The Oscars may purport to award the best films of the year, but the limited number of spots means certain films are overlooked.
"The Shape of Water" and "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri" have dominated this year's discussion of Oscar nominees. But a handful of wonderful films have been snubbed or overlooked in the nomination process, including the fan-favorite blockbuster “Wonder Woman” and the undernominated drama “Mudbound.”
The Daily Bruin’s Olivia Mazzucato discusses some of the films that should have been nominated, as well as nominated films that are being left out of the discussion surrounding the year's best films.
Snub: Costume Design, Directing
In a year full of entertaining and eye-catching superhero films, “Wonder Woman" soared above its competition. The film shattered box-office records and conventional Hollywood norms about female-led films, raising the bar for films to come.
Last year’s “Suicide Squad” actually won the Makeup and Hairstyling category, so rewarding a comic book adaptation for design would not have been unprecedented. The intricate costume designs in “Wonder Woman” deserve a nod – one sharp-eyed fan and costume designer pointed out the references to ancient Roman armor and praised the practicality of the costumes in contrast to previous "Wonder Woman" adaptations.
While action films certainly aren’t typical Oscars material in categories outside the visual department, “Wonder Woman” also makes a strong case for a nomination for director Patty Jenkins. Jenkins’ directorial vision found a way to ground the film in emotion and humanity in a way that superhero films, particularly “Wonder Woman’s” DC predecessors, have struggled to accomplish.
"First They Killed My Father"
Snub: Foreign Language Film
Cambodia’s entry for the Foreign Language Film category did not make it into the final five nominations, a surprising omission considering the film’s unflinching depiction of wartime horror.
“First They Killed My Father,” directed by Angelina Jolie, tells the story of a young girl living under the communist Khmer Rouge regime. The story’s startling authenticity makes the film seem less like a narrative and more like a documentary. It is unafraid in its portrayal of the arresting brutality inflicted upon Cambodia, and at times it is painful to watch.
Sareum Srey Moch, who plays the protagonist, is mesmerizing as her 7-year-old character is ripped from her carefree middle-class life to become a child soldier. “First They Killed My Father” is her first film, and the childlike honesty and naivete she brings to the part makes the movie universally compelling.
"The LEGO Batman Movie"
Snub: Animated Feature Film
“The LEGO Batman Movie” doesn’t deserve to win best Animated Feature Film – that honor unequivocally belongs to “Coco” – but it certainly deserved a nomination in the category.
The film is fun and witty, opting for clever meta jokes over slapstick comedy, though there’s plenty of that as well. Will Arnett’s Batman is arguably one of the best, poking fun at the caped crusader’s legacy of angsty brooding.
The film might not be as original and smart as its predecessor “The Lego Movie,” but it was certainly one of the best animated films of the year.
Overlooked: Actress in a Leading Role
“The Post” is a movie audiences have seen dozens of times – hardworking, purehearted journalists expose corruption in the manner of past Oscar winners and nominees like "Spotlight" and "All the President's Men." What makes "The Post" stand out, however, is Meryl Streep’s performance.
Streep normally gives tour de force performances, playing characters notable for their strength and poise. Kay Graham, the timid owner of The Washington Post, hardly fits this mold, but the role allows Streep to show Kay’s transformation from an insecure socialite who second-guesses her every decision into an empowered figure who is confident enough to stand on her own feet.
The performance feels particularly poignant in a year characterized by the #MeToo movement, which focuses on the raising of voices by women who have typically been silenced. Streep’s performance is a quiet one, but possesses a gravity and resilience that should not be ignored.
"All the Money in the World"
Overlooked: Actor in a Supporting Role
In any other year, “All the Money in the World” would be a rather unremarkable film. But Ridley Scott’s period thriller made headlines when its star, Kevin Spacey, was accused of sexual harassment and assault, and Scott then made the unprecedented decision to reshoot Spacey’s scenes mere months before the film’s release.
Scott cast Christopher Plummer in the role and did what seemed impossible – he shot Plummer’s 22 scenes in nine days, presenting a rough cut to the Hollywood Foreign Press Association just four days later.
“All the Money in the World” is fast-paced and precise, crowned by Plummer’s phenomenally cold and ruthless performance as oil magnate John Paul Getty. Under such circumstances, it would have been a miracle for the film to be decent. The fact it surpassed anyone's expectations is a testament to Scott’s directorial prowess and Plummer’s acting strength.
Snub: Actor in a Supporting Role, Directing, Best Picture
“Mudbound’s” four Oscar nominations – Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Cinematography, Music (Original Song) and Actress in a Supporting Role for Mary J. Blige – are all well-deserved. But the film warrants so much more.
Jason Mitchell delivers a wonderful performance as Ronsel Jackson, a black World War II veteran who is treated as a hero in Europe, but returns home to Mississippi to face derision and racism. Mitchell imbues Ronsel with a seething rage and a tiredness that manifests as a quiet fury, making the character stand out in a cast of strong performances.
Dee Rees’ direction comprises another shining aspect of the film – she manages to tie together a variety of storylines and characters into a cohesive and emotional film. The writers are also responsible for intertwining each individual subplot in an effective way, but Rees’ choices help translate the script’s words onto the screen.
"Mudbound" is a searing depiction of racial tensions and poverty in the post-World War II South, unflinchingly honest and brimming with raw emotion. The fact that it failed to garner more nominations seems like an obvious and egregious oversight.