Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Big Snub of 2012

Welcome to a returning weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. The Big Snub was 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. With the 2013 Oscar season wrapped, it’s time to take a look back at the past two years.

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 2012

Ben Affleck (Argo) for Best Director

Why it was all set to happen: Affleck took home an Oscar with his good friend Matt Damon at the age of twenty-five for penning the original script for “Good Will Hunting.” After that, his acting choices didn’t necessarily improve, though he did earn a Golden Globe nomination for his performance as George Reeves in “Hollywoodland,” but he ventured into more behind-the-camera efforts which proved productive. His first two directorial efforts, “Gone Baby Gone” and “The Town,” earned positive mentions and earned one supporting acting Oscar bid apiece. Now, Affleck made what was easy to perceive as the strongest film of the year, a solid crowdpleaser with some historical context and drama to boot. There wasn’t even a possibility that it wouldn’t happen – he was the frontrunner to win.

Why it probably didn’t: This one has been analyzed before, and the simplest answer is that everyone assumed someone else was voting for him. Another locked nominee – Kathryn Bigelow – was likely snubbed because her film, “Zero Dark Thirty,” was under fire for its controversial portrayal of torture. Affleck inexplicably got edged out because there were too many underdogs competing for his spot. The tow heavyweights – Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee – had no trouble getting in because they were both respected before and their films were perceived as well-rounded and more than competent. David O. Russell rode the buzz of his “Silver Linings Playbook” to earn a place even without a DGA or Globe nomination.

Who took his place: And then there was a throwback to the “lone director slot” that used to exist when only five films were up for Best Picture, and it happened with two films. Both Michael Haneke and Benh Zeitlin, for “Amour” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” respectively, rallied enough voters to earn them spots. That led to the bizarre scenario of it being the first time since 1989 that a Best Picture frontrunner wasn’t even nominated for Best Director.

Consolation prize: Affleck still claimed a Best Picture prize for producing the film, which also won Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Film Editing, the three most significant trophies aside from the elusive Best Director. Everyone knew that it was a symbolic win for his directorial efforts, even though the snub surely stung worse than happy moment.

Come back next week for a look at our next feature: The Surprise Inclusion of 2013. 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!

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