With the announcement of the recent nominations for the Academy Awards, there will be a mixture of happiness and disappointment as the films people want to get recognition are noticed or overlooked. This can be for a range of reasons but it’s frustrating none the less, and even the awareness it gives can be a great sign of respect to the filmmakers.
In this list, we’ll take a look at those that were snubbed for their nomination from the Academy, and although most of the films here have received the appropriate praise since, they didn’t at their time of release. This is by no means a ‘Top Five’ list, instead some of the films that you may not have remembered didn’t get the acclaim they have now.
1. Children Of Men (2006)
Director: Alfonso Cuarón | 1h 49mins | Drama, Sci-Fi
In a near future women have become infertile for an unknown reason, and Britain stands as one of the last civilised societies, enforcing strict immigration laws. A low government employee Theo (Clive Owen) becomes involved in the safe transportation of a pregnant young woman from Africa, trying to escape the chaos of the collapsing world around them.
Children Of Men sticks in the memory of anyone who watches it for a multitude of reasons; gripping performances, originality of the adapted story and the gorgeously dark world it’s set in. Most notably though is director Alfonso Cuarón’s strong directorial vision, and the incredible camerawork throughout. The use of long takes is a cinematic feat of it’s own, but the Cuarón brings out the best in all of his cast, giving Clive Owen a role to really relish.
Of the films nominated, Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed really stand out in a good year, and potentially the latter may stand the test of time better than Children of Men, but in a filmography with the quality Cuarón’s it really says a lot that this may be one of his best.
2. My Neighbor Totoro (1988)
Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Runtime: 1h 26mins | Animation, Fantasy | Language: Japanese, English
Two young girls move out to the rural country in Japan with their father, to be closer to their unwell mother. After exploring the nearby forest, they find it’s filled with fantastical creatures, taking the girls on magical adventures attempting to deal with their family issues.
Before delving into why My Neighbour Totoro is not just worthy of a nomination but a win as well, it must be said that the Academy are not known for putting up animations for their highest award. The first was Beauty And The Beast (1991), and only two more for Up (2009) and Toy Story 3 (2010), so it was always working against this entry. However, it stands up as one of the best animated features of all time.
Released alongside the haunting Grave Of The Fireflies (which could have easily been on this list as well), it perfectly captures childhood through the eyes of Sastuki and Mei as they try to cope with their mothers potentially fatal illness. Beautifully animated, a deeply emotional story with arguably the best and most believable representation of children in a film, My Neighbour Totoro is more than deserving of the Academy’s highest award.
3. In The Mood For Love (2000)
Director: Wong Kar-wai | Runtime: 1h 38mins | Drama, Romance | Language: Cantonese
During 1960’s in Hong Kong two unnamed married couples move into neighbouring apartments, one wife whose husband whose husband works away, and a man with a wife spending many nights and weekends working. They soon suspect an affair between their spouses, and painfully wonder how and why this could have occurred.
Much like My Neighbour Totoro, Kar-wai’s 2000 classic didn’t have the Academy working in it’s favour. For both films, potentially the reason they weren’t nominated are the rules behind the Academy’s selection. To be eligible, they must have been shown in LA County for at least 7 days. Due to the productions being from outside the US, it’s likely they didn’t get that sort of run. However, taking the rules set by the Oscars aside and speaking specifically for quality, In The Mood For Love could be considered for one of the best foreign language films ever made.
Visually it strikes a note that few films ever reach, with flawless blocking and cinematography working in perfect harmony creating a beautiful setting out of the small and almost claustrophobic apartments and city streets. The romance is gorgeous and agonising, brought to life by the captivating performances from the leads. We feel the loneliness of both wronged spouses and the restraint they must have to keep their relationship platonic, not falling to the standards of their partners, it resonants with you long after the credits roll.
4. Wind River (2017)
Director: Taylor Sheridan | Runtime: 1h 47mins | Drama, Crime
Whilst tracking an animal that attacked local livestock, Fish and Wildlife Service agent Cory Lambert (Jeremy Renner) finds the frozen body of a 18-year-old girl. Inexperienced FBI Special Agent Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) is dispatched to investigate, and the nature of her death unravel as they worked together to battle the harsh frozen tundra and the difficulty of a homicide in one of Americans largest reservations.
With topics as sensitive as the ones explored here, it not only takes a strong directorial and written hand but a delicate one too. Sheridan showed his skills as a screenwriter with Sicario (2015) and Hell Or High Water (2016), as well as in his directorial debut with Wind River. It’s investigative nature pairs well with a cold Western feel, creating an intriguing – albeit brutal – murder mystery.
This is not a film for the adrenaline pumped audiences out there, though, as the slow pacing may not be for everyone, but the electric performances from Renner and Olsen as well as a visceral look into the harshness of life outside of the city really gives the film life. As shown by Sheridan in his previous two writing efforts, he steers clear from conventional narrative storytelling, with Wind River being no different. Bleak, cold and somber, it won’t leave you with a smile, but you’ll be glad you persevered alongside the characters.
5. Blade Runner (1982)
Dir. Ridley Scott | Runtime: 1h 57mins | Sci-Fi, Action, Thriller
Set in the then-future of 2019, officer Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford) is requested to find and ‘retire’ four bioengineered replicants, illegally surviving on Earth after escaping from an off-world colony.
The last and potentially most surprising on the list is Ridley Scott’s sci-fi masterpiece Blade Runner. At the time of its release, it was quite polarising with audiences and critics, the deep complexities of the themes explored hadn’t resonated with everyone yet and it was some time before it received the acclaim it deserves.
There’s little to be said that would add to the discussions surrounding the film, but it leads in the Neo-Noir genre with very little competition of the same calibre (aside from L.A Confidential  and Chinatown ). With a set and production design that doesn’t falter even today, and one of the most iconic soundtracks ever created, it shows how film as a medium can really stand as a true art form, and will be marked as one of the most important films to not receive the praise by the Academy it very much deserves.