dollar Baby” did not deserve its victory over “The Aviator.” Eastwood’s films are all somewhat alike, and if you didn’t like his previous movies, it’s unlikely that “Invictus” won you over. Another sports movie also emerged, like “Million Dollar Baby,” in the middle of November with no previous buzz behind it, and voters seem to have thrown their support behind a race relations story set on American soil, “The Blind Side.” Freeman already won in 2004 for “Million Dollar Baby,” so it wasn’t as if his excellent portrayal of Nelson Mandela came as a shock to anyone, whereas Sandra Bullock’s first nomination presented an exciting scenario for a hard-working comedienne to finally be honored for a dramatic performance.
What took its place: “The Blind Side”
Consolation prize: Freeman still earned a Best Actor nod, and Damon managed to get a Best Supporting Actor nomination though many had doubted his chances. Neither won.
Come back next week for a look at the Big Snub of 2008. I have a feeling most readers have very strong opinions about this year in particular, so I’m curious to hear your thoughts!