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An Anton Ali Pop-Ed: Where Was 'Saving Mr. Banks' During Oscar Time?

Naturally, when the Oscar nominations are announced, there is always a long list of huge contenders that sadly didn't get their names called at 5:30 a.m. Robert Redford was one of the biggest shockers it seems like. All Is Lost is still on my list of movies to see, but one movie that I saw recently that was surprisingly left of the list was Saving Mr. Banks. You don't have to be a fan of Mary Poppins to see this movie — I'm certainly am not. The behind-the-scenes account of a growing empire trying desperately to make something that could withstand the test of time was a great experience on its own.

I don't want to spoil too much of the story, so I won't waste any time going through a recap. What makes this movie so great to watch however was how seemingly genuine it was. Playing the character of Walt Disney himself is a tough task. It's probably why we haven't seen any commercial portrayal of the man before Tom Hanks took on the daunting task. It's a difficult position on behalf of Disney, which remains to be one of the most image conscious companies in existence today. It's understandable that they would be so overprotective of Walt Disney; after all, he is their brand image. How he's portrayed on screen could drastically affect consumer perception. So protective was the company of Walt Disney's image, they didn't even want to depict the character smoking on screen (a habit Walt tried to hide from the public). Although I can't speak to much to the legitimacy Hanks brings to the role, he was believable as Walt Disney. I'm extremely surprised that Hanks didn't score a nomination for his portrayal.

Also noticeably absent from the ballot is Emma Thompson. For her portrayal of PL Travers, Thompson does an equally impressive job playing an uptight, rude, egotistical woman who is emotionally ripped inside from a secret she's been keeping for decades. Mary Poppins is sacred to her, and she could care less that a living legend like Walt Disney himself wants to make her famous books in to a movie. Giving up Mary Poppins was like giving up her identity, and you can see that play out very effectively on the screen. There was a moment in the movie where they actually played audio tapes from the exchange Travers had with the writer's room and Thompson does a great job recreating these conversations on the screen. Where was her recognition by the Academy?

On top of the lack of acting nominations, the movie as a whole fails to get any significant recognition. Thomas Newman scored one for Best Achievement in Music, but I'm very surprised that this wasn't the last Best Picture Nomination. I mean, didn't the Academy create additional spaces in this category for this reason? I haven't seen Nebraska, Philomena or 12 Years a Slave yet, but I've covered everything else in this category. My opinion? If we had to keep the nomination list at the same size, I would have bumped Dallas Buyers Club for this movie.
An Anton Ali Pop-Ed: Where Was 'Saving Mr. Banks' During Oscar Time? Reviewed by Anton Ali on 2/06/2014 Rating: 5

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