In a year that produced the best stock of films in recent memory, one would think the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) would have recognized this and rewarded us with a similarly diverse group of candidates. Sadly, this 'professional honorary organization' that shrugged off Elizabeth in 1998 and Star Wars in 1977 have done it again, and in doing so damaging their credibility and alienating audiences. Filling the nominations with unrecognizable films - Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild - and the overrated Silver Linings Playbook, Hollywood has proven once again its complete lack of connection with its customers.
Here's our main beefs:
Silver Linings Playbook and The Life of Pi: While we gave SLP a passable review, it certainly didn't garner our attention in any category. Viewed as more of a date film, the dramedy starring Bradley Cooper stole quality spots from better films like Moonrise Kingdom and The Grey. It easily glossed over the difficulties of mental illness, failing to endear audiences at the box office. The same goes with The Life of Pi, a nice film that looked terrific but didn't appear on anyone's radar for Oscar consideration. If you wanted to recognize an independent film of class, how about Safety Not Guaranteed?
Another Unknown Foreign Film Beats Better and More Recognizable Acts: I'm sure Amour is a well-made film featuring an important message about something socially relevant. But AMPAS is missing the bigger point about the role of films in today's society. I'm not asking for the highest grossing films, nor the most overlooked films of the year, to be given clear paths to nominations; but it's ridiculous that an unknown foreign film released just two weeks before the end of 2012 can garner that much attention when several early 2012 films were flat-out forgotten. The Oscars should celebrate the best films of the year, not become self-serving efforts for the studios desperate to pat themselves on the backs. Again, I'm not saying that films like Skyfall or The Avengers should automatically become locks for nominations, but you cannot deny their popularity, based in large part to their quality. I'm sure Amour is brimming over with quality, but its nomination demonstrates the political machine that has become the nominating process, as studios pimp their products during their afternoon television variety shows and through their printed media in an effort to convince the common moviegoer that their films were actually worth something. Perhaps Amour is the most important film of the year, but why not release it early enough for moviegoers to experience it? Hollywood practiced the same process for The Artist, which was a truly enjoyable film that became a worldwide sensation in year when the contender list was noticeably thin. 2012 was not such a year. Thank you AMPAS for unnecessarily propping up Amour and ruining yet another Oscar season.
Missed Nominations for Ben Affleck and Richard Gere: Hollywood has never liked Gere, who's been noticeably snubbed film after film. Even the terrific Arbitrage failed to net Gere an Oscar nomination, once again proving AMPAS' true colors. Ditto for Director Ben Affleck, whose memorable Argo was nominated for best picture but garnered no Best Director nod. Affleck has certainly ressurected his career - with 2010's The Town making a deep impact - and Argo should have been his personal crowning achievement. How did Life of Pi director Ang Lee get the nod over the resurgent Affleck? What about Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty?
Sally Field as a Supporting Actress? Stop me if I'm wrong, but was Mary Todd NOT a central figure in the story of Lincoln? I noticed that she had a rather significant role in the film, but perhaps AMPAS was watching a different version. While they got Daniel Day-Lewis in the correct category, I cannot understand the decision to stick Sally Field under Best Supporting Actress. It's clear that AMPAS has some explaining to do, not only with Field, but also with Jackie Weaver (SLP), who has also ridden the Oscar gravy train. When one considers other nominations in the same category, it's clear that someone has made a terrible error. Anne Hathaway (Les Miserables) played a truly supporting role, as her character appeared for only 10% of the film. And with Hathaway a virtual lock to win, the committee has once again ignored an important performance from one of the best films of the year.
The Avengers Receives One Nomination: I've said it before, but it bears repeating: How is it that the number one film of 2012, the number three film of all time, and a worldwide sensation gets a total of one nomination, when it's clear that it deserved so many more? Granted it might not be a film that would have enough support to win Best Picture (although it should have), but how did it miss Costume Design, Editing, and Production Design? Moreover, consider that its brilliant score by Composer Alan Silvestri failed to receive support in Achievement in Music. It received our Best of 2012 award, but AMPAS seemed to have forgotten its impact to the film. What a disgrace.
In the end, here is my message to AMPAS: you have lost all credibility with a list that is more self-serving and out of touch with moviegoers than at any time in your history. Snubbing Elizabeth in 1998 was bad enough; to repeat the crime by ignoring truly great films like The Grey, Moonrise Kingdom, Arbitrage, and Safety Not Guaranteed is an unconscionable act. In your effort to highlight what you might think is a worthy film in Amour, you have divided your fan base, failed miserably to differentiate date movies from Oscar contenders, and have even ignored logical categorical distinctions. You deserve to have your upcoming farce of an awards show boycotted, something which I am seriously considering. It's the least I can do, and I encourage our readers to do the same.
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