90 movies that should have been nominated for Best Picture
March 1, 2018 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Do the wrong thing: 90 years, 90 movies that should have been nominated for Best Picture The A.V. Club lists 90 movies that weren’t nominated for Best Picture but should have been.
With this year’s ceremony just days away, The A.V. Club has singled out 90 important, terrific, even canonical movies that weren’t nominated—one for every Best Picture lineup going back to the beginning. We’ve followed the Academy’s rules about what qualifies, which mainly means only selecting movies that opened in the United States during each year’s eligibility window, including foreign-language films that took a minute to make it to America. Most years, you could program a film festival from the list of viable alternative candidates and snubbed triumphs, so consider this a kind of parallel cinematic history—a much different window into a century of movies than the one the Academy has opened. Hindsight is, of course, 20/20, but you’d have to be legally blind to ignore most of these films, especially given what often made the cut instead.
posted by kirkaracha (74 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
I had to start in the 80s to feel competent to comment, and it sure sounds like they are taking the piss. I mean, it's a listicle, so I should treat it as that ("be controversial to get page views and spur debate/arguments").

I started to list all the movies that my reaction was "come on" or "seriously?", and realized that was an unproductive approach. It's always seemed, save for a few rare exceptions, that only certain types of movies win "Best Picture", and most of the 80s and on are not that type of movie.

Thus, taking the piss -- this is the kind of serious but not conversation you'd have over drinks with friends. It makes me think of the "best boxer" barbershop scene in Coming to America
posted by k5.user at 7:22 AM on March 1, 2018


*checks on Casablanca*

Serves me right for asking a direct question. The subject is closed.
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:29 AM on March 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


Seems like a pretty solid list. I'm sure that you could find different films than they picked for each year that should have been nominated but the academy really does have a terrible history of missing out on some great films. I mean I'm sure that Rachel, Rachel was well acted but it's hard to imagine that it deserved a nomination more than 2001: A Space Odyssey.
posted by octothorpe at 7:31 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Hindsight is, of course, 20/20, but you’d have to be legally blind to ignore most of these films

Oh good, you've completely accounted for hindsight bias.
posted by little onion at 7:33 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Looks like the listicle authors chose the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.
posted by grumpybear69 at 7:36 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Love the thesis that in 1930 people should have been able to predict by popular vote what films would feel artistically relevant today.
posted by little onion at 7:36 AM on March 1, 2018 [8 favorites]


Films omitted seem to fall into a few general areas: international, good-but-niche-release, genre/pop culture, and politically dangerous. Some, in more than one category. Weirdos, low culture romps and the ones "polite company" is too scared to acknowledge.

Just reinforces my opinion that the awards are mostly for playing it safe, and mostly for actors, directors, writers who do the sort of period/talky dramas. And many of those that were nominated seem utterly disposable, looking back at them.
posted by bonehead at 7:36 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Get Out is the real winner this yeah no matter what.
posted by Artw at 7:40 AM on March 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


The Academy should have a hindsight award, being the humble artists they are.
posted by Brian B. at 7:49 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


What to me is an Oscar worthy film is kinda nebulus but I know it when I see it and a lot of these, whilst good/great/stone cold classics are not really Oscary

I mean Alien is my fave film of all time but I'm not sure it's really a Best Picture Oscar especially compared to Apocalypse Now! or the actory Kramer vs Kramer or the spectacular All That Jazz... then again the other noms that year, Breaking Away and Norma Rae - well, I can't recall ever seeing them - but they don't seem exactly brilliant, so may be the spooky space movie with pretty decent acting, production design and direction deserved a place.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:49 AM on March 1, 2018


I guess this is the same problem as it happens with "MVP" awards, because like it is sometimes hard to understand the parameters the award is chosen. Is it a popularity contest, the best player in the league, the one that played better, or is it a player that carried a mediocre team to victory despite not being the better player or the one with better numbers?
The Oscars have the "Prestige" problem, where there's a certain type of movie (like biopics, "based on actual facts", period dramas, movies about showbiz and of pain and perseverance, or combinations of the above for maximum effect) that have an easier path to awards than, for instance, Airplane!, arguably one of the best comedies ever made, or Alien, Robocop and Blade Runner, seminal sci-fi movies.
posted by lmfsilva at 8:04 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Yes to The Florida Project. I go back and forth between it and Call Me By Your Name for my favorite movie of 2017.
posted by Automocar at 8:19 AM on March 1, 2018


The final trip into starchildhood has been wowing audiences for half a century, but to really have your mind blown, try to imagine someone preferring The Lion In Winter.

Hello, I am here to blow your mind.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:25 AM on March 1, 2018 [18 favorites]


1992's Dracula? Really? I mean, I love that movie, but only for its terrible acting and campiness, not for its great cinematic quality.
posted by greta simone at 8:30 AM on March 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


I have strong feelings about a lot of these but the two that stand out the most are Mikey and Nicky and Naked.

Mikey and Nicky is a movie about a mob hit. At the beginning of the film, Cassavetes' character calls Peter Falk's character for help while holed up in a hotel. The rest of the film is a chain of errands and diversions through the city at night as these guys talk out everything they might want to say, and figure out exactly what's going on. It's one of those films that would have only ever been made in the 70s. These guys were incredible actors who worked together many times, and good friends too. It would have been terrific if May had gotten an Oscar for this film.

For those who haven't seen it, Mike Leigh's Naked is one big content warning. It's like a meditation on the users and the used, and sadism, and empathy. It's a very affecting film, and one I don't want to watch often, but I have revisited it many times because the main characters are unforgettable. It is indeed a crime that Thewlis didn't get an Oscar for this film; I simply don't have the words to enumerate all the ways that his performance was incredible. The semi-improvisational way that Leigh wrote this film means that the actors deserve even more credit than in typical films.

I've thought about this film a lot in the last year, as we have this ongoing conversation about rent seekers, sex criminals, and the selfish vs. their victims. If you're an empathetic person, capable of feeling anything for Johnny, then I think the final scene of this film is a punch in the gut, because those are the wages of selfishness and misanthropy. It's no comfort. But it's a hell of a film.
posted by heatvision at 8:31 AM on March 1, 2018 [9 favorites]


Do the Right Thing not even being nominated while Driving Miss Daisy won in 1989 is quite some commentary on institutionalized white supremacy - and a complete mirror of the cultural impact Uncle Tom's Cabin had on America in 1852 when you realize that it was published the same year Frederick Douglass published his second slave narrative, The Heroic Slave, about a black woman who led one of the most successful slave rebellions in the US

white supremacy is a such a tough habit to kick
posted by runt at 8:33 AM on March 1, 2018 [18 favorites]


I saw a lot of these non-nominated films in several film classes I took in college and many were definitely Oscar worthy, but a lot of their failures of these films to be nominated for Oscars were simply because they were ahead of their time (Metropolis, Vertigo, Psycho), and others were because they were up against better pictures (The Third Man is not better than All About Eve or Sunset Boulevard, sorry AV Club and Jack White, wherever you are). Others are just great films but not Oscar-worthy (Blow-Up? The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie? Blue Velvet?).

I'll give them Cooley High though.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:35 AM on March 1, 2018


try to imagine someone preferring The Lion In Winter.

It's good, but Nigel Terry nearly ruins the whole thing. I get that his character is an impetuous teenager, but he plays it like he's in a farce.
posted by stopgap at 8:40 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Personally, I think Fritz Lang's M deserved a nomination more than Metropolis did, and I love both films.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 8:43 AM on March 1, 2018 [4 favorites]


There are a few years where they could usefully have said, OK, the academy pretty much nailed it. But 1992 is taking the mickey. Bram Stoker's Dracula? I saw that at the cinema and it was shit then and I have no reason to think it would be anything other than shit now.

Rushmore isn't as good as Thin Red Line or Elizabeth and not even Shakespeare in Love, no matter how much you have come to worship Wes Anderson in the meantime.
posted by biffa at 8:44 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


The blinkered Hollywood establishment, besides being parochially dismissive of foreign films, certainly does underrate genre pictures, particularly comedy, science fiction, and horror.

Get Out is the real winner this yeah no matter what.

“I had multiple conversations [about Get Out] with longtime Academy members who were like, ‘That was not an Oscar film,’” said one new [Academy] voter. “And I’m like, ‘That’s bullshit. Watch it.’ Honestly, a few of them had not even seen it and they were saying it, so dispelling that kind of thing has been super important.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 8:52 AM on March 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


Rushmore isn't as good as Thin Red Line or Elizabeth and not even Shakespeare in Love, no matter how much you have come to worship Wes Anderson in the meantime.

What's with the assumption/accusation of bad faith? I saw each one of those films on its opening weekend (well, Shakespeare in Love I saw at an advance screening a few weeks before release) and I've seen all of them at least once on DVD since then. But Rushmore is the only one I went back to multiple times on its first run.

This kind of list is mostly pointless, I think, because for most of history there were so many movies released each year that stood head and shoulders above the eventual Oscar winner that, you know, take your pick. But I can see the value in reminding people that the Oscars have historically had enormous blind spots. I mean, Charlie Chaplin was a huge international movie star and auteur and City Lights was a big critical and box-office success; it is kind of funny that the Academy, for whatever reason, wasn't into it. (Vishnevetsky may actually nail it in his synopsis -- it's possible the Academy saw a movie with no spoken dialogue as a throwback to the old days and didn't want to acknowledge it in the sound era.)

The best precursor for Get Out and the Oscars, IMO, is The Silence of the Lambs. It's the first time anything close to an out-and-out horror film won the prize -- even more impressive since it was released in February and the Academy was thought to have too short a memory to honor movies that were released earlier in the year. I'm pretty happy with the Oscar shortlist overall this year, but I'll be super-happy if Get Out wins.
posted by Mothlight at 8:58 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I'm also with you there elsietheeel. I enjoy 2001, but better than A Lion in Winter? I was surprised they acted like that was at all surprising!
posted by Carillon at 9:15 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Everything that was wrong with the 1980s at the time in three movies over three consecutive years:

1985: Brazil
1986: Blue Velvet
1987: Robocop

All overlooked by the Academy. What were they so afraid of?
posted by philip-random at 9:15 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Brazil: genre, comedy, subversive, British.
Blue Velvet: not a safe, meet-cute relationship film. Subversive.
Robocop: genre mostly, and anti-corporatism is not a message the academy has ever embraced. Also subversive.
posted by bonehead at 9:19 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Rushmore isn't as good as Thin Red Line or Elizabeth and not even Shakespeare in Love, no matter how much you have come to worship Wes Anderson in the meantime.

well, I'll give this a pass on Thin Red Line, but the other two -- seriously?

Rushmore was a gem from the get-go. If anything, the opposite is true for me as subsequent exposure to the church of Wes Anderson has somewhat jaundiced me (style over substance and all that). But whatever his obsessions may be -- they were fresh with Rushmore, and thus entirely compelling. Like Mothlight above, I caught it more than once in the theaters.
posted by philip-random at 9:22 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


The Academy should have a hindsight award

They do. It's called the Lifetime Achievement Award.

They also have a hindsight award that has no official name but could be called We Gave The Departed Best Picture to Make Up for Raging Bull.
posted by maxsparber at 9:22 AM on March 1, 2018 [11 favorites]


a lot of their failures of these films to be nominated for Oscars were simply because they were ahead of their time (Metropolis, Vertigo, Psycho

I had the advantage of studying Vertigo in college, compared to 10 years later watching it with family and then coworkers because it was ranked high on iTunes, and their reception was "WTF? What a strange/nonsensical/pretentious film".

Which is interesting to me because of the complex problem of racism and classism in the context of the Hollywood canon, and considering what these lists are about. How to talk about what was so meaningful and moving, when your fellow audiences come in with different expectations, framings, backgrounds.
posted by polymodus at 9:23 AM on March 1, 2018


try to imagine someone preferring The Lion In Winter.

They could have included Becket in 1964, which also stars Peter O'Toole as Henry II.
And is better than The Lion in Winter.

They also have a hindsight award that has no official name but could be called We Gave The Departed Best Picture to Make Up for Raging Bull.

I hate when that happens. The awards should go to the best pictures, directors, and actors that year, regardless of how bad the Academy blew it in the past.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:25 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


and anti-corporatism is not a message the academy has ever embraced. Also subversive.

I guess I just don't buy the defense that something is somehow acceptable "because ... The Academy". Fuck that shit. If they're going to call their award Best Movie (and make damned sure the whole world gets the news) -- I get to call them on being WRONG. If they want to change the phrasing to Best Movie Working A Tone And Subject Matter That Doesn't Somehow Upset Our Overall Male Menopausal Milquetoast Sense Of Propriety And Cultural Order (Or That Of Our Corporate Sponsors), then I'll happily bite my tongue.

he awards should go to the best pictures, directors, and actors that year, regardless of how bad the Academy blew it in the past.

as Katherine Hepburn once put it, "The award often goes to the right person for the wrong movie." Except that doesn't cover the lack of best director Oscars for Stanley Kubrick, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles ... to name three that instantly come to mind.
posted by philip-random at 9:30 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


I liked Get Out a lot but it wasn't an Best Picture movie, it just wasn't. The ending was jarring for starters and to me, detracted from it. And it had a lot of derivative elements, if you're into old 60s horror you know what I mean. Very well done? Yes. But Best Picture movies are usually big standard "prestige" pictures or Something Completely Different and it's neither.

I skipped to the 90s for this article first and once I saw Bram Stokers Dracula I didn't read too much more. That is a terrible film by any metric, it didn't win an Oscar because it sucked, the same reason it is still widely derided.
posted by fshgrl at 9:36 AM on March 1, 2018


Blade Runner (1982): cut for American audiences with a more consumer-friendly ending
Once Upon a Time in America (1984): cut for American audiences with a more consumer-friendly ending
Brazil (1985): cut for American audiences with a more consumer-friendly ending

Roger Ebert on Once Upon a Time in America, "which in its intended 227-minute version is an epic poem of violence and greed, was chopped by ninety minutes for U.S. theatrical release into an incomprehensible mess without texture, timing, mood, or sense."
Here are some of the specific problems with the shortened version. A speakeasy scene comes before a newspaper headline announces that Prohibition has been ratified. Prohibition is then repealed, on what feels like the next day but must be six years later. Two gangsters talk about robbing a bank in front of a woman who has never been seen before in the film; they've removed the scene explaining who she is. A labor leader turns up, unexplained, and involves the gangsters in an inexplicable situation. He later sells out, but to whom? Men come to kill De Niro's girlfriend, a character we've hardly met, and we don't know if they come from the mob or the police. And here's a real howler: At the end of the shortened version, De Niro leaves a room he has never seen before by walking through a secret panel in the wall. How did he know it was there? In the long version, he was told it was there. In the short version, his startling exit shows simple contempt for the audience.
I like to call Once Upon a Time in America Once Upon a Time in My Underwear. I am 53 6.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:42 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


1992's Dracula? Really?

I agree this was an odd one. And - and this may be scandalous - I also disagree with Bride of Frankenstein. The camp bits are fun, but that whole prologue with Mary Shelley should not have been included at all; it felt like it was trying to be high-concept artistic, but then went for camp instead. Do one or the other!

Similarly: there was a great bit from an Oscar ceremony in the 70s with Steve Lawrence and Sammy Davis Jr., singing a medley of songs that were eligible for "Best Song" in their respective years, but were, as they sing, "not even nominated". The audience reaction often veers into shock that "what the hell, that wasn't nominated?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:52 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I didn't catch up with Rushmore until a couple of years ago and really didn't understand why it's so beloved. The main character is a horrible little entitled asshole and more than borderline stalkerish.
posted by octothorpe at 10:10 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


But he's so twee!
posted by maxsparber at 10:13 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


I didn't catch up with Rushmore until a couple of years ago and really didn't understand why it's so beloved. The main character is a horrible little entitled asshole and more than borderline stalkerish.

That's the point, I think. He's a teenager going through a phase that takes him to some genuinely dark places. It gives the movie a gravity that very few teen films have.

But he's so twee!

On the outside -- yes. And at the beginning. But then he goes places that youthful charm can't save you from. He's got to grow. And I like that this doesn't come to him in some lukewarm moment of epiphany, but rather, it just evolves out of the fact that in chasing his obsessions, he's isolated himself -- even the little kid turns on him.
posted by philip-random at 10:19 AM on March 1, 2018 [6 favorites]


the other noms that year, Breaking Away and Norma Rae - well, I can't recall ever seeing them - but they don't seem exactly brilliant

I just want to put in a good word for Breaking Away—a terrific little 1979 film that, in some ways, was the Lady Bird of its day.
posted by Atom Eyes at 10:26 AM on March 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


Breaking Away is amazing.
posted by fshgrl at 10:37 AM on March 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


Movies? Some of them musicals? Well of course I'll drop everything to discuss this. 2001, Singing in the Rain, Rear Window and Vertigo weren't nominated?! (For that matter, I'd make a case for one of my fave Hitchcock's, Notorious, too.)

And my comments on the decades where no one else is daring to go, the 1920s - 40s.

Swing Time: I'm not sure it's even my favorite Astaire/Rogers film, although its got some tremendous dances and Kern and Fields songs.
And this dance.

The Lady Eve: The first time I saw it, I couldn't get past
SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER
How Did He Not Know It Was The Same Woman? But it's grown on me. Also every actor ever should study (also ripped-off by Oscar) Barbara Stanwyck. (Like the scene where she's watching her mark, Fonda, and the other women flirting with him.

Also, speaking of the first year of Oscar, I just watched some clips from Wings, and am awestruck at the cinematography, this early in film history. Like the nightclub tracking shot (which also includes, evidently, a no-fuss portrayal of a lesbian couple).

(Also - don't care for Bringing Up Baby, and prefer other incarnations of Little Shop Around the Corner.)
posted by NorthernLite at 10:37 AM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


In fairness, regarding Brazil, they rushed it into about 4 cinemas at the dog end of the year so they could get some positive critical reception and maybe get a little Oscar buzz to force the studio to release it. So basically no-one had seen it in the year it was eligible. It was the studio who mucked it up, not really giving the opportunity to the Academy to also do so.
posted by biffa at 10:40 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


The main character is a horrible little entitled asshole and more than borderline stalkerish.

He saved Latin. What did you ever do?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:45 AM on March 1, 2018 [12 favorites]


1955: Marty? I had the good fortune to see both the theatrical Marty and the original television Marty, and the original television Marty blows the theatrical away. It's the same script done entirely differently in terms of direction and tone. The TV version is a straight-up art film about lonely, depressed, imperfect people with a shot at happiness. The theatrical version is like a Hallmark holiday movie. (Marketing tagline: "Marty is a honey!")

1958: Vertigo becomes relateable to today's audiences if it's presented as #MeToo sixty years early.

1968: 2001 didn't get nominated?!

1993: Here's where I admit to not liking Groundhog Day when it came out. I haven't seen it since. I probably should.

1997: A friend of mine who interned at Ben Stiller's production company the following year told me Ben said "That dong was just a big 'fuck you' to the Academy." PTA is no longer an enfant terrible, but he proved that enfants terribles could make Oscar-caliber films, and I think future filmmakers have benefited greatly from that.

2000: Add O Brother, Where Art Thou? as a nominee. No other film I've ever seen shows the truth about what the South was and what it could have been at the same time.
posted by infinitewindow at 11:04 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


1992's Dracula? Really? I mean, I love that movie, but only for its terrible acting and campiness, not for its great cinematic quality.

This exactly. Dracula is one of cinema's great unintentional laugh out loud comedies. It's Best Costume award was totally deserved, though Eiko Ishioka is a treasure
posted by thivaia at 11:23 AM on March 1, 2018



I guess I just don't buy the defense that something is somehow acceptable "because ... The Academy". Fuck that shit. If they're going to call their award Best Movie (and make damned sure the whole world gets the news) -- I get to call them on being WRONG. If they want to change the phrasing to Best Movie Working A Tone And Subject Matter That Doesn't Somehow Upset Our Overall Male Menopausal Milquetoast Sense Of Propriety And Cultural Order (Or That Of Our Corporate Sponsors), then I'll happily bite my tongue.


Eh. It's an industry award, not the word of God. They're going to be conservative and people are going to game the system for $$ and prestige but ultimately it's just an insular award that most people don't care about much outside the industry. The dresses are bigger news than the awards themselves most years. It doesn't have much impact on revenue even.

The dog that wins Best in Show at Westminster probably isn't the best dog in the world, y'know?
posted by fshgrl at 11:24 AM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Best In Show was kind of robbed though. I mean, Jane Lynch, Catherine O'Hara or Eugene Levy.
posted by bonehead at 11:36 AM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


I just want to put in a good word for Breaking Away—a terrific little 1979 film that, in some ways, was the Lady Bird of its day.

tangentially, I went to IU - the resentment towards college students by locals was a very real thing. I'm vividly reminded of a couple of incidents of street harassment that used my race as their vehicle for lashing out. not super great thing for me given that I was clinically depressed and anxious at the time, too, and felt like an outsider given that most of my social circles were composed of white people :/
posted by runt at 12:10 PM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


There are some gems, obviously, on this list but to my dying day I will never quite understand why the inane dreck of The Dark Knight series gets so much acclaim.

Mind you, Heath Ledger was so good as the Joker that I think it tends to obscure the fact that The Dark Knight is mediocre at best, a perfect example of Nolan's brilliance as a director of set pieces and near totalizing incoherence as a director concerning things like plot development, character development, and story arc.

Personally, I blame the young lads voting in internet polls for giving the film outsize credit.
posted by Phlegmco(tm) at 12:13 PM on March 1, 2018 [7 favorites]


I'm pretty sure The Dark Knight internet acclaim is 40% because of Heath Ledgers death a s 40% because "Dark Knight" sounds cool. It's not even the best Batman movie of all time.
posted by fshgrl at 12:22 PM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


a perfect example of Nolan's brilliance as a director of set pieces and near totalizing incoherence as a director concerning things like plot development, character development, and story arc

From Honest Trailers - The Oscars (2018) on Dunkirk: "…so needlessly out of sequence it could only be made by Christopher Nolan. Not everything has to be a puzzle box, Chris."
posted by kirkaracha at 12:29 PM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


It's not even the best Batman movie of all time.

No, of course not. That would be the 1943 Batman serial.

Dracula is one of cinema's great unintentional laugh out loud comedies.

And yet it somehow also manages to have as many iconic fantastical moments in it as Renoir's Beauty and the Beast.
posted by maxsparber at 12:35 PM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Do we have an Oscars thread yet? Because I have thoughts. One movie that hasn't been discussed much is Roman J Israel, Esq which I thought was the best thing Denzel Washington has ever done. A good but not amazing movie but a legacy performance.
posted by fshgrl at 12:36 PM on March 1, 2018


It’s in my Oscars to-watch spreadsheet for some reason, despite its shitty RT score, I guess because of Denzel. Would probably watch it ahead of Dunkirk TBH.
posted by Artw at 1:26 PM on March 1, 2018


It's not even the best Batman movie of all time.

you got that right. Where was this in the 1966 nominations?
posted by philip-random at 2:04 PM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


ArtW, It's not an amazing movie but it's his best performance ever, imho. It's so rare that he doesn't play the leading man.
posted by fshgrl at 2:11 PM on March 1, 2018


Dracula's a funny pick for 1992. Other movies not nominated that year included Reservoir Dogs, A League of their Own, Basic Instinct, Malcolm X, Glengarry Glen Ross, and The Player. Dracula (excuse me, Bram Stoker's Dracula, to set it apart from all those other movies based on the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker) merits mention in that bunch, but I wouldn't call it clearly superior to them all.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 2:36 PM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


This list is a reasonable list of shouldabeen contenders, I saw quite a few titles that popped into my head before scrolling down.

'Bram Stoker's Dracula' is a personal favourite of mine, I dig the Baroque weirdness, luscious art direction, intricate montages, and Oldman's creepy over-over the top-ness... but I can see how it's not for all tastes. I had the impression that most critics hated it, and was a bit surprised when I checked that it had made it to at least 75% on Rotten Tomatoes (& 3/4 on Ebert).

(That said, Spike's 'Malcolm X' really deserved the Best Picture Oscar for 92, it's a Cinematic Masterpiece).
posted by ovvl at 3:55 PM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


I saw Dracula in the theater and Keanu just ruined it. Also a friend suggested Suspiria as a cool arty horror film but man, it was just nonsense garbage. Like a guy did a bunch of drugs and made a super campy plotless mess ... the soundtrack is good though.
posted by freecellwizard at 3:59 PM on March 1, 2018 [3 favorites]


Keanu and Wynona were both terrible. I saw it in the theatres too and while it may have gained some camp appeal afterwards at the time it was regarded as a total disaster. Arguably the main reason Wynona Ryder didn't manage the transition to adult roles. I'm shocked it has 75% on Rotten Tomatoes.
posted by fshgrl at 5:31 PM on March 1, 2018 [1 favorite]


Arguably the main reason Wynona Ryder didn't manage the transition to adult roles.

She was in a couple of Wenstein films, so I can think of alternate explanations.
posted by Artw at 5:34 PM on March 1, 2018 [5 favorites]


There are a lot of duds and missteps in the list, but it won me over by including Morvern Callar. With that on the list, I'm willing to overlook the rest.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:06 PM on March 1, 2018


Arguably the main reason Wynona Ryder didn't manage the transition to adult roles.

yeah, the only reason she doesn't get more grief for her work in Dracula is because Keanu's performance was just so apocalyptically bad.
posted by philip-random at 6:23 PM on March 1, 2018


Some of the weirdness inherent in Dracula is that the supposed heroes are meant to be lame and innefectual.
posted by ovvl at 7:18 PM on March 1, 2018


1959: Rio Bravo

The actual nominees: Anatomy Of A Murder; Ben-Hur; Room At The Top; The Diary Of Anne Frank; The Nun’s Story

A mighty year for film, 1959 saw many of Hollywood’s old masters at the peak of their powers. Billy Wilder’s Some Like It Hot and Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest also went unnominated, but our heart belongs to the greatest of all hangout movies. A frontier sheriff (John Wayne) guards a murderer with the help of an old coot (Walter Brennan), an alcoholic (Dean Martin), a young gun (Ricky Nelson), and a brassy gambler (Angie Dickinson), waiting for the inevitable moment when the prisoner’s compadres will try to break him out. The pace may be leisurely, but Rio Bravo is a marvel of construction—the magnificent bottle episode of director Howard Hawks’ career and the perfect summation of his fascinations and themes.


As much as I love Rio Bravo I just don't see it a pick over the actual nominees.
posted by bjgeiger at 7:21 PM on March 1, 2018


The dog that wins Best in Show at Westminster probably isn't the best dog in the world, y'know?

They’re good dogs, fschglr.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:29 PM on March 1, 2018 [2 favorites]


Some of the weirdness inherent in Dracula is that the supposed heroes are meant to be lame and innefectual.

They're not supposed to be time travellers from the mid 90s though. Dracula and Much Ado About Nothing put a big dent in Keanu Reeve's career at the time. Those were the two movies he did right after My Own Private Idaho, when he was getting a lot of press for transitioning to "serious" actor and he got panned in both of them. Too bad he was tragically miscast because I like him and actually think he can act (watch The GIft if you disagree) and he spent a long time in action movie land after that.

Wynona Ryder was fairly terrible in a lot of things around that time but this and the Alien movie she was in were the biggest missteps. She does brittle and unhinged as well as anyone but I'm not sure she's had any great roles outside that ouevre.

I watch too many movies. Clearly.
posted by fshgrl at 8:35 PM on March 1, 2018


As much as I love Rio Bravo I just don't see it a pick over the actual nominees.

I agree. Rio Bravo was a conservative response to High Noon (and Bad Day at Black Rock), which were replies to McCarthyism and the Hollywood black list. Snubbing it would have been necessary under the political circumstances, but it has since made its way to some best of all time lists.
posted by Brian B. at 8:42 PM on March 1, 2018


Both Keanu and Winona are in A Scanner Darkly and are very good in it, so any issues with Dracula are ones of miscasting and direction.
posted by maxsparber at 3:57 AM on March 2, 2018


I think it has more to do with them developing their skills over the intervening 15 years.
posted by octothorpe at 4:14 AM on March 2, 2018


Sure, if you ignore Ryder's terrific performances in Lucas, Mermaids, and The Age of Innocence, filmed the same year, and Keanu's performances in River's Edge, Youngblood, and My Own Private Idaho.

Both were then very good and sometimes fantastic actors. Neither were probably right for this sort of period piece.
posted by maxsparber at 5:03 AM on March 2, 2018 [3 favorites]


I remember her being pretty bad in Age but I'd agree with Mermaids; I don't know anything about Lucas. I've never seen any of those Keanu films so maybe I'm wrong about his early work. Before the Matrix, I only ever saw him in Dracula and Much Ado.
posted by octothorpe at 6:28 AM on March 2, 2018


The 2018 Hater’s Guide To The Oscars
I’m so sick of this garbage. And so, as per tradition, I will now proceed to say horrible, awful, downright libelous things about all of the major nominees, none of which are Blade Runner 2049. What is you fucking DEAL, Academy?
posted by kirkaracha at 8:53 AM on March 2, 2018 [4 favorites]


Wynona Ryder was fairly terrible in a lot of things around that time but this and the Alien movie she was in were the biggest missteps.

yeah, she was unconvincing even as a cyborg in the Alien Resurrection. I remember feeling genuinely sorry for her when I saw that. But as maxsparber points out, she has done some good work since aging up. As for Keanu, well no one ever played a thick headed stoner with a heart as convincingly as he did in River's Edge. I suppose he's best thought of as a "character"* actor in the proper sense of the term (ie: there's a particular kind of character that he plays very, very well, but when he strays into other more ambitious areas, he gets lost fast).

* I realize that character actors have come to be thought of as actors who generally only get smaller roles. But let's face it, most leads (ie: box office types) are nothing if not delivering a calculated sameness role after role, it's why the get the big bucks, and it goes way back to the likes of John Wayne.
posted by philip-random at 11:45 AM on March 2, 2018


Ryder played a teenager in Lucas and in Mermaids though and she wasn't great in Age. It was a long time before she made good adult roles. Like decades. Keanu can play more than stoner with a heart of gold. I actually really like him as an actor. But neither of them should ever do a period piece again for any reason.
posted by fshgrl at 3:47 PM on March 2, 2018


Technically, Stranger Things is a period piece. It works in large part because of Ryder playing a mom who's going through a tough time but not exactly unhinged.
posted by Merus at 7:54 AM on March 3, 2018


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