Let’s play Oscar Yankee Swap!

That's much more like it.

Everyone’s had time to digest the nominations for the 84th Academy Awards, announced just a couple of days ago (see image above). We’ve all had a laugh and cry about it, and it’s time for me to add my obligatory tuppence to the cacophony of cheers and wails by recycling my Best of 2011 list just like everyone else does. However, I’ve decide to turn it into a fun little game (in which I am the only player and, therefore, winner) called “Oscar Yankee Swap!” – in which I look at some of the categories I’m interested in and add a nomination that SHOULDA been there, and remove a nomination that SHOULDNA been there. I am limiting it to one nomination per film either way in the regards of (what little) fairness (exists) – and also so I don’t just stick Fast Five in every category, as Twitch almost convincingly argued. It’s a mix of sour grapes and hot steaming prejudice, all coming from a standpoint of pure ignorance! How can it fail?


Actress in a Leading Role

SHOULDA: Olivia Colman in “Tyrannosaur”

It’s pretty much de rigeur to lament the lack of a BAFTA nomination for Colman, so it is no surprise then to see no Oscar nomination head her way. Still, the only reason everyone’s kicking up a fuss is because she is so ruddy bloody good in it. It seems the only award ceremony to get everything right was the British Independent Film Awards, where she won Best Actress, which hopefully means they will get a bit more coverage and weight thrown behind them next year too (especially if Chris O’Dowd – drunk – hosts again).

SHOULDNA: Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”

Only because a) it’s not like she needs the attention b) Colman plays her daughter, so it’s a bit of a “stick it to your mum” rebellion.


Actor in a Leading Role

SHOULDA: Joseph Gordon-Levitt in “50/50”

If the Academy is prepared to accept a comedy performance like Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids as potentially Oscar-worthy, then surely gross-out jokes PLUS terminal illness would be a sure thing? Guess not, but you know that JGL would be a very gracious and popular winner, as smooth a line-up as Pitt, Oldman, Dujardin and Clooney may be.

SHOULDNA: Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”

So I don’t have to pretend I know what that is.


Actress in a Supporting Role

SHOULDA: Jessica Chastain in “Take Shelter”, or “Coriolanus”, or “The Tree of Life”

SHOULDNA: Jessica Chastain in “The Help”

Yeah, ‘cos I’m like that. YANKEE SWAP!


Actor in a Supporting Role

SHOULDA: Ezra Miller in “We Need To Talk About Kevin”

Hmm, sorry, lest I wade into the mo-cap actor debate, I’m not really in the “give Andy Serkis an Oscar!” camp. I think the best he can expect is a lovely honorary one in 30 years at some luncheon which won’t really get any news coverage. At least he can console himself that Clint Eastwood’s JEDGAR didn’t get any nominations at the risk of the “heavy make-up” argument rearing it’s rubber head. In Oscar stunt-nomming, I’d like to pick out all three Kevins for this one, but Miller is probably the ‘main’ one, so he gets my vote.

SHOULDNA: Kenneth Branagh in “My Week With Marilyn”

Seems just like a token nomination gesture after the Academy forgot to recognise his work in Wild Wild West.


Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

SHOULDA: “Submarine” Screenplay by Richard Ayoade

A fabulously charming, witty, touching. funny script that does justice to the original source material. Probably – haven’t read Joe Dunthorne’s novel yet. Bet it’s good.

SHOULDNA: “The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon

Let’s not get greedy George. You too Grant, I guess. And, um, Beau.


Writing (Original Screenplay)

SHOULDA: “The Guard” Written by John Michael McDonagh

Not to bring up the brother thing again, but if In Bruges got an Oscar nomination for all those swears (and very much deservedly so), than by all accounts The Guard should have got some attention not just for its fruity dialogue but also its surprising and unconventional plot, as well as its frank and funny characterisation.

SHOULDNA: “The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius

Don’t get me wrong, I love love love The Artist. But it’s not wildly original as a story, yeah?


Visual Effects

SHOULDA: “Attack the Block”

The most astonishing thing about Attack the Block, more than how skilled and confident a director Joe Cornish is, or how wonderful the unknown cast are, is that the team at Double Negative managed to achieve blockbuster-bothering effects on a British B-movie budget. A seamless integration of live-action and CG elements and some of the best creature design in recent memory.

SHOULDNA: “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”

Just because you can have a million cogs whirring and shifting and clunking together, doesn’t mean anyone can actually stand watching it.


Music (Original Score)

SHOULDA: “Norwegian Wood” Jonny Greenwood

Unless it’s a case of another nomination-preventing technicality a la There Will Be Blood, and all the music Greenwood did was indeed created for this film, or its release schedule made it ineligible for voting (or probably a bit of everything), but at some point, the planets must align and give Greenwood at least a nod.

SHOULDNA: “The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams

Already nommed up for War Horse, Williams surely doesn’t need to be told twice “yes, you are a famous composer, well done”. Also, wasn’t the score for Tintin a bit of a mess?


Documentary (Feature)

SHOULDA: “Senna” Asif Kapadia

Again, one of those ones which fell through the longlist net for reasons that remain unclear. I would have thought it was because it didn’t have a wanky enough title, but then again Wim Wender’s Pina made the cut, so it can’t be a “foreign funny name ending in -na not allowed” policy.

SHOULDNA: “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front” Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman

THERE’S your wanky title!



SHOULDA: “Drive” Nicolas Winding Refn

Sure, he got his recognition in Cannes, but Refn managed to spin a rather trad story into something pretty special, with an incredibly deliberate and focused approach to sound, vision, performance and tone. And everything simmered together just right.

SHOULDNA: “Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen

Not that Allen has ever been flashy director, but whatever the French word for “ho-hum” is would spring to mind if I knew what the French word for “ho-hum” was. Probably “ho-hum”.


Best Picture

SHOULDA: “Melancholia”

I’ve mentioned most of my favourite films of the year, and while this is still an outsider in even my estimations, I’d love to wander around in Lars Von Trier’s brain as he tries to reconcile whether he would break his self-imposed persona no grata-induced public appearance and interview embargo. He didn’t show up when it won Best Film at the European Film Awards, but would Oscar have made him change his mind? Unlikely, but even his absence would have been a talking point.

SHOULDNA: “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Director Stephen Daldry once held a door open for me as I left a screening of The Hours. That’s probably all there is to say about that.


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