The Oscars only allow for five to ten movies to sneak into the esteemed Best Picture field. Unfortunately, that means that numerous excellent movies are snubbed by the time the Academy Award nominations are announced. Sometimes, it’s because a movie is just shy of being good enough.
Other times, it’s because the movie doesn’t appeal to Academy voters or was released too early in the year to be remembered. Whatever the reason, the point is that plenty of great movies get completely ignored by Academy voters. A lot of these movies will almost definitely make it onto critics’ top ten lists.
This list seeks to bring attention to the movies that have virtually no shot at nabbing a Best Picture nomination. That means that dark horse films such as Hell or High Water, Nocturnal Animals, will be ineligible. Movies on this list are some of the greatest releases of the year, but for varying reasons they’re bound to be snubbed by the fairly predictable Academy Awards.
1. Love & Friendship
Love & Friendship will inevitably be the movie that winds up on countless critics’ top 10 lists while struggling to make a name for itself as an awards contender. It’s is an excellent little movie, filled with charm, wit, and an admirable cast, but it’s also lacking in any sort of mainstream appeal. The movie was clearly made by literature nerds for literature nerds.
Jane Austen is one of the most adapted authors in history, so it’s impressive that Love & Friendship is one of the best adaptations, rivaled only by Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice. Its success as a Jane Austen adaptation often comes as a result of the fact that it sticks so close to the source material.
Obviously parts are omitted, but it’s rare to see an Austen adaptation that refuses to hold the viewer’s hand. The dialog isn’t simplified, the conflict isn’t modernized, and the period setting remains unaltered. This feels like a Jane Austen work that jumped directly from page to screen. Variations of the source material like Clueless are fun, but it’s rewarding to see a movie that trusts the intelligence of its viewers.
If anything, Love & Friendship proves that Jane Austen’s literature is timeless. The storyline is still intriguing, the characters are still complicated, and most importantly for this particular adaptation, the dialog is funny. Love & Friendship is one of the most slyly funny movies of the year. Quiet quips and quick moments of wit provide frequent chuckles during the titillating tale of romance and betrayal.
It’s all surprisingly captivating, and it’s infinitely more watchable thanks to the presence of the excellent Kate Beckinsale, who at the very least could nab a Golden Globe nomination for her performance. She plays the conniving Susan Vernon Martin with commitment and skill, once again proving that she’s more than an action starlet from the Underworld series. Though the supporting cast, which includes Stephen Fry and Chloë Sevigny, are solid casting choices as well, this is Beckinsale’s movie at the end of the day.
Love & Friendship is smart, funny, and memorable. Fans of literature need only see the trailer to understand why it’s such a special movie. It’s the kind of Jane Austen film fans have been waiting for. It features the same clever dialog, steamy plot, and enchanting characters that make Austen such a legendary author to this day.
The snail-like pacing and apparent lack of a relevant message may drive voters away, but in the end it will be their loss for failing to recognize one of the most enchanting movies of 2016.
With box office earnings of less than $150,000 and slightly over 1,000 votes on IMDb (at the time of writing), you probably don’t need an explanation as to why Krisha isn’t going to be in the Best Picture race. If adjusted for inflation, the lowest-grossing Best Picture winner is The Hurt Locker, which still went on to make nearly $50 million at the worldwide box office.
With that in mind, be aware that The Hurt Locker grossed over three hundred times what Krisha did. It doesn’t matter how much a film manages to astound viewers. If nobody has seen it, nobody can vote for it. In other words, Krisha’s chances at the Oscars were shot down after a very limited release, and that’s an absolute crime.
It’s a shame because it is legitimately one of the greatest releases of 2016. This devastating look into the life of a woman with mental illness is genuinely arresting and moving. The story follows Krisha, the titular character who returns home to visit her family for the first time in a decade. Her mental illness and substance abuse has been all but cured and she just wants to show her family that she has changed for the better. Unfortunately, things don’t always work out as planned.
The film seeks to put viewers into Krisha’s head. Every second is devoted to watching Krisha slowly unravel after her recovery. There are a lot of messages that can be taken by the time the movie ends.
Viewers will leaving knowing that people like Krisha need support in order to function properly. They might find that the director is trying to show filmgoers that people with mental illnesses seriously want to get better despite the obstacles in their way. There’s so much meaning packed into the tight 81 minute runtime that viewers will inevitably stay up thinking about the everything that’s trying to be said.
Honestly though, if you ignore all of the subtext you’re still in for a movie worth watching. Krisha is an impactful drama with complex characters capable of making you laugh, cry, and cheer all within a fifteen minute period.
The movie may be relatively short, but Krisha is more than capable of making the most out of every frame. Krisha has the emotional impact of larger releases, but due to its limited distribution, it’s destined to get buried underneath hundreds of other films. Don’t allow Krisha to slip under your radar. That would be one of the biggest mistakes a film lover could make this year.
3. Swiss Army Man
Swiss Army Man lost its Best Picture chances the minute Danielle Radcliffe’s corpse farted. If the Academy is actually made up of grouchy old men like the rumors say, then Swiss Army Man would basically be like poison to them.
It’s an hour and a half of strange bodily functions and awkward character interactions. In other words, it’s essentially the poster boy for movies that aren’t “Academy friendly.” Honestly though, it’s hard to believe that a movie about a magical dead guy happens to be one of the most of the most effortlessly enchanting movies of the summer.
The issue with Swiss Army Man is that, in most cases, viewers either love it or hate it. This particular author left the theaters with a giant grin on his face, but it’s not hard to understand why other people would feel a different way. It’s a very strange movie, and in some cases, the strangeness of it all can be a bit excessive.
Swiss Army Man will only appeal to people who are willing to embrace its over-the-top silliness. Paul Dano dresses up as a woman, Daniel Radcliffe squirts water out of his mouth, and there’s more than one rendition of Cotton Eyed Joe. If any of that sounds too ridiculous for you to handle, be aware that it only gets weirder from there.
On the plus side, it never seems like Swiss Army Man is weird just for the sake of being weird. From the erection controlled compass to the simulated partying, everything serves it purpose in regards to moving the plot forward. The plot, no matter how outlandish it may be, is actually surprisingly moving.
There’s more to Swiss Army Man than surreal humor. Buried underneath everything is a movie that actually has plenty of heart. Viewers that can appreciate the nonsense as well as the quieter character moments are the ones most likely to fall in love with the movie.
It’s a shame that the ridiculous premise of the film is guaranteed to scare certain filmgoers away. It may not have universal appeal, but it’s still a movie that everybody deserves to give a chance. Those that are looking for something unique are sure to appreciate Swiss Army Man, but even the people on the fence deserve to sacrifice an hour and a half. It’s so unabashedly wild that you really need to see it to believe it.
4. Captain Fantastic
Viggo Mortensen could pull off a Best Actor nomination for this film, but a nomination for Best Picture is pretty much out of the question. That’s a shame, because this laugh-out-loud tearjerker is one hell of a quirky treat that’s bound to leave you an emotional mess when everything’s said and done.
Captain Fantastic brings to mind other quirky dramedies like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine. In theory, one could assume that it would be capable of filling that kind of slot in the Best Picture field. It’s unique, but not too unique for Oscar voters. The problem instead has to do with there being a fairly crowded field this year.
Captain Fantastic has done very well with critics, but it just hasn’t done well enough. Poorly reviewed movies have slipped in as Best Picture nominees before, but that’s almost exclusively because they’re stereotypical Oscar bait movies. So unfortunately, Captain Fantastic is at a disadvantage.
Okay, so the consensus is that it’s maybe not of the ten greatest movies of the year, but considering how many movies have been released this year, that’s not really an issue. Regardless of what the Academy Awards say, there are absolutely going to be people who love the movie enough to put it in their personal top ten Finish watching it and you’ll probably easy see why. Captain Fantastic is a heartfelt look at a nontraditional family trying to function in modern society.
Watching the grade A cast play the various members of this awkward family of misfits is always pleasing. Not only is there humor in watching them adjust to a society to which they are unaccustomed, but these scenes also offer moments of insight that push the movie above and beyond “standard quirky comedy” territory. It offers commentary on misconceptions, family structure, and the importance of education.
Captain Fantastic is so much more than what it appears. It could have portrayed the members of the family as one-dimensional stereotypes, it could have avoided throwing in any type of deeper meaning, and it could have made countless tasteless jokes revolving around this cast of outsiders. It never takes the easy way out, though. The movie is intelligent, funny, and profound. The Oscars may be too crowded to embrace it, but it’s a movie worth dedicating two hours of your life to see.
Isabelle Huppert has continued to impress in the precursor awards. At this point, it’s looking like she may even have a chance to earn an Oscar nomination. Once again though, this is a movie that doesn’t have much hope outside of the acting categories.
Aside from the fact that it’s a foreign language film, it’s also far too dark for voters to even consider. Critical acclaim can only help a movie so much when it comes to the Oscars. Sadly, there are certain limitations that often prevent movies from getting recognized. A rape-revenge story is obviously out of voters’ comfort zones, no matter how good the movie is.
Truthfully, the movie is outstanding no matter how you spin it. It’s disturbing for sure, but it’s also positively gripping. Isabelle Huppert is well-deserving of her recent award recognition. She’s rivaled only by Natalie Portman in terms of best female performances of the year.
In fact, this is a tour de force performance that just may be the strongest of her career. She was stellar in films like The Piano Teacher and La Cérémonie, but this is her greatest achievement bar none. Not only is she a badass, but she’s a badass capable of making you feel. Her character is brimming with depth which Huppert fully commits to bringing to the viewer’s attention.
Elle is so much more than just an acting showcase for Isabelle Huppert. It’s also one of the most empowering feminist movies to come along this century. This examination of sexual assault is so much more powerful than what viewers are used to seeing. Rape and revenge movies like Last House on the Left and I Spit on Your Grave take the serious subject of rape too seriously and instead focus on a blood-filled climax.
Elle takes a different route. It’s raw, it’s disturbing, but above all, it’s honest. Elle isn’t a piece of torture porn disguised as a feminist movie. It actually is a powerful movie about a powerful woman. If more movies like this come along, maybe the Oscars will finally take note. In the meantime, Elle is sure to become a cult classic.