Look Over Here! Films that Should Receive Oscar Nominations, But Likely Won't

by Frank J. Avella

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Sunday January 23, 2022
Originally published on January 21, 2022

The annual Oscar nominations announcements are looming (Feb. 8), and many sites have been trying to out-predict one another--actually, the same names are being bandied about, save for a few here and there. Many predictions began even before films were seen. That is how ridiculous the world of Oscar blogging has gotten. There is one site already predicting the outcome of next year's Oscars!

I remember being a mere lad many moons ago and handicapping the Oscar race. Things were different back then. You didn't have this onslaught of opinions vying for clicks and likes and retweets, oh my! We had what were called newspapers. That was it. I vividly recall writing one of the few savvy columnists, Marilyn Beck, about how I was incensed that she didn't bother to mention Diane Keaton in her Best Actress hopefuls in 1982 for "Shoot the Moon." How dare she overlook one of the best performances of the year. (My balls had yet to drop, but I was already Keaton fixated—signs of my future queerness?) Ms. Beck had the courtesy to write back that she agreed with me about Keaton's work, but felt the film came out too early and would be forgotten by the time Academy members voted. Ms. Beck was correct, much to my displeasure. It still stings that Debra Winger got her spot for her orgasm scene in "An Officer and a Gentleman." Such is a cinephile's life. I learned then that MY choices weren't necessarily going to be AMPAS's.

I have followed what has become an industry now. Some blogs are fair and well written. Others seem to exist to sell advertising space. The worst part is the conclusions they collectively seem to come to when it comes to the major contenders. I love when the Academy proves them wrong with out of the box surprises like Lakeith Stanfield's nom last year for "Judas and the Black Messiah" or Tom Hardy riding those "Revenant" coattail nominations back in 2016 and there was Sally Hawkins surprising in 2014 in "Blue Jasmine," a quasi-comedy.

That brings me to what I'd like to do instead of making the same-old same-old predictions you can find at every other site. Instead, I'd like to investigate multi-genres that are often ignored by the Academy, often-times blending comedy with something else, sometimes thriller, action or drama—or all three.

I acknowledge that "Parasite," which won Best Picture two years ago, is a foreign-language black-comedy thriller, but it was also an Academy aberration, whether you think it was because the voting members simply fell head over heels for Bong Joon-ho's riveting satire or whether AMPAS was trying to make some kind of savvy, politically correct statement. The choice was not the norm. But hopefully it did signal a change.

Going as far back as the dawn of AMPAS multi-genre/comic performances were egregiously overlooked. The multi-faceted, amazing work of Mae West, Jean Harlow and Marilyn Monroe were never nominated for acting Oscars.

And over the years here are a few others: Tony Curtis in "Some Like It Hot," Jane Fonda in "Cat Ballou," (a comedy/western!) Malcolm McDowell in "A Clockwork Orange," Kathleen Turner in "Romancing the Stone," Mia Farrow in "The Purple Rose of Cairo," Amy Adams in "Enchanted"—the list goes on and on. And just this past year one of the most hilarious supporting performances in a comedy/musical, Jamie Dornan in "Barb and Star Go to Vista Del Mar" not nominated.

Now, on to the Comedy-multi-genre movies from 2021 that deserve notice (but will more than likely be snubbed).

'Don't Look Up'




The multi-genre movie with possibly the best chance of multiple major nominations is Adam McKay's brilliant "Don't Look Up," a dark comedy/thriller/throwback-disaster film. If critics have any say, it won't be, simply because they somehow didn't appreciate the fact that the film seemed to be preaching to the choir OR they just didn't get it OR they prejudged it based on McKay's politics. Regardless, the film is being seen and enjoyed by many on Netflix (possibly right and left—we don't know). And Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett deliver award-worthy turns and should both be recognized (Blanchett is also in the running for her stunner role in "Nightmare Alley.") Fingers crossed.

'Licorice Pizza'




Here's a film that defies genres in many ways, but it leans dark comedy/romance...I think. With its meandering narrative that feels like Paul Thomas Anderson was high writing it, "Licorice Pizza" has a decent shot at some Oscar recognition since PTA is a critic's and Academy darling. Just how much, though, we shall see since this quasi-romance between a 15-year-old overly optimistic entrepreneur (Cooper Hoffman) and a 25-year-old negative Nancy (Alana Haim) has had its share of Twitter controversy. Still look for a screenplay nomination. At least. This one received 4 Globe nominations.

'Nightmare Alley'




Guillermo Del Toro's Noir-ish remake of Edmund Goulding's 1947's Tyrone Power classic is a masterful reworking that blends many genres in a glorious manner. "Nightmare Alley" 2021 is part thriller, part taboo romance, sometimes a satiric comedy, often a dark drama and always beguiling to watch. But other than some tech nominations, I doubt the Academy will notice. Cate Blanchett who delivers one of the most captivating performances of the year, did manage a SAG nomination, so maybe there is hope.

'Last Night in Soho'




Edgar Wright's sumptuous satiric, psychological thriller is a stunner, gorgeously photographed, edited, costumed, set designed and scored. Oh, and the writing and directing are damn good as well. Fashion student Thomasin McKenzie and Anya Taylor-Joy are both fantastic. Terrence Stamp is perfectly menacing. And Dame Diana Rigg, in her final film performance, is brilliant and worthy of an Oscar nomination. I'm guessing it will be completely overlooked. Such a damn shame—especially for Dame Diana.

'Pig'




Writer-director Michael Sarnoski continually switches genre gears with his absorbing and captivating debut feature, "Pig," which begins as an intense drama, turns bizarrely comedic, leans into thriller and then become more psychological character study. The less said about the plot the better because the surprises make the film soar. Nicolas Cage does his best work since "Leaving Las Vegas" and Alex Wolff rocks his part. But will voting members even bother to watch?

'Cruella'




I wasn't a fan of the Glenn Close mess "101 Dalmatians" so I was hot on seeing "Cruella" and much to my shock, it was an absolute treat. I should have realized that with the two Emmas involved—Stone and Thompson—it could not have been anything less than stellar. Both deserve consideration. Stone has already been Globe nominated. But it's doubtful this will show up in many categories except a few techies. How to categorize it? Comedy/Action-Adventure/Fantasy?

'Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn'




This truly Romanian work of bizarre art was already overlooked for the International Feature short list proving how divisive it is. I'm not surprised since the mid-section is just a WTF. But if you stick with it Radu Jude's "Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn" proves a genius satire on our current culture where the ending is a triumph of female empowerment. That would probably be too much for the older while male Academy members to handle. A shame because this is one of the most audacious films of 2021. This would be Satiric Insanity.

'No Time to Die'




If Sam Mendes' "Skyfall," the best of the Daniel Craig Bond films, could not get a Best Picture nomination after landing a BAFTA Best Film nod, then there is little hope for Cary Fukunaga's "No Time to Die," which is excellent but not on the level of "Skyfall." Still, as a farewell, and representing a return to cinemas for many (it was my first in-person IMAX screening after 18 months away), it should be in contention — and probably will score a slew of tech nods and a Best Song Award for Billie Eilish's mumbling track. There are definite comic moments, but it leans on the action-adventure/suspense side.

'Free Guy'




Shawn Levy's visual cacophony "Free Guy" falls into the action-comedy genre, one that is usually overlooked except in the obvi tech categories. Action-comedy star Ryan Reynolds keeps delivering one terrific performance after another in these films. And "Free Guy" has Jodie Comer and Taika Waititi killing it in a villainous supporting turn. A few years back (2015), the action-comedy "Spy" had a trio of worthy contenders that were overlooked as well (Melissa McCarthy, Rose Byrne and Jason Statham).

'Everybody's Talking About Jamie'




Musicals do well with the Academy, historically, but the last gay-themed musical-comedy to received multiple nominations was "Victor/Victoria" back in 1982 (we don't count "Les Misérables" since it was an unintentional gay musical comedy). Jonathan Butterell's "Everybody's Talking About Jamie" is a rousing, queer empowering gem with superb performances, especially by newcomer Max Harwood and veteran Brit Sarah Lancashire. Yet as Anglophilic as the Academy can be, this is a long shot for any recognition. But wouldn't it be sweet if on the morning of February 8th, everyone was, indeed, talking about Jamie?

Frank J. Avella is a film journalist and is thrilled to be writing for EDGE. He also contributes to Awards Daily and is the GALECA East Coast Rep and a Member of the New York Film Critics Online. Frank is a recipient of the International Writers Residency in Assisi, Italy, a Bogliasco Foundation Fellowship, and a NJ State Arts Council Fellowship. His short film, FIG JAM, has shown in Festivals worldwide (figjamfilm.com) and won awards. His screenplays (CONSENT, LURED, SCREW THE COW) have also won numerous awards in 16 countries. He is a proud member of the Dramatists Guild. https://filmfreeway.com/FrankAvella https://muckrack.com/fjaklute