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Presenting: The Shnobscars

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A Royal Affair.
The First Annual (And Probably Last) Awards For The Most Deserving Films The Academy Of Motion Pictures Arts And Sciences Dismissed In 2013

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By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine

March 4, 2013 — The Academy Awards awarded some major popcorn films this year, with winners like Argo and Django Unchained taking home major awards. Not that such an occurrence is a bad thing. I, for one, have criticized the Academy in the past for failing to acknowledge movies that people actually watch.

However, there is a downside to this shift towards the popular: it is becoming increasingly difficult to turn your nose up at friends and acquaintances when the obscure film that you and like eight other people saw wins a prominent award.

Have no fear, friends, and keep your noses held high. Here are a few of the more obscure (and deserving) films from 2012 that the Academy overlooked.

Modern Times Magazine Presents: The Shnobscars


Your Sister’s Sister
This indie dramedy stars some talented and popular actors and actresses including Mark Duplass (The League), Emily Blunt (Looper), and Rosemarie DeWitt (The United States of Tara). The story revolves around a grieving man (Duplass) who heads to his friend’s (Blunt) cabin where he serendipitously, and hilariously, runs into his friend’s lesbian half-sister (DeWitt). Alcohol, sadness, and multiple existential crises intermingle to create a love triangle between the three unlikely partners in a film that only IFC could produce.

A Royal Affair
While this movie did receive an Oscar nomination in the Foreign Film category, I am still giving it a nod here because it didn’t win and it is an enthralling (and obscure) film. Through the story of Queen Caroline Mathilde of Denmark, the film chronicles the events that took place during the unstable 18th-century reign of King Christian VII, which saw a German doctor act as de facto ruler, sleep with the Queen and almost unilaterally impose democratic reforms on the country. A Royal Affair is chock full of sex, violence, and elaborate 18th century costumes, making it a must see for the obscure cinephile.

Killing Them Softly
It may seem absurd to add a movie starring Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini to an obscure films list, but Andrew Dominik’s Killing Them Softly didn’t make much of a dent in the headlines. But it was not for a lack of trying. This New Orleans’ based gangster tale (based on the book Cognan’s Trade by George V. Higgins) contained some of the most brutal violence on this side of a Scorsese film and followed a twisting, rabbit hole of a plot, to boot. Between the cinematography and Pitt’s complete transformation into a working-class killer, the film really is a breathtaking piece of work.

So, the next time an award show tries to pull one over on you by praising a film that made hundreds of millions of dollars, take a look at one of these flicks so you can tell your friends that you saw it before they did.

Wayne Schutsky is a senior contributor to Modern Times Magazine.
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