From ‘Wind River’ to ‘Wonder Woman,’ here are 10 movies that should have been in the Oscar conversation
Oscar nominations were announced Tuesday, and with them came discussion over not only what made the list, but what didn’t.
There were, of course, some high profile snubs — no “Florida Project” for Best Picture? Where was Tiffany Haddish for Best Supporting Actress? — but some of the year’s best films weren’t in the conversation at all. Those films are more than snubs, they’re overlooked.
Here are 10 movies and performances that should have been part of the Oscar chatter but weren’t:
“Wind River:” Writer-director Taylor Sheridan stages this stirring murder-mystery against the backdrop of a desolate Indian reservation in central-western Wyoming, and he captures the snow-covered loneliness of the environment with a poetic punch. Jeremy Renner turns in his best performance since his Oscar-nominated turn in “The Town,” but the film was caught up in the ongoing Harvey Weinstein drama; it was distributed by the Weinstein Company, and even though producers won a battle to remove Weinstein’s name from the picture, the film came up empty-handed when Oscar noms were doled out. (Available now on DVD and On Demand)
“War for the Planet of the Apes:” The boldest blockbuster in years took on themes of race and immigration among other hefty ideas, and dressed them in a big summer action picture. Initially thought of as a Best Picture candidate, that talk died down as fall’s crop of awards contenders hit theaters; it managed just one nomination, in the Visual Effects field. But this is adventurous, thought-provoking cinema, the antithesis of “Transformers” and typical summer fare. (Available now on DVD and On Demand)
“Novitiate:” Melissa Leo breathes fire as a ferocious Mother Superior overseeing a class of nuns-to-be in the early 1960s, as the Vatican II rules change the course of the Catholic church. Leo — a two-time Oscar nominee and a winner for her role in “The Fighter” — never got the Oscar talk she deserved for this small film which pulled in less than $600,000 at the domestic box office, but this truly under-the-radar movie from first-time writer-director Margaret Betts is well-worth seeking out. (Available On DVD March 6, On Demand Feb. 20)
“Wonder Woman:” Critics loved it (92 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes), audiences adored it (with $412 million at the domestic box office, it was 2017’s third biggest film), but the academy didn’t bite. Their loss. “Wonder Woman” is the kind of superhero film even non-superhero fans can enjoy, and in a year where women directors are being recognized and celebrated more than ever before, Patty Jenkins deserves credit for steering this franchise in the right direction (and if you saw how lascivious the camera was toward Wonder Woman in “Justice League,” you see what easily could have been). (Available now on DVD and On Demand)
“mother!” Yes, it divided and confused audiences, who rewarded it with a rare F grade from Cinemascore. (The F, unfortunately, does not stand for “fun!”) Still, the fact that Darren Aronofsky’s completely boffo drama ended up scoring three Razzie nominations and zero Oscar nods is nothing less than a cinematic travesty. “mother!” is frustrating, challenging and claustrophobic, but not all good films are meant to go down easy. Give this one a chance, you won’t forget it, and hopefully time will be kinder to it than the Academy was. (Available now on DVD and On Demand)
“Good Time:” Former “Twilight” heartthrob Robert Pattinson is electrifying as a scrappy bank-robbing lowlife in the Safdie Brothers’ breathless all-night caper. “Good Time” never hit Oscar’s radar, but it’s up for several Independent Spirit Awards, including Best Actor (Pattinson), Best Director, Best Supporting Male (co-director Benny Safdie) and Best Supporting Female (Taliah Lennice Webster). A wild ride. (Available now on DVD and On Demand)
“The Lego Batman Movie:” Is it as snappy and clever as “The Lego Movie?” No, but that movie was overlooked by Oscar, too. Is it 25 times better than “The Boss Baby,” which is somehow nominated in the Best Animated Feature category? You bet your Batcave it is. “The Lego Batman Movie” cleverly riffs on the sullen legacy of Batman, and given its current competition, we’ll take Will Arnett’s Lego Caped Crusader over Ben Affleck’s Batman any day. (Available now on DVD and On Demand)
“Battle of the Sexes:” Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris’ comedy about the 1973 exhibition tennis match between Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) managed to be an engaging look back at an odd pop culture moment and a smart riff on gender issues that are dominating the headlines today. Unfairly ignored by audiences (it earned just $12.6 million), it was also ignored by the Academy, despite strong performances from Stone and Carell and stunning cinematography by Linus Sandgren. An overlooked ace. (Available now on DVD and On Demand)
“Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond:” Far from a vapid celebrity profile, this look at Jim Carrey and the making of the 1999 Andy Kaufman biopic “Man on the Moon” is nothing less than an exploration of identity and what it means to be alive. Too much? Perhaps. But Carrey, untethered from Earth-bound expectations of normalcy, is intoxicating as he questions who he is, who we are and what any of us are doing here. In addition, it’s wild seeing what a pain it was like to be on the set of “Man on the Moon.” Better than the movie it’s about. (Available on Netflix)
“Lady Macbeth:” At just 22-years-old, the Oxford-born Florence Pugh will have her time to shine at the Oscar podium, and her performance in this Victorian thriller — one of the best performances by a young actress since Jennifer Lawrence turned heads in “Winter’s Bone” — indicates bright days to come. Get in on the ground floor. (Available now on DVD and On Demand)