By John H. Foote
Two weeks after the Academy Award nominations were announced and I am still trying to make sense of them.
First let me apologize for not writing near as much as I am used to doing. My father is dying of stage 4 liver cancer, and I am his caregiver. Watching this deeply good man become so frail and wracked with pain is terrible but I know he would do it for me in a heartbeat. And I have this damned cataract I am dealing with, with my laser surgery a couple of weeks away. I love to write and read, and I can barely do either right now. Normally an article like this would take me 30 minutes, tops. Two and half hours folks!
I do not and never will understand the love in for Everything Everywhere All at Once, I just do not get it. Eleven nominations? Gee-zus people! That is all I am going to say about that, I will not say another word about this obscenely overrated film.
So who and what got snubbed?
After two consecutive years of women having won the Oscar for Best Director, the ladies are nowhere to be seen this year and they damned well should be. Sarah Polley should be there for her exquisite Women Talking, a mesmerizing work that the actress-director also adapted from the novel. This is twice now the Academy has snubbed Polley, leaving her out for Away From Her (2007), and yet again for her award-winning documentary Stories We Tell (2012). Shameful.
Also missing from the category, from every single category, is Maria Schrader for She Said, her superb study of the New York Times investigative reporters who brought down Harvey Weinstein, exposing his years of rapes and sexual assaults. Absolutely brilliant and a massive oversight.
Oscar winner James Cameron was a surprise snub for Avatar – The Way of Water, which could be a sign of the dislike for Cameron in Hollywood, his ego having offended many.
Though his film, All Quiet on the Western Front, is nominated for 10 Academy Awards, director Edward Berger was NOT nominated, a huge shock, and undeserving. Previous winner Damien Chazelle, who felt the sting in 2017 for First Man, felt it again for his magnificent Babylon, a look at Hollywood as silent film ended. And finally, there was talk and huge support for the director of Top Gun – Maverick, young Kosinski, but alas no nod for him.
Two words: She Said. How? Why? And one more word: Babylon.
Once again Adam Sandler is not among the nominees despite terrific work as a basketball coach ready to become a coach in Hustle. Ignored for Punch Drunk Love (2002), Reign Over Me (2007) and his seething, masterful performance in Uncut Gems (2019), which deserved to win the little golden man, he is again on the outside looking in.
Ralph Fiennes was both drolly funny and frightening as the head chef of a dangerous high-end restaurant in the strange The Menu.
And yes, despite the slap that nearly ended his career, I was quietly rooting for Will Smith as the runaway slave in Emancipation – give the man his due, he was riveting.
We could fill another full category with deserving Best Actress nominees, and I said before the awards some great performances will be snubbed. Well they were.
Danielle Deadwyler deserved to be here for Till, as the grieving enraged mother seeking justice for her fine, decent fourteen-year-old son, lynched in the South of the fifties, an act of racial hatred. Deadwyler was both luminous and ferocious as the mother torn apart by grief, disbelief and rage. Her absence gives me chills.
Viola Davis, an Oscar winner for Fences (2016), seemed a shoo-in for The Woman King, superb as a woman warrior, giving heart and soul to this fine film but no nomination.
The electrifying Margot Robbie was thrilling to watch in Babylon, and dominated the exciting film, but she too was wrongfully snubbed. Snubbed as well was Zoe Kazan for her reporter in She Said, a fine, focused performance. And the small indie film, Emily the Criminal, brought Aubrey Plaza the best reviews of her career but no nomination. Hopefully her time will come, hopefully all of them will find their way into the final five.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
In The Fabelmans, as the father of the boy who will become Steven Spielberg, Paul Dano was superb. Logical, thinking of every move with analytical precision, he did not understand his wife’s restless artistic spirit until she was gone, so finds it within himself to allow his son to seek out his. Also, from The Fabelmans, director David Lynch has a cameo as legendary John Ford, the greatest maker of westerns who offers the young Spielberg profane but valuable advice.
And Tobey Maguire has a small role in Babylon but is so twisted and out there, I had hoped the Academy might find him. No luck.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Caire Foy and Jesse Buckley from Women Talking deserved to be in the final five. Each was superb. Ana Taylor-Joy should be here too for her defiant customer in The Menu, the lady was superb.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
I am ashamed to say the Academy snubbed She Said across the board. No guts.
The best cinematography I saw all year was Top Gun – Maverick. Snubbed. The Fabelmans should have been there too.
BEST FILM EDITING
The Fabelmans. How is it not there?
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.