Oscar 2013: Saving Mr. Hanks

“What? You got a nomination and I didn’t?”

The day the Oscar nominations are announced is a day for arguments. Mostly, about who didn’t get nominated, as all sorts of articles are written about “snubs.” I find most of these disingenuous, as these articles point out who got snubbed, but don’t go so far as to say who should not have nominated.

But as the Best Actor list was read, and a couple of names were mild surprises, I had to think–“Wow! But who didn’t get nominated?” Turns out that Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio bumped a pair of old hands, Robert Redford and Tom Hanks.

Redford’s snub wasn’t shocking, as he didn’t get a SAG nomination, but Hanks had gotten everything in sight, and his performance as Captain Phillips was his best in years, reminding everyone that he’s not just a personality. The scene at the end, when he succumbs to the shock or his ordeal, is the best acting I’ve seen all year. He also didn’t get nominated for his turn as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks, but that film was almost totally shut out (it got a lone nomination for Score), with Emma Thompson also missing out on an expected nomination. Maybe voters saw it like I did–a piece of Disney propaganda. But it’s hard to figure the Phillips snub. I think it was much better than DiCaprio’s exuberant but shallow work in The Wolf of Wall Street.

Anyway, otherwise this year’s Oscar nominations fell pretty much to form. Three films dominated, and those are the films we can expect to win the lion’s share of awards: American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave. As for Hustle, David O. Russell is on some kind of roll. It’s his third Best Picture/Best Director combo in the last four years, and the second consecutive year he’s gotten four actors in all the respective categories nominations, and that’s only happened 15 times in Oscar history. He should have no trouble getting actors for his films in the future.

Gravity becomes only the fifth film to get nominations in every technical category, and will probably win most of them. However, the film did not get a Best Screenplay nomination, which doesn’t bode well for it’s Best Picture chances. The last film to win Best Picture that didn’t get one was Titanic.

12 Years a Slave, I think, is still the front-runner, getting nine nominations in all the right places. Steve McQueen is the third person of African heritage to get a Best Director nomination.

There are some other intrigues. Meryl Streep got her 18th nomination; Woody Allen his 24th (16th in Best Original Screenplay) and John Williams his 49th, which is second only to Walt Disney for individuals. There are also big losing streaks that may or may not be extended. Roger Deakins, nominated for Cinematography for Prisoners, is on his 11th try; Thomas Newman, with that Saving Mr. Banks Score nod, is on his 12th, and 82-year-old Patricia Norris, with a Costume nomination, is on her sixth, her first coming for Days of Heaven 35 years ago.

Other have an embarrassment of riches: Spike Jonze and Alfonso Cuaron both have shots at three statuettes, Jonze for writing, producing and penning the lyrics for a song from Her, and Cuaron directing, producing and editing Gravity. Megan Ellison, at 27 years old, makes us all look like slackers as she has two Best Picture nominations–Her and American Hustle.

Finally, The Wolf of Wall Street has a wonderful distinction–it’s the Best Picture nominee with the most uses of the word “fuck” (I’m guessing in all its wondrous forms)–522. Someone had to count them all.


About Jackrabbit Slim

Location: Vegas, Baby! I’m much older than the other whippersnappers here, a baby boomer. I tend to be more snobbish about film, disdaining a lot of the multiplex fare for “cinema.” My favorite films: Woody Allen’s oeuvre (up until about 1990), The Godfather, The Graduate, A Hard Day’s Night, Pulp Fiction. Politics: Well, George McGovern was my political hero. I’m also a prickly atheist. Occupation: Poised to be an English teacher in Las Vegas. For many years I was an editor at Penthouse Magazine. My role on this blog seems to be writing lots of reviews and being the resident Oscar maven.

9 responses »

  1. Finally, The Wolf of Wall Street has a wonderful distinction–it’s the Best Picture nominee with the most uses of the word “fuck” (I’m guessing in all its wondrous forms)–522. Someone had to count them all.

    Or not. I’ve seen different numbers cited and I have little confidence that any of them are actually correct.

    Anyway, I agree about Hanks, and I’d happily bump either McConaughey or Dern to make room for him. I’d probably vote for Hanks over the other nominees, too.

    The most striking omission for me is the near-total lack of recognition for Inside Llewyn Davis. Usually the combination of pedigree and critical success gets a movie more than the two nominations it got, right? They didn’t even get their token screenplay nomination. I wonder if being distributed by CBS FIlms was a factor – I can’t offhand think of another movie with Oscar prospects that they’ve distributed, and maybe they just don’t have the political juice. I dunno.

  2. I’m kind of baffled about Llewyn Davis, too. Some are saying it was too much of a hipster film for the staid Academy, but that doesn’t seem right. And they’ve honored films with unpleasant main characters before. Weird.

  3. It’s easy to think of the Academy as a monolithic organization, but remember, each branch has their own members, so when a film gets a lot of nominations or none at all, that means that it’s appeal or lack thereof is across the board. In the case of Llewyn Davis, both the writers and directors didn’t value it, nor did the actors. This is all done by vote, so there’s no smoke-filled room where they make these decisions. And it’s hard to see money making any difference. This is the same Academy that gave major nominations to Amour, for a recent example. For whatever reason, Llewyn Davis was not extremely well liked by this group of 6,000 industry people.

  4. Re: the Llewyn Davis overlook, maybe it’s partly because all the awards-worthy films are crammed in such a short space of time at the end of the year? It seems to get more and more constrained every year and it’s inevitable that some worthy films get overlooked.

    Not only has Llewyn Davis largely been ignored in the awards sphere, but also at the box office where it’s made very little impact even by Coen brothers modest standards (A Serious Man for example comfortably made more).

    Even worse is the Redford film ‘All Is Lost’ which has made virtually zero at the box office.

  5. But isn’t there 10 slots for Best Picture and there are only 9 movies? It’s not like there wasn’t room for Davis.

  6. That Davis didn’t get a screenplay nomination indicates to me that it had general disfavor in the Academy, and it had nothing to do with its box office, as the writer’s branch consistently nominates art-house fare.

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