Yesterday, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced that the Best Picture category centerpiece at the yearly Oscar awards show will be expanded to include 10 nominees. We MTV Movies Team staffers were not amused.
In the wake of the announcement, many accusations surfaced that this move is nothing more than a ratings ploy. For many, the allegations spring from the fact that "The Dark Knight" -- a universally regarded hit and currently the fourth-highest grossing film of all time -- was snubbed for a Best Pic nomination. That got me thinking about all of the other incredible films which have fallen victim to Oscar politics over the years...
2008 -- Is anyone really going to dispute that "The Dark Knight" should have taken home a statue? Or at least gotten a shot at taking home a statue? No? I didn't think so. Moving on...
2007 -- There are plenty to choose from in 2007. Any year that sees a Pixar release is a year that could have seen a Best Picture nomination for an animated film. '07 is no exception with "Ratatouille." There's also the Philip Seymour Hoffman/Ethan Hawke one-two punch in Sidney Lumet's stunning "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," a film which I think may have traded a shot at a Best Picture nod for a gritty, all-too-realistic conclusion.
2006 -- Pixar gets a pass this year for the decent-but-not-the-greatest "Cars." In its stead are three solid contenders: "United 93," "Pan's Labyrinth" and "Children of Men." "Labyrinth" and "Men" were probably a bit too far outside the mainstream for the Academy's tastes, but there's really no excuse for the omission of Paul Greengrass's terrifying 9/11 drama.
2005 -- In 2005, it's hard to ignore the fact that the wrong movie won Best Picture, but let's all try to put that aside for a moment. Peter Jackson's "King Kong" and David Cronenberg's "A History of Violence" both deserved a nomination, and for two very different reasons. "Kong" was a capable revival of a golden age classic. It had a few rough spots and could perhaps have benefited from a tighter edit, but it was in many ways the movie of the year. Alternatively, "A History of Violence" was terrifyingly, gloriously good. Cronenberg doesn't win Oscars though.
2004 -- Pixar's back, with "The Incredibles," one of their best works to date. It was joined in this year by "Hotel Rwanda" and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Both are powerful and both are disturbing, though in entirely different ways. Regardless, both deserved more than they got in the Best Picture category.
2003 -- "Big Fish" makes me weep like a small child and I'm not afraid to admit it. Tim Burton's magical tale is beautiful, moving and a criminally overlooked contender for Best Picture in 2003. There's also Pixar's "Finding Nemo" (eh) and the much-loved "Cold Mountain." "Big Fish" was the big snub, no question. Props are in order though: the academy actually stepped up and handed a statue to Peter Jackson for concluding his "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Even though the second one was a better film.
2002 -- So many greats overlooked in '02. "Adaptation," "Road to Perdition," "Catch Me If You Can," "Punch-Drunk Love"... the list goes on. I could see some of these getting a pity nod in less stacked years. Then again, let's be honest... none of those could usurp "The Pianist," "The Hours" or -- the year's winner -- "Chicago"?
2001 -- There's Pixar's "Monsters Inc." of course. And I'm sorry, but "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" is about as perfect a book-to-movie adaptation I've seen. It didn't hit every beat that the book did, but that's not really possible. The casting alone, seemingly pulled straight from the pages of J.K. Rowling's work, is award nomination-worthy.
2000 -- "Best in Show." Sorry. I know it's simple and not terribly message-driven or moving in any way, but there's just something about Christopher Guest's dog show mockumentary that strikes me as uniquely brilliant. There was some other good stuff, particularly "Memento" and the highly underrated sci-fi/thriller "Pitch Black," but the "Best in Show" snub proved that the Oscars are in fact going to the dogs. HA!
1999 -- It's sickening to think how incredible 1999 was for film. The best work did indeed take the prize at the Oscars, as "American Beauty" deserved every bit of praise that it got. Still, where was "The Matrix"? Or "Toy Story 2"? Or "Office Space"? Or "South Park: Bigger, Longer & Uncut"? I'll tell you where. Far, far outside the comfort zone of voters for a Best Picture nomination. And that's just sad.