I’m going to avoid talking about actors here. The internet is full of enough rabid DiCaprio fans who know how overdue he is. He will probably get an Oscar one day, even if it is a sort of “career award” for a lesser performance a la Al Pacino (Scent of a Woman), Paul Newman (The Color of Money), etc. Actors have no problem getting their overdue “makeup” oscars, simply because voting ballots list them alongside their films. For the poor tech people though, all voters see are the nominated films listed. As a result, they don’t have the same chances at sympathy wins. Here are the most tragically snubbed Oscar bridesmaids who desperately need an Oscar win:
20 NOMINATIONS. I repeat, 20 NOMINATIONS. People talk about how overdue Meryl Streep was with 18 nominations. This guy has 20 Nominations and has yet to win for a single one of them. It isn’t for a lack of trying, either. O’Connell has worked on countless films that destroy audiences eardrums, but destroy them oh so artfully. Seriously, this guy has created the sounds of just about every loud summer blockbuster imaginable, and has yet to be rewarded for a single one of them. Nominated films include: Transformers, Spiderman 1 and 2, Pearl Harbor, The Patriot, Armageddon, Top Gun, Twister, and 12 others I’m not going to spend my time mentioning here (but just assume they sounded great). The guy even tried the “doing sound for shameless Oscar Bait” route and worked on Best Picture winner, Terms of Endearment. All of this work creating summer blockbusters (including Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Raiders of the Lost Ark), and what has the man received? A big goose egg. Oh and of course, on his 19th Nomination, his competition (Mike Minkler, Oscar winner for Dreamgirls) cattily mentioned “Kevin’s an OK mixer…maybe he should take up another line up work.” The poor guy is begging for a sympathy win. And he deserves it. He is an excellent mixer. He just needs to go work on a Holocaust drama or something…
You want to talk about how overdue DiCaprio is while this guy exists?
Sound design must be a fairly thankless job. Russell follows up O’Connell with a whopping 16 Nominations without a single win. Like O’Connell, he has worked on the Transformers series (and has been nominated all three times). He will probably get nominated a 17th time and lose a 17th time for Transformers 4 (I will admit, nobody really wants to give one of those things an Oscar…and I don’t blame them. Sorry Greg.) He recently got to sit back and watch his co-workers take home a Sound Editing Oscar for Skyfall. Unfortunately, he was unlucky enough to be nominated instead in the Sound Mixing category and face off against the impressive live vocals in Les Miserables. As for his other nominated films, he and O’ Connell worked together on every film until recently. As such, they share many of the shame tragic nominations. Russell has been busy on more high profile features than O’Connell as of late, though. Russell took on Salt, Skyfall, and Transformers 3, while O’Connell worked on Space Chimps…So perhaps Russell has a better chance at success than his former partner, if simply because he knows how to say “no” it seems.
Just about any one of those beautiful piano, wind chime, and whistle-heavy scores you’ve heard over the past 20 years or so comes from this one guy. Thomas Newman is one of the industry’s most talented composers. Obviously, voters love him for his creativity and consistency. They just don’t love him enough to ever give him an Oscar. Seriously, the guy scored American Beauty, which SWEPT the Oscars back in 2000, yet Thomas Newman still left empty handed. Let’s just take a moment to remember some of the stunning work Newman has created: those triumphant swelling chords at the end of Shawshank Redemption? Newman. The above-mentioned pensive heartbreak that floated along every scene in American Beauty (I mean he music got us to look at a floating plastic bag and see beauty instead of HILARIOUS levels of pretentiousness)? That was Newman. The magical scores in PIXAR classics Finding Nemo and Wall-E that make you suddenly “have something in your eye?” You guessed it: Newman. Even better, on his past three nominations (for Saving Mr. Banks, Skyfall, and Wall-E), he got to watch himself lose to composers who won FOR THEIR FIRST NOMINATIONS. For the record, Steven Price absolutely deserved his win this year over Newman, but I’m just saying…this must hurt for the poor guy.
This Year he will be scoring a James Brown Biopic and a film where the guy who made Wedding Crashers and Fred Claus tries his hand at an emotional drama. Maybe he finally wins for one of those. But not really, because life hates him.
Roger Deakins is one of the greatest living cinematographers. If you disagree, go watch this scene from Skyfall or this one from The Assassination of Jesse James, and then I DARE you to disagree with me. He celebrated his 11th Nomination this year for Prisoners (and of course, his 11th loss). He has shot just about every film the Coen Brothers ever made (including the GORGEOUS work in True Grit, No Country For Old Men, and O Brother Where Art Thou.) He also found beauty in the oppressive murk of a prison in The Shawshank Redemption. He turned a Bond film into one of the most aesthetically pleasing films of the 2000s in Skyfall. On top of being singularly talented cinematographer, though, he also is versatile. He has worked on animated films like Wall-E and How to Train Your Dragon. When Oscars go to CGI heavy films, he has continued to do much of his work in-camera and create absolutely lush images with simple on-set lighting. He will next shoot Angelina Jolie’s Unbroken, which may finally cause him to snag his first Oscar (it is a very baity subject, and from the looks of this trailer, he has brought his a-game.) Unfortunately, he will face a big budget, CGI heavy Christopher Nolan action film this year. Given the Academy’s trend of giving Cinematography and Visual Effects Oscars to the same film for the past five years, it would not be surprising to see the man miss out yet again.
Desplat is easily one of the hardest working people in Hollywood. In between 2011 and 2013, he scored over 20 films. He is also wildly versatile. He moves seamlessly from the subdued and classical tones of period pieces like The King’s Speech to the blasts of action chords in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and Zero Dark Thirty. Since his first nomination in 2007 (for The Queen), he has been nominated nearly every year. In that time he has scored EIGHT BEST PICTURE NOMINEES. He has also not won for any of them. He has been nominated a total of six times, and has arguably deserved more. This year, he will work alongside fellow overdue filmmaker, Roger Deakins on Unbroken. (Have you noticed how all of these guys seem to work on the same doomed films? Greg P. Russell, Thomas Newman, and Roger Deakins ALL worked on Skyfall, and ALL went home empty handed).
Alongside Unbroken, he has also provided the score for Wes Anderson’s upcoming Grand Budapest Hotel, a prestigious period piece, and oddly enough, Godzilla! I told you he was versatile.
Hopefully these poor 5 gentlemen will find some recognition soon. Perhaps they could all work together on a meta film about a tragically snubbed filmmaker (played by Leonardo DiCaprio of course!)
– Will Mavity