This article, while containing some personal opinion, is mostly based on actual, plausible Oscar buzz. The following performances and screenplays were ones that -- in my opinion -- had an excellent chance to be nominated, but ended up receiving the short end of the stick. I am not interested in sharing my personal Oscar ballot, but rather considering why some of the most likely contenders ended up on the outside.

Best Actor: Ben Foster, The Messenger OR Best Supporting Actress: Samantha Morton, The Messenger
  • Even though I had him in my #5 slot in my final predictions, I was nevertheless anticipating a Morgan Freeman (Invictus) snub in this category. If you ask me, the nominations that The Messenger received were the most peculiar of any film this year. Woody Harrelson has obviously been a lock for some months now, but the film also came out of the dark and snatched an Original Screenplay nod away from 500 Days of Summer. Considering this, one would think it would make The Messenger a shoo-in to steal Invictus' Best Picture nod, but the Academy decided to go with The Blind Side. The voters had one last shot to recognize The Messenger with either a nomination for Ben Foster or Samantha Morton, and I'm shocked -- considering the obvious following this film has -- that neither of these performances were nominated. Given the fact that the Best Actor nominees haven't budged for months, Foster clearly had a tough field to contend with. Morton, on the other hand, was competing in a very fluid category. I'd be very interested to know how close Morton came to snagging the wildcard nomination away from Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart).
Best Actress: Abbie Cornish, Bright Star
  • Ever since it made a very impressive debut at Cannes, Jane Campion's Bright Star has seemingly fallen off of the map. It's a shame too, because although the film is certainly not without its flaws, Cornish manages to deliver an awards-worthy performance. Ironically enough, Cornish was considered somewhat of a lock back when her film was released, but I'd say that her stock started plummeting once Sandra Bullock entered the Oscar discussion. I still thought that Cornish might have had enough last-minute support to sneak in over Helen Mirren (The Last Station), but apparently my personal feelings clouded my judgment on that one.
Best Supporting Actress: Diane Kruger, Inglourious Basterds
  • Diane Kruger's SAG nomination was largely considered a shocker at the time the announcement was made, but as time went on, the validity of her nomination began to increase, and all of this newfound buzz culminated in an SAG ensemble win for Inglourious Basterds. While Christoph Waltz will do enough to represent the film with his Oscar win, I had a strong gut feeling that the Academy would want to acknowledge another one of the film's supporting performances. Looks like the Academy didn't budge, however, as they not only chose to surprise with Gyllenhaal, but they also decided to nominate Penelope Cruz (Nine) in a mediocre film even after she won this category just last year for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Best Supporting Actor: Alfred Molina, An Education
  • An incredibly respected man in the industry, Molina nevertheless remains without an Oscar nomination. His supporting turn in An Education was talked about all year long as the performance that would finally get the Academy's attention, and I'm not quite sure where all of that buzz went. An Education was a lower-tier Best Picture lock pretty much ever since it was released, and the cast had a lot to do with that. Perhaps he was hurt by splitting votes with his equally impressive and respected co-star Peter Sarsgaard. Whatever the reason, it's clear that enough passion was lost to deny Molina his long-awaited nomination.
Best Original Screenplay: Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber, 500 Days of Summer
  •  I would have bet my house that his indie favorite was going to receive an Original Screenplay nomination. The film, along with its stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel, was largely overlooked in terms of awards, but it seemed understood that it would get its well-deserved recognition in this category. After all, it has been hailed as one of the most "original" romantic comedies in years, so what better category to nominate it in?. Does anyone have a theory on why this one was left out?
That's all for me; I'm going to stay away from the technicals. What were some of the biggest surprises for you? I know that District 9 being overlooked in the Best Makeup category was a shocker to most. Were there any other technical nominations that puzzled you? 

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