As the Oscar nominations rolled out this morning, among the most exciting possible outcomes were if, with its new system, the Best Picture category might naturally shrink back to its glory days of 5 nominees; which film from Ryan Gosling’s huge year would earn him his second nomination; and, at least for this hopeful, if Harry Potter might finally get some awards love. All hopes were dashed as Gosling failed to garner a nod, the crop of Best Pics is stuck at a still-overloaded and pointlessly smaller 9, and the Boy Who Lived has officially died in the awards arena.
Oscar snubs are nothing new. Every January the Twitterverse erupts with its #oscarsnub lists and cries of injustice, but we all knew they were going to happen. Still, sometimes the snub is too big to ignore.
If I’m being fair to myself, I saw it coming. The signs were everywhere during the early awards season of November-December. Most critics top ten lists failed to include the Potter swansong and few other awards ceremonies acknowledged it either. Of course, there was the exception of the AFI awards which honoured the entire series with a meaningless “Special Award” and the National Board of Review named it one of the ten best of the year. As many indicated in early January, the final “nail in the coffin” was the lack of attention at the Producers Guild Awards.
There’s just something about Harry that award shows don’t like. But what is it? Humour me as I hopelessly try to break this down to a science.
Did it not make enough money?
As the highest grossing movie of the year, the third highest of all time, this can’t be it. We know Oscar love big box office hauls (right, Mr. Cameron?).
Is it too British?
Is there something about the Brits that makes Oscar tick? The English Patient, Ghandi, Shakespeare in Love, The King’s Speech, and others certainly would seem to answer this one.
Not British enough?
A series featuring Maggie Smith, Alan Rickman, Ralph Fiennes, John Hurt, Michael Gambon, and Richard Harris often all on the screen at once? No, that can’t be it.
Is it too childish?
Many have argued Potter is just “kids stuff,” to which I give you Beauty and the Beast, and this year’s most-nominated film, Hugo, as just two of many examples.
Is it simply not good?
Anyone who’s seen the final film — even nonbelievers — would be hard-pressed to argue that the final Potter isn’t good (at least, better than Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). From acting to cinematography, to the decade-long culmination of an epic, wrenching fable, the movie has it all and then some.
In fact, what makes this one of the worst snubs in Oscar history is that Harry’s final bow was one of the most critically praised films of the entire year — in fact, the best-reviewed wide release of 2011. It even earned better reviews over-all than most of the last ten Best Picture winners. Since 2001, all but one of the best-reviewed wide release films on Rotten Tomatoes have gone on to receive nominations and wins in Oscar’s biggest categories. Harry can join Bond in the rejected pile.
True, good reviews are never a guarantee for a Best Picture nod. But they are, at least, usually a good indicator. Some of the Academy’s most egregious of recent misses include The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (perhaps the biggest ever), Crazy Heart, Once, The Bourne Ultimatum, The Savages, and United 93.
Maybe critics were being nice?
Despite having better reviews than all but three of the films most included in Top 10 lists (The Artist, A Separation, Poetry), the final Potter only cracked its way into little more than a dozen of the lists. Some critics even went back on their initial praise, giving spots on their list to films they had given lower ratings.
Is it too fantasty?
Maybe that’s our answer. With a few notable exceptions, Oscar has never liked fantasy much. Just ask Batman.
In his review of the film, Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers included a plea: “Note to Academy muggles: Get busy coming up with that Best Picture nomination you’ve denied all the other Potter films. Oscar attention must be paid.” The latest Potter outing has scored just three nominations, all in technical categories, which brings the franchise nomination haul to a feeble 12.
Potter‘s major-category snubbing may not come as a surprise. But it is a real shame, because all it leaves for our bespectacled wizard to be remembered for is money, raising a generation, and more money.
Do you agree? Has Oscar killed Potter or should I just hang up my Nimbus 2000 already?