Oscar 2006: Omissions (the Annual Complaints)

As soon as the Oscar nominations were announced today, various Oscar gurus and industry experts began to compile their list of achievements that were omitted/snubbed/disregarded (choose one) by the Academy's 16 Branches. I have been doing those lists for over 20 years, ever since my book, And the Winner Is: The History and Politics of the Academy Awards, first got published; the latest edition is titled, All About Oscar.

Best Picture and Director

There's considerable incongruency this year between the Best Picture and Best Director nominees. The list of omissions is headed by Bill Condon, who directed “Dreamgirls,” and “Little Miss Sunshine” directors Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris. Both Condon and Dayton and Faris had been cited by the Directors Guild of America (DGA).

Who “took” their spots Clint Eastwood and his foreign-lingo film, “Letters from Iwo Jima,” and Paul Greengrass, the helmer of “United 93,” which was not nominated for Best Picture.

Writing

Writers Guild nominees bypassed by the Academy were: Zach Helm, “Stranger Than Fiction,” and Paul Greengrass, “United 93,” in the original category; and, in adapted, Aline Brosh McKenna, “The Devil Wears Prada,” and Jason Reitman, “Thank You for Smoking.”

Acting

Among the actors, no-shows include Ken Watanabe and Kazunari Ninomiya, lead actors of “Letters From Iwo Jima”; Beyonce Knowles, “Dreamgirls”; Stanley Tucci, “The Devil Wears Prada”; Michael Sheen, “The Queen”; Brad Pitt, “Babel”; Adam Beach, “Flags of Our Fathers”; Ben Affleck and Diane Lane, “Hollywoodland”; Sharon Stone, “Bobby”; and Catherine O'Hara, “For Your Consideration.”

The Academy is not alone in bypassing or disregarding film achievements this year. The AFI's Top Ten Films of the year omitted Scorsese's “The Departed” for example.

Various critics groups, such as the L.A. Film Critics (LAFCA) gave best-film honors to “Letters From Iwo Jima,” and the New York Film Critics ircle (NYFCC) singled out “United 93.” Nonetheless, “United 93” failed to make the cut in the Producers or Directors guilds.

This year's Oscar nominations are again a reminder that Academy voters have minds of their own and that Oscar predictions are fun to make but at best are informed or semi-informed guesses.

A question remains whether some of the films were seen enough. The month of December saw the release of some worthy pictures that may have been lost in the glut of bigscreen bows and screener mailings, including “The Painted Veil,” “The Good Shepherd,” “History Boys” and “Miss Potter.”

There were others that opened earlier in the year, but, for whatever reason, didn't gain much attention, including “World Trade Center,” “Catch a Fire,” and “Bobby.”

Music

The song category this year was filled with singer-songwriters who have proven themselves in the recording field. But in Tuesday's announcements, most of them were absentees. That list includes Prince (who won the Golden Globe for his “Happy Feet” song), Chris Cornell, Ben Folds, Macy Gray, Spoon, Seal, Paul Westerberg, Avril Lavigne, Tim McGraw, Mary J. Blige, Sarah McLachlan, James Taylor, Jewel, Eric Idle & John Du Prez and Jack Johnson.

Foreign-Language Oscar

In the foreign-language race, the Acad last week unveiled nine pics vying for the five slots. The ones left out were “Avenue Montaigne” (France), “Black Book” (The Netherlands), “Volver” (Spain) and “Vitus” (Switzerland).

Semi-finalists for makeup who were left out: “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest,” “The Prestige,” “The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause,” and “X-Men: The Last Stand.” Visual effects: “Casino Royale,” “Eragon,” “Night at the Museum” and “X-Men: The Last Stand.”