Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Forgotten Five of 2005

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 2005:

The 40-Year-Old Virgin was the first feature film from Judd Apatow, who had earned acclaim for his two short-lived TV series, “Freaks and Geeks” and “Undeclared.” Apatow’s creation of a more lasting work that couldn’t be cancelled prematurely could have called for Oscar attention, but voters didn’t take the film too seriously and he had to settle for a WGA nomination

Happy Endings was a multi-thread story about how a bunch of people came together and interacted in some way that affected all of their lives. Voters preferred a similarly star-studded film with an ensemble cast, but it seems they weren’t in the mood to chuckle or watch people receive happy endings, opting instead for the ultra-serious eventual Best Picture winner “Crash.”

Jarhead was a topical war movie that served as the third feature film from director Sam Mendes, who won an Oscar the first time around for “American Beauty.” The strong leading performance from Jake Gyllenhaal could have been his breakthrough, if only he hadn’t starred in another movie that Oscar voters were obsessed with that same year: “Brokeback Mountain.”

The Producers was the film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical that itself was originally a popular film. Mel Brooks won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay in 1968 for penning the original film, and preserving most of the Broadway show’s cast made it seem like it might actually be a hit. It did well at the Golden Globes with four nominations and then fizzled, tanking before Oscar time.

Rent brought to the screen the 1996 Tony-winning musical beloved by devoted audiences, and even managed to keep most of the original cast intact. Something about the stage play didn’t quite translate and the film didn’t present anything new, but many in love with it still championed the quality of the film. Its failure to earn any Golden Globe attention probably didn’t help much.

Get started on 2004 and come back next Wednesday for a look at the Forgotten Five of that year!

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