Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Wednesday Oscar Retrospective: The Surprise Inclusion of 2013

Welcome to a returning weekly feature here at Movies with Abe, Wednesday Oscar Retrospective. The Surprise Inclusion was 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. 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 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 2013

Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) for Best Supporting Actor

Why it wasn’t going to happen: A few years ago, no one would have said that Jonah Hill would ever be a two-time Oscar nominee. His comedic start in films like “The 40-Year-Old Virgin,” “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” didn’t indicate any talent that might be termed even remotely dramatic. Somehow, in 2011, he rode the “Moneyball” buzz to an Oscar nomination for his mature but entertaining performance. His performance looked great in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but once awards season was underway, Hill was rarely anywhere to be found even when his leading costar, Leonardo DiCaprio, was nominated.

How it happened: In 2011, Hill earned both a Golden Globe and SAG nomination, making him seem like a sure thing for an Oscar nod. Usually, those two do add up to the third, but DiCaprio found himself with Globe and SAG mentions in 2011 for “J. Edgar” only to be snubbed by Oscar. Daniel Bruhl, star of “Rush,” experienced the same thing in 2013, leaving one spot open, while Globe nominee Bradley Cooper edged out SAG’s fifth choice, James Gandolfini. Hill found himself the benefactor of that newly-open slot.

Was it deserved: To a degree. Bruhl’s performance is certainly a much more involved, accomplished one, and it was a shame to see his film shut out completely. The same is true of Gandolfini and “Enough Said.” But there is something impressive about the way that Hill burrows himself completely into this despicable role and makes his worm-like character such a delight to watch. It may not be Oscar-worthy, but it does deserve some commendation.

Come back next week for a look at The Surprise Inclusion of 2012. 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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