Analyzing the Academy Award Nominees: Editors’ Picks

From Unnoticed to Overlooked, Arts Editors Reveal Who They Think Deserves Oscar Recognition


Published: February 12, 2009

MARIKA ROBAK, Arts & Culture Co-Editor

Most Deserving-Yet-Unnoticed:

1. Martin McDonagh for Best
Original Screenplay, “In Bruges”

As a fan of McDonagh’s plays, I was pleasantly surprised to see he had moved into the film industry.  “In Bruges” is a black comedy with quips that make you laugh out loud and meditations on life’s absurdity that make you want to cry.  This story delivers an emotional wallop you won’t soon forget.

2. “WALL-E” for Best Animated Feature

“WALL-E” is a stunning success in visual storytelling. Consider how much of this movie is completely non-verbal, yet entirely effective. And Pixar had to create a wholly unfamiliar-yet-believable world and character for audiences to comprehend and accept! For this alone, this movie deserves to win.

3. “Waltz With Bashir” for Best Foreign Language Film

Director Ari Folman has created a masterpiece film. His brilliant use of animation and hard-hitting exploration of the human psyche is complex on every level. A film about repressed memories may never be so memorable.

Overlook Outrage:

1. Darren Aronofsky for Best Director, “The Wrestler”

“The Wrestler” is undoubtedly Aronofsky’s best film to date. Every shot is meaningful, making the film constantly compelling. Aronofsky creates a gritty, realistic world that absorbs the audience and makes the viewer believe the story of Randy “The Ram” Robinson.

2. Bruce Springsteen for Best
Original Song, “The Wrestler”

None of the nominees in this category are as intense and closely connected to the films’ subjects as this song by the Boss. Austere and bleak, it captures the persona and situation of Randy the Ram perfectly.

3. Robert Downey, Jr. for Best Actor, “Iron Man”

Just because it’s a superhero movie doesn’t make it any less valid. If Heath Ledger could get nominated for his role as the Joker in “The Dark Knight,” then Downey, Jr. definitely deserves this award. Rarely, if ever, has a superhero been so convincing! Downey, Jr. imbues billionaire alcoholic Tony Stark with more life and believability better than any other actor ever could.

Most Deserving-Yet-Unnoticed:

1.Richard Jenkins for Best Actor, “The Visitor”

A life-long character actor, Jenkins brought sensitivity  and nuance in a little-talked-about, first lead role as a repressed, timid college professor who learns to let loose.

2.Taraji P. Henson for Best Supporting Actress, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button”

While Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett may be the stars of this epic film, Henson, as Button’s loving mother figure, is really the movie’s heart and emotional center.

3. “Man on Wire” for Best Feature Length Documentary

Unless they are by Michael Moore, the films nominated in documentary categories rarely get much attention—but this fascinating film about Philippe Petit’s attempt to walk a wire strung between the two Twin Towers deserves a watch, and the Oscar nomination.

4. “WALL-E” for Best Original Screenplay

Let me just say this—this script earned a well-deserved nomination in this category despite the fact that the first 45 minutes of the movie includes not a single word of dialogue.


NICOLE BOURNAS-NEY, Arts & Culture Co-Editor

Overlook Outrage:

1. Leonardo DiCaprio for Best Actor, “Revolutionary Road”

What does the academy have against this film? Leonardo DiCaprio’s moving performance as a repressed suburbanite of the 1950s in this film was snubbed; but then, the Academy also bucked the trend set at every awards show this season and denied his co-star Kate Winslet a nod for her performance as well.

2. Bruce Springteen for Best Original Song, “The Wrestler”

Springsteen won the Golden Globe in this category for his stirring title song for “The Wrestler,” yet he doesn’t even get a nomination from the Academy?

3. Robert Downey, Jr. for Best Actor, “Iron Man”

RDJ took the superhero role to a new level—making Tony Stark flawed, witty, likeable and egotistical, all at the same time. For that he deserves major props—and a Best Actor nod.