I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1933), Citizen Kane (1941), It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), High Noon (1952), MASH (1970), Chinatown (1974), Goodfellas (1990), LA Confidential (1999), and (now) Inception. All films nominated for Best Picture Oscars that lost to an inferior winner. In the case of Chinatown it was The Godfather Part II, which is a close thing, but LA Confidential lost to the trite vanity project that is Titanic and that any film could beat Citizen Kane is frankly ludicrous. And this is before I get into the likes of Touch of Evil and The Third Man which weren’t even nominated. The Oscars have a long history of ignoring great films and being hopelessly unaware of the craft and art present in the very medium that they are meant to be championing.
Every year I find myself, despite myself, caring about the outcome of the Oscars. I love films. I love the feeling a great film brings out in me. I get evangelical about making people watch films and I feel protective and possessive of them. Films make me smile, excite me and make me cry. I care about the characters and thrill at the events. Inception, in particular, left me breathless and speechless. The first time I saw it I walked out of the cinema aware I had just seen something very special indeed. I texted some friends informing them that (Inception) is Nolan’s Citizen Kane moment. Little did I know how accurate this would be when it came to it actually achieving any recognition.
I won’t go into what Inception is about, may be about, how well made it is and how thought provoking. It’s a brilliant film and probably the best since Goodfellas (which didn’t win an Oscar), and arguably thematically similar to Blade Runner (not even nominated). It’s the latest in a string of genre movies overlooked at the Oscars because the voters clearly don’t like science fiction. In the entire time the awards have been given not one science fiction film has won the top prize. It’s rare they even get nominated. Films that comment on the human condition and provide social commentary invariably get overlooked for people overcoming adversity and overly serious biopics.
And this morning all I can think is how much of a missed opportunity this was, how the best film of the past several years (decade? more?) and potentially finest film of the next few years has been overlooked for yet another heartwarming story in which someone wins and Oscar by pretending to have a disability . . .