Raja Sen in Mumbai
Films like Blue Jasmine and Rush deserved some love at the Oscars.
It’s award season, and with the Oscars just a few days away, we’ve already looked at the nominees in the top categories -- Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress -- and their likely odds.
But, as is always the case with Oscars and opinions, several of the greatest don’t even get nominated.
In the first part of this feature, we looked at the actors and performances who deserved nominations but didn't get any.
This time, I take on the films and filmmakers the Academy missed out on:
Blue Jasmine, Best Picture
Heralded as a brilliantly written and performed update to Tennessee Williams’ classic A Streetcar Named Desire, Woody Allen’s latest masterwork shows a wealthy New York wife spiralling into penury.
Her graceless fall -- due to her own blind eye as well as her unscrupulous, Madoff-like husband -- make this a fascinating cautionary tale; an inadvertent but unmistakable companion piece to Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf Of Wall Street.
Like that, this too should be a Best Picture nominee, and is arguably a fuller, smarter film.
Joel and Ethan Coen, Best Director
Photographs: David McNew/ Reuters
The Coen brothers are the kind of directors who deserve to be in the Best Director category pretty much by default, but Inside Llewyn Davis -- a film that gets better every time you see it -- has to rank among their loveliest and most assured pieces of work.
It’s a beautiful, affectionate, miserable tale that gives us a glimpse into the 1960s folk scene, their fictional hero ringing louder (and singing better) than many real ones from the time.
Frances Ha, Best Original Screenplay
It’s a simple film on the surface, but Frances Ha -- written by director Noam Baumbach and star Greta Gerwig -- is a very special film, one that nails the zeitgeist of New York as we’re currently seeing it.
The words sparkle with authentic energy and have sharp, clever edges.
This film is a bit too clever for the Oscars, sure, but should certainly have earned a Best Original Screenplay nomination.
Woody Allen, Best Director
Photographs: Alessandro Bianchi/ Reuters
Not that he’d come on the stage for any Academy who’d have him as Best Director (again) but what Allen does in Blue Jasmine is stunning.
The film is funny, frightening, and as is the case with most of Allen’s films, immaculately cast.
The performances are super, the writing sings, and the pace of the film keeps the audience guessing, keeps the audience surprised.
Woody hooks us like only he can.
Spike Jonze, Best Director
Photographs: Kevork Djansezian/Reuters
My review of Spike Jonze’s Her can admittedly be called more of a love-letter than a criticism, but it is a truly special film.
And while its Best Picture nomination is truly heartening, it doesn’t amount to much without recognition for the director, who has lovingly and painstakingly crafted something so superbly original that it needs to be heralded as an example to us all.
Richard Linklater, Best Director
Photographs: Patrik Stollarz/Reuters
Before Midnight might be the third film in a series, but it’s unlike any third-installment -- and, indeed, any trilogy -- you’ve ever seen before.
Before Sunrise and Before Sunset came before this, in 1995 and 2004, respectively and Linklater’s fabulously, faithfully conversational films chart a tale of loves and lovers with unprecedented honesty.
Nobody does it quite like Linklater, and it's high time the Academy recognised that with a Best Director nomination.
Rush, Best Picture
It might not be the very best film this year, but Ron Howard has hit a career-high with the tremendously entertaining and skilfully crafted Rush and his Rush should, by all means, be one of the Best Picture nominees even if it isn’t considered a favourite for the prize.
It’s one of the best sports films of the last few decades, and I’ll go as far as to say that this indie deserves a spot ahead of Gravity and American Hustle.
This is what they call epic stuff.
Anthony Dod Mantle, Best Cinematographer
Photographs: Mike Blake/Reuters
Dod Mantle, a fine British lensman who won an Oscar for Slumdog Millionaire, shot Formula One sequences with extraordinary energy and style in Rush.
He places digital cameras in strange automotive nooks and crannies, and the results are dramatically good while complementing the file footage the film relies upon.
Off-track too the film looks great throughout, decidedly worth a Best Cinematographer nod.
Hoyte van Hoytema, Best Cinematographer
Photographs: Mark Davis/Getty Images
A stunning Dutch cinematographer, van Hontema has shot such varied triumphs as Let The Right One In, The Fighter and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
His work in Spike Jonze’s Her, however, may just be his most inventive. It is a primarily orange film with a lot of glow and a lot of softness, but it is a very designed world and a visually immaculate film.
It’s dreamy but with edges, and van Hoytema’s work is at par with any Best Cinematographer nominee.
Rodrigo Pieto, Best Cinematographer
Mexican cinematographer Pieto is a star known for visually spectacular films like Brokeback Mountain, Biutiful and Lust, Caution, and he knocks it out of the ballpark with Scorsese’s latest.
There is a shot in The Wolf Of Wall Street where Pieto’s camera flies like an imaginary baseball slugged by Marty’s amoral protagonist.
Visually the film is madly frisky, and Pieto is both a master of the long tracking shot Scorsese loves as well as a man willing to go out on a limb as the film gets wilder. This is heady, amazing stuff, and worthy of being a forerunner for the Best Cinematographer prize.