The ‘Sons of Bitches’ Snubathon

Evidently, my oscar season frustation goes back to the 30s (they’ve been snubbing since the very beginning!), and even though I wasn’t exactly there, to look back is just as frustrating. Actually, I take that back — to see my favorite actor AND my favorite director loose or not get nominated so many times would be considerably worse. This many years of buried hatred could not be reduced to just one artist or film. So I made a little list of actors, directors and movies who should’ve been nominated, but weren’t.


Before we start, some very honourable mentions: Gene Kelly, for Singin’ in the Rain; Rita Hayworth, for Gilda; Katharine Hepburn for Bringing up Baby; Ingrid Bergman for Casablanca; Some Like it Hot for Best Picture; and The Big Lebowski for…well, something.



JAMES STEWART. The Academy granted Vertigo two grand honours: a nomination for Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Black-and-White or Color, and another one for Best Sound. “Vertigo” as in the recently-voted-best-movie-of-all-time, that’s right. No nom for best director, picture, not even actor. And though Stewart did get nominated four times and won an Oscar for his role in The Philadelphia Story, his performance as John Ferguson was some of his finnest work, and for which he deserved, at the very least, a nod.

ANTHONY PERKINS. Looking back, this is one of the hardest to swallow. Perkins gave life to one of the best villains in the history of cinema — that, today, is undeniable. At the time, the film received mixed reviews, as did the actor’s performance; interestingly enough, the audience loved both. Perhaps it was too controversial, or too ahead of its time, but the fact is that Psycho walked out that night without a single win, and no nomination in sight for Perkins.



REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE. Like Psycho, this is a film that pushed boundaries and redefined its genre. It was the first movie to give teenagers a real voice, and the one that gave a whole new swag to the name James Dean. Such achievements did not go unnoticed by the Academy: it got a nomination for Best Writing, Best Actor in a Supporting Role (way to go, Sal), and Best Actress in a Supporting Role (for the lovely Natalie Wood). Oh I’m sorry, were you expecting Best Director for the groundbreaking work of Nicholas Ray? Or was it Best Actor for one of the greatest performances of all time by Jimmy? Surely you were not expecting Best Picture for a film about rude kids, that’s just silly.

THE SHINING. Nominated for two Razzies, including Worst Director for the Stanley Kubrick. That’s all I have to say about the people of 1980.

SHAME. The most recent snub on this list goes to Steve McQueen’s brutally honest film about sex addiction, featuring a brilliant and explicit performance by Michael Fassbender. Anyone who thought this was getting nominated for anything is utterly insane.



ROBERT DE NIRO. Fact: he has five nominations, two wins, and counting. Fact: there’s no limit for the number of awards a single person can receive. Also a fact: I want to give this guy an award every time he appears on screen. It’s the same thing with Al Pacino, I just can’t help it. With this in mind, it’s not hard to understand why I’m tempted to consider a snub the lack of a nomination not only for his work in Mean Streets, but also for his roles as James Conway in Goodfellas (throw in Ray Liotta, by the way), as Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy, and as Jimmy Doyle in New York, New York. Too much? If you think about it… not at all.

MARTIN SCORSESE. Again, he has a lot of awards (112 wins and 109 noms, to be more precise), but there were too many losses and too many no-nominations for a couple hundred awards to erase. Let’s start from the beginning: Mean Streets, nothing; Taxi Driver, zero; New York, New York, niente; Raging Bull, people of 1980; The King of Comedy, only 23 years to go; The Color of Money, sorry, Tom Cruise was in it; The Last Temptation of Christ, don’t know, don’t care; Goodfellas, slow and steady wins the honorary Oscar; Cape Fear, too scary Marty, go back to crime; The Age of Innocence, not period drama, crimeCasino, thanks but we can’t just give it to you, you’re not Kevin Costner; Gangs of New York, ten nominations, still not feeling it; The Aviator, as much as we’d like to make DiCaprio feel like the sole loser, we’re just not ready to grace a movie he’s in with any major wins – it’s not you, it’s himThe Departed, not sure if we’re sorry, or if fourteen snubs/losses would be too obvious…

CARY GRANT. Grant was nominated for only two Academy Awards in his whole life: first for the melodrama Penny Serenade in 1941, and three years later for the drama None But The Lonely Heart. While I agree he was great in both, a few more nominations were in order. My three picks would be North by Northwest (1959), Notorious (1946), and The Philadelphia Story (1940). I’m leaving Bringing up Baby (1938) out of the picture for obvious reasons, as well as The Awful Truth (1937) since the Academy made it pretty clear when they nominated everyone except Grant. In the Hitchcock action/thriller he faced a physically demanding role that made him look pretty but not nice, and it’s where we find some of the finest humour from both the actor and director; you all know how I feel about his work in Notorious, it’s the crème de la crème of his life’s work; and his performance as C.K. Dexter Haven is growing on me pretty fast, but I suppose his subtle background work as a heartbroken ex-husband may be a little to muted for the Academy.

In fact one of my guesses for the constant snubs is that he made it look too easy, once everything he did on screen appeared effortless. Another, perhaps more in tune with the Academy’s record, is that the films he starred in weren’t exactly oscar material: take away the comedies, the Hitchcock thrillers, the low-budget movies, a couple of failed attempts, and what we have left are his performances in dramas, which were few. So there you go: Penny Serenade, and None But The Lonely Heart. He did receive an Honorary Oscar in 1970, but those always taste rather bittersweet, don’t they?

ALFRED HITCHCOCK. Every time I see one of his films marked as Nominated for / Won an oscar there’s a sweet warmth of hope in my heart; then I click on that link and it feels like Hitchcock was being mocked. A lot of his movies received nominations and even some wins, yes — for technical achievements. It’s evident that most of them were superbly edited, and no doubt Edith Head knew how to dress those blondes, but seriously??

It’s interesting to see how in the “beginning” of his career, he managed to appeal to the Academy, receiving nine nominations and two wins (including Best Picture) for Rebecca (1940); nominations for Best Picture for Suspicion (1941), Best Original Story for Shadow of Doubt (1942), and Best Director for Lifeboat (1944) and Spellbound (1945) — which in fact earned four other nominations and one win. But Notorious (1946) didn’t impress, scoring only a much deserved nom for Claude Rains and Best Writing which is still good, considering what is yet to come. Then came Rope (1948) with nothing, Strangers on a Train (1951) with Best Cinematography, and Dial M for Murder (1954) again with nothing. One last chance with a nomination for Best Director and Screenplay for Rear Window (1954) (plus some tech stuff), and thus began a long road of snubs for any major awards, for films like To Catch a Thief (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956), Vertigo (1958), and The Birds (1963) — not at all redeemed by a nomination for best screenplay for North by Northwest, nor by the lost Best Director Oscar for Psycho (1960).

In 1968 he received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award. Makes you want to punch someone.


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