So on the whole, I actually think Oscar got it mostly right this year (in terms of nominations at least). The best picture nominees are all great films, and it looks like the film that will win the top prize (either No Country For Old Men or There Will Be Blood) will actually deserve it this year.
That said, there are a few glaring omissions that I feel must be acknowledged and given some due props. Here are a few that I think got a bit of the shaft:
Into the Wild for almost every category
This film was stunning on so many levels. It gave me a “punch in the gut” emotional feeling that I hadn’t felt in the theater since United 93. Visually and technically brilliant, Into the Wild also featured one of the best casts of any film last year, with several standout performances that Oscar should have recognized. Most notably, Catherine Keener’s supporting role was snubbed by the Academy (who opted, wisely, to at least reward the veteran Hal Holbrook with a nomination for his supporting role). The young Emile Hirsch—an actor who also stood out in last year’s underrated Alpha Dog—definitely deserved a best actor nomination for his role as the ill-fated wanderer Chris McCandless, and the script certainly deserved an adapted screenplay nod. But perhaps the biggest snub for Into the Wild was that Eddie Vedder did not get a best original song nomination for “Guaranteed.” Instead, three schmaltzy (albeit fun!) songs from Enchanted got nominated!
The King of Kong or Into Great Silence for Best Documentary
These were not only the best documentaries of the year, but also some of the best films period. It’s a shame that in a documentary market crowded by what seems like 90% Iraq films, something as fresh and new and wonderful as The King of Kong can’t get any Academy love—or something as visceral and minimalist and original as Into Great Silence. Instead we get Michael Moore and “the best of the anti-Bush” docs. Academy: expand your non-fictional horizons.
Ryan Gosling for Best Actor
It was great to see a young, dynamic actor like Ryan Gosling get a nomination last year for Half Nelson. But his performance in Lars and the Real Girl this year was in my opinion even stronger. Certainly it was better than George Clooney’s ho-hum performance in Michael Clayton (in which he was far outshone by Tilda Swinton, Tom Wilkinson, and a handful of other actors).
I’m Not There for all artistic categories
Okay, so this is not exactly the Atonement-style yuppie film that Oscar likes to reward. But come on! Only one nomination? (Cate Blanchett for supporting actress). As strange and unconventional as it is, I’m Not There is certainly one of 2007’s most artistic achievements in cinema. Sound, cinematography, art direction, costumes, makeup? If anyone in the Academy has seen this film (and not just read about Cate Blanchett’s performance) they would have voted for it in these categories. Something is fundamentally wrong when Norbit gets nominated for best makeup instead of something like I’m Not There. I mean… Norbit??