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This year’s Oscar nominations were revealed yesterday. While there were plenty of nice surprises (Cold War’s Pawel Pawlikowski getting a nod for Best Director, First Reformed picking up a Best Original Screenplay nom, the women of Roma being recognised), as usual there were some tremendous oversights. Below Headstuff’s Film Section have listed the snubs which most infuriated them.
Aquaman – Visual Effects
King Orm may have declared himself Ocean Master. However, the people who deserve that title are the special effects team working on this latest entry in the DCEU. After all, how many movies can you think of that are primarily set underwater? Ones which must deal with questions such as how characters can talk under the sea? What happens to their hair? How do sub-aquatic action scenes work?
Yet, whatever one may think of the movie as a whole, Aquaman formally is so confident in every one of these aspects, always making the correct decision. Also, praise worthy are its action set-pieces. Often digitally constructed long one-takes, the film at points resembles a hyper-kinetic version of Birdman. Just look at Nicole Kidman’s first fight or Aquaman and Black Manta’s bombastic Sicily-set duel.
Lastly, compare the colour in Aquaman to that of its Marvel counterpart and Oscar’s Visual Effects nominee Avengers: Infinity War, and one realises how dour the MCU can be in this respect. Every frame in Aquaman is a piece of eye-popping pop art with the orgy of bright lights as our heroes descend into the sea within a sea taking the cake. Stephen Porzio
Avengers: Infinity War – Best Supporting Actor, Josh Brolin
While its sister film Black Panther is enjoying an illustrious seven nominations, Avengers: Infinity War only gets one for Best Visual Effects. Despite the sound mixing, score and production design arguably being snubbed, the big omission is Josh Brolin’s performance as the now iconic Thanos.
While we can’t say we expected a nomination as comic book films are often forgotten by the Academy, there’s no denying that Brolin elevated the entire product. With several years of teasing and hype behind his role, Brolin had an immense weight on his shoulders and came out the other end an icon. Managing to shift effortlessly between sombre, imposing and sorrowful, Brolin brought a layered and dynamic character with complex motives and actions to life.
To be the major talking point of one of the most expensive, expansive and successful films of all time is nothing to scoff at. Even if the academy did. Daniel Troy
BlacKkKlansman – Best Actor, John David Washington
BlackkKlansman was a hilarious and intense thriller that managed to show one of the darkest sides of humanity without glorifying or exaggerating them. Our window into the film is Ron Stallworth played by John David Washington, a black cop attempting to infiltrate the Ku Klux Klan.
For this film to be as good as it was it required someone who could convey the seriousness and terror of the KKK while providing light comedy when necessary. Washington successfully delivered just that. BlackkKlansman knows when to brighten the mood in its grim story and the actor did that excellently with his character’s interactions, particularly those with KKK members over the phone which kick start the movie.
The film also needed not to be comical the majority of the time, clearly stating to the audience that white supremacists exist and cruelty and racism are still bigger issues than one would think in modern times. Again Washington sold this. He brought an air of confidence to the role, someone who’s not afraid of the KKK but still knows he should be and does have an underlying fear deep down. All in all, it was a subtle emotional range to play that Washington deserves as much credit for as his co-star and Best Supporting Actor nominee Adam Driver. Daniel Troy
First Reformed – Best Actor, Ethan Hawke
“Well somebody has to do something!”
The blistering delivery of this line perfectly captures everything the Reverend Ernst Toller stands for in First Reformed. It is Ethan Hawke’s best performance since Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy (or The Purge depending on how invested you are in his career). The gradual breakdown of his body, mind and spirit are written in the lines of Hawke’s face and in the slump of his shoulders. Administering to his flock seems of little importance when it seems like he’s leading them off a cliff.
But even as this physical and spiritual collapse seems to overtake and crush Toller, Hawke finds that deep well of inner strength every man of faith seems to have. Inspired by Mary (an equally committed Amanda Seyfried) Toller comes to know that faith can be easily lost but it can be just as easily found again. In the film’s final few minutes the stigmatised, crucified, flagellated Reverend Toller embraces Mary. It’s in these moments that we see Hawke’s performance, deeply rooted in the conflict of the human condition that it is, come to fruition. Hawke’s Oscar is only a matter of time. It’s just a shame it didn’t come this year. Andrew Carroll
Hereditary – Best Actress, Toni Collette
One of the most common issues with the Academy Awards is its failure to embrace the horror genre. While Silence of the Lambs 28 years ago, earned Oscars for both Jodie Foster and Anthony Hopkins, since then only three horrors have been honoured by the Academy – The Sixth Sense, Black Swan and Get Out.
It felt like the cycle was broken when Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya received a well-deserved Best Actor Nomination last year. He may not have won but there was an expectation that the door was open again for recognition of the independent horror movie by the Hollywood hierarchy.
After Toni Colette’s performance in last-year’s terrifying Hereditary, everyone hedged bets on her getting that well-deserved Best Actress nod. It didn’t happen and its an obvious shortcoming.
Collette as Annie Graham, the mother of a family falling apart, draws you into a vacuum of very real terror, fluctuating between authentic relatable anger and grief, as well as a more traditional heightened horror movie fear. The tense-paranoia the actress injects into this role is electric, slowly boiling your nerves. She is the reason Ari Aster’s debut leaves the impression it does.
Art is after all art regardless of the context. We should be celebrating the psychological terror of Hereditary and Toni Collette. Her fearless performance was the best of 2018. Kevin Burke
Mission Impossible: Fallout – Best Actor, Tom Cruise
Wait! Come back! I know how this sounds, and I don’t realistically want to see the high priest of an insidious and actively dangerous cult get nominated or even win either.
However, if we’re to play the Oscars game by its own rules then why isn’t he in the running (that wasn’t a Tom Cruise running joke)? As we all know the Academy love method performances. Be that learning to cobble shoes or that time Leo got cold for a bit and ate some raw offcuts. They just throw Oscars at that sort of carry on. So why isn’t Tom being lauded for being the most method anyone has perhaps every been? He learned to stunt fly a helicopter and performed suicidal corkscrew dives. He jumped out of a plane dozens of times. He willingly fell off a helicopter. And of course shattered his ankle for real while jumping between rooftops.
Imagine if Daniel Day Lewis had done even one of those on camera. He’d be given the newly created Best Actor in Perpetuity award. Richard Drumm