We’re not saying that someone who worked on one of these films won’t walk away with a golden trophy come Oscar night, but we are saying it won’t be an award category anyone is talking about the following day. We’ve got a list of six films that simply possess too much badassery for the aging Academy voters to get behind. And it’s a shame. There are two–possibly four–films on this list that should be nominated for Best Picture, and they didn’t seem to scratch the surface.
6. Straight Outta Compton
To begin, let’s address the film that has stirred a pot of controversy, and reignited the cries for diversity in Hollywood. Truth be told, there was a lot more diversity in films and television last year. That stated, there was less diversity in terms of the films and actors nominated for Academy Awards. Regarding Straight Outta Compton, it was a good film. Scratch that. It was a badass film about some badass black fellas with chips on their shoulders. They called themselves N.W.A. It’s only appropriate that the movie about music that was not accepted by old, white America, was not accepted by the old, white, male Oscar voters who still comprise the vast majority of the Academy. Unless, of course, you’re one of the two white screenwriters who wrote the screenplay, and are nominated. The script was arguably the weakest aspect of the film.
Was there a murmur of Oscar buzz regarding Legend? Maybe a bit during the fall months, when the film was first released. It was likely written by someone who was under the impression that the Academy couldn’t possibly ignore Tom Hardy in this film. Tom played two roles: Reginald and Ronald Kray. The infamous Kray twins of Great Britain. Two of the most notorious gangsters the European isle has ever claimed as its own. Tom Hardy has a panache for simultaneous violence and humor, but what the Academy missed was the incredible complexity, and subtle nuance Tom offered to both of the brothers. The film is far from perfect, but it was easily good and even very good at times. Still, not a whisper of awards. Maybe they thought it was just a re-release of the 1985 Tom Cruise/Ridley Scott film?
4. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
It’s not a surprise that Star Wars: The Force Awakens is getting no real love from any of the big awards presentations. Fair enough, they have scored a few Oscar nominations in the realm of post-production, and of course, John Williams’ original score. But performances? Best Picture? This film was easily better than Mad Max, but we’ve given up figuring out how the heck the Academy tweaks the votes from the nominating committee. The film would stand a better chance at scoring golden trophies if it hadn’t done so well at the box office. That may sway the “spread the love” voter toward other nominees in the same categories. At some point, the Academy should get hip to the fact that giving an Oscar to the film people loved the most might boost annual box office numbers.
3. The Hateful Eight
The Academy has politely offered a “Thanks, but no thanks,” to Quentin Tarantino in 2016. Quentin’s latest effort has fallen on blind eyes and deaf ears of Awardsmiths. Forget his writing, direction, and technical achievements — not interested. It’s funny that they were so fond of Django Unchained, but The Hateful Eight is simply too offensive… or something? The film does stand a small chance in the Supporting Actress category (Jennifer Jason Leigh–and Oscar does love a comeback), but that’s it. There are some frustrating aspects to this hard truth. For starters, Quentin went all out in a vintage fashion, shooting this film in Cinemascope, designed for the few 70mm projection houses of yesteryear. These productions are offered with an overture and intermission. There’s something pretty magical about that experience, but not for Academy voters. They must have watched the standard-def DVD at home.
2. Ex Machina (2014)
Ex Machina is nominated for more awards than people who saw the film in theaters. Okay, there is no truth to that statement. But Ex Machina is a sleeper at best. Will more people see the film following the Oscars? Possibly. If it happens to sneak in and win for visual effects (possible) or screenplay (unlikely), then it would boost the intrigue among those who didn’t see it. Regardless of being snubbed, this film was good enough to score a Best Picture nomination, for being a fresh, next-level science-fantasy and dealing with the contemporary subject matter. Oscar Isaac, Domhnall Gleeson, and Alicia Vikander (who is nominated for The Danish Girl, but is, even more, becoming in Ex Machina) offered stellar performances, and the film had the edge that filmmakers should currently be pursuing. It’s nice to see some folks are still taking risks in feature filmmaking.
1. Sicario (2015)
Speaking of taking risks in feature filmmaking, Sicario is easily one of the best eight films of the year and should be nominated for Oscar’s top honor. Sicario is everything you want in the best picture nominee. Screenwriter Taylor Sheridan jumped outside the traditional three-act narrative to write a five-act climb that transforms from one character’s story to another’s, then ties up as a duet between the two. Legendary cinematographer Roger Deakins broke new ground–again–by developing some badass camera attachments which won’t be explained here. No spoilers. Emily Blunt and Benecio Del Toro both deserved nominations for their performances. There is a darn good chance Jóhann Jóhannsson will win for best original score, and Roger Deakins might finally win for cinematography, but the film has been snubbed on the grand scale. It was independently produced, and it’s so good it probably terrified voters with studio ties.