Those Left Behind III: The Ignored Actors and Actresses (pt. 1)

Well, the Oscars are a week and a half away, and still no one feels any better about Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close being nominated. Last weekend, sixteen times as many people went to go see a movie that came out thirteen years ago. Hugo, The Descendants, and The Artist – all of whom were released in November – all did better. Whatever vague chances that movie had at any Oscars have now faded entirely. Sorry, Max Von Sydow.

I don’t know why I keep picking on this movie. I haven’t even seen it.

Since I spent a whole post talking about the movies passed over for Best Picture, and another whole post talking about those snubbed for Best Song, I guess I’ll have to move a little faster, since the Oscars are almost here and I still have to get through all the other categories.

Let’s start with the only other categories people care about: the acting categories.

Best Actor and Best Actress

The eventual winners of these categories will be George Clooney, Christopher Plummer, Octavia Spencer, and either Meryl Streep or Viola Davis (probably Davis). Could The Artist dominate all categories on their way to a clean sweep? They could. But everyone else in these categories is an also-ran and knows it. There’s no real reason to get bent out of shape at a lack of recognition in a nomination slot. The Academy Awards is just one more award show to go to where you’re not making a trip to the podium (and there are – this is no exaggeration – several dozen you’re supposed to attend. There’ve already been more than sixty this year, including the BAFTAs last night, where most of the nominees were expected to show). I imagine one gets bored awfully quickly.

As for the rejects: the Academy only handed out one award for “strong and silent” this year, and it went to Gary Oldman (I’ll discuss his performance whenever I review Tinker Tailor), so Ryan Gosling’s out of luck for Drive. Michael Fassbender got well and truly naked for Shame, and while most Oscar watchers have suggested he was shut out because he has a sizable penis, I think we can all agree that this is a pretty stupid idea. In reality, it just seemed like Shame was a pretty divisive movie, and a lot of people just didn’t like it that much. Not to mention, Fassbender had a few different performances for voters to chose from this year, and at least some of them must have preferred him in A Dangerous Method. Or even X-Men: First Class, maybe (don’t laugh. If you’ve seen it, you know he’s great in that).

I think most were surprised that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t land a spot for J. Edgar, a movie that will always be remembered for having makeup so bad even the movie poster looked unconvincing. Because people hate celebrities, there’s been some snickering that his “desperate” bid for an Oscar nomination came up short; which shows a total lack of understanding of who DiCaprio is as an actor.

Look, DiCaprio doesn’t care about Oscars. He just doesn’t. He likes working on interesting projects, and he likes working with top-notch directors, and that’s the sum total of Leo’s movie-selection process. In the past ten years, he’s worked with Martin Scorsese (multiple times), Stephen Spielberg, Clint Eastwood, Baz Luhrmann, Quentin Tarantino, Christopher Nolan, Sam Mendes, Ridley Scott, Ed Zwick, Todd Field, and Danny Boyle.

That’s a hell of a list, and the amazing thing about it is that I didn’t leave anyone off. He didn’t do a single paycheck role anywhere in there. Even his big, crowd-pleasing hits are risky movies (Inception springs to mind). Even Titanic was a fairly interesting historical study that finished with everyone drowning in icy water, so he's never had a nose for standard Hollywood fare. As much as I love Clooney’s commitment to small films, he’s still willing to take a paycheck role every now and again (this is unfair of me. I love the Ocean’s movies and would be thrilled if Clooney did nothing else). 

Tilda Swinton lost her Best Actress slot to Glenn Close* for playing the mother of We Need To Talk About Kevin, and while I feel for her, it’s not like this hasn’t happened to her before (remember all the buzz when she wasn’t nominated for I Am Love? Anyone? Just me? Okay, never mind). It’s tough to be centerpiece of a movie that divides critics that much, and I think she got shuttled to the side the same as Fassbender did. It’s just no one’s made the penis excuse for her (yet!).

* If you’re a woman playing a man, you get nominated. It’s a rule. With the exception of She’s The Man, of course. If you’re a man playing a woman, you get gutted and possibly tarred and feathered by the press. With the exception of Dustin Hoffman, of course.