You’ve stumbled upon Circle of Jerks, our sporadically published, weekly feature in which we ask the questions that really matter to our writers and readers.
It’s a time to take a break from our busy lives and revel in the one thing that we all share: a deep, passionate love of movies. If you have a question you’d like answered by the FSR readers and staff, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Oscars are coming up quick. Nominations are out this week. So, let’s say you have a time machine and can go back to any year to nominate a movie for Best Picture that didn’t get nominated. What would you pick? Me? Probably ALIEN. – Johnathan K.
“A” movie? Like…just one? Shit….
I’m not sure I could even pick amongst just the Hitchcock films that were snubbed for best picture (Rear Window, Psycho, North By Northwest…), or Kubrick (2001: A Space Odyssey, Paths of Glory). Hell, I’d even consider Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Singin’ in the Rain, or even as recent as The Dark Knight and Wall-E as unduly robbed of being able to contend.
However, for the most part all of those films received some kind of recognition at the Academy Awards (save for Paths of Glory), so they weren’t completely ignored. If I had to pick one film that I’d vote for I’d probably choose one that I think criminally received no attention at all and for that I’d pick Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter. It received no consideration for picture, director, actor, supporting actress, black-and-white cinematography…nothing.
It’s probably one of the most overlooked landmark pictures in American film history because it’s so completely unlike most anything that was released up until then, has influenced a number of filmmakers and films since and has withstood the test of time as the best of the films of the 1950s has, if not more so. That isn’t exactly a factor the Academy Awards tends to, or really can, consider so I can see why it was initially ignored (If I’m not mistaken it was actually received poorly amongst critics as well), but not being considered for any category is pretty baffling.
I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit over the last few days, and I think anyone would be hard-pressed to offer a suggestion better than you did with Alien. There are several others that I’d offer into the mix, though. While many movies over the years have been ones I considered best of the year, there’s no way in hell any Academy would have considered them for an award, either contemporarily or in retrospect. So I’m going to follow the example of Alien, with a film that would never have been considered in its day but might be in hindsight.
The first one that comes to mind (after The Dark Knight, of course, which seemed too easy of a pick for me) would be Psycho. While it wasn’t heralded in its day, it is one of Hitchcock’s masterpieces, easily one of his top three. It redefined horror movies for its era, and it had a gritty, visceral impact on what violence in films would become. Considering that it would have been up against The Alamo, Elmer Gantry, Sons and Lovers, The Sundowners and The Apartment (which ended up winning)… let’s face it, aside from The Alamo and The Apartment, the rest of these films haven’t lived as long and as powerfully as Psycho has (and even then, I’d put Psycho in the lead over these other two by a mile).
Of course, the bigger question would be which films that were nominated should have won, which falls into the more genre-specific categories (which the Academy often shuns). For these, I would submit The Sixth Sense, Beauty and the Beast, E.T., Raiders of the Lost Ark, Star Wars, Jaws, The Exorcist, Miracle on 34th Street, It’s a Wonderful Life and The Wizard of Oz.
First off, if I have a time machine why the hell am I dicking around with Oscar nominations? I’d be all about investing in Apple and Google and impregnating Natalie Portman without her knowing it. Wait, I’m invisible too, right?
But if I was forced to use time travel for an Oscar redo, it would be to go back to early 2002 and see Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie get a Best Picture nomination. Your question didn’t say the movie had to win, although Amelie is a far better film than A Beautiful Mind (as well as the other four nominees that year).
It’s a beautifully-made love letter to imagination, creativity, and yes, love. A love letter to love. I said it.
You can’t help but end the movie with a smile, and the fact that it continues to find and keep fans year after year shows that it’s a film with real staying power. Unlike say, A Beautiful Mind… (And yes, foreign language films are eligible for the Best Picture category… it just rarely ever happens.)
Would you believe that A Clockwork Orange wasn’t nominated for Best Picture? Well, you shouldn’t. Because it was.
Sadly, a film that wasn’t considered a Best Picture in its year was the John Ford epic, perfect, better-than-all-other-Westerns Western The Searchers. Years later it would be voted as the greatest Western of all time (that’s every single second of existence) by the American Film Institute and also named greatest Western of all time by my brain (in an awards ceremony that only matters to me (that I do in my basement (stop judging me))).
Despite its notation in modern times, and despite success in 1956 (David Lean claimed to have re-watched it several times when gaining inspiration for his desert shots in Lawrence of Arabia), the movie was nominated for a whopping zero Academy Awards. Not a one. Not only did it miss out on Best Picture, it wasn’t invited to the ceremony at all.
That is ridiculous.
If it had been nominated, it would have lost to (get this) Around the World in 80 Days. Seriously. The Academy of 1956 lost the plot in a major way. Granted, Giant and Friendly Persuasion were nominated, so maybe they had their fill of Westerns and Civil War-themed plots, but The Searchers is a stellar film that deserved much, much better.
Answer more burning cinematic questions with the Circle of Jerks
Send your questions to email@example.com