Steven graduated Cum Laude from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Mass Communications, focusing on film studies, journalism and theatre arts. Dubbed a "prolific" writer by Hollywood icon Kenneth Johnson (The Incredible Hulk, V, The Bionic Woman, Alien Nation), Steven has been honored by the Arkansas College Media Association for his story writing prowess. He has also received recognition for his dramatic writing from the Eerie, Shriekfest and Screamfest horror film festivals. Publications include: Carroll County News, Saline Courier, Forum, Echo and Moroch.
'A Beautiful Day' for Tom Hanks marred Oscar nominations
Posted Sunday, February 2, 2020, at 1:25 AM
LOS ANGELES — Tom Hanks received an Oscar nomination for Actor in a Supporting Role for his work in "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." Certainly, it was not atypical to see Hanks' name on an award's list. But why was he nominated for a Best Supporting Actor honor? As William Shakespeare once wrote:
“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."
So, why wasn't Hanks nominated for the Actor in a Leading Role category? The answer, sadly, was because Hanks' work wasn't as strong as the five gentlemen nominated for Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix, Adam Driver, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonathan Pryce and Antonio Banderas).
And, as such, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences fudged their own rules to ensure Hanks' inclusion. It was a despicable move which cost a number of good thespians a chance to be rightfully honored as Actor in a Supporting Role this February.
Hanks' improper Oscar nomination, while it technically was not breaking the Academy's rules, cost no less than six exemplary talents a shot at the coveted award.
First, it's easy to make a case for Christian Bale as a Best Supporting Actor candidate since he and Matt Damon shared the acting load in "Ford V Ferrari." Bale delved deep into his craft and showed the volatile, competitive side of race car drive Ken Miles while also revealing the sympathetic family man many audience members related to.
Bale's performance was rich, nuanced and buried Hanks' inferior work in the Mr. Rogers movie. As a result, Bale was much more deserving of recognition than Hanks, but Bale won't be recognized because of undue favoritism toward Hanks from the Academy.
Beyond Bale, and second on this list, consider the injustice done to Taron Egerton. Egerton's portrayal of Elton John in "Rocketman" garnered the actor a Golden Globe win for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy, but he was completely ignored by the Academy. Egerton was clearly better at being Elton John than Hanks was at interpreting Fred Rogers.
Nonetheless, Egerton did not receive a nomination because of stiff competition in the Best Actor category. If an actor deserved to be slipped into the next-best-category, it was Egerton and not Hanks.
Third, 12-year-old Roman Griffin Davis received no love from the Oscars either, and his performance as Johannes Betzler in "Jojo Rabbit" was much more powerful than Hanks' work in "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." Davis' 10-year-old character of Jojo steals scene after scene against the likes of Sam Rockwell, Scarlett Johansson, Taika Waititi, Rebel Wilson and Stephen Merchant. Davis was a rare gem.
The boy's journey from a naive, stalwart supporter of his imaginary friend Adolph Hitler to a lovelorn child on the precipice of puberty to a questioner of corrupt authority was sublime. Plus, Davis performed in an ensemble piece. Thus, Davis could have legitimately been nominated in the category Hanks didn't deserve to be recognized in. Davis may have suffered most from the Academy's unjust nomination of Hanks for an Oscar.
Speaking of which, and fourthly, why did Sam Rockwell not get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role of Captain Klenzendorf in "Jojo Rabbit?" Rockwell's acting greatly eclipsed what Hanks did, and Sam rivaled all of the other actors who were actually nominated for an Oscar. Klenzendorf's final scene in "Jojo Rabbit" was glorious, heart-wrenching and full of self-sacrifice. Audiences teared up as the captain showed his deep understanding and love for young Jojo, and the emotion evoked was thanks to Rockwell's unforgettable performance and a beautifully written character.
Fifth, did the Academy not see "Dark Waters?" Mark Ruffalo gave a virtuoso performance dwarfing the work Hanks did in "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood?" Why not try and sneak Ruffalo into the Best Supporting Actor category, so he wasn't left out? Ruffalo had a co-star — this seemed to be the primary criteria by which the Academy forced Hanks into a Best Supporting Actor role — and a damn good one: Anne Hathaway. Ruffalo's time on screen as real-life attorney Robert Bilott was captivating while Hanks' rendering of Mr. Rogers came across as a caricature.
Sixth, and perhaps most sadly, Robert Downey Jr. starred in the biggest film financially in the history of motion pictures (not adjusting for inflation). Downey Jr.'s swan song as billionaire Tony Stark was much more poignant than any acting Hanks offered in "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." And "Avengers: Endgame" was clearly an ensemble piece. So, why was Downey Jr. left out of the Oscars while Hanks was unjustly nominated in the wrong category? If the answer was because Downey Jr. starred in a comic book movie, may the Academy be shamed.
"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" was a film about Mr. Rogers. Hanks played Fred Rogers in a movie centered around Mr. Rogers. Hanks was the star of the movie, and the feature was produced and promoted as such. Thus, Hanks should have been nominated for Actor in a Leading Role or in no category at all.
Sure, Matthew Rhys was heavily featured in "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood." But did the Academy really expect fans to believe the motion picture they made was led by the character of Lloyd Vogel?
"Look, honey! There's a movie about Lloyd Vogel (who?) coming to theaters! Wow, let's go see it," said NO ONE EVER.
If Hanks' performance warranted an Oscar nod, it should have been recognized in the correct category. As it stands, the Academy pulled a fast one and should be held accountable because six highly deserving actors paid the price.
Hanks is a wonderful actor, but definitely not in this role, and he did not deserve such bias. Hanks' acting was quite forgettable as Fred Rogers, and "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" was a train wreck of a movie even Hanks couldn't save from derailment.
Everyone makes mistakes. The Academy just made theirs in front of millions of people.