Oscar Snubbery 2010 and the wholly criminal Inception snub that no one’s talking about…

Posted on 28 January 2011 by ShepRamsey

We, as movie nerds, spend the entire year pissing and moaning about all the terrible shit that Hollywood crams down our throats—all the Little Fockers and Last Airbenders.  For 365 days a year, the internet is all abuzz with contagious negativity. And then come the Oscars! It’s that time of year when the best—or at least the more ambitious—of what the year had to offer gets its time to shine! And what do we do? Why, bitch about what didn’t make the cut, of course! Dontcha just love us?

Sadly, I’m not here to tell you that I’m turning all that around. Nope, I’m here to continue that tradition, because, while this year’s Oscars don’t have any Avatar-sized black marks to show, there are still a few things that they just got wrong.

On the whole, though, the ten-nominee Best Picture format seems to have worked out a lot better this year than it did last year. The Academy seems to have a little more love for each of the nominated films—they all have at least four nominations, whereas last year, The Blind Side and A Serious Man only had two apiece, and An Education only had three.

And personally, I can get behind more of this year’s nominees than last year’s…which is strange, because I regard last year as being a way better year for movies than this year. The only Best Picture nominee that I just plain didn’t like was The Kids Are All Right, however I fully support the nominations for both Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo. Picture and Screenplay, though? Those were my two biggest problems with the movie.

I was also disappointed to see Andrew Garfield’s name not called in the Best Supporting Actor category for his work in The Social Network, but he’s a new young actor (with Spider-Man fame on the way) and I’m sure he’ll get another shot sometime very soon. I was, however, extremely pleased to see his costar, Jesse Eisenberg make the Best Actor cut, as I thought his performance was the best part of a very good movie.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World had made the shortlist for the Visual Effects Oscar, but was left out of the final nominees in favor of movies like Iron Man 2 (yawn) and Hereafter (triple-yawn). Second to Inception, Edgar Wright’s hilarious fantasy-comedy had some of the year’s most innovative and fun visuals. Consider this further evidence to the allegation that the Academy are just a bunch of boring old farts.

And Black Swan missed out on a Best Original Screenplay nod, as well, but that’s a film where the presentation was more effective than what was on paper. Obviously, I think that they could have bumped The Kids Are All Right‘s painfully stock and smug indie-family-drama script to make room for it, but whatever.

If there were nominations that Black Swan unjustly missed out on then they were in the sound department and the Best Supporting Actress department for Barbara Hershey. More people seemed to be talking about Mila Kunis as a potential nominee, but God knows why—she had a virtually do-nothing role with little-to-no complexity, and brought nothing unique to it. I would sooner nominate Jim Carrey’s interpretation of the role from SNL. Hershey, on the other hand, was way creepy, calling to mind a more believable version of Piper Laurie’s sad, scary, overbearing mother from Carrie. She was, for my money, just as good as Natalie Portman.

And then there’s the big one that’s on everyone’s lips, and rightly so. Just what in the hell does Christopher Nolan have to do to be nominated for Best Director? It’s baffling, really. Perhaps some historian with an easier means of researching this sort of thing than I do can correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe Nolan is the only director to ever be nominated by the Director’s Guild of America three times without ever being nominated for an Oscar. He was nominated by the DGA for the first time in 2001 for his breakout indie hit Memento, then again two years ago for the criminally snubbed Batman sequel The Dark Knight, and now for a third time this year for his wild sci-fi action flick Inception.

But did Oscar recognize his work? Yes, he did get two nominations on Tuesday for writing and producing the film, but the lack of recognition for his extreme talents at bringing the material to life is inexcusable. At least Hitchcock and Kubrick had a few nominations under their belts!

So yes…the Best Director snub is a big one and a tad unforgivable. Surely they could have set David O. Russell off to the side to make room for him, right? Oh well.

That’s not even what I’m here to talk about, though. In the title I promised to divulge the Inception snub that no one’s talking about and here I am bitching for three paragraphs about the one that everyone’s talking about.

Save for Visual Effects, if there’s one category where Inception was destined to get nominated even if it had been left out of the major races all together, then I would have to imagine that it would be Film Editing. Alas, it was nowhere to be found. Even True Grit, which earned the second highest number of nominations, was left out of this field.

The first thing about being left out of the Film Editing category is that the chances of winning Best Picture dramatically plummet. Now, Inception didn’t really have much chance here anyway, but without a film editing nomination, it’s pretty much a done deal. The last Best Picture winner to not be so much as nominated in the Editing field was Robert Redford’s Ordinary People in 1980 (and that movie stole BP from Raging Bull, anyway, which won Film Editing that year).

The movies that did find their way into the category, all Best Picture nominees, were 127 Hours, Black Swan, The Fighter, The King’s Speech, and The Social Network. When it comes to categories with lesser clout, it can’t help but seem like a show of favoritism to some degree as to what will be nominated. Are they nominating films with truly remarkable editing or simply the films they liked the most that were competently edited? All of these films are well-cut, certainly, but were their editing room exploits more impressive than those of Inception?

127 Hours, I can see being on the ballot. It’s got to be a tough job to piece together a movie that takes place almost entirely inside a four-foot-wide space and still keep it cinematic and engaging. Danny Boyle and his editor, Jon Harris, had a tricky task on their hands and I wouldn’t dispute this nomination at all.

Likewise with Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. Action is tough to edit (get a load of me, I say that as if I know from experience) and in this eerie psychological thriller, the ballet scenes are magnetic and intimate and tantamount to some of the year’s most stirring action films.

And I’ll give my utmost compliments to The Social Network, as well. It’s a non-linear story with lightning-quick dialogue and editing that needs to, and does, keep up with it all. David Fincher’s Facebook movie is an extremely talky piece of 21st century history, but it plays at times like a thriller. Of the nominees, this one will most likely win, and it will deserve it.

The King’s Speech, however, has a pretty basic task on its hands, as far as the editor is concerned. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great movie and it’s certainly competently-cut, but that might be the only reason why it’s here. With twelve nominations, it leads the way for all the other movies, and it would just be unimaginable for it not to be in this category. The final speech at the climax of the film, however, is certainly a stand-out as it cuts between the king, his speech therapist, his wife, advisors, and the people of his kingdom, as they all listen intently and with varying perspectives. Truth be told, this sequence alone is enough for me to support this nomination among the bunch.

And then we have The Fighter. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why this movie is here. It’s a good movie. Not a great movie, but a good one. And it’s a boxing movie a la Raging Bull! Perhaps that’s the only reason it was nominated here—boxing movie goodwill. However, if you ask me, the boxing scenes aren’t overly impressive and the whole movie fizzles out and rushes its way to an abrupt and awkward ending—problems that could have been tightened up and solved in the editing room and weren’t.

Now, for some reason the Academy thought that The Fighter showcased better editing than the blow-the-roof-off-your-mind three-tiered action tapestry of Christopher Nolan’s Inception. I’m gonna need someone to explain this one to me.

In Inception, Nolan establishes and executes three separate large-scale action sequences occurring on three separate levels of reality (or lack thereof), at three different speeds, all at the same time. And amid it all, the story remains not only entirely competent but all the more thrilling for it.

Like I said earlier, action is hard enough to cut—there’s so much happening, all at once and from so many different vantage points, and you need to make sure you’re maintaining a quick and exciting pace while making sure audience members can tell (and care about) what’s going on.  But what Nolan and his editor Lee Smith have accomplished goes beyond mere physics-defying fast-paced action to engage the audience’s minds at full force all while feeding them the most delicious eye candy of the year. Inception is a near-landmark in “holy shit!” editing, and it was passed over.

Action-packed spectacles are often cited by the Academy for editing. Why, just ask The Bourne Ultimatum and The Matrix, both of which won the Editing Oscar for their years.  The Dark Knight scored an editing nomination, but not this.  I can’t imagine what missteps Inception could have possibly made for the Oscars to deem it unfit to sit in the company of The Fighter. If anyone else has any ideas, please—I’m dying here!

It honestly makes me wonder how the Oscars can even justify nominating Inception for Best Picture while leaving it out in the dark for both directing and editing. What exactly was it that they liked about it? Yes, the screenplay was justly nominated, but if you can’t baffle at the execution then you missed one of the key things that was so great about it! You’ve put it in the same field as The Kids Are All Right. And that’s not all right.

Looking back at past nominees, I just noticed that Air Force One was nominated for Best Film Editing. Air Force One!  Now, I like that movie just fine, but…what the fuck?!

Categorized | Commentary

7 Comments For This Post

  1. HansKlopek Says:

    I’m sorry. I really don’t understand all the love The King’s Speech is now suddenly getting. Good, yeah, but worthy of all this, no. It’s just such a Ron Howard movie.

    Makes me wonder whether or not The Social Network is being perceived as a “movie for young people” because of its use of a twenty-something cast and its Facebook subject matter. I think we are poised for a pretty mammoth Oscar night debacle. I can feel it already in the works. Coming away from the Golden Globes, The Social Network had all the momentum in the world, and it has basically disintegrated in the last two weeks.

  2. Billy Person Says:

    Great insight on Inception. I get a kick out of reading my thoughts and opinions on Oscar’s handling of Nolan’s noms affirmed. But your commentary was especially thorough. Thanks.

  3. Quaid Says:

    Yeah, I overlooked that one big omission. But it’s been clear to me for a long while that the Academy isn’t nominating the best choices for the year. They’re nominating the best choices within their framework of what has a chance to win a lot (the one exception being the effects categories which can have anything in them).

    But at the same time, people bitch and moan when a bad movie gets nominated for something it might actually deserve. Like when The Nutty Professor 2 got a best makeup nomination, people went insane in anger. But, to be honest, the makeup in that (terrible) movie was pretty good.

    Still…Inception has a best Oscar nomination among others. It definitely fits into the pool of movies the Academy would nominate for editing. I think they reach a point where if there are more than 5 nominees they think might be worthy of the award, instead of analyzing and deciding they just pick the most “oscar-y” they can get.

  4. GerryD Says:

    I agree with HansKlopek, when did The King’s Speech get so popular all of a sudden? The Social Network is a waaaaay better film. Why is it that when ever there is a movie that hss to do with British Royalty, everyone automatically assumes its good. I haven’t seen the movie yet myself, I’ll wait for Blu-Ray, but I know that Social Network deserves Best Picture. Not ANOTHER piece of BBC style crap.

  5. Quaid Says:

    I liked The King’s Speech more than most, and I can’t ever cheer against a movie with Geoffrey Rush in it…

    The other thing I loved about TKS is the framings. There are a lot of “off” framings that are done on purpose….especially in the dialogue scenes…that put characters on the edge of frame, give them the “wrong” nose room and play with the interaction between characters. Its a subtle thing, but something I love to see in movies, especially dialogue-heavy ones.

    Plus Harvey Weinstein is a master at getting Oscar Buzz…so I feel like this one, for better or worse, will win it.

    PS-I Think The Social Network is a better film, as well.

  6. ShepRamsey Says:

    I think we’re all more or less on the same page…I thought The King’s Speech was a fantastic film, but personally I would give The Social Network an edge over it. After rewatching it and thinking about it more and more, it really grew on me and it’s a damn fine, not to mention just plain entertaining, film. I’m rooting for it.

    However, GerryD…you can’t say one movie is a waaaaay better movie than another movie and immediately follow that by saying that you haven’t seen the supposed “lesser” of the two movies. That’s not cool.

    And it’s not “BBC style crap” at all–I’ll admit I have a tough time getting into BBC-type things as well, and I can say that The King’s Speech is very lively, funny, and accessible to just about any taste. Give it a shot–I may know nothing about you but, nevertheless, I bet you’d like it.

  7. Kavorka Says:

    Yeah I think Chris Nolan sgould’ve got a nomination for Best Director, the action scenes are unforgettable and the cast is also doing a terrific job!

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