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10 deserving movies that should be at 2014 Oscars

Writer: Casey Lee


"Don't look at me because we didn't get nominated"

With awards night coming in a few more days while we make our own list of predicted winners from the nominees, we are also making a different list for this year's Oscars. Whoever the winners may be at the Oscars, we also wanted to look back at 10 memorable films of 2013 that were sadly overlooked by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that could have, at the very least, used a mention on awards night.

Why these films were not nominated is anyone's guess and for whatever reason, it is just another mysterious way of how the Academy works no matter how much we think that these movies deserve an Oscar.

Pacific Rim

Deserved a nomination in: Best Visual Effects

For the most exciting CGI fest we've seen in 2013 that would make any man-child giddy like little boys again, it was like having a container ship smacked to the face to find that even the meticulous design of the Kaijus and the Jaegars didn't earn Guillermo del Toro's "Pacific Rim" at least a nomination in the Visual Effects category. We can't imagine what the Academy saw in the derailed trains and smoky explosions of "The Lone Ranger" to give that box office dud a long shot in beating "Gravity" for that category.

Monsters University

Deserved a nomination in: Best Animated Feature

We had expected that "Monsters University" would be snubbed to not let Disney dominate this category with 2 or 3 entries (and we know which one of them is going to win), but that doesn't mean that "Monsters University" had every reason not to deserve a spot in the Best Animated Feature category. Looks like Academy members also went through the craze for the little Minion toys, which is our in-denial explanation for why "Despicable Me 2" made it to the list over "Monsters University". If only they had a toy campaign for the monsters.

Lee Daniel's The Butler

Deserved a nomination in: Best Supporting Actress

By all accounts, "Lee Daniel's The Butler" was an outrider to be in any of the major categories when going up against the nominees in those categories this year. But the one place that we saw that could sneak in to give "The Butler" a little nomination prestige is in the Best Supporting Actress category. Oprah Winfrey displayed a good range of character as Gloria Gaines; the lonely housewife who turns into a bitter alcoholic while her husband busies away at the White House. Even as an aged grandmother, she puts a fine performance that makes her end feel abrupt with a tinge of loss. We didn't think that Sally Hawkins showed the same range as the unprivileged sister in "Blue Jasmine". Besides, Oprah has been an Academy nominated actress before.

Rush

Deserved a nomination in: Best Editing

While it's hard to make a case for Daniel Bruhl to deserve a spot against the other actors in this year's Best Leading Actor category, Ron Howard's Formula 1 pic had edge of your seat shots of being in the driver's seat of a Formula 1 race. That intensity very much owed itself to the fast-cut editing, which we don't know why the Academy decided to let the unemotional cut of "Dallas Buyers Club" lined up in the grid for the award.

The Place Beyond the Pines

Deserved a nomination in: Best Cinematography

From that opening shot of Ryan Gosling playing with a switch-blade followed by the long tracking shot behind his back, Sean Bobbitt's mesmerizing and haunting cinematography work doesn't end there when he never lets the intensity of the crazy bike stunts loose for a moment with the dangerously close shots. Technically a 2012 film when it was first released, there were plans to release Derek Cianfrance's "The Place Beyond the Pines" closer to awards season, but it never caught on. It's a shame that this one became a victim of having a poorly timed release, though to be honest we can't tell which Best Cinematography nominee it could have replaced.

Fruitvale Station

Deserved a nomination in: Best Leading Actor

While Sundance premiers are traditionally not considered to be potential award winners, this gut-wrenching re-enactment of the life of Oscar Grant on that fateful New Year's day had skyrocketed Michael B. Jordan's acting profile. If there was a year that the Academy would instate a Sundance winner, which also went on to win the Best First Feature Film in the Uncertain Regard competition at Cannes, Michael B. Jordan's performance should have been the one to be exemplary among the other nominees. Oh well, guess we'll just wait and see Jordan be the big star he is now as the Human Torch in Josh Trank's "Fantastic Four" reboot.

Oz the Great and Powerful

Deserved a nomination in: Best Costume Design, Best Special Effects, Best Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design

While Sam Raimi's prequel to "The Wizard of Oz" may have turned out a little on the hollow side as a blockbuster, but it did dazzle where it needed to in bringing the world of Oz to be just as enchanting when we last visited it. This was easily one we could see being nominated in the various production categories where all the big money were obviously spent, but for some reason top hats have gone out of trend for dead crows and green witches for white painted Johnny Depp in "The Lone Ranger".

The Past

Deserved a nomination in: Best Foreign Language Film

We won't say "Blue is the Warmest Colour" because the French had deliberately not wanted it to be eligible for the Oscar race and we would stop harping about Saudi Arabia's first female directed "Wadja". However, when we heard that Asghar Farhadi's "The Past" didn't make it in the Foreign Language Film, it did take us a little off guard. Farhadi, as you may recall, won this very same award for his Iranian drama "A Separation", so we would think that the Academy would be inclined to having his work among the noms. Or maybe because he made a French drama this time and the Academy wasn't in the mood for French this year. At least, that leaves a space for Cambodia's "The Missing Picture" by Rithy Panh, to be the only Southeast Asian nominee in contention.

Blackfish

Deserved a nomination in: Best Documentary

It's been four years since "The Cove" won Best Documentary, but adding "Blackfish" to this year's nominees may make the list feel a little too morbid, considering the nominees that are already in it. Still, putting out an ugly truth to burst the happy bubble about trained Orcas is pointing towards a larger environmental issue on how we think we are treating our animals right. That even animals can pretend they are happy in captivity.

Frances Ha

Deserved a nomination in: Best Original Screenplay

Although Greta Gerwig was denied a Best Leading Actress nomination like the one she got at the Golden Globes because the Academy preferred a more established selection of actresses to hold the golden statuette. It is undeniable that the whimsical screenplay of "Frances Ha" written by director Noah Baumbach and Gerwig would have fit right into the competition with the other nominees writing about lost characters whether in love ("Her), in life ("Nebraska) or in sanity ("Blue Jasmine"). Maybe because "Frances Ha" actually encompasses all three, so there wouldn't be a fair competition afterall.

Cinema Online, 28 February 2014


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