Robert Osborne isn’t as stunned as others by some of this year’s absences from the Oscar nominations.
The usual primetime host of Turner Classic Movies starts the channel’s annual “31 Days of Oscar” film festival Friday, Feb. 1 — this time using each day or group of days to showcase one studio’s attractions that won, or were nominated for, Academy Awards — and he’s seen most of the pictures that are Oscar contenders this year. And he doesn’t believe some of the related controversies are necessary.
“If there are five pictures and five directors nominated, that’s one thing,” Osborne tells Zap2it, “but when you’ve got 10 pictures nominated and slots for only five directors, somebody’s going to get left out. I don’t know who I’d take off that list [for Best Director] to put Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow or Quentin Tarantino in. If Ang Lee or the director who did ‘Amour’ (Michael Haneke) wasn’t there, people would say, ‘How come?’
“To me personally,” adds Osborne, “it’s writers trying to find an angle to talk about. You have to have drama in your story, so what do you pick out? ‘Ah, somebody overlooked Ben Affleck.’ I have to say that as good as that movie [‘Argo’] is, and I think it’s a very good movie, it’s not ‘Citizen Kane.’ It’s not something that so demands to have the director nominated, there’s no justice that he wasn’t.”
Osborne feels the same way about Bigelow’s “Zero Dark Thirty” work: “She directed very well on that, but it’s not Alfred Hitchcock‘s ‘Rebecca,’ a classic film for all time. Again, you can’t have 10 movies great enough to be nominated for Best Picture and only five slots for directors, and not have some of them left out.”
In line with that, Osborne would like to see the number of Best Picture nominees go back to five. ‘Then, it really gives importance to the five that do get the slots,” he reasons. “When you’ve got 10 or nine or whatever, it means you’re going to put in everything that could even slightly get on the list.
“This year, there are movies like ‘Les Miserables’ that — in my opinion — don’t belong on the list at all. Because it’s a big picture and it’s popular, it gets a slot. And I’m not sure it deserves one.”