Oscars 2014 Nomination Reactions

grandbudapesthotelHoo boy has it been a morning (ahem… three days ago. This may have sat as a draft for longer than I meant). Pretty disappointing all around, to be honest, so let’s take it bit by bit. As with the Golden Globes, we’ll divide this in four categories this time, along the twin axes of Surprise vs. Not Surprise and Good vs. Bad.

Quick note: as a reminder, as a general rule, you cannot complain about something being a snub if you can’t also say who should have gotten the spot instead.

Unfortunately, the category of Unexpected and Bad easily has the most notes, so let’s start there and get it out of the way:

Selma

In spite of strong consideration in the various precursors and pretty significant critical support, Selma failed to get a directing or acting nomination or, well, anything else except the extremely weird pairing of Best Picture and Best Original Song. My favorite bitter tweet about it called it the Magical Negro of the Oscars: it’s one of the best movies, but without any acting or directing or anything else contributing to it. Just pops up to make the white people feel good about themselves for including it. (Uh, I might be a little bitter this morning). I know, I know, counting chickens before they hatch and everything, but I really thought that Ava Duvernay was going to be the first black female director to ever get nominated. Guess that milestone will have to be achieved in some other year, because heaven forbid we shut out one of the men who got nominated.

Duvernay’s lack of a nomination is all the more galling because Bennett Miller got a nomination for Foxcatcher that stands as the first “lone director” since the Best Picture field got expanded to its current 5-10 format. Foxcatcher had a clear directorial vision, even if I didn’t like it, but come on. Argh. I’d be happy to boot out literally any of the five nominees for Ava instead; The Imitation Game was completely just another movie and it doesn’t mean anything to have it nominated. Even if we preserve Inarritu and Linklater for being particularly formally inventive, that’s three spots that didn’t go to a black woman who got through the system enough to make a good movie. Hmph. Hmph, I say!

The Lego Movie

Huh. I had it picked to win, so I guess it’s not going to do that. I thought it was good. I would have said “Everything is Awesome” would have been a shoe-in for song, but now without the movie itself being nominated, I guess we’ll have to see.

American Sniper

Apparently this movie is way more popular with the Academy than I ever, ever gave it credit for. One of eight Best Picture nominations, sure, but Bradley Cooper for Actor? This segues into my next fresh scab to pick…

Nightcrawler

Now, I wasn’t predicting it for Best Picture, but I really thought Jake Gyllenhaal had a chance here. I blame Bradley Cooper entirely for Gyllenhaal getting shut out; Carell you could have picked in May (and many did; I discounted him in my predictions yesterday even pointing that out). Admittedly, I haven’t seen American Sniper, but Bradley Cooper would have to have a career-defining performance to affect me more strongly than Jake Gyllenhaal did in Nightcrawler. He was the scariest thing I’ve seen in a movie in years. Boooooo.

Whew. Got through that okay. Moving on to..

Not Surprising, Bad

… we have exactly one entry and that’s Robert Duvall getting a nomination for Best Supporting Actor for The Judge. As I said in my prediction post, he seemed like the only one anyone thought was ever going to get that spot, and he did. But everyone also says that The Judge is terrible, so boo for Oscars completism this year.

Okay, now that all of the Oscars rage has frothed forth and (temporarily) run dry, let’s talk about some of the actual good things that happened.

Not Surprising, Good

There is one item in this category, and that’s the pretty significant domination by Grand Budapest Hotel. Wes Anderson, you guys! He’s like a real director acknowledged by more than just devoted individual fans! Now us hipsters can start sniffing derisively and saying we liked him back before anyone knew him… (or something like that. In any case, Wes Anderson makes delightful movies in an extremely specific style, and it’s awesome that he’s getting broader recognition).

Surprising, Good

There were two genuine bits of Surprising, Good, and a couple smaller things. First, Laura Dern! How delightful that Wild should get nominations for both its most significant performances, which, I will note, are both women, and around whom the entire movie revolves. It’s frustrating that it didn’t get more recognition beyond that, but still. At least one woman-focused movie got some real credit this year. On the same kind of tip, Marion Cotillard got a nomination! Yay! I still haven’t (and won’t) forgiven the Academy for not nominating Rust and Bone in even Foreign Language a couple years ago, but this will do a bit of making it up to me. I love her and it’s awesome she got a nomination in what isn’t even an English-language performance.

On the slightly lesser note, everyone seems to loooove the movie Ida, so it’s cool it got a cinematography nod even though, gasp, it is a foreign movie made by foreigners who speak a foreign language. Similarly, I haven’t seen Mr. Turner yet (soon!), but even just from the preview, it looks fantastic. It seems like Dick Pope, the cinematographer, did an amazing job of making the whole movie look like a JMW Turner painting, so hooray for the Academy giving him that credit.

To wrap up, let’s go over how my predictions went.

Best Picture

Well, I named 7 of the 8 eventual nominees (I left off American Sniper, but I also named an extra three that didn’t get nominated, so oops. Gone Girl was an outside shot, sure, but I really thought Foxcatcher was getting a nomination. The Bennett Miller aforementioned Lone Director nod speaks to how close I was. I should have known better than to think that Inherent Vice was getting anywhere close.

Director

As we covered, Bennett Miller is in and Ava Duvernay is out, and the bland Morten Tyldum got nominated over David Fincher, who I had predicted. So 3/5 here as well, but less staggering given that Gone Girl didn’t get a best picture nod after all.

Best Actor

Stupid not nominating Jake Gyllenhaal… I was 3/5, here, since David Oyelowo didn’t get nominated either (in favor of Steve Carell).

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard yay! Other than that, Amy Adams was not able to overcome her terrible movie like she did at the Globes, so I’m happy with that substitution. 4/5.

Best Supporting Actor

Nailed it!

Supporting Actress

I only bothered predicting three, and they all got nominated, so good job me? 3/3, which isn’t much. The other two were Laura Dern, as discussed (yay!), and Meryl Streep, because Meryl Streep was in a movie this year.

Other Miscellany

  • Well, as I said, The Lego Movie is apparently not winning Animated Feature after all.
  • Citizenfour got its nominated for Doc, so I’m halfway to that prediction.
  • Force Majeure didn’t get nominated, huh. All sorts of weird things happened this year. Ida has to be the frontrunner at this point.
  • Interstellar did get nominated for Visual Effects.
  • Haven’t looked for the fanboy angst yet, but I expect it will be a slow burn thing in general. Like in 15 years when people sit there doing retrospectives already, and they say “Man, the Oscars never recognize anyone who’s actually good. Paul Thomas Anderson only got nominated [once, or whatever]!”
  • Since Grand Budapest Hotel got a zillion nominations and Inherent Vice got almost none, that was right.
  • All four of my screenplay predictions were right. Someday I should start paying attention to Original vs. Adapted so I can predict them better.
  • Boyhood got nominated for editing, so I’m halfway to that prediction too.

All in all, it wasn’t too bad. Just really frustrating, but there was never a good reason to expect anything different.

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