Why no Oscar love for Cloud Atlas?

Feature Cameron K McEwan 11 Jan 2013 - 06:36

Among the predictable movies among yesterday’s Oscar nominations, Cloud Atlas was conspicuously absent. Cameron wonders what happened...

When Seth McFarlane joked "breath of fresh air" after the well known list of nominees for Best Supporting Actor were read out at yesterday's Oscar nominations announcement, his remark could have been aimed at the whole bland list - in every category.

Regardless of the predictability we see each year (not a new phenomenon, by any means) and the safety of the nominations (that's not my argument here), surely the fact that last year's Cloud Atlas - one of the most bold, challenging and imaginative films of the 21st century - is an embarrassment to the Academy and what they stand for.

Cloud Atlas is proof that truly original, thought-provoking and intelligent blockbusters can be produced, and produced well. This is exactly the sort of work they should be championing: work that excites, infuriates and fires the brain cells. It also displays huge creativity and workmanship on a scale rarely seen in the multiplexes these days.

That's what is so perplexing; the quality of the talent in the film have gone completely unnoticed.

I mentioned the Supporting Actor category earlier, and whilst I wouldn't suggest that Cloud Atlas had Oscar-winning performances, they were certainly noteworthy and fascinating in equal measure. But I wouldn't have been that surprised to find that Jim Broadbent, Ben Whishaw or Doona Bae had been nominated for their multiple roles. Heck, even Tom Hanks is mesmerisingly enthralling in a disturbing way.

But it's behind the camera where Cloud Atlas truly excels. In all honesty, I would have thought it would have easily won Film Editing without contestation. Alexander Berner expertly weaves the seemingly interlocking tales like a conductor, with swift, seamless and thoughtful moves between time zones. But not even a nomination.

Similarly, the sublime score, which forms such a central part of the story and lifts the very narrative it inhabits, is one of the most incredible soundtracks I've heard this side of Blade Runner (another film the Academy largely ignored). Yet, not even a wink from the Academy. I could go on. The cinematography, provided by Frank Griebe (Run Lola Run) and John Toll (Vanilla Sky) makes you glad you have eyes. But no. Nada.

But there must be some nods in the ‘lesser’ categories (such as Production Design, Make-Up, Sound Editing and Mixing) I thought to myself after Seth and Emma Stone trundled off stage. The Visual Effects are awe-inspiring and spectacularly used - and certainly kick the crap out of Snow White And The Huntsman or even The Avengers. But still nothing in all of these categories - big or small.

So what's the problem? Is the Academy cared of genre? (One also notes no noms for Looper, but don't get me started.) Personally, I wouldn't describe Cloud Atlas as a genre film - it's a tale of humanity, and one would think the Academy has got past that kind of thinking (though evidence isn't strong on that particular argument). Perhaps it's the ‘group’ nature of the film - the direction, the cinematography and the score are all handled by multiple names as opposed to the more traditional single man/woman.

Of course, maybe it was as simple as taste. Perhaps none of the voters liked it or rated it technically sufficient enough to care. Yes, it's a sprawling mess. But in a good way. In a way that embraces film and its ultimate possibilities; and just why its trio of directors, Tom Tykwer, Andy Wachowski and Lana Wachowski (who also adapted the original novel for the screen in an ambitious and deserved-a-nomination style), should be lauded for such an audacious and memorable piece of work.

I would wager that in ten years time, we'll still be talking about Cloud Atlas and what it means (and what it could mean) whilst the majority of films paraded for your attention will barely be seen let alone remembered. It's simply extraordinary that the work merited absolutely zero from the Academy. Just another year at the Oscars.

You can read the list of Oscar nominees here.

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Agreed, loved this one. It wasn't perfect but it was more thought provoking than life of pi. I liked both, but cloud atlas really hit a home run in my sci fi heart. Seems sci fi movies don't get a lot of love at the academy.

The Academy is overwhelmingly made up of old white liberals, many of whom are highly political in their judgments... which is why 'The Dark Knight' was not even nominated for Best Picture in 2009, nor why 'Zero Dark Thirty' is nominated for Best Picture this year.

In truth, I haven't taken the Oscars seriously since they awarded Best Picture to 'The Sting' in 1974 over the masterpiece that was 'The Exorcist', and this year's nominations do no good in reversing that judgment... and why they picked someone as profane and odious as Seth McFarlane to host the ceremony this year is beyond me, was Charlie Manson not available?

I was hoping that Doona Bae will get a nomination, but none. Not even a nomination for Best Make-up? WTH

Totally agree - very surprising. I'd also have suggested it be a contender for Best Score, but its absence from the visual effects category is just baffling. Can't wait to see it when it finally comes out in the UK.

This is what i wanna hear!

Probably get shot-down for this, but I'd say the same is true for Prometheus. Yet again, sci-fi gets ignored. Most of the Oscar voters are old enough to remember when Lincoln was alive so it's not surprising...

I was also totally astonished that this remarkable movie didn't get nominated for score, editing, make-up, production design and supporting roles. How can you NOT nominate it for editing and make-up, honestly?! But then Tron Legacy wasn't nominated for score or production design in 2010 and Brokeback Mountain guitar minimalist soundrack won best score in 2005. Honestly, if that doesn't melt your geeky brain away - Brokeback mountain score receiving the Oscar for score, Tron Legacy score not even nominated - I don't know what will. Maybe the courageous coming out of Lana Wachowski did irritate those old geezers too, but I don't think we need to go that far to find an explanation...

One of the worst most awkward embarrassing movies I've ever seen... this year's Battle Field Earth.

The Oscars are completely meaningless in the age we live in. Sure, they were great 80 years ago when there were only 12 movies a year made. They are a total joke. Look at all the great movies they missed this year. I don't need a bunch of pretentious a%&holes telling me what a good movie is. This show is to keep all the old blue hairs happy as far as I'm concerned. How can any serious movie fan truly respect this awards show? I just don't get it. Am I missing something? This outdated show can't die soon enough for me!!!

I thought it was a good film.. but whatever you think of the film, it should be nominated for some technical awards, surely. But that's the Oscar's. I gave up when Hurt Locker won the best film, whenever that was.. The best film doesn't count here, let's be honest it's just whatever Warren Beatty and his chums like.. total rubbish. Give me the Cannes Film Festival anyday..

I thought this was fantastic- albeit flawed sure but a marvel in technical achievements. The editing is flawless and the make-up is beyond stunning. It also boosts one of the most confident ensemble cast I have seen in a while with the character actors giving it their all. A terrible shame it was overlooked but hopefully it will be esteemed by its cult status.

The bottom line is that the film flopped. Had it been a critical and box office success here in the States, it would have been different. It's all about money.

I lost faith in all awards when "Driving Miss Daisy" won Golden Globes in the best Comedy category, this movie was anything but a comedy.

WOW! Guess I wasn't the only one that gave up on the Oscars the moment they gave the best picture to the Hurt Locker. I saw an interview with some of the academy people yesterday and it's not exaggerated that they're all old. My own father who's over 60 can't embrace sci fi, so it isn't a surprise that neither can they. Then again my dad actually enjoyed Cloud Atlas and considered it thought provoking so I'm confused what's wrong with the academy members. I guess what's wrong is that this isn't a blockbuster as someone else mentioned. Even so Cloud Atlas has the best music, editing, independent film, cinematography, make-up, set designs and it isn't a stretch to add acting from some of the cast.

Regardless of what people think of Prometheus, I don't think anyone can disagree that Fassbender was amazing

Hugh Grant's in it

I have to correct myself here, I said above that 'Zero Dark Thirty' wasn't nominated for Best Picture this year, it actually WAS, my bad, what I actually had in my mind (such as it is) was the rather shameful snubbing of Kathryn Bigelow in the Best Director category... how can you think a film is deserving of a Best Picture nod but the director behind said picture not deserving of a corresponding Best Director nod... answers on a postcard to last Tuesday...

Luvvies patting other luvvies on the back.

That is how I see the Oscars.

Is this out yet in the UK? Everyone seems to have seen it, and the original author seems to know it well... but its release date (according to IMDB) is February 2013.

Have I missed something here?

that's blu-ray release, it came out in November here in the U.S. in theaters.

CA is one of my top 5 favorites. I'm not at all surprised it didn't get any nominations. I've hated the AA for years and never bother to watch it. It's not even a popular vote, just some "academy" of who we don't even know the members.

When you consider that in the 70's, Rocky beat Taxi Driver and All The President's Men for best picture, tells you all you need to know about the joke that are the Oscars.

Surely thats because there are 9 nominations for best picture and only 5 for director... if it wasn't tarantino and bigelow snubbed it would have been haneke and that would have been even more shameful....

and it beat network too ... luvvies like a feel good flick for sure....

I agree, Cloud Atlas blew me away, a rare experience at the theater. I was sure it would at least be nominated for something. Did its lack of box office success really influence the voting? I understand the Oscars focus on Hollywood films, but I thought the judges were academy members, not the masses...

And I didn't even see Cloud Atlas as SF... over half the stories were in the past or present, not the future... I guess that is how different a frame of reference we younger generations have...

agree with you!

I agree. It was jaw-dropping how bad it was. Terrible performances, a risible script, a complete lack of narrative or tension. I sincerely hope that's the last we see of the Wachowski's as directors. They made one good film people, and that was a very long time ago now...

With family guy and the other cartoons being as much fresh air as an elephant sanctuary after the whole herd ate a bunch of beans and broccoli...

i loved this movie and i believe that this is what good movie industry should make. all rest nominees are almost worthless accomplishments...

Agreed! I was thinking it was maybe just because I'm a sucker for a great robot performance, but honestly he was amazing in his own right. But at least the movie got a nod for visual effects.

Don't think we'll be talking about CA in 10 years' time. No offence.

Also, it didn't campaign. Don't forget award season is about campaigning, and there needs to be budget for that.

I usually don't agree with the academy when it comes to the nominees and winners of awards. They usually pick a movie that I was not that passionate about. However, I do have to admit that I am glad Cloud Atlas did not get nominated, because even though the idea was somewhat original (it is still based on a book that millions had already read), the delivery was quite poor. Most of the people involved in this project have been part of amazing movies in the past, but failed to deliver at the movie. Make up for starters, was full of mistakes that should have been edited out. Sure they impress the average viewer but a person with experience in film notices them right away. Acting was good from most actors, but can't say that any of them did a job that stood out more than any of the current nominees. Cinematography was substance lacking, comparable to an expensive sci-fi tv show. Score was probably the only part where they might've stood a chance to earn a nomination, but can you really say that the other nominees are less deserving. I had no idea the movie had not been a big block buster in the end, since it was an instant hit on this side of the border. I sincerely recommend not to waste your time if you were lucky not to see this in theatres. Most friends I gave this advice to and decided not to listen to me and succumb to curiosity based on post like this one ended up regretting spending their time with a movie that although hard to summarize it's really not that hard to follow. P.S. Spoler: Moral of the movie is fight for equality, say no to slavery, and every action has a consequence no matter how tiny it might seem.

I've forgiven much in the past, but after not a single CA nomination this year, the OSCAR'S ARE DEAD to me! I swore that to myself in november already, unfortunately I was right about the great academy...

I find this frustrating on the scale (personal opinion) of Firefly being cancelled. But all I can do and will do is make sure as many of my friends see this movie when it comes out. Just brilliant.

It was just too cerebral for typical American audiences - especially Hollywood types.

Personally I believe that one of the reasons why Cloud Atlas have been tacitly ignored by proHolywood lobby may be the fact that CA definitely belong among strongest critiques of consumer lifestyle and parasite-like way of existence which were ever put on screen...

At least the story of Sonmi-451 is such a direct spit into Ronald McDonald's showbizzy face that any act of promotion, be it from critics from big revues or Academy, would be equivalent to cutting away the branch upon which this very trendy&cool "experts" are sitting.

Totally Agree. Today we have a huge variety of movies styles and cultures, so in the end it's only about which one you most identified yourself. The Oscars should elect movies more democratically to serve as a global reference. Cloud Atlas probably it's not the best movie in this year but the production quality and the message that it passes definitively is better than a lot of movies that were chosen.

Yeah, the oscars sucked , they are usually just OK but truly terrible this year. Zero Dark Thirty and Life of Pi were both absolutely garbage, stupid movies.

Just to add I actually liked Pi because Tigers are cool until the end and the maggot island made the entire movie just stupid as hell, definitely not 'oscar' material

Zero Dark Thirty sucked.

The operative word is Academy. The art is supposed to promote the art. In fact it now a mouthpiece for the business run by bankers and lawyers and if you're not adapting a comic book or filming an art-house film then you're not doing the dance right. Lana Wachowsky said "There are high brow movies, and low brow, and we try for sort of a mono-brow with complete aspects of both, the important theme and critical philosophy without going short on the fun and action..." Sadly an adventure with so much to think about has apparently exceeded Hollywood's grasp (clearly not hard to do.) I hope this film is recognized as this generations 2001. Its important, far reaching and insanely daring and its about time we started showing real artists how much we appreciate their work. Bravo to the producers of this film... please don't stop.

Cloud atlas sucked. I'm so glad it's make dept got snubbed for their Asian face bull crap

Another holier than thou....am cleverer than all of u idiot- " Acting was good from most actors, but can't say that any of them did a job that stood out more than any of the current nominees"- I realized that Tom Hanks and especially Hugh Grant could really act only after seeing this movie.

I couldn't agree more- especially for the wonderful score and make up that made all the actor's multiple roles work. Also there were great "not safe" performances by Hanks and Berry- plus a wonderful message that made me run out an buy the booK

One of the best movie I've ever seen. 2h45. I was never bored a second. I loved it. And I just wanna see it again. I do not care about awards ceremonies anymore, in whatever country they occur. They just celebrate making great business. And Cloud Atlas is trying to shake that order that rules the world, by just making you think. No surprise that any "major" film academy didn't even consider this film.

Cloud Atlas is the best movie I've ever seen. The only one I cared to purchase on Apple TV (and I rent lots of them).

This article is a good one! Its original, thanks for the info! Is there a way I can tell my people about this post.

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