by Wilfred Okiche
It is Oscar season and aren’t we excited. Amidst all the buzz about the films that got nominated and those that will or will not win, let us spare a thought for these early gems that started out with a lot of steam but now are only whispered about in bizarre alternate scenarios.
We present 10 films that could have been champions.
The Dark Knight Rises
It’s predecessor, ‘The Dark Knight’ was criminally overlooked and the outcry that followed forced the Academy to increase the best picture nominees to a maximum 10 slots. It was a no brainer that ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ would at least be compensated this time around right? Wrong. Oscar voters looked the other way and Christopher Nolan’s riveting finale was left in the cold.
Now this was heartbreaking for us. After the orgasmic reviews and spectacular box office returns, ‘Skyfall’ was the film to beat. It was so good, acting nods were seriously considered for stars Javier Bardem and Dame Judi Dench as well as a genuine Best Picture push. All these came to naught though as only singer Adele and the unseen guys at the technical side are left flying it’s flag.
Joe Wright’s dizzying adaptation of Tolstoy’s classic novel got a lot of pre-Oscar buzz. Keira Knightley who played the titular heroine was at some point a serious contender for best actress. We still don’t know what went wrong and why it got trapped in technical category hell.
Talk about dead on arrival. Oscar talk for this ambitious and confounding epic directed by the Wachowski brothers (okay brother and sister) died the minute the film flopped at the US domestic box-office. Starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry and every other working actor in Hollywood, ’Cloud Atlas’ was as polarizing as they come and paid the price for it.
Hyde Park on Hudson
Bill Murray was billed to get Best Actor honors for his take on Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Critics deemed the film insensitive and maybe a tad offensive. The campaign never took off.
At some point before it’s release, the master was hyped as the next big Oscar deal since ‘No country for old men’ cleaned out. The film was released and the story was different; critics shrugged and audiences stayed away. It still managed to secure three all-important acting nods but no one is crossing their fingers for a win in any category.
The Hobbit: An unexpected journey
You couldn’t blame those who expected Peter Jackson’s new film to sweep the Oscar nominations. His Lord of the ring trilogy was justly rewarded when the last film, ‘The Return of the king’ swept the board. Another trilogy and he is back in play, true? False. Maybe he should wait till the third Hobbit film arrives.
One of the best and surprising films of the year was completely shut out of the honors lists. Steven Soderberg’s ogle fest may have boasted the prime flesh of two of the sexiest men alive, but it was much more than that. Matthew McCounaghey was also wrongly overlooked for his supporting turn.
Ok this wasn’t a serious contender till the Golden Globes and the SAG kindled it’s hopes with a Supporting Actress nod for Nicole Kidman. The always trusty Academy put it back in it’s place though.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Now this is sure Oscar bet if ever we saw one. A film about some pensioners taking their last fun-filled stab at life directed by the guy who made the Oscar winning ‘Shakespeare in love’ and starring the crème de la crème of British talent past the age of 50. The roll call includes Dames Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, Bill Nighy. The Academy must not have been impressed.