Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Surprise Inclusion of 2011

Welcome back to a 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 2011:

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” for Best Picture

Why it wasn’t going to happen: Precursors don’t mean everything, but they’re awfully helpful. When a film picks up just two Best Picture bids in the run-up to Oscar nominations day, from the BFCA and the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association, a bid in the top category doesn’t seem likely. Even fellow surprise nominee “The Tree of Life” achieved more than that. There certainly were other films, like “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” in line ahead of it for the up to ten spots.

How it happened: Stephen Daldry has a way with Oscar voters. His first three films netted him nominations for Best Director, and the latter two scored Best Picture bids. His fourth film peaked late but still managed to get nominated for Best Picture and for Best Supporting Actor Max Von Sydow. Having Oscar mainstay Tom Hanks and new Oscar darling Sandra Bullock in the cast probably helped, and a deftly-handled sensitive subject matter must have torn at voters’ heartstrings.

Was it deserved? Based on the fact that it was announced out of alphabetical order as a sort of tack-on to the rest of the list, most people will tell you no. I’d argue, however, that it was a strongly-constructed, immensely moving film that got painted as something more artificial and released too late for enough people to be able to see it to say otherwise. I think it’s a worthwhile inclusion for a film that was ignored far too much.

Come back next week for a look at the Surprise Inclusion of 2010. If you have a prediction or a suggestion, please leave it in the comments.

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