Today we move into categories that are more up for grabs than yesterday’s locks. As it happens, today involves a lot of bitterness. I’m a happy member of the camp that espouses “It’s only a snub if you can say what should have gotten left out,” but I don’t even care what you would have to leave out to include two of today’s nominees.
Sound Mixing and Sound Editing: Some day, it will come time to learn once and for all in some kind of lasting way what the difference between these categories is. Today is not that day, as these are two categories that have no answer to “Why shouldn’t Gravity sweep all the technical awards?”
Best Original Song: A quick moment, please, for “Please Mr. Kennedy” and its keenly felt absence. There is no category more fraught with shenanigans and bizarre, pliable rules than Best Song, upon which this year’s “Alone Yet Not Alone” mini-scandal is merely the cherry. “Please Mr. Kennedy” was the most fun, inventive, spot-on parody this year, and it’s a legitimately good song! Sigh. Moving bitterly on, this should go easily to “Let it Go,” from Frozen. I know I said it should roll through every ceremony this year and then it didn’t win at the Globes, but whatever.
One quick moment for “The Moon Song”: it was a song on a ukulele that, for one brief moment, was able to overcome the obnoxious hipster associations with the instrument and actually make a sweet, meaningful song. Good job, Spike Jonze and collaborators!
There’s a very slim outside chance that “Ordinary Love” will repeat from the Globes, or that “Happy” will make a very late surge. But really? It’s Frozen, all the way. Plus? A win for Bobby Lopez will complete an EGOT! That’s always exciting, and what you should be rooting for regardless of your feelings on the song itself.
Best Score: This is another one of those categories I referenced yesterday when I said “People make cases for why the other nominees stand a chance, but only in defense of Gravity sweeping all of these.” According to people who actually know what they’re talking about, the scores of Saving Mr. Banks and Philomena are much more technically accomplished and interesting than the others in the category, and in my memory, Gravity‘s score consists mostly of Sandra Bullock hyperventilating. But again, until we see it happen, there’s no reason to bet against Gravity in any category where someone has the chance to say how Bold and Daring and Innovative it was.
Animated Feature: You can count out Despicable Me 2 and The Croods right away. While the latter has had remarkably strong support late, it’s been entirely in the vein of “Hey, guys, this movie is actually good! Who knew?” That leaves a three-way race between the traditional Light, French, Delicately Animated feature (this year: Ernest and Celestine), a Hiyao Miyazaki movie (the last Hiyao Miyazaki movie, if the stories are true!) and Frozen, a juggernaut with a near-lock for Best Song and $980 million worldwide to its name. (True, Despicable Me 2 has $970 million to its name, and a Best Song nominee, but it happened last summer, god).
It’s interesting that the idea of Pixar Movies as awards darlings has strayed from Pixar itself to the movie that feels the most Pixarish in a given year. Brave won last year, but Wreck-It Ralph felt way more in the vein of Toy Story and Finding Nemo to me and should have won. This year there is no Pixar movie, but Frozen feels like the girl-hero movie that Brave never lived up to. While it’s sad to see Pixar’s reign as the undisputed king of modern animation come to an end, it’s delightful to see the rise of other big studios doing inventive stuff themselves. (and, okay, I’m blurring the line between “Disney” and “Pixar”, but they did that themselves ages ago).
Makeup and Hairstyling: Quick moment of regret and sorrow for American Hustle not being nominated here. It’s the single most baffling non-nomination of the entire season; the music branch can explain away “Please Mr. Kennedy” by pointing to arbitrary and archaic rules, but nothing should have stood in the way of Bradley Cooper’s tight perm and an Oscar.
Of the three nominees that actually got nominated, the big war is between Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa and Dallas Buyer’s Club. People have already discarded The Lone Ranger, and I can’t say that I blame them.
Points in favor of Bad Grandpa: three-to-five hour makeup sessions and a complete transformation; the old standby for many of these categories is to replace “best” with “most,” and Bad Grandpa wins Most Makeup, among these nominees.
Points against Bad Grandpa: the words “Jackass Presents”
Points in favor of Dallas Buyers Club: a fabled $250 budget for the entire shoot, meaning lots of resourcefulness and actual talent on the part of the makeup team. Misters McConaughey and Leto remained the same weight for the shoot and things were shot wildly out of order, so any differences on the screen between pre-AIDS-treatment and post are entirely down to mad makeup skillz.
Another point for Dallas Buyers Club: not having the words “Jackass Presents” in the title.
Tomorrow we’ll tackle things that are even more up the air. Stay tuned for screenplays, the rest of the acting nominations, and more!