As we steel ourselves for the season ahead with early lists of contenders and a harsh spotlight on unassuming films hoping to find an audience, let alone awards traction, it’s worth remembering that the list of coulda-been players in a given Oscar season is long and considerable. And if I’m not making the point clear enough early on in that sentence, let me do so now: this is every bit the fault of analysts like me, as much as it is the films themselves, if not more.
Covering the awards season, we forecast, we look ahead, we see how things look on paper and we set sometimes unfortunate bars. Not every film is looking for that kind of exposure, and often enough, the inflated expectations of industry watchers get in the head of many a would-be player only to amplify the eventual disappointment of a dead end. That having been said, there are obviously many films that set their sights on the awards race with the right formula, or so they thought, only to come up empty-handed at the end of the day. We see them every year.
What will it be this year? “Saving Mr. Banks” and “The Monuments Men” would appear to be the on-paper, sight-unseen, sure-to-be contenders. Well, will they be? Or will they go the way of countless expected awards players that, well, clearly weren’t.
So with that in mind, I thought it would be worth it to look back at the history of this, what should we call it, phenomenon, for lack of a better word. Most if not all of these films were at one time or another expected to be major players, but at the end of the day, all of them walked away with zero nominations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the list is full of recent examples, partly because that represents my time covering this madness, and partly because that frame of time has seen an eruption in the amount of people and outlets who do what we do here, in media both old and new, ever shining that harsh light of expectation as the Oscar season continues to establish itself as more of a marketplace than a meritocracy.
Click through the gallery below for 10 examples, and of course, remember their lessons as we gear up for the 2013-2014 season.
Have your say about our choices and any other Oscar non-starters that come to mind in the comments section below.