Five Oscar-Worthy 2016 Films that Don’t Stand a Chance

We’re at the end of June, which means you’re going to start to see a lot of “best of 2016 so far” lists, (including one from us later this week) many of which will heap praise at favorite films, rightly so. It’s tempting as a critic to call something from the first half of the year an “Oscar contender,” because they are as good or better than films nominated last year or the year before.

Let’s put that optimism to bed, shall we? My bold, but not-so-bold prediction is that none of the following films will receive an Oscar nomination.

The Lobster

Category: Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture

Yorgos Lanthimos is credited with putting Greek cinema on the map with his surprise Oscar-nominated hit “Dogtooth,” the legend of which still persists to this day. Now he’s back with Colin Farrell, and an all-new absurdist screenplay about a hotel to where people go to find love with one catch – if they don’t find love in 45 days, they turn into an animal of their choice.

With Lanthimos’ pedigree and positive reception, this is sure to garner awards attention, yes? Not so fast. Remember that Dogtooth was nominated as a foreign language film; The Lobster is in the English language, so it will have to compete with all the other English language releases. Outstanding English language films in the first half of the year don’t guarantee anything, whereas a film like Son of Saul was a lock long before the nominations happened.

The Witch

Category: Picture, Director, Score, Screenplay, Cinematography

Pop quiz: how long has it been since a horror movie has been nominated for anything at the Oscars? Answer: 16 years (no, Black Swan does not count) when Willem Dafoe was nominated for his performance in Shadow of a Vampire. I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “ah, yes. Shadow of a Vampire. The old horror standby,” but, if your thinking is more along the lines of “huh?” I can totally understand.

The Witch is a film that should really run the table this year with Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and Cinematography to say the least, but, even if the nominations were announced tomorrow, The Witch would be left empty-handed because the Academy Awards does not recognize genre films, and especially not horror films.

Any proof I needed was furnished last year when It Follows wasn’t even nominated for Best Original Score, despite the fact that it objectively could have won that year (I personally would have still gone with Ennio Moricone for The Hateful Eight, but it’s very close).

Hail, Caesar!

Category: Screenplay

At this point, you’re certain I’m nuts. I can already hear you typing “picking against a Coen Brother’s movie, are you crazy?!!?” or “don’t quit your day job, you Film School Rejects reject.” Yes, the Coen Brothers are very good at garnering Oscar attention, but let’s take a look at all their Oscar-nominated films.

What do Barton Fink, Fargo, O Brother, Where Art Thou? The Man Who Wasn’t There, No Country for Old Men, A Serious Man, True Grit & Inside Llewyn Davis have in common? None of them are Comedy/Farces. Mysteriously missing from the Coen’s impressively large list of nominations are any for Raising Arizona or Burn After Reading, both of which show the same craft and talent as any of their nominated films, but have nothing to show for it.

Not to mention that Hail, Caesar! came out in February, and the Academy has a notoriously short memory (it’s been 25 years since the last February movie was nominated for Best Picture). Good luck breaking the mold.

10 Cloverfield Lane

Category – Best Supporting Actor

Lots of people are calling for this, and, if the year were over already, I could see this happening. John Goodman definitely had all the subtleties of a madman down – verbal and physical tics, sincerity in his insanity, etcetera – but if I learned anything from last year it’s that Acting races are always too early to call.

Around this same time in 2015, I was calling for an Oscar nomination for Nicholas Hoult for his role as Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road. I don’t regret that prediction. At the time, I was right. He was so engrossed in his role that he was among the best, if not the best supporting actor of that year – so far. And then, the rest of 2015 happened, with eligible supporting roles from everyone nominated, plus Michael Shannon in 99 Homes, Idris Elba in Beasts of No Nation, Jacob Tremblay in Room, Paul Dano in Love & Mercy, Michael Keaton in Spotlight. And Hoult, an actor in a movie that the Academy only begrudgingly nominated in the first place? Forget about it.

While he may deserve it now, I’d hold off before you make any bets on John Goodman.

Green Room

Category: Best Picture, Actor, Screenplay, Director

While I’m tempted to vote with my heavy heart and say that Green Room, the most recent film starring the now-deceased Anton Yelchin, will garner at least one nomination for something, if not an actor nomination. The sad truth is that posthumous acting nominations are rare. Everyone likes to remember how Heath Ledger did it, but in a more understated role like this one, or let’s say James Gandolfini’s role in Enough Said, it hardly ever happens.

That leaves the other three categories, which it seems will all be far too competitive for an ultra-violent indie film without any big name attached to its creative side. The closest comparison I can make to a 2015 film in terms of awards chances is Ex Machina, another indie film with no big names at the helm, but the consensus was that its nominations were a surprise, and probably a fluke.

But hey, we’ll see if any of this ends up on a "5 Stupid Things I Said in 2016" list.

James Wan and The Systematic Murder of Horror Directors

James Wan, director of modern horror mainstays such as the first "Saw" film and "The Conjuring," has just signed on to direct an Aquaman movie, and thus completes the gobbling up of another horror director by the movie business.

Wan is certainly not without his stumbles (Insidious 1/2 and Dead Silence were no masterpieces), but he's proven himself on several occasions to be a more-than-capable director with a passion for horror, but horror movies and good filmmakers don't mix. Not forever, anyway.

Any filmmaker who is worth his salt won't stay in horror. The genre lacks the cash flow of action, the prestige of drama and the appeal of comedy. Money may be the most important factor: 16 of the top 20 highest-grossing horror films of all time didn't even eclipse $150 million in domestic gross, a number that, even if achieved, would rank it at a cool 21st on 2014's list.

Keeping with James Wan, his latest film "Furious 7" is about to make twice as much money worldwide as all seven movies in the "Saw" series combined. I'm getting the feeling that, after "The Conjuring 2," James Wan is done with horror. Can I blame him? No. Do I wish the horror film genre had more hospitality to keep good filmmakers? You bet.

I'm just counting the movies until the industry snatches up the other good working horror directors, like David Robert Mitchell ("It Follows") and, my personal favorite, Adam Wingard ("You're Next," "The Guest"). Talented filmmakers will always be offered projects that require talent, and that's not horror.

My plea to Mr. Wingard: Please don't leave me alone with Eli Roth.

"Supergirl" Could Make or Break Female-Led Super Hero Series

When CBS unveiled the extended look at its upcoming "Supergirl" series, being underwhelming was the least of its problems. In the wake of a the pilot episode being leaked on torrent websites, reception has been slightly more positive. While I want to reserve judgment on a show that hasn't even released yet, CBS needs to realize how much is riding on its woman of steel.

A plot line in the newest Season of HBO's "Veep" (stay with me here) has Selina Meyer become the President of the United States. Since every character on that show is hilariously incompetent, Madam President is not doing so well, causing her female campaign manager to decree that we will never again have a woman president, "because we tried one, and she fucking sucked."

Back to "Supergirl": if this show bombs, gets canceled after one season and fades into obscurity, how many producers will be lining up to take on a female-led super hero series? It certainly won't be fair, because, although the 6-and-a-half-minute "Supergirl" trailer had a lot of problems, the fact that it had a female protagonist was not one of them. But that's the way producers see it: "we tried that already."

Take film as an example: the last two female-led super hero movies were 2004's "Catwoman," and 2005's "Elektra," both of which were critical and commercial failures, and we're just now getting the ball rolling on Wonder Woman and Black Widow films.

Meanwhile, "Daredevil" and, to a lesser extent "The Flash" have received high praise, further perpetuating the idea that audiences respond well to male-centric shows (rather than just good shows). So I can only hope that CBS is taking "Supergirl" seriously, otherwise I'll be in my 30s before we try this again.