This year we have 8 Best Picture nominations. 8. The way the system works, we can have between 5 and 10…mathematically, it’s actually impossible to have 10. There’s not enough voters. So 9 is really the max at the moment. This year…8. And that’s not good. It suggests that they really could not think of 9 worthy films to be nominated. If we ever have a year with 5, it’s time to give up on movies. But here’s the thing…there are certainly many movies that deserve that 9th nomination. Some movies are even better than the ones that did make it. Theory of Everything, for instance, should only have one nomination: Actor. That’s all. If Theory of Everything is nominated for Best Picture, then Still Alice should be too, and really, Still Alice isn’t even as great as people claim it to be—but Julianne Moore was certainly great…not better than Rosamund Pike great, but still great. There is no reason there shouldn't be 9. In fact, why didn’t they just stick to the 2009 model of 10 films? But that’s not possible now. Right now, we have up to, realistically, 9. So, to consider both models, here are 10 films that could have—and should have—been the ninth nomination.
10) The Lego Movie
First of all, are seriously?! How was this not even nominated for best animated feature when it was supposed to win? It was a surprisingly fun movie that somehow transcended the fact that it’s essentially a commercial for LEGOs. It’s also a much needed return to the magic of this idea that Toy Story 3 got away from. Not only was it a warm, lovely movie, it had plenty of wit, and just meta enough for the adults. Not getting a best animated nomination is a travesty, but what if…just, what if…The LEGO Movie was nominated best picture in place of it? Sure, it would never win best picture, but it would have at least gotten the respect it deserves. Sadly, Everything is Awesome…but not the Academy Awards (this year).
9) The Babadook
If you have not seen this gem of a horror film, stop what you are doing and rent it immediately. It’s hard to describe what this movie is like. Psychologically abusive in the best way possible. It’s scary, it’s original, it’s wickedly directed. The acting is great. And the last time a horror film was nominated for best picture was Silence of the Lambs in 1991. Before that, the only other true horror nomination was The Exorcist. (Maybe a case can be made for The Sixth Sense. But no). The Babadook is a shining example of what a filmmaker can do with very little resources and an amazing imagination, and that alone is worthy of a nomination.
8) Guardians of the Galaxy AND/OR Captain America: The Winter Soldier
One of the reasons the Academy changed to a system that could include up to 10 films was because of the backlash they received when The Dark Knight wasn’t nominated for Best Picture, and most critics couldn’t imagine Nolan’s film losing, much less not getting nominated. Since then, they have corrected their ways and have nominated countless examples of achievements the superhero genre has made…oh, wait. That hasn’t happened. This year, we had two really good superhero films. Captain America entirely flipped the switch of the Marvel Universe with a great and serious spy story. Take out the superheroes and you have an Oscar nominated film. It’s called American Sniper. Meanwhile, Guardians created a sense of awe that we haven’t felt for a superhero film since—not coincidentally—Iron Man. It reminded us on why we love Superhero films, what brings us back to them. Not only that, but it was as fun and funny as some of the actual Oscar-nominated films are sad and depressing. What the Academy people don’t seem to get is that it’s just as hard to make people smile as it is to make them sob. And no, the inclusion of Grand Budapest Hotel does not satisfy this. Maybe Moonrise Kingdom would have done it a few years ago, thinking of Wes Anderson, but not the color-vomited Noir mimicry of Grand Budapest—and that’s coming from someone who still enjoyed it the film, for the most part.
Let’s go back to dark, because Nightcrawler is all kinds of dark and twisted, and in ways that are very subtle and ways that are very overt. Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance was already overlooked, but this bizarre crime drama could have easily been a nomination. And we’re not even at the craziest crime movie of the year yet.
Maybe the problem with Unbroken was that it actually kind of screamed “I’M AN OSCAR MOVIE NOMINATE ME!” That didn’t happen, which is unfortunate because it was an “Oscar Movie” that actually should have been an Oscar movie. Jolie proved herself as a director with this movie the way Ben Affleck did with The Town (unless you’re a real movie buff and recognize the brilliance of Gone Baby Gone). This could have been Jolie’s Argo, even if it didn’t win. Still, it was so good, Marvel is courting her to direct Captain Marvel and that would be excellent. But Unbroken itself was a great movie by its own right.
5) A Most Wanted Man
Confession time. If this movie had been nominated, it would be mainly to acknowledge the last and brilliant performance of Phillip Seymour Hoffman in a starring role (We still have his last bit of Hunger Games next year, but it’s a small role). Here’s another thing---who cares? The Academy does that all the time for people who are still alive. And the movie is so damn good. You’re on the edge of your seat watching people sign bank documents. Also, Phillip Seymour Hoffman is brilliant. Yes, that’s already been stated, but it can never be stated enough.
4) The Interview
Because go fuck yourself, North Korea.
Actually, how wasn’t this nominated for Best Picture? It has nominations for actor, supporting actor, writing, and director…but no Best Picture? This list, as all movie lists, has horribly subjective so far (my last two entries, I promise, will be biased to no end), but this is about logistics 5 Oscar nominations, 4 of the major ones, and not Best Picture. Selma—which is a good movie, don’t get me wrong—was nominated for only 2, including Best Picture. The other? Original Song (granted, why Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo weren't nominated is for another list on another day). Statistically, Foxcatcher is a better movie than a third of the actual nominations, but no, it’s okay. Logic isn’t needed when nominating movies.
2) Gone Girl
First of all, as said before, Rosamund Pike very much needs to win the Oscar for best actress. This film was shunned for so many much deserved Oscars. Best Score? Nothing. Ben Affleck? Not this time, sorry. Carrie Coon? Try again next time. This is a movie where the acting was so good, by everyone, a strong case could have been made for a Tyler Perry nomination. All because of the brilliant directing of David Fincher, who wasn’t even nominated for director in what is quite easily one of the best pictures of the year. Also shamefully missing a nomination is Gillian Flynn, who adapted her own novel into the screenplay and had the guts to change her own story significantly for the film. But hey, we don’t watch the Oscars to know about great films, do we?
Yes, this is the biggest “are you serious?!” movie missing from the Best Picture list. It does have one nomination that it better win: Best score. But Christopher Nolan is long overdue for a best director nomination, and the film itself should have been the sci-fi movie that finally won Best Picture (like what Return of the King did for Fantasy). Though it has 5 nominations, another sad one missing is cinematography, making me wonder if the people who vote in the academy awards actually watch movies. Interstellar, despite being 3 hours long, is so well-paced if feels like it just goes by smoothly and 3 hours is nothing. And was the film editor nominated? No. Maybe not all of the acting was worthy of nominations, but they were all strong. And McConaughey is further proving that he’s no longer the shirtless guy from romantic comedies. But even if this wasn’t my favorite movie of the year, here’s what confuses me. As said before, the Oscars have a history of “we’re sorry, we were wrong” nominations. Al Pacino winning for Scent of a Woman a most shining example. With such a weak year, apparently, that they couldn’t even muster up 9 nomination, it would seem that it would be the time to right some wrongs from Oscar past—and with a film that seemed poised for Oscar nominations, Interstellar should have also been the Academy’s way of righting the wrong of The Dark Knight—again, the entire reason that we have so many nominations. Eventually, a Nolan film is going to come out that is good, not great, and not his best work, and it will win EVERYTHING.
But hey, Birdman is leading in nominations and is likely to win if not both Picture and Director, then at least one of the two. And Boyhood—what an achievement in filmmaking. Oh, and can we talk about Whiplash and JK Simmons just showing up and going “Why are there other nominations? This is mine, boys.” And Imitation Game, how was this story not told years ago? Or American Sniper! Brutally intense and Bradley Cooper’s portrayal is just haunting. And Theory of Everything! Oh, I’m not praising that last one. I really don’t understand why it was nominated for Best Picture. It just makes me sad that it was and none of these other movies were.
What do you think got the shaft for Best Picture? Wild? Inherent Vice? Let’s Be Cops?