Jess Ennis gives Redbrick her top 3 Oscar snubs of 2015

Online Editor for Redbrick Film and 3rd year English Literature with Creative Writing student.

If I were to recount the people over the years that I believe should have been nominated for Oscars and weren’t, it would be a long, boring – and probably quite angry – list. With that in mind, then, I’ve contained my displeasure to the three most unfair snubs of the 87thAcademy Awards.

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Nomination: Best Actor for Nightcrawler.

Who got it instead: Michael Keaton for Birdman.

Before the movie came out, an article was published in which Gyllenhaal described running 15 miles a day in order to make his character as wiry as a man who exists solely at night should be. He researched coyotes in order to give Lou Bloom the animalistic, feral qualities of a ruthless journalist. In the scene where he punches a mirror, Gyllenhaal got so worked up that he cut himself and had to get stitches. He memorised the entire movie as though it were a play.

Most importantly, though, every single bit of work Gyllenhaal did on Bloom during filming totally and utterly paid off. In Nightcrawler, he is a revelation. He’s disgustingly heartless, a sociopath to the point of being a psychopath, and he lurks in the shadows quoting self-help books that could only sound lecherous coming out of his mouth. It’s a dark, warped performance that Gyllenhaal gives, and it’s wonderful.

And what were we given in return? Michael Keaton, playing a washed-up actor who was once a superhero. I’ll say no more, save that there is no magic when Keaton is on-screen. Gyllenhaal is electric, sending shivers down the spine in every scene. Keaton – doesn’t.


Nomination: Best Director for Selma.

Who got it instead: Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel.

I don’t know whether DuVernay knew exactly what political resonance Selma would strike with 2014/15 America’s – and, by extension, the world’s – ever present problems with equality and injustice. Even if she didn’t, Selma speaks of a much larger call for peace and democracy through the lens of Martin Luther King Jr’s 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in order to gain voting rights for the black population. And what a film she gave us.

It’s wonderfully shot, beautifully written – which DuVernay herself helped with, rewriting King’s 1965 Selma speech to breath new life into his words – and brilliantly acted. It’s touching but it’s got an angry soul, it’s poignant but never capitalises on King’s historic work – it strikes a stunning balance between hope and weariness, and goes some way to exploring the experiences of people of colour in America with grace and dignity.

So, then, imagine my surprise when the Academy decided to nominate Wes Anderson for his latest ‘so kooky it’s boring’ film, instead of DuVernay for her sociopolitical masterpiece. Thankfully, Selma is nominated for Best Picture, but this doesn’t ease my dissatisfaction with the Oscars choosing the tame, overdone Anderson over DuVernay.


Nomination: Best Actress for Cake.

Who got it instead: Marion Cotillard for Two Days, One Night.

Unlike the other two snubs, this one was much harder to judge. Not because Aniston is any less stand out, but because there is no one in the Best Actress category that I feel is undeserving of their Oscar nomination. With this in mind, then, I’ve resorted to playground politics in order to decide – Marion Cotillard, while being brilliant as always, has already had one.

I think, primarily, Aniston’s role as Claire Bennett, a woman living with chronic pain and a trunk-load of repressed heartache, got so much attention because it was so different from what audiences are used to seeing her do. We know her as sexy, funny, and sad when she needs to be, but until now we had seldom seen her immerse herself so entirely in such a nuanced, acerbic, heartbreaking role.

And she does it brilliantly. Claire is brutally sarcastic, bitter, and is only remotely kind to her loving housekeeper, Silvana. Underneath, however, she deals with a trauma that the film explores with delicacy. While Cotillard and the other nominees for Best Actress might make ‘Oscar-material’ movies consistently, Aniston’s role in Cake was wrongfully denied the respect it deserves from an actress who surprised audiences with her depth and range.

 Jess Ennis