Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Big Snub of 2002

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 2002:

Peter Jackson (The Two Towers) for Best Director

Why it was all set to happen: After earning an Oscar nod one year earlier for the first installment of the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy, Jackson was all set to reap another nomination for the second chapter. He was one of the six directors nominated for a Golden Globe, and made the cut when the list was trimmed to five for the Directors Guild of America. While, based on the trend established during the previous twenty years, there would likely be a “lone director” nominee, a director nominated when his (or her, in the case of Lena Wertmuller) film wasn’t for Best Picture, Jackson was probably safe and another director would be left off to make room for the other guy. The last time that a sequel was nominated for Best Picture, both it and its director won – “The Godfather: Part II” and Francis Ford Coppola in 1974.

Why it probably didn’t: Having been nominated the previous year probably worked against Jackson rather than for him. Knowing that the next chapter would be released the following year also contributed to his snub. Even if the third film wasn’t a hit, Jackson had still been recognized for “The Fellowship of the Ring” and other directors, particularly foreign filmmaker Pedro Almodovar, could be honored while Jackson sat the race out. Stephen Daldry had the “lone director” nominee two years earlier for “Billy Elliot,” and therefore he stayed in the race for “The Hours.” That left the three-way showdown between Roman Polanski (“The Pianist”), Martin Scorsese (“Gangs of New York), and Rob Marshall (“Chicago”), leaving no room for Jackson.

Who took its place: Pedro Almodovar (“Talk to Her”)

Consolation prize: Jackson is probably the luckiest victim of the Big Snub. “The Two Towers” still reaped six nominations, including one for Best Picture, and two wins. The following year, “The Return of the King” won all eleven categories in which it was nominated, and Jackson took home the Best Director prize.

Come back next week for the first installment of the next series of the Wednesday Oscar Retrospective! I’ll be taking a look at the surprise inclusion of 2009 to start.

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