Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Forgotten Five of 2003

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 2003:

Kill Bill Volume 1 was a wildly violent film from Oscar winner Quentin Tarantino, who won the Best Screenplay award for his second feature, 1994 Best Picture nominee “Pulp Fiction.” His subsequent film, “Jackie Brown,” earned just an acting nod for Robert Forster. This film, despite starring past Oscar nominee Uma Thurman, didn’t do the same, probably because it was too gratuitous and off-putting for some.

The Life of David Gale wasn’t a serious contender by the time Oscar season finally rolled around, but when this movie was originally supposed to come out, it had everything going for it: a two-time Oscar winning star (Kevin Spacey), two Oscar-nominated actresses (Kate Winslet and Laura Linney), an Oscar-nominated director (Alan Parker), and a weighty premise about an anti-death penalty activist suddenly on death row.

Love Actually really was the ultimate romantic comedy, pitting together a smattering of stars, including former Oscar nominees Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, and Laura Linney. The entertainment value was high, and the film even received a surprise screenplay nomination from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. It still couldn’t overcome the Oscar’s lack of enthusiasm for comedies.

Shattered Glass was a cutting-edge look at a true-life journalistic scandal involving fabricated sources. Most of the kudos it scored were from the Independent Spirit Awards and for its value as an exposé. Still, supporting actor Peter Sarsgaard and the adapted screenplay by Billy Ray racked up an impressive slate of honors, and a Best Picture mention probably wasn’t too far out of the picture.

The Station Agent was a runaway success with the Screen Actors Guild, earning nominations for lead actors Peter Dinklage and Patricia Clarkson as well as its ensemble cast. The trouble was, it couldn’t muster up much other awards attention, and most of Clarkson’s accolades were also for her the performance that resulted in an Oscar nomination for her, another tiny indie called “Pieces of April.”

Get started on 2002 (the final edition of this project) and come back next Wednesday for a look at the Forgotten Five of that year!

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