Oscars 2017: Deadpool, Paterson and other films that have been snubbed by the Academy
It’s Oscar season again – which means it’s that time of the year when the least deserving films get a ton of 'spotlight' (pun not intended) and the ones that do deserve eyeballs are treated like adopted children by a tyrannical step mother.
To be fair the Academy did do some things right by giving films like Moonlight their due. This year’s nominees feel like they’re a panicked reaction to the drubbing that the Academy rightfully received last year when the Best Film nominees were revealed. It also led to the #OscarSoWhite campaign. And suddenly this year, the Oscars are not so white after all.
But that still didn’t offset their practice of completely snubbing some deserving films. Of course the popular narrative excuse is that winning an Oscar is a gift and not a birthright, but it’s hard to not be frustrated when films like the ones listed below are given the cold shoulder by the Academy.
Ask anyone to pick the most entertaining, most memorable film of 2016 and the immediate answer would be Tim Miller’s superhero cliché bashing Deadpool. When Deadpool flips in the air backwards and fires a bullet that goes through three different heads splattering blood on the camera, it’s some seriously dazzling fun.
If exquisitely choreographed action, ribtickling-ly funny dialogue, razor sharp editing, crowd pleasingly fun dark irony and an R rating that made every other film studio grow a pair and experiment does not equal cinema that deserves to be recognized by the Academy, then nothing does. The snub echoes James Cameron’s recent statement that the Academy generally never supports commercially successful films – which also explains why Amy Adams wasn’t nominated for Arrival that made an unexpected amount of money.
Swiss Army Man
I can’t imagine how studio execs reacted when the Daniels pitched their film – which is a dark comedy about a lonely man’s bromance with a farting corpse. The fact that this film got made — with two recognizable stars, Daniel Radcliffe and Paul Dano as leads — was a feat in itself. It was incredible to see how the film turned into a heartwarming social commentary on man’s isolation in a post modern world.
There has never been a film like this one before, and it’s pitiable that the Academy cannot recognise uniqueness in cinema. Swiss Army Man has introduced a whole new cinematic language and it deserved some love from the Academy especially because it’s made by first time directors.
Park Chan Wook is like the inverse of Meryl Streep. Every film that he does is terrific, but he never gets nominated. Not only did this film contain the best production design in 2016 but also a lushly messed up narrative typical of Wook’s work. It’s hard to justify the presence of some of the films in the Foreign Language nominations not just because they’re bland in comparison to The Handmaiden but also because they just don’t have the finesse and pitch black social commentary that Wook’s work offers so effortlessly.
If there’s a male performance that truly stands out in 2016, it’s Adam Driver’s exquisitely relatable turn as a bus driver in Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson. This is the kind of performance that says a lot without really mouthing much dialogue, much like the film in which a ton of things happen metaphorically even though the plot doesn’t move ahead physically.
Jarmusch’s direction feels like poetry in motion, bursting at its seams with symbolism and a lively beating heart. It’s the kind of a film a filmmaker or filmmaking community would appreciate because it’s about an artist struggling to emerge from the shell of an everyday man, and it deals with conflicts in an all too real manner.
Horror films get a bad rap because the good ones are seldom regarded as genuine works of art and are mostly dismissed as ‘scary movies to watch on a date’. The Witch, directed by debutant Robert Eggers is not that kind of a film; this is a solid, beautifully crafted drama with a supernatural twist that offers a surprising level of social interpretation.
The witch in the film is not present for mere shock value but as a tool to extrapolate the evils of mankind and the oppressive nature of religion as a whole. If there’s any consolation, the Academy did recognise Babak Anvari’s horror film Under the Shadow, which also offers a supernatural angle doubling as social commentary, but the Witch is simply a far superior film in every aspect.