The year was 1996, which looked back over the films of the previous year. It was a fairly strong year, and like a lot of the nomination lists throughout that decade there are some oddities. There are also glaring omissions. When I look back at a great year of films, my three favourites from 1995 would have to be Se7en, The Usual Suspects and Heat. Not one of these was nominated for best picture.
Two still got some recognition from the board. The Usual Suspects was nominated for two awards and won both, for Kevin Spacey (Best supporting actor) and Christopher McQuarrie (Best Original Screenplay). Se7en was nominated for best editing. Heat on the other hand was completely ignored. Not even a token nod for best catering or something. In a film about cops and robbers, this omission was the most criminal thing.
Who knows what happened. Did the studio forget to do enough hobnobbing, or did they forgo all the marketing required to boost your films Oscar potential. Indie films can’t ordinarily do that but Heat was a big studio picture. It had the clout. The film didn’t flop. It wasn’t a huge box office success but it did solid enough numbers not to get the ‘bomb’ blackball. It was a success with critics and with audiences alike. When you’re dealing in the crime genre did it take on the burden of expectation that comes with casting Al Pacino and Robert De Niro? You’re in a genre including their masterworks like The Godfather or Goodfellas. Look, savage me if you must but for me, Heat is in the ballpark playing with those fellas. It’s right up there. It’s easily the finest crime drama since Goodfellas and it hasn’t been topped since. Note that The Departed which was also a fantastic crime film, actually did garner plenty of Oscar love in 2007’s awards. It’s a great film but it’s no Heat.