8 Oscar Turds of 2013   8 comments

In the field of awards prognosticating, there will always be films that looked and sounded promising but all potential is lost once the final product is seen on the big screen. Then there are those that can ride the coattails of the buzz they accumulated all year. However, each year produces some of the biggest awards flop such as 2005’s Elizabethtown, 2006’s The Good German and Bobby, 2008’s Evening, 2011’s J.Edgar, and last year’s Hyde Park on Hudson. Here are eight films that fit this bill from 2013’s offerings and whose accumulated Oscar nominations is a big fat zero. You know you’re pretty much toast when that obscure film Alone Yet Not Alone can attach OSCAR NOMINEE once they release the DVD right?

The Fifth Estate

8. THE FIFTH ESTATE (Bill Condon)

Bill Condon has directed Oscar nominated performances such as those of Laura Linney in Kinsey, Bill Condon in Gods and Monsters, and the award winning performance of Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls. The past few years though he was busy doing the Twilight films. But one is bound to bounce to a comeback no? In his first film post-Twilight, Condon tackled the story of the Wikileaks. In it stars supposed 2013’s breakout star Benedict Cumberbatch who will move on from his TV star stage to American cinema with this lead star role. But with the film’s pans and getting lost in the shuffle among the more successful festival films was the final nail in this film’s award chances coffin. Not only was Cumberbatch getting the one-two punch of disaster, but his co-star Daniel Brühl as well (see the list below).

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty


Fun fact: Ben Stiller has already directed one Oscar nominated performance via Robert Downey Jr.’s turn in Tropic Thunder
Fun fact 2: Terence Malick’s favorite film is the Ben Stiller starrer Zoolander.

Given those, it’s easy to see that the Academy is just probably waiting for that moment to give the spotlight to Ben Stiller after all these years. It seemed probable last year when he will direct himself in this serious but charming film of a daydreamer based on the adaptation of a short film. Even the promotion of the film is done well. The only dealbreaker was when the film actually premiered and it was welcome with lukewarm to terrible reviews. It was then clear that this is not the Oscar vehicle that they are waiting for. When the film has been snubbed already even in a shortlist of ten visual effects, and a field of seven in make up which includes film like Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters and Jackass Presents: Bad Gramdpa, it’s time to call the film’s awards prospects dead. Not even the Golden Globes came to Stiller’s defense this year. To be fair though, Jim Carrey is still waiting for his first nod.

The Counselor

6. THE COUNSELOR (Ridley Scott)

On one hand, it’s easy to note that thrillers haven’t done as well as compared to the early 90s when they scream Oscar! On the other, the people involved in this film have been so familiar with Oscar that you know they’d make an exception for it. Well maybe not. But this on paper sounds like one of those shoo-in Oscar baits. Cormac McCarthy (whose novel No Country for Old Men swept the 2007 Oscars) writes his second original screenplay and is directed by Best Picture Gladiator’s director Ridley Scott. The cast has 10 Oscar nods under their belt with wins for real life couple Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz. As a matter of fact, the continuous hype over this is Cameron Diaz’ scene stealing scene that would have finally made her overdue Oscar snubs worth it. The film also boasts of baity technical achievements with the colorful costumes to the sound and cinematography that it’s bound to be noticed by Oscar. Of course the mere fact that you have read it in this list means none of those happened. In the end, it’s probably one of those films that the cast did for paycheck since no one bothered to promote it at all and has moved on to their different projects since.


5. RUSH (Ron Howard)

I don’t think this was meant to be an Oscar vehicle per se, but with Ron Howard, you’ll never know? His closest shot to an Oscar nomination since A Beautiful Mind dominated 12 years ago, this (another) biopic is one for the sports fans as it tells the rivalry of F1 legends James Hunt and Niki Lauda. The hopes went high for this one during September when things are getting solid of the race, but its box office disappointment in the US, while understandable, is still a disappointment. At the end of the day, this seems like the film that could especially when Daniel Brühl resurrected his (and the film’s) chances when he got nominated at the BFCA, GG, SAG, and BAFTA and was even a nominee for Best Picture Drama at the Globes. As predicted though, the whole Rush-urrection (if ever there was really one) came short when the guilds start to showcase their picks and Rush is nowhere to be seen. The film is simply non existent to these guilds which resulted to a shutout at the Oscars. To be fair though, it’s one of the two good films in this list.


4. DIANA (Oliver Hirschbiegel)

After getting her second Oscar nomination nine years from her first, things look really great for Naomi Watts. She made the most out of her fresh Oscar nod to work with the likes of Noah Baumbach and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu. However, the only misstep she did is taking the role of Princess Diana. You know the feeling when there’s something really bad will happen and you knew it was doomed from the start? Yep, we all had the feeling. Every one that is, except Naomi Watts. This mess of a film was supposed to be her Oscar winning vehicle, but the signs already showed as early as Cannes when it took them days to find a distributor that will carry the film in the US. To make it clearer, a seven minute clip of Philomena was shown and after that, studios started to bid for the movie. Diana, showed the whole movie, yet no one still bid for it days after the event. It then went to E-One (a budding distributor in the US), but when the UK reviews started to pop in, it was very clear that disaster has indeed arrived. At that stage, probably the only thing that could have saved the faces of those involved was to hide the film altogether. To be fair, Naomi Watts received a nomination for Diana… as Razzie’s Worst Actress of the Year. I don’t think that was the trajectory they expected after last year’s The Impossible nomination.

Fruitvale Station


Every year, a spotlight is always given to the Sundance breakout film that will fight its way to the Oscars. It happened to Little Miss Sunshine in 2006, Precious in 2009, Winter’s Bone in 2010, and Beasts of the Southern Wild last year. All those received Oscar Best Picture nods alongside those that received lots of Oscar attention as well: Away from Her, The Visitor, and An Education. 2013’s breakout representative was Ryan Coogler’s debut feature film Fruitvale Station. Everything seemed destined for it to reach Oscar glory by winning in Sundance, at Cannes, and even the critics awards for Breakthrough Feature and Breakthrough Actor for lead star Michael B. Jordan. It also benefits from the timely issue of Trayvon Martin and is being handled by Harvey Weinstein. Alas, it got lost in the shuffle in a “year of black” narratives. Come televised Oscar precursors season, the film was not a presence anymore.

The Butler


So close yet so far. After the critically panned The Paperboy last year, director Lee Daniels decided to go the safe route again, and produce a biopic about the life of a black butler who served many presidents in the White House. It features Oscar winner Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey as the headlines of the film (handled by Harvey Weinstein) and will have a lot of celebrity participation to play the White House figures. In 1998-2002, that would have been a lock for Best Picture. But definitely not in 2013. What’s more perplexing about it is its awards journey. On one hand, the SAG rewarded it with nominations, then the Globe snubbed it all throughout. That has been the road for The Butler the past few months. Come Oscar nominations time, most predictors stick with Oprah as it’s hard to believe that AMPAS would deny her a mention when she literally knows majority of the voters in it. But yes, not only was Oprah snubbed for a coattail Sally Hawkins nomination, it made NOPRAH a stable nickname for her and the film this season.

Labor Day

1. LABOR DAY (Jason Reitman)

And my pick for biggest Oscar toast this season is Labor Day. Coming from Up in the Air, it seems like Jason Reitman is poised to finally win one for his next effort. Though Young Adult also did not give him any recognition, the consensus was that it’s something that the Academy finds too lightweight as compared to baitier flicks that year. However, this adaptation drama starring six time nominee and Oscar winner Kate Winslet in her supposedly Oscar vehicle comeback since her 2008 win, was literally unfelt the whole season. No promotion, no critics talking about it, nada. After it’s Toronto premiere, it just magically disappeared. The only nomination it got is a Golden Globe Drama Best Actress for Kate who didn’t even attend the ceremonies. Now I’m sure you’ve been bombed with its TV spots now featuring Rihanna’s Stay, but if you would have told me a year ago that they will snub a Jason Reitman drama of a suburban housewife that is also a literary adaptation starring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin, I would have totally laughed at you. Not only is the joke on me, but more on the film itself.

You can follow me on Twitter: @nikowl

8 responses to “8 Oscar Turds of 2013

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  1. Shame that Labor Day was such a bust, however, I think will Reitman will bounce back because he’s already having another movie come out this year. Hopefully he stays within his comfort-zone this time. Nice list!

    • Thanks! yes, I’m probably one of thew few who loved Young Adult! But I think Labor Day was such a cop out for some awards merit. Like you, I;m excited with what he has to offer next after this. 🙂

  2. “2005′s Elizabethtown, 2006′s The Good German and Bobby, 2008′s Evening, 2011′s J.Edgar, and last year’s Hyde Park on Hudson.” –> I am saddened by the no-mention of 2009’s Amelia. Even in this list, that film is ignored. No justice? Where is the love? :))

  3. Grabe, kahit Torrent ng Labor Day, ipinagkakait. LOL. (Yes, I still wanna see it. Hahaha!)

  4. Although Walter Mitty is not an Oscar-worthy film, I really liked it. I watched it thrice already!hehe It’s a visually stunning film. It’s the kind of movie I want to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

    • Make no mistake, I like some of the films here. Rush, in particular, is a visual treat and one that I had nor regrets seeing in the big screen because it was a thrilling ride to say the least. That said, I’m talking about their failed Oscar attempts. 😉

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