They Shoulda Been a Contender: Oscar Snubs 2010

It’s Oscar time again and you know that means. Yes, it’s my annual Oscar snubs piece for MSN, a tradition I originally stumbled into six years ago and have happily been upholding every year since.

Ethan Coen and Joel Coen, nominated for screenplay but not direction: the will of Hashem or Academy oversight?

I confess, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten myself worked up over anything the Academy has done, either at nomination time or during the awards itself, but I can still poke a stick at the egregious mistakes that the Academy makes every frickin’ year and have a little fun with it.

Is it just me, or is the awards season getting longer, busier and utterly exhausting? The flurry of critics groups and professional organizations and self-appointed awards groups beating a path to the Oscar door ends up wearing out the awards season before the Academy Award nominations are even announced. Every new press release proclaims a new prediction (“Avatar” is Best Picture? Really?) or a showdown (“The Hurt Locker,” baby!). The bets are made, the critical positions are staked out and the fans line up: Are you Team Cameron or Team Bigelow? Are there any surprises left for the early morning ceremony, especially when they expand the Best Picture category to 10 films? Is there enough energy left to whip ourselves up into a froth of indignation? Do we even care?

Well, yeah, we do. Somehow the Oscars still matter. We celebrate the worthy nominees and kibitz, complain and gripe about everyone the Academy missed. And, once again, even with the love spread out to 10 Best Picture nominees, there is no shortage of deserving artists who didn’t make Oscar’s cut, and we’re not shy about sharing our opinions on where they went wrong. So once again we offer our annual report card on Oscar’s slights and oversights. Call it: They shoulda been a contender.

Best Actor

Is there an actor who doesn’t belong here? Perhaps not, but for all the goodwill and gentle authority of Morgan Freeman‘s Nelson Mandela in “Invictus,” his inclusion feels more like a goodwill gesture when compared with the discomfortingly unkempt angles and inarticulate anguish that Joaquin Phoenix embodies in “Two Lovers,” which arrived early in 2009 and was all but forgotten by the end of the year. I suppose Phoenix has no one to blame but himself, after his promotional antics upstaged the film and Ben Stiller turned him into a punch line at last year’s Oscar ceremony, but that doesn’t change the power of his performance.

Read the entire feature at MSN here, and if you are so inclined, stick around and take the time to explore the rest of the MSN Guide to the 2010 Academy Awards.

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website ( I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View ( I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly,, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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