This year’s Oscar nominations have finally arrived. And while the nods for Gravity, 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle are well-deserved, they’re not enough to keep Peter Travers from unleashing enough rage to shatter the famous Hollywood sign.
The snubs are plentiful this year, but none more egregious than Robert Redford’s stunning, solo and completely silent performance in All Is Lost. Playing a sailor who must navigate the Indian Ocean through a treacherous storm, the Hollywood vet picked up Best Actor at the New York Film Critics Circle for his performance and is about to kick off the 40th year of his Sundance Film Festival – yet he still comes up empty-handed in this year’s Oscars race. Another top-notch, veteran performer left hanging this year: Tom Hanks. His snub for Captain Phillips is a shocker, especially considering the film itself is up for Best Picture and rookie performer Barkhad Abdi picked up a nod for Best Supporting Actor. Travers’ theory about Redford and Hanks’ snubs: “These guys made the mistake of being on water. It was wrong. Anybody that wasn’t on water managed to get nominated.”
While Travers cops to being a tad facetious, he’s no less enraged that the Academy didn’t acknowledge Oprah Winfrey’s standout supporting turn in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. “Who out there is so crazy that they want to risk the wrath of Oprah?” he asks. “How could you! You just can’t possibly put yourself in that position. Oprah acting up a storm, smoking cigarettes and you say no?” Also left out this year were independent films, particularly infuriating after the Academy heaped praise and nominations upon Beasts of the Southern Wild. This year, however, the Oscars chose spectacle and grandeur while ignoring thoughtful, affecting films like Fruitvale Station. Even the Coen brothers’ homage to the Greenwich Village folk scene, Inside Llewyn Davis, was mostly overlooked.
Admittedly, 2013 was such a stellar year for movies that giving everyone their due was, as Travers puts it, like “hitting the broad side of a barn.” And while the young vote did its part to get Leonardo DiCaprio a nomination for Best Actor for The Wolf of Wall Street –along with helping all four leads of American Hustle (Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence, Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper) capture nods – the dearth of ignored performances is still staggering. “All I’m saying is, you have missed some major people in order to just put out namby-pamby things,” Travers says. “How do you answer to that, Oscar? I’m holding you accountable, ’cause years are gonna pass and people are gonna say, ‘What’s the matter with those. . .’ Oh, I don’t want to blip myself.”