The Oscars are only a few months away, and I am beyond excited. In case you hadn't already deduced from the subjects of my articles... I'm an insufferable nerd, especially about the Academy Awards. I appreciate when people are rewarded for their talent, and those nominated for Oscars represent the top tier of Hollywood's A-List.
However, there are times when the Academy can be a little single minded, unable to expand their horizons to include anything outside the traditional norm (tragic dramas and long winded epics). It's an exclusive club that seems to recycle its nominees with some variation every year. For this reason, talented performers are often overlooked ("snubbed").
I've always been an outspoken champion of the snubs, but I also believe that most "snubbing" is due to incorrect award classification. For example, The Help was a giant ensemble composed of breathtaking performances by a multitude of big name actresses including Emma Stone, Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Bryce Dallas Howard, Allison Janney, Sissy Spacek and Jessica Chastain. I know, right? How did they choose who to nominate? They chose incorrectly. Viola Davis was nominated for Best Actress, while Spencer and Chastain both received supporting nods. However, Viola Davis was not actually the lead actress, Stone was. Spencer won the supporting actress award, but if Davis was correctly categorized then she would have taken home that trophy, Stone would have lost to Meryl Streep from The Iron Lady like Davis did, and Spencer and Chastain would have both gone home with a nomination but no trophy. Yes, I was an advocate for nominating three woman from a single movie in one category. The others in that category were Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs), Berenice Bejo (The Artist) and Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids).
Although I loved that the Academy finally stepped way outside of its box to nominate McCarthy, I think that the alternate The Help scenario was more deserving. Nominating McCarthy was just an apology for not having the bravery to nominate Bridesmaids for Best Picture. I mean, if the Academy thought it appropriate to pit Disney's Beauty and The Beast against The Silence of The Lambs for Best Picture in 1991, then surely Bridesmaids could have competed against very low hanging fruit Hugo and War Horse. I also vehemently disagree with the treatment of The Artist. There's a reason Hollywood moved on from silent pictures- it's an exhausting medium for the viewer. If I wanted to watch a film that gleans its power from visuals rather than dialogue, then I would watch The Tree of Life, which was nominated that same year and was one of the more powerful films I've borne witness to. Long story short, The Help or The Tree of Life should have been 2011's Best Picture, not The Artist.
Emma Stone isn't the only victim of poor awards classification. In 2012, Jennifer Lawrence won Best (lead) Actress for playing a supporting role. It is my belief that you cannot have two lead actors in one film. Bradley Cooper was clearly the protagonist in Silver Linings Playbook, making Lawrence NOT THE PROTAGONIST, but still a significant player in the film. Lawrence's win took the trophy from the hands of the far more deserving actress in a LEADING role, Jessica Chastain. Did Lawrence give an incredible performance? Absolutely. Did she give an incredible "lead" performance? No! She, without question, was more deserving of the supporting award than Les Miserables' Anne Hathaway (who died after one song and 10 minutes on screen), but as a result of this nonsense, Chastain could very well end up the next Glenn Close- six Oscar nominations and only a Golden Globe win to show for it. I find it fascinating that we live in a world where we must address Reese Witherspoon as "Oscar Winner Reese Witherspoon" when discussing Hot Pursuit or Legally Blonde 3. Don't get me wrong, I adore Witherspoon, believe in her talent and, without a sliver of doubt, that she deserved her win for Walk the Line. I just mean that "Oscar Winner Glenn Close" makes a lot more sense when comparing their bodies of work (as would "Oscar Winner Annette Bening).
Another recent snub is Jennifer Aniston for 2014's Cake. Aniston broadened her horizons and stepped into unfamiliar territory playing a grieving drug addict. She brought her trademark biting sarcasm to the role and was able to balance that with an impressive display of deeply rooted emotional turmoil and subsequent exhaustion. She checked every box that any member of the Academy could ever possibly look for or want to see in a performance, yet, she wasn't nominated. Who was nominated instead? Felicity Jones playing Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything. Just by her title alone you should be able to tell that the nature of her character is supportive. Eddie Redmayne won Best Actor for his Hawking portrayal, and it was well deserved, but the recognition of him as the "lead actor" automatically disqualified Jones from contention in that category. I would have still voted for Julianne Moore in Still Alice as the winner for Lead Actress because her performance was utterly heart-wrenching, but Aniston would have been my runner up.
This year, I predict there will be a new crop of snubs that I will be complaining about in the future. Like Elizabeth Banks, John Cusak and Paul Dano from Love & Mercy, the Brian Wilson (Beach Boys) biopic that will no doubt go unappreciated by major award shows. I understand that choosing the nominees is a difficult job, and I recognize that they're doing their best (?). I just hope that someday we'll see another psychological thriller in the running for best picture. Yes, This entire (long-winded) article has been another speech on the campaign trail to get Jessica Chastain a supporting actress nomination for Crimson Peak, and the movie itself to get a best picture nod.
Will a day ever come that I write an article in which I do not mention Jessica Chastain? Sure! But today it not that day, and this is not that article.