Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Surprise Inclusion of 2002

Welcome to a new weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. The Surprise Inclusion is the third 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 shocking names and films. This series is devoted to analyzing the biggest and most surprising inclusion of all (in any category). It has nothing to do with personal opinion but rather with what was considered a surprise at the time compared with what most people were predicting. Once again, this is a film/director/actor whose nomination was unexpected.

The Surprise Inclusion of 2002:

Pedro Almodovar (Talk to Her) for Best Director

Why it wasn’t going to happen: Despite working prolifically for over twenty years, Almodovar’s success at the Oscars had been relegated to the Best Foreign Film Category. His 1988 film “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown” earned a nomination, and his 1999 film “All About My Mother” took home the award. From 1996 on, the “lone director” nominee at the Oscars had been a veteran filmmaker like Milos Forman, Peter Weir, and David Lynch or the director of an English-language film rather than a foreign director. The directing field was also quite crowded, with the helmers of the five Best Picture frontrunners as well as directors like Spike Jonze and Alexander Payne.

How it happened: The time had come for this great Spanish director to be recognized. “Talk to Her” wasn’t submitted by Spain in the Best Foreign Film category, so voters presumably wanted to honor his latest work in some other way. “Talk to Her” also earned a nomination for Best Original Screenplay, along with Mexican film “Y Tu Mama Tambien.” Almodovar managed oust “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson from the Best Director field (though he would return the following year and win), and he also win the Best Original Screenplay Oscar, cementing his status on IMDB as an Oscar winner since their records give credit for Best Foreign Film honors to the film’s origin country.

Was it deserved? Absolutely. “Talk to Her” is a brilliant and beautiful film, among the best of 2002. Almodovar’s direction is magnificent, and he’s proven that in his two most recent films. It’s a good thing that Almodovar did earn his directing nod and writing win, however, since “Volver” got snubbed in the Best Foreign Film category despite earning a Best Actress nomination for Penelope Cruz and “Broken Embraces,” my fifth favorite film of 2009, didn’t earn a single mention.

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 Deadlocked Duel of 2009 to start.

1 comment:

Greg Boyd said...

I didn't love "Talk to Her" as much as you, apparently. It's nowhere near as good as a lot of 2002's other films (like "Chicago" and "The Two Towers"). I liked it, but Almodovar getting nominated for Best Director was a bit much.