There’s something about awards season that fascinates people; whether it be the fashion, the success or failure of the award show hosts, or the ridiculously rehearsed and teary-eyed acceptance speeches.
Particularly the Oscars, the Holy Grail of award shows, seem to dominate the entertainment columns, months before the nominees are even named. But what people love the most is bickering over the injustice of their favourite film not winning Best Screenplay or Best Motion Picture, or even worse; their favourite film not even landing a nomination in the first place.
While the Academy Awards were on last Sunday and all the gongs have been handed out, deservedly or not, let’s look at a few films that missed out on joining the movie award hall of fame.
As a director, Lars Von Trier, isn’t afraid of pushing the boundaries of social normality; his latest film about sex addiction, Nymphomaniac, is currently dividing public opinion, but Melancholia is one of his tamer films.
Depicting the final days of the apocalypse through the eyes of two sisters; Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, Von Trier effectively ignores the precedent for disaster films by eschewing the traditional crumbling buildings and rush for survival, instead focusing on the depth of the human psyche through the use of clever imagery and an intense score.
The late film reviewer Robert Ebert spoke highly of the film; “Von Trier has never made a more realistic domestic drama, depicting a family that is dysfunctional not in crazy ways but in ways showing a defiant streak of intelligent individualism. I doubt any could do better than von Trier does here. There are no tidal waves. No animals fleeing through burning forests. No skyscrapers falling. None of that easy stuff. No, there is simply a character standing on a hill and staring straight at the impending doom.”
It was tipped to be a success at award season but Von Trier decided to announce in a press conference promoting the film that he was (jokingly) a Nazi sympathiser. The film was dead and buried by the end of that press conference.
Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind (2004)
Perhaps this somewhat futuristic love story was too ahead of its time in 2004 and may well have fared better it if were released today or even in another five years’ time.
Clearly the idea that two ex-lovers, Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, can erase their memories of one another is too strange for many to understand. Or maybe it’s the fact that the two meet for a second time and fall in love all over again, surely a metaphor for how, as part of our human conditioning, we are doomed to repeat our mistakes.
Visually stunning and jumping between the past and present, the film is more than just your average boy-meets-girl-fall-in-love-and-then-break-up story. Critics raved over the compelling narrative with the New York Times calling it “cerebral, formally and conceptually complicated, dense with literary allusions and as unabashedly romantic as any movie you’ll ever see.”
It did manage to win an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and Kate Winslet also received a Best Actress nomination but many were upset that the film wasn’t included for Best Motion Picture.
Originally a short play, Tyrannosaur was Paddy Considine’s directorial debut, where we are shown just how soul-destroying rage can be in a person and how the reality that life is really that bleak.
The main character, Joe, is deeply troubled and consumed by violence and anger which threatens to spill over at any moment. Seeking some refugee he meets charity shop worker Hannah, (the brilliant Olivia Coleman) who takes pity on him and the two develop a close friendship.
But Hannah herself is stuck in an abusive relationship and the two realise that there is no way out, providing a backdrop to very painful film. The audience is not offered hope of a happy ending but can enjoy how two people can be drawn together by such bleakness.
The film was universally praised, with The Guardian commenting, “it’s a visceral, considered dissection of abuse and rage and the dysfunctional relationships that rage creates, which, in turn, perpetuate that rage, and an examination of people who create their own eco-system of anger and unhappiness”. Tyrannosaur had the unfortunate luck to be released in a year where there was a richness of cinema and very few managed to make the awards cut.
Regarded as the best Scottish film ever made, Danny Boyle’s outrageous and shocking tale of heroine abuse in the city of Edinburgh hits the nerve in the same way a surgical knife would.
Showing the pleasure of escaping life through drugs yet simultaneously revealing the horrific consequences of choosing that path; the film leaves you equally disgusted and sympathetic towards the characters.
Voted 10th by the British Film Institute in the Top 100 British Films of all time, the film did manage to secure a nomination for the Academy Award for Adapted Screenplay but did not win. It has instead become a cult classic.