10 Sci-Fi Films That Should Have Been Nominated For Best Picture


Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-rocket-with-gun

Over the past few years, it’s gotten a little bit more common to see science fiction films nominated for best picture.  While a sci-fi film has yet to win best picture, it is no longer as much of a shock to see a science fiction film nominated.  At least not as much as it is to see a horror film nominated.

That said, it’s still an uphill fight.  Here are 10 science fiction films that I feel could and should have been nominated for best picture:

  1. Metropolis (1927)

Fritz Lang’s expressionistic silent epic remains one of the most influential films of all time.  Metropolis was eligible to be nominated during the first year of the Oscars, a year in which not one but two awards for best picture were handed out.  That Metropolis was nominated for neither Best Production nor Unique and Artistic Picture was a huge missed opportunity.

2. The War of the Worlds (1953)

This film may be over 60 years old but it’s still one of the best alien invasion films ever made.  And yes, I prefer the original to the Spielberg version.

3. The Time Machine (1960)

Morlocks, Eloi, and war … oh my!

4. Planet of the Apes (1968)

“A planet where apes evolved from man?”  No, not quite.  “YOU BLEW IT UP!  GODDAMN YOU TO HELL!”  Yes, that’s better.  Today, Planet of the Apes may seem more than a little bit campy but it’s still an unusually intelligent social satire.  Charlton Heston’s persona has never been better used.

5. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Can you believe that this classic from Stanley Kubrick was not nominated?  Kubrick got a directing nomination but, when it came to picking the best films of the year, the Academy nominated Oliver! and Rachel, Rachel.

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6. Blade Runner (1982)

Blade Runner is today recognized as a classic but it originally received mixed reviews and was ignored by the Academy.  At the very least, Rutger Hauer deserved a nomination.

7. Never Let Me Go (2010)

This underrated clone drama was sadly overlooked.  Andrew Garfield’s performance is heartbreaking.

Film Review Under the Skin

8. Under the Skin (2014)

This enigmatic film was probably too bizarre and unsettling for the Academy but Jonathan Glazer’s direction and Scarlett Johansson’s performance make Under the Skin a classic.

9. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Whenever I rewatch Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m happy to discover that it still holds up as a wonderful piece of entertainment.  It remains my favorite film of 2014.

10. Ex Machina (2015)

Quite simply an amazing film, this is a Metropolis for the 21st Century.

 

What if Lisa Marie Picked The Oscar Nominees!


Oscar1

With the Oscar nominations due to be announced tomorrow, now is the time that the Shattered Lens indulges in a little something called, “What if Lisa had all the power.” Listed below are my personal Oscar nominations.  Please note that these are not the films that I necessarily think will be nominated.  The fact of the matter is that the many of them will not.  Instead, these are the films that would be nominated if I was solely responsible for deciding the nominees this year.  Winners are listed in bold.

(You’ll also note that I’ve added four categories, all of which I believe the Academy should adopt — Best Voice-Over Performance, Best Casting, Best Stunt Work, and Best Overall Use Of Music In A Film.)

(Click on the links to see my nominations for 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010!)

2015 Best Picture Nominees

Best Picture

Boyhood

The Fault In Our Stars

Foxcatcher

The Grand Budapest Hotel

*Guardians of the Galaxy*

The LEGO Movie

Nightcrawler

Palo Alto

Under the Skin

Wild

600full-richard-linklater

Best Director

Wes Anderson for The Grand Budapest Hotel

Dan Gilroy for Nightcrawler

Jonathan Glazer for Under the Skin

James Gunn for Guardians of the Galaxy

*Richard Linklater for Boyhood*

Jean-Marc Vallee for Wild

Nightcrawler

Best Actor

Macon Blair in Blue Ruin

Nicholas Cage in Joe

Ralph Fiennes in The Grand Budapest Hotel

*Jake Gyllenhaal in Nightcrawler*

Tom Hardy in Locke

Michael Keaton in Birdman

reese-witherspoon-wild-slice

Best Actress

Scarlett Johansson in Under the Skin

Angelina Jolie in Maleficent

Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl

Emmanuelle Seigner in Venus In Fur

Shailene Woodley in The Fault In Our Stars

*Reese Witherspoon in Wild*

Gary Poulter in Joe

Best Supporting Actor

Josh Brolin in Inherent Vice

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher

Ethan Hawke in Boyhood

*Gary Poulter in Joe*

Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher

J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

968full-only-lovers-left-alive-screenshot

Best Supporting Actress

Patrica Arquette in Boyhood

Laura Dern in Wild

Emma Roberts in Palo Alto

Rene Russo in Nightcrawler

Emma Stone in Birdman

*Mia Wasikowska in Only Lovers Left Alive*

Vin-Diesel-is-Groot-Official-Guardians-of-the-Galaxy

Best Voice Over Performance

Scott Adsit in Big Hero 6

Bradley Cooper in Guardians of the Galaxy

Kate del Castillo in The Book of Life

*Vin Diesel in Guardians of the Galaxy*

Morgan Freeman in The LEGO Movie

Chris Pratt in The LEGO Movie

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Best Original Screenplay

*Boyhood*

Chef

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The LEGO Movie

Nightcrawler

The One I Love

wildhorsedern 4

Best Adapted Screenplay

The Fault In Our Stars

Gone Girl

Guardians of the Galaxy

Palo Alto

Venus in Fur

*Wild*

Lego Movie

Best Animated Feature

Big Hero 6

The Book of Life

The Boxtrolls

How To Train Your Dragon 2

*The LEGO Movie*

JodorowskysDune

Best Documentary Feature

Art and Craft

*Jodorowsky’s Dune*

The Last Patrol

Life Itself

Private Violence

Under the Electric Sky

Venus_in_Fur_poster

Best Foreign Language Film

Borgman

Ida

Illiterate

The Raid 2

*Venus In Fur*

We Are The Best!

Boyhood Image

Best Casting

*Boyhood*

Foxcatcher

Joe

Snowpiercer

Under the Skin

Wild

Palo Alto

Best Cinematography

California Scheming

A Field In England

Foxcatcher

If I Stay

Nightcrawler

*Palo Alto*

Meryl-Streep-Into-The-Woods

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One

In Secret

*Into the Woods*

Pompeii

Film Review Under the Skin

Best Editing

Birdman

Boyhood

Guardians of the Galaxy

Nightcrawler

*Under the Skin*

Wild

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-gang

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Foxcatcher

*Guardians of the Galaxy*

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Inherent Vice

Into the Woods

Maleficent

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Best Original Score

California Scheming

A Field in England

Gone Girl

Guardians of the Galaxy

Nightcrawler

*Under the Skin*

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Best Original Song

“Lost Stars” from Begin Again

“The Apology Song” from The Book of Life

“Split the Difference” from Boyhood

“Yellow Flicker Beats” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One

*”Everything is Awesome” from The LEGO Movie*

“Sister Rust” from Lucy

“Mercy” from Noah

“Hal” from Only Lovers Left Alive

“Rock Star” from Palo Alto

“Summer Nights” from Under the Electric Sky

GuardiandoftheGalaxy

Best Overall Use Of Music

Begin Again

Boyhood

A Field in England

*Guardians of the Galaxy*

Only Lovers Left Alive

Whiplash

The-Grand-Budapest-Hotel-580

Best Production Design

*The Grand Budapest Hotel*

Guardians of the Galaxy

Inherent Vice

Into the Woods

Snowpiercer

Winter’s Tale

Fury

Best Sound Editing

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

A Field in England

*Fury*

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Capt2-Payoff-1-Sht-v8-Lg-c563d

Best Sound Mixing

*Captain America: The Winter Soldier*

A Field in England

Fury

Guardians of the Galaxy

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Dawn-Of-The-Planet-Of-The-Apes3-e1396236946120

Best Stunt Work

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

*Dawn of the Planet of the Apes*

Divergent

In the Blood

Raze

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-rocket-with-gun

Best Visual Effects

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Edge of Tomorrow

Godzilla

*Guardians of the Galaxy*

Interstellar

X-Men: Days of Future Past

Number of Nominations by Film

14 Nominations — Guardians of the Galaxy

9 Nominations — Boyhood

8 Nominations — Nightcrawler

7 Nominations — Wild

6 Nominations — Foxcatcher, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Lego Movie, Under the Skin

5 Nominations —  A Field in England, Palo Alto

4 Nominations — X-Men: Days of Future Past

3 Nominations — Birdman, The Book of LifeCapt. America: The Winter Soldier, The Fault In Our Stars, Gone Girl, Inherent Vice, Into the WoodsJoe, Only Lovers Left AliveVenus in Fur

2 Nominations — Begin AgainBig Hero 6, California SchemingDawn of the Planet of Apes, Fury, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part OneMaleficent, SnowpiercerUnder the Electric SkyWhiplash

1 Nomination — Art and CraftBlue Ruin, BorgmanThe Box Trolls, ChefDivergent, Edge of Tomorrow, Godzilla, How To Train Your Dragon 2, Ida, If I StayIlliterate, In SecretIn the Blood, Interstellar, Jodorowsky’s Dune, The Last Patrol, Life ItselfLocke, Lucy, NoahThe One I Love, Pompeii, Private ViolenceThe Raid 2Raze, We Are The Best!, Winter’s Tale

Numbers of Oscars By Film

5 Oscars — Guardians of the Galaxy

3 Oscars — Boyhood

2 Oscars — The LEGO Movie, Under the Skin, Wild

1 Oscar — Capt. America: The Winter Soldier, Dawn of the Plaent of the Apes, Jodorowsky’s Dune, Fury, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Into the Woods, Joe, Nightcrawler, Only Lovers Left Alive, Palo Alto, Venus In Fur

Oscars

Birdman Soars Over Utah


michael-keaton-birdman

Somehow, I missed this one in my previous awards roundup.  Way back on December 18th, the Utah Film Critics announced their picks for the best of 2014.  Here’s what won!

Best Picture
“Birdman”
(Runner-up: “The Imitation Game”)

Best Director
Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”
(Runner-up: Jonathan Glazer, “Under the Skin”)

Best Actor
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
(Runner-up: TIE – Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game” and Ralph Fiennes, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Best Actress
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
(Runner-up: Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”)

Best Supporting Actor
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
(Runner-up: Edward Norton, “Birdman”)

Best Supporting Actress
Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”
(Runner-up: Tilda Swinton, “Snowpiercer”)

Best Adapted Screenplay
(TIE) “Inherent Vice” and “Snowpiercer”

Best Original Screenplay
“Birdman”
(Runner-up: “Nightcrawler”)

Best Cinematography
“Nightcrawler”
(Runner-up: “Under the Skin”)

Best Animated Feature
“The LEGO Movie”
(Runner-up: “The Boxtrolls”)

Best Non-English Feature
“We Are the Best!”
(Runner-up: “Two Days, One Night”)

Best Documentary Feature
“CITIZENFOUR”
(Runner-up: “The Overnighters”)

 

 

For Your Consideration #9: Under the Skin (dir by Jonathan Glazer)


Under the Skin is one of the most brilliantly divisive films of the year.  To some, it’s a pretentious mess, a collection of seemingly random scenes and obscure themes.  To me, however, it is one of the most haunting films that I’ve ever seen.  It’s a film that’s full of mysteries and questions, one that often demands that we supply our own answers.  It’s one of the best films of the year and anyone who disagrees needs to rewatch it.

From the opening scene, Under the Skin is a dream of dark and disturbing things.

In Scotland, a silent motorcyclist (Jeremy McWilliams) finds a young woman’s dead body lying on the side of the road.  He picks up the body and puts it in the back of a van.  Inside the van, a naked woman (played by Scarlett Johansson) takes the dead woman’s clothes.  As soon becomes apparent, both the motorcyclist and the woman are not human.  They’re aliens and they’ve come to Earth on a mission that is deliberately left obscure.  Though they never speak to each other, the motorcyclist always seems to be nearby.

The woman drives the van across Scotland.  She stops men in the street and, after asking for directions, then attempts to coerce them into her van.  (What makes these scenes especially effective is that the majority of them actually feature Johansson talking to nonactors who just happened to be nearby when she drove up.)  The woman smiles and flirts and has little trouble convincing the majority of the men she meets to get into the van with her.

She drives them to an isolated building where the men follow her inside.  As they step into a pitch black room, both the woman and her latest man start to undress.  The naked man starts to walk towards the woman and is so hypnotized by the sight of her that he doesn’t even realize that the floor has become liquified and he’s sinking.  As Johansson watches coldly, each man eventually vanishes, leaving behind only his empty skin.

(Warning: The two scenes below are definitely NSFW.  Watch with caution.)

Detached from her surroundings, the woman can only watch as real human beings go about their lives.  When she sees a man unsuccessfully try to save a drowning couple on the beach, she reacts by striking the man on the head with a rock.  She drags the man away, leaving the couple’s terrified toddler on the beach.  When the motorcyclist later visits the beach, he too ignores the child.  (Perhaps no scene left me more disturbed and inspired more nightmares than this one.)

It’s only when the woman picks up a man with a severe facial disfigurement (a poignant performance from a nonactor named Adam Pearson) that she finally starts to show some emotion.  The man is as much of an outsider as she is, with the main difference being that he can’t hide who he really is under a disguise.  The woman feels sorry for him and this sudden shock of empathy causes her to reconsider her mission.

However, even as the woman attempts to flee to the Scottish highlands, the motorcyclist is never far behind.  And, unfortunately, neither are real humans…

Under the Skin is pure cinema, a collection of scenes that alternate between being naturalistic and surreal, disturbingly serious and darkly humorous.  Perhaps appropriately for a film about appearances, Under the Skin is a movie that is full of haunting images, the type that, 8 months after first being seen, remain vivid in your mind.  It’s up to the viewers to decide what those images mean.

(For all of the discussion that I’ve seen online about what Under the Skin is truly about, it seems pretty obvious to me that the main message of the film is that guys are so led by their penis that they’ll even allow themselves to sink into a liquid void if there’s a chance they might get laid beforehand.)

Under the Skin has been a player (albeit a minor one) in the precursors leading up the Oscars.  A few of the braver critical groups have nominated it for best picture and have also honored Scarlett Johansson for her wonderful work as an outsider who is both slowly discovering what it means to be human while also dealing with the reality that, try as she might, she will never truly belong in this world.  However, with all that in mind, Under the Skin is probably too divisive and unique a film to ever truly appeal to the Academy.

But that’s okay.

Under the Skin is also a film that we’ll still be discussing years from now.

Film Review Under the Skin

 

Here Are The Detroit Film Critics Nominations!


Under the Skin

And here are the Detroit Film Critics Nominees for 2014!  I’m happy to see that they had some love for one of my favorite films of the year, Under the Skin!

(h/t to awards circuit)

BEST FILM

Boyhood
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Under the Skin
Whiplash

BEST DIRECTOR

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Jonathan Glazer, Under the Skin
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood

BEST ACTOR

Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Brendan Gleeson, Calvary
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Tom Hardy, Locke
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

BEST ACTRESS

Essie Davis, The Babadook
Scarlett Johansson, Under the Skin
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
JK Simmons, Whiplash

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Rene Russo, Nightcrawler
Emma Stone, Birdman
Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer

BEST ENSEMBLE

Birdman
Boyhood
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Into the Woods

BREAKTHROUGH

Damien Chazelle, Whiplash (director, screenplay)
Jennifer Kent, The Babadook (director, screenplay)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Belle, Beyond the Lights (actress)
Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy (actor)
Dan Stevens, The Guest (actor)

BEST SCREENPLAY

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Nicolas Giacobone and Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
John Michael McDonagh, Calvary

BEST DOCUMENTARY

CitizenFour
Finding Vivian Maier
Jodorowsky’s Dune
Keep On Keepin’ On
Life Itself

(It’s interesting to note that, despite the fact that they clearly appreciate independent visions, the Detroit Film Critics totally snubbed Only Lovers Left Alive, a film that is, in many ways, a love letter to Detroit.)

968full-only-lovers-left-alive-screenshot

Here Are The Online Film Critics Society Nominations!


Film Review Under the Skin

The Online Film Critics Society announced their nominees for the best of 2014 earlier today and what can I say other than the fact that I love them!  Seriously, it’s such a wonderful mix of the expected (Boyhood, Selma) and the unexpected (Ida, Mommy).

If the Oscar nominations look anything like the OFCS nominations, then it will be a very interesting night.  (Unfortunately, they probably won’t…)

(h/t to awardwatch)

Best Picture 
Boyhood 
The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Ida 
The Lego Movie 
Mommy 
Nightcrawler 
Selma 
Two Days, One Night 
Whiplash 
Under the Skin 

Best Animated Feature 
Big Hero 6 
The Boxtrolls 
How to Train Your Dragon 2 
The Lego Movie 
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya 

Best Film Not in the English Language 
Ida 
The Missing Picture 
Mommy 
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya 
Two Days, One Night 

Best Documentary 
Citizenfour 
Life Itself 
The Missing Picture 
National Gallery 
The Overnighters 

Best Director 
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Jean-Pierre Dardenne & Luc Dardenne – Two Days, One Night 
Ava DuVernay – Selma
Jonathan Glazer – Under the Skin 
Richard Linklater – Boyhood

Best Actor 
Ralph Fiennes – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Brendan Gleeson – Calvary
Jake Gyllenhaal – Nightcrawler 
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Timothy Spall – Mr. Turner 

Best Actress 
Marion Cotillard – Two Days, One Night 
Essie Davis – The Babadook 
Anne Dorval – Mommy
Julianne Moore – Still Alice 
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl 

Best Supporting Actor 
Josh Brolin – Inherent Vice 
Ethan Hawke – Boyhood
Edward Norton – Birdman
Mark Ruffalo – Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons – Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette – Boyhood
Jessica Chastain – A Most Violent Year 
Suzanne Clément – Mommy
Agata Kulesza – Ida
Tilda Swinton – Snowpiercer

Best Original Screenplay
Boyhood 
The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Selma 
Two Days, One Night 
Whiplash 

Best Adapted Screenplay 
Gone Girl 
Inherent Vice 
Snowpiercer 
Under the Skin 
We Are the Best! 

Best Editing 
Birdman 
Boyhood 
Gone Girl 
The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Whiplash

Best Cinematography 
Birdman 
The Grand Budapest Hotel 
Ida 
Mr. Turner 
Under the Skin 

Best Non-U.S. Release (non-competitive category)
’71 ,
10,000 km ,
Entre Nós ,
Han Gong-ju ,
Hard to Be a God ,
The Look of Silence ,
The Salt of the Earth ,
What We Do in the Shadows ,
Timbuktu ,
The Tribe

Mommy

Arleigh’s Top 9 Films of 2014 (Front End)


We’re now past the halfway point for the film season of 2014. The year has seen it’s share of hits, bombs and surprises. Many look at the box-office numbers some that these films generate as a sign of their success. Others look at how the critics-at-large have graded these films as a way to determine whether they’ve been successful.

I know some people would list nothing but independent arthouse films as their best. They look at genre and big-budget films as not being worthy of being the best of the year, so far. It’s that sort of thinking that limits one’s appreciation of film, in general.

Does having a 150 million dollar budget mean that a film cannot be one of the best of the year. Past history will suggest that’s not the case. Yet, there are cinephiles out there who will dismiss such films because they consider it as being too Hollywood. The same goes for people who look down upon genre films like horror, scifi, westerns and many others that do not fit their slice-of-life drama study. They’re not existential enough for some.

I’ve come to look at all the films I’ve been fortunate enough to see through the first six months of 2014 and picked 9 of the best (I picked a random odd number since Lisa Marie already does the even numbers thing) no matter their genre, type of film and budget. I’ve picked a couple of scifi films, a documentary, an action-packed blockbuster sequel, a wonderfully made 3-D animated film (itself a sequel), a neo-noir Western, a brutal crime-thriller, an indie horror-thriller and one of the best comedies of the last couple years.

In no special order….

noah-banner222Noah (dir. by Darren Aronofsky)

capawsmovarthc-cvr-a91f8Captain America: The Winter Soldier (dir. by Anthony and Joe Russo)

cold_in_july_ver2_xlgCold in July (dir. by Jim Mickle)

HTTYD2How To Train Your Dragon 2 (dir. by Dean DuBois)

JodorowskysDuneJodorowsky’s Dune (dir. by Frank Pavich)

the-raid-2-berandal01The Raid 2: Berandal (dir. by Gareth Evans)

Snowpiercer (dir. by Bong Joon-ho)

GrandPianoGrand Piano (dir. by Eugenio Mira)

22JumpStreet22 Jump Street (dir. Phil Lord and Christopher Miller)

My honorable mentions: All Cheerleaders Die, X-Men: Days of Future Past, Joe, Edge of Tomorrow, Lego: The Movie, Blue Ruin, Locke, Under the Skin, Only Lovers Left Alive, The Sacrament