Friday, January 17, 2014

Thoughts on Oscar Nominations

It's been one whole day since the Oscar nominations and you know what, even with all the crazy snubs, I think I'm generally fine with the nominees. Mostly it's because I actually haven't seen as many as I should have, which I'll need to fix soon. Out of the 43 individual films nominated (exclusing the shorts), I have only seen a paltry 16 films. It gets worse. Out of the 107 total nominations (again excluding the shorts), I've only seen 57 which translates to a dismal 53.3%, my worst rate in years.

In any case, here are the nominations and my brief thoughts on each category...

  • American Hustle (10 nominations)
  • Captain Phillips (6 nominations)
  • Dallas Buyers Club (6 nominations)
  • Gravity (10 nominations)
  • Her (5 nominations)
  • Nebraska (6 nominations)
  • Philomena (4 nominations)
  • 12 Years a Slave (9 nominations)
  • The Wolf of Wall Street (5 nominations)

For the third year in a row, we have 9 films in Best Picture. Is this just coincidence or is there something fundamentally screwy going on? We'll never know. With that said, I just wished they had left it at 10 nominees, but which film this year would've benefited? Probably Blue Jasmine, but it could be Lone Ranger for all we know! In any case, it's a bit shocking to see 12 Years a Slave not atop the nomination count with two films beating it, Gravity and American Hustle, with 10 nods each. I'm super thrilled to see Her in the lineup. Philomena might be a bit of a surprise, but with the British contingent and Weinstein's only viable film it seems this season, it was more likely than not.

  • David O. Russell, American Hustle
  • Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
  • Alexander Payne, Nebraska
  • Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
  • Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

No crazy shenanigans this year! Yes, DGA-nominated Greengrass was replaced by Payne, but that's not really shocking. Plus all awards season, this category has been fought solely between first-time Oscar nominees Cuarón and McQueen. It's worth nothing though that they are in the category with previously Oscar-nominated directors so it's not a given one of them will win. For me I wished Spike Jonze could've made it in, but at least he was still nominated for producing and writing Her.

  • Christian Bale, American Hustle
  • Bruce Dern, Nebraska
  • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
  • Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

As soon as I heard Bale's name announced, I knew two things: the Academy really loved American Hustle and there was going to be a big name left out. For the latter, it was Tom Hanks whose final scenes in Captain Phillips and doing double duty as Walt Disney was thought to be a sure thing. In a lesser extent fellow Hollywood icon Robert Redford and fellow SAG nominee Forest Whitaker were also snubbed. My own ballot would've most likely included Oscar Isaac and Joaquin Phoenix, but in a category as stacked as this, these nominees make sense for the Academy. Ejiofor should win, but McConaughey, fresh of his Golden Globes and BFCA wins and appearing in two Best Picture films, might have the momentum.

  • Amy Adams, American Hustle
  • Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
  • Sandra Bullock, Gravity
  • Judi Dench, Philomena
  • Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

While I wished I liked her film more, it's ridiculous that Emma Thompson was the one to not make it in. She's delightful in the movie (and in real life) and she was honored by the NBR and was nominated in every precursor. But that just goes to show you how unpredictable the Oscars can be sometimes. It's hard to tell who knocked her out. Could be Adams though the Academy's love for her film would suggest otherwise... so maybe it was Meryl Streep whose film only garnered two nominations. This is Streep's 18th Oscar nomination which insane. I haven't seen her film, yet so I've no idea if this was deserved or because they just can't stop nominating her. Blanchett is the favorite, but might they want to honor the only non-previous winner of the group (Adams) who happens to also be in the right age range of when they love to award their actresses? Crazier things have happened.

  • Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
  • Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
  • Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
  • Jonah Hill, Wolf of Wall Street
  • Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

If someone told you five years ago that in just a few years time Cooper and Hill would not only be getting their second Oscar nominations, but that they'd also be nominated alongside Leto (the frontrunner to win), you'd probably laugh then report them to the nearest psychiatric institution. But here we are. It's in that spirit that I'm predicting Zac Efron, Chris Martin, and Dwayne Johnson to be fighting for an Oscar in the near future! More seriously though, Daniel Bruhl was left out as were a possible posthumous nomination for James Gandolfini and fun left-field choice James Franco.

  • Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
  • Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
  • Lupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
  • Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
  • June Squibb, Nebraska

With today's nomination, Lawrence becomes the youngest actor to ever get three Oscar nominations and if she wins, she'll be the youngest ever to win two Oscars beating Luise Rainer by five years. Her nomination also meant that for two years in a row, she's in a film by David O. Russell which managed to get an acting nomination for each category. In any case, I do love her, but I'm pretty much rooting for everyone else (though my actual vote would go to Nyong'o.) But wow, I'm pretty shocked the Academy resisted the urge to welcome Oprah Winfrey back to the fold. Who thought that would happen? In fact the lack of any nominations for Lee Daniels' The Butler (and Fruitvale Station) is just a bit confounding.

  • Before Midnight
  • Captain Phillips
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

As long as Before Midnight got in, I would have been happy. So... I'm happy. Both Philomena and and 12 Years a Slave were ineligible for a WGA, but it was always thought they'd be nominated here. They knocked off Lone Survivor and August: Osage County and in my fantasy Much Ado About Nothing.

  • American Hustle
  • Blue Jasmine
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Her
  • Nebraska

This lineup matched 100% with the WGA which is a bit sad since I was really hoping Inside Llewyn Davis would have made it in. But like Before Midnight in Adapted, I would've been pleased just as long as Her was nominated. I really, really hope it wins as it has actually been the surprise frontrunner all season long most recently winning at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice Awards. But could it really win against the more conventional choices?

  • The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium)
  • The Hunt (Denmark)
  • The Great Beauty (Italy)
  • The Missing Picture (Cambodia)
  • Omar (Palestine)

I've only seen half of one film, The Hunt, which I just couldn't finish more because of the subject matter and less because of its quality. The Missing Picture is Cambodia's first Oscar nomination which I think is pretty cool and I've only heard good stuff about it as well as the other films. They'll certainly be a part of my Netflix queue in the next few years whenever they appear there.

  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Ernest and Celestine
  • Frozen
  • The Wind Rises

Duh, Frozen. Duh, The Wind Rises. Duh, Monsters Uni... wait, where's Monsters University!? I mean the film wasn't groundbreakingly awesome, but to have the same honor as Cars 2 as the only Pixar films to not be nominated for an Academy Award is way harsh. BTW I'm Team Elsa.

  • American Hustle
  • Gravity
  • The Great Gatsby
  • Her
  • 12 Years a Slave

This is the first category in which I've seen every nominee which is nice. I still have no idea who is the frontrunner. It's probable that Gravity will just sweep all of the technical awards, which I wouldn't be against. The Great Gatsby recently won this at the BFCA so maybe it's that. Whatever. I just can't believe they actually nominated Her! I fell in love with its near-futuristic aesthetics so I'm glad it was honored with a nomination.


  • The Grandmaster
  • Gravity
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Nebraska
  • Prisoners

Apparently the big snub here is 12 Years a Slave with Nebraska supposedly replacing it. I don't have any actual thoughts on this, but I do love that Inside Llewyn Davis deservedly got in after getting way fewer nominees yesterday morning than it should've gotten. I'm hoping it wins, as unlikely as it may be, but if it does how much would that sting to Deakins who had been a long-time Coen brothers collaborator and still looking for his first Oscar?

  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • 12 Years a Slave

All Best Picture nominees and apparently it's been since the 80s since a film has won Best Picture without being nominated here. I would think Gravity would be the front-runner here, but I honestly don't know.

  • The Book Thief
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Philomena
  • Saving Mr. Banks

Shocked about The Book Thief? Don't be. It's John Williams and they love John Williams. I'm stoked to see Her nominated here (a running theme throughout the nominations), but I don't even hate any of the nominees really. Though I'll have to make sure to listen to Philomena's score whenever I get around to seeing the film.

  • "Alone yet, not alone," Alone, Yet Not Alone
  • "Happy," Despicable Me 2
  • "Let it Go," Frozen
  • "The Moon Song," Her
  • "Ordinary Love," Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

Really thought Lana Del Rey's song from The Great Gatsby would've had more awards season impact, but the film probably came out way too early. Of course I wished there were songs eligible from Inside Llewyn Davis since this nomination would've been a gimme, but alas. But then there's The Moon Song which was such a sweet moment in an already sweet film. Glad that made it in. I'm still very much Team Elsa.

  • American Hustle
  • The Grandmaster
  • The Great Gatsby
  • The Invisible Woman
  • 12 Years a Slave

I would've probably nominated Her for the high-wasted pants alone, but this seemed like a solid list of nominees. 12 Years is probably the favorite, right?

  • All is Lost
  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Lone Survivor

Seems like an easy win here for Gravity, though apparently Captain Phillips is also in the running.

  • Captain Phillips
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Inside Llewyn Davis
  • Lone Survivor

Same nominees above except Inside Llewyn Davis (its second nomination!) replaced All is Lost. And again, Gravity looks likely to dominate the tecnical awards.

  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Iron Man 3
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Star Trek: Into Darkness

Gravity is going to win this so everyone else is just happy to be nominated especially Lone Ranger and Star Trek, which made it in over Pacific Rim, which I thought was impossible a few months ago.

  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
  • The Lone Ranger

This category is pretty useless. I mean even if they deserved it, I wouldn't know since I haven't seen either one, but did we really need to nominate Lone Ranger or Bad Grandpa? The answer is no. Hell no. And while I'm not exactly an American Hustle fanboy (I still like the film, but think it's way over-awarded), it was made for this category.

  • The Act of Killing
  • Cutie and the Boxer
  • Dirty Wars
  • The Square
  • 20 Feet From Stardom

I'm quite shocked that Blackfish couldn't translate all of its buzz and media coverage into a nomination. Also, I'm very disappointed to see the charming and wonderful Stories We Tell by Sarah Polley snubbed. I haven't seen any of these yet, but I know I have to see The Act of Killing (the favorite) and 20 Feet From Stardom.

  • CaveDigger
  • Facing Fear
  • Karama Has No Walls
  • The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life
  • Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall

And now we get to the shorts section where I usually have no idea what any of these films are about and just pick the one with the name name. In this case, Karama Has No Walls.

  • Feral
  • Get a Horse!
  • Mr. Hublot
  • Possessions
  • Room on the Broom

I've actually seen Get a Horse! which I admired more than liked. Hope to see the others in the next few weeks.

  • A quel No Era Yo (That Wasn't Me)
  • Avant De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything)
  • Helium
  • Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)
  • The Voorman Problem

Lots of intriguing names here! It's almost impossible to pick, but my gut tells me I would like Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa?

And that's it. Enjoy the rest of your Friday and the weekend ahead. We all now have a few weeks to digest all of this and hope the voters pick the right people to win. Yup, I just made a joke. Moving on.

1 comment:

  1. I'm actually guessing Gatsby on costume design. And your low rating for the number of movies you've seen? I think I have seen literally 3. I saw next to nothing this year, and only Captain Phillips for best picture nominees. I'm going to try to squeeze in a couple before the show at least.


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