The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences has a problem. Each year, it neglects or fails to appreciate some of the best films of the year. While it makes a lot of great decisions, often it overlooks certain genres or stories that don't appeal to them.
This year was no different. (Check out the 2012 Oscar Nominees.)
With that in mind, here are the five major films that the Academy undervalued in 2011. Although many of the films on this list received a few Oscar nominations, overall the Academy did not give them the credit they are due. Instead of a nod or two, these films deserved much greater recognition and appreciation from the Academy.
The Ides of March, George Clooney's great political thriller only received one Oscar nomination this year. It is vying against The Descendants, Hugo, Moneyball and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for best adapted screenplay. But this film is worth so much more. It was actually my third favorite film of 2011.
In addition to the writing, the film deserved recognition for Clooney's steady direction and a best picture nomination. The acting was credible but no one performance stood out in this cast that included Clooney, Ryan Gosling, Marisa Tomei, Paul Giamatti and Philip Seymour Hoffman. I can understand why none of the performances were recognized - in a lesser year, they would have been - but the film itself deserved more recognition than it's getting.
Super 8 was an epic summer movie that appealed to both critics and audiences alike. It had a phenomenal cast of young actors and a great story combined with wonderful visual effects. Written and directed by J.J. Abrams, this was a film that showed that summer blockbusters could still be intelligent and exciting, not just one or the other.
With no Oscar nods to its name, this film was completely overlooked by the Academy. It wasn't on my top ten list of the year but it should have been nominated for its great visual effects, wonderful score and maybe even its fine direction.
Like Super 8, 50/50 received zero Oscar nominations this year. The film tells the story of a young man (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who is diagnosed with cancer and given a 50/50 shot chance of surviving. Yes, the film includes some crude humor and off-putting jokes, but it's a great film with its heart in the right place.
In a lesser year, Gordon-Levitt would have been nominated for Best Actor for his performance, but the abundance of strong male performances in 2011 ruined his chances. Regardless, I still believe that either Anna Kendrick or Anjelica Huston should have been nominated for their brilliant supporting performances. And without a doubt, Will Reiser - who faced cancer in real life - should have been nominated for his honest and heartbreaking screenplay.
Unlike a few of the films on this list, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II did receive a few Oscar nominations. It was nominated for Art Direction, Makeup and Visual Effects. But this epic finale to the "Harry Potter" series deserved more. It was an elegant and visually-stunning conclusion to a masterful series of films.
Many have argued that Alan Rickman deserved an Oscar nod for his supporting performance. His performance wasn't nominated and I can understand why in this year of great supporting male performances. I can't, however, understand why this film wasn't nominated for Best Picture. It was a critically-acclaimed blockbuster that appealed to adults and children alike. To not give it a best picture nod is an insult to those who loved the film as much as I did - and ignores the epic achievement that the series, as a whole, represents.
Drive, a dark film about a stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver, was a thought-provoking and brilliant film. Instead of relying on a lot of dialogue, its story was mostly told through great performances and unique direction. Critics will be talking about this movie for years to come. But how did the Academy recognize it? With one single nomination for Best Sound Editing.
This is the most surprising film to be on this list because not only did I think that it should be nominated for more awards, I also thought that it should win a few of them. Nicolas Winding Refn directed this film with an awe-inspiring fierceness and intelligence and Albert Brooks delivered a brilliant performance as the story's malicious villain. Both men should have been nominated and in my opinion, both should have returned home with statues. The lack of nominations is beyond disappointing.