Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: First Five Forgotten in 2011

Welcome back to a weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. The First Five Forgotten is the sixth 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, not to be confused with my first series, the Forgotten Five, which looked at the five films that came closest to getting nominated for Best Picture and ended up getting shut out entirely.

As Oscar season goes into hibernation for more than half the year, it’s a time to take a look back at past races. This time, I’ll be spotlighting the five performers that came closest to earning their first Oscar nominations and then ended up getting snubbed, in alphabetical order. If you feel I’ve left anyone off, please say so in the comments!

First Five Forgotten in 2011

Kirsten Dunst (Melancholia): Despite earning a Golden Globe nomination at the age of 12 for her performance in “Interview with the Vampire,” Dunst has never come quite this close to being taken seriously as a dramatic actress. Her hypnotic turn as a bizarre bride in Lars Von Trier’s apocalyptic melodrama earned her the Cannes Film Festival Best Actress trophy and a handful of other mentions. The film, however, was scarcely mentioned by the important precursors and nowhere to be found come Oscar time. Dunst may have better success in the future working with a more mainstream, Oscar-friendly director.

Michael Fassbender (Shame): The hard-working actor appeared in four films in 2012, only one of which managed an Oscar nomination (“Jane Eyre”), but he was a Golden Globe nominee for “Shame,” in which he played a sex addict. The role was challenging and marked his second pairing with director Steve McQueen. His frequent full-frontal nudity and the film’s heavy themes likely resulted in his omission from the nominations list. Based on his busy year, he’s sure to be nominated at some point in the future.

Armie Hammer (J. Edgar): Hammer actually broke out last year with a dual role as preppy twins suing Mark Zuckerberg for intellectual property theft in “The Social Network,” and it’s no surprise he had a big role to follow that so soon afterwards. He managed to score a SAG nomination for playing J. Edgar Hoover’s number two man Clyde Tolson, but Clint Eastwood doesn’t always impress Oscar voters, as his last two films have looked good until the nominations announcement. Hammer is sure to have great roles in the future, and I suspect he’ll be a supporting nominee before long.

Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene): This past fall, Mary-Kate and Ashley’s younger sister was a sure thing for her performance as a young woman running from her life in a cult. Perhaps the biggest reason for the buzz around Olsen is that she is actually doing something serious with her career, and she probably would have had a better chance if not for the similar “Winter’s Bone” being made last year. If she continues to turn in solid performances after the horror film “Silent House,” she’ll likely be a nominee one day.

Shailene Woodley (The Descendants): The former star of ABC Family’s “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” got serious for her role as the daughter of a Hawaiian man who finds out his comatose wife was cheating on him. Woodley’s performance believably blended maturity with childishness, and helped to anchor many of the film’s lighter moments. At only 21 years old, Woodley may still be too young for Oscar, and while her breakout turn will likely elicit movie offers in the future, I’m not sure she’ll net another role that gets as much attention.

Come back next week for, you guessed it, 2010. Leave your guesses and thoughts in the comments!

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