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The 10 Biggest Oscar Snubs of 2009
CHICAGO – Stories are released every year about the gap between the Oscars and public opinion. It’s a chasm that seems to be growing with every passing year.
For the 81st-annual Academy Awards, this legendary group had a chance to close that gap and nominate two films for best picture that were critically acclaimed and commercially successful: “The Dark Knight” and “WALL-E”. But they blew it.
The two films did land a combined fourteen nominations, but were excluded from Best Director and Best Picture, proving that the Academy still has a long way to go when it comes to actually recognizing the best of the year. But they were far from the only mistake revealed on Thursday morning, January 22nd, 2009.
Before we discuss the serious snubs, Best Foreign Language Film is too much of a joke to be considered eligible. The likely winner, Waltz With Bashir, is very deserving, but the process is so flawed that it makes the inevitable win for Ari Folman’s excellent film a slightly hollow one. The fact that the Academy still employs a process that makes one of the best foreign films of the year (Let the Right One In) ineligible and ignores one of the most critically acclaimed choices like Gomorrah from even making the short list is mind-boggling to me. It’s not snubbing, it’s utter nonsense.
Picking ten snubs from this year’s list of nominees was shockingly easy. In fact, there wasn’t a single category that didn’t have a worthy contender on the outside looking in. And how do you rank them? What’s more painful - Sally Hawkins, Christopher Nolan, Darren Aronofsky, or Rosemarie DeWitt still being unable to put Oscar nominee next to their name? Instead, we’re picking the biggest snub per category with the big eight and then two notable omissions from the other categories rounding out a top ten (well, top eleven if you’re being picky).
Photo credit: Oscilloscope
10. “Dear Zachary” for Best Documentary
Kurt Kuenne’s amazing dissection of pure evil and immeasurable good didn’t even make the short list for a category that’s almost as messed up as Best Foreign Language Film. Man on Wire will probably and predictably win but there were so many other choices they could have made to join it then the ones they did. Trouble the Water was powerful, so that’s a great nod, but it is mind-boggling to me that Werner Herzog gets snubbed for one of the best nature documentaries of the last few years, Grizzly Man, but nominated for a film that even he would admit wasn’t nearly as good, Encounters at the End of the World. But all of it pales in comparison to the most powerfully emotional experience that I had in 2008 - Dear Zachary. Like Foreign Language Film, this will be a category that I use for a bathroom break.
Winner Bruce Springsteen for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture for “The Wrestler” on stage during the 66th Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 11, 2009
Photo credit: Paul Drinkwater/NBC
9. “The Wrestler” by Bruce Springsteen for Best Song
This is perhaps the most head-scratching snub of the day. It’s clearly not an anti-Boss thing, as they gave him the award for “Streets of Philadelphia”. No, I think there’s a deeper problem here. I think this category is broken. Maybe after giving the trophy to Three Six Mafia (deservedly, I might add), something snapped. How else do you explain the THREE nominations for “Enchanted” in this category last year (snubbing Eddie Vedder’s great work on “Into the Wild” and tunes by John Mayer, Rufus Wainwright, and Bob Dylan) and now this disaster? Don’t get me wrong. The two songs from “Slumdog Millionaire” are both good and it will be ridiculously cool to see M.I.A. perform on the Oscars. And I love the track from “WALL-E” by Peter Gabriel. But did they forget the other two nominees? How about “The Wrestler” and “Dracula’s Lament” from “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”? Come on. It’s not too late. Just pretend there were five all along. We’re gonna need a laugh after all the “Reader” and “Frost/Nixon” clips anyway.
Let the Right One In
Photo credit: Magnolia
8. “Let the Right One In” by John Ajvide Lindqvist for Best Adapted Screenplay
I know it will be a cold day in movie hell when a foreign horror movie gets a nomination this prestigious, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t snubbed. The script for Tomas Alfredson’s stunning study of vampirism and adolescence is easily better than three of the chosen nominees and arguably second only to Simon Beaufoy’s stunning work on “Slumdog Millionaire”. No offense to the talented people chosen for this category, but could it have been any more predictable? Take the award-winning plays, the F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation, and something called “The Reader” has to be a great adapted screenplay, right? “Let the Right One In” is a challenging, daring examination of childhood isolation through the lens of the vampire mythology. It’s a wonderful screenplay that was probably not even considered. It will stand the test of time far more impressively than “Frost/Nixon” or “The Reader”.