Looking back on… Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler (2014)
Director: Dan Gilroy

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Rene Russo, Bill Paxton
Written by Josh
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Snubs have always occurred at the Academy Awards, it’s just that they’ve become much more high profile and significant with the growing number of people talking about films over such things as social media. Some snubs are downright ridiculous and while we may not all see eye-to-eye over who should be nominated, let alone win, it all comes down to personal taste. For this article, I am going to be looking back on Nightcrawler, a brilliant piece of film-making that was embarrassingly snubbed by the Academy.

It felt like a major insult at the time that Nightcrawler only received one single Academy Award nomination, for Best Original Screenplay, and watching it again just made me feel even more anger over how this film wasn’t nominated in more categories.

First things first, let’s talk about the one nomination it did receive; Best Original Screenplay. Nightcrawler was deservedly nominated in this category because it’s screenplay really is one of the film’s major strengths. Dan Gilroy, who also directed the film, gave us one of the best screenplays in recent years and could have easily won the award ahead of both Birdman or The Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s a real shame that Gilroy didn’t get recognition in the Best Director category as I would easily have him in that category over Bennett Miller for Foxcatcher and Morten Tyldum for The Imitation Game, which felt like nothing more than a glorified TV movie to me.

As one of the standout films of the last few years, Nightcrawler should have definitely been nominated for Best Picture as well. Here are the Best Picture nominees from that year:

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

Now, I will say with great confidence that the only films better than Nightcrawler in that list of nominees are Birdman and Whiplash, so somehow the Academy managed to pick six inferior films to make up the category. Nightcrawler is a true work of art, building a character study of Jake Gyllenhaal’s Lou Bloom while telling a truly captivating story of how far one will go to become the best at what he does. The fact the Academy have the option to nominate ten films for Best Picture makes this more of a kick in the teeth.

Other areas the Academy totally overlooked Nightcrawler for are Best Original Score and Best Cinematography. James Newton Howard’s score for Nightcrawler was such a different piece of work from the composer and really drives the film along at such a scintillating pace however, they decided to go for the safe options and nominate scores that don’t really do anything new. I’m looking at you Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game) and Johann Johannsson (The Theory of Everything). I know nothing really stood a chance of beating Emmanuel Lubezki’s work on Birdman to Best Cinematography but Robert Elswit’s work on Nightcrawler is simply gorgeous, bringing nighttime Los Angeles to life with such vividness and verve, accentuating the film’s tagline “The city shines brightest at night.”

The biggest joke of all was that Jake Gyllenhaal wasn’t nominated for Best Actor. Not only is Gyllenhaal one of the best actors currently working today, his performance in Nightcrawler is the best of his career so far. He’s both eerily charming and creepy at the same time, showing dedication to the role by shedding thirty pounds of weight to give Lou Bloom more of a gaunt look. I can’t complain about Eddie Redmayne winning overall but how Gyllenhaal didn’t get nominated ahead of Bradley Cooper for an overrated performance in an overrated film is beyond me. I have to commend both the Golden Globes and BAFTAs for showing Gyllenhaal the recognition his mesmerising performance deserved.

Like I mentioned earlier though, it’s all a matter of personal taste and you might find yourself reading this and totally disagreeing. That’s fine with me, but it won’t stop me from thinking the Academy Awards ignorance of such a brilliant film is one of the worst snubs of all time.

Verdict: 10/10


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