Michael Moore’s attempt to turn voters against President Bush failed, and Tuesday he lost his gamble as well for a coveted best-picture Oscar nomination for his incendiary documentary “Fahrenheit 9/11.”
The omission from the coveted category marks a major misfire for the liberal firebrand who withdrew his anti-Bush polemic from contention in the documentary category, which he won two years ago with “Bowling for Columbine,” in order to focus on the big prize. No documentary has ever won the best picture Oscar.
Conservative filmmaker Mel Gibson, who performed a miracle by turning an Aramaic-speaking Jesus into a worldwide box office star with “The Passion of the Christ,” also was shut out of the major award categories.
The Biblical saga generated zero buzz among Oscar prognosticators, and Gibson declined to campaign for the film he directed and funded with his own money after all the studios passed. It did, however, land three minor Oscar nominations for makeup, cinematography and score.
Earlier this month, “Passion” won a lowly People’s Choice Award for best film drama to go with the two Oscars Gibson won in 1996 for producing and directing “Braveheart.”
Frank Pierson, the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that awards the Oscars, declined to comment on what Moore’s reaction would be, saying, “I’ll have to call him and ask.”
As for Gibson, Pierson noted that while the Australian-raised actor did not get nominated for a major prize he earned enough money from “Passion” to “set up his own studio.”
The Moore snub does not mean that Hollywood has suddenly dumped its liberal orthodoxy, said conservative commentator Mark Smith.
“Perhaps Hollywood decided, ‘We don’t want to be reminded of our bitter defeat in November (in the presidential election), and the best way to forget it is not to talk about Michael Moore at this year’s Oscars,”’ said Smith, author of “The Official Handbook of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.”
Moore and Gibson were not the only notable omissions when the Academy Award contenders were announced at daybreak.
Golden Globe nominee Paul Giamatti was not nominated for his lead role as a grumpy oenophile in “Sideways,” even though Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen were cited for their supporting roles in the comedy.
Both Church and Madsen said they were deeply disappointed as he was key to the film’s success.
While “Finding Neverland” tied with “Ray” for second place among nominees with seven nods, its Swiss director, Marc Forster, did not make the cut. Forster and “Closer” Director Mike Nichols were the only Golden Globe nominees shut out of the Oscar race.
Two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey had campaigned aggressively for his Bobby Darin movie, “Beyond the Sea,” a labor of love he directed, produced, co-wrote and starred in. But Oscar was deaf to Spacey this time.