Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Big Snub of 2004

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.

The Big Snub of 2004:

Paul Giamatti (Sideways) for Best Actor

Why it was all set to happen: One year earlier, Giamatti earned positive reviews for his starring role in the little independent film that could, “American Splendor,” but only got as far as a National Board of Review Award for Best Breakthrough Performance by an Actor. This time around, Giamatti was the inarguable lead of a surefire Best Picture nominee and riding the wave of a genuinely liked and, as a plus, more widely seen film. He may not have been any competition for Jamie Foxx at the Golden Globes, but he made it to a SAG nomination along with the four eventual Oscar nominees – Foxx, Don Cheadle, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Johnny Depp. His chances for a nomination weren’t up for a debate – he was a lock.

Why it probably didn’t: This one is a bit of a mystery. Giamatti had everything going for him but ended up the surprise snub on nomination day simply because he was pushed out by a wild card. When actors direct popular movies that get nominated for Oscars, they often ride the hype of the film to a matching acting nod. It happened in 1990 with Kevin Costner, an actor who most sane people would never nominate for any kind of acting award save for a Razzie, for “Dances with Wolves.” Two years later, it happened again with Clint Eastwood for “Unforgiven.” It turns out the latter instance wasn’t a one-hit wonder, but would repeat again in 2004 for “Million Dollar Baby.” Giamatti was likely most vulnerable because his film was a comedy, and many probably considered supporting thespians Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen easier to accommodate in their respective categories.

Who took its place: Clint Eastwood

Consolation prize: Giamatti did earn an Oscar nod the following year for “Cinderella Man,” and even picked up the SAG Award for his performance. Additionally, he won a handful of prizes for his turn as John Adams in HBO’s miniseries.

Come back next week for a look at the Big Snub of 2003. If you have a prediction or a suggestion, please leave it in the comments. There a few contenders for this one, so chime in if you have a pick!

No comments: