The nominations for the 86th annual Academy Awards did feature some welcomed surprises. For example, it was great to see a small film like Philomena nominated for Best Picture.
However, the number of A-list actors it ignored overshadowed the Academy’s good decisions this year. The reasons for these snubs vary, but they should not stop you from seeing these films.
In the Best Actress category, Emma Thompson was left out in the cold for her portrayal of Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks. Despite her getting many precursor nominations, she was likely left off the Oscar list because many critics perceived the character as a cold monster.
However, this perception of Travers is simply not true. She is distant and off-putting when the film begins, but she becomes much more relatable as the audience learns her backstory and the reason she is so attached to her characters. Travers’ relationship with her limo driver also humanizes her. Finally, the one moment Travers truly lets loose, belting out “Let’s Go Fly a Kite” with Disney staffers, made me happier than any other movie scene this year. Thompson’s work is much more complex and multilayered than it first appears, making the Academy’s dismissal of her even sadder.
The list of Best Actor nominees lacked several other notable names. The Academy did not reward Tom Hanks’ work as the title character of Captain Phillips. Some of Phillips’ former crew members asserted that the film idealized the captain, and this whiff of historical inaccuracy seemingly hampered Hanks’ chances.
With this unfortunate decision, the Academy missed a chance to recognize Hanks for some of the best work he has ever done. Tom Hanks demonstrates his great emotional range as he transitions from a captain in control to a defenseless victim of Somali pirates. In the final scene of the film, when Phillips is rescued, Hanks’ portrayal of a leader in shock allows him to exercise his acting muscles unlike ever before, deserving to be rewarded rather than cast aside.
In the same vein, legendary Robert Redford’s work as Our Man in the high seas thriller All Is Lost was dismissed, reportedly because Academy members found the film difficult to watch. Redford’s omission is heartbreaking. At 77 years old, Redford does not have many more chances to nab a Best Actor statue. Also, his movie brings the art of cinema to a whole new level. He gives a performance just as physical as Tom Hanks’. Redford even does Hanks one better, however, keeping the audience’s interest in his plight with only actions and facial features as his performance is virtually silent. That he succeeds is reason enough to nominate him.
I will still tune into the Oscars as a faithful moviegoer; however, this year I will also remember those performances that the Oscars ignored.