Monday, December 15, 2014

Critics' Choice nominations cover all their bases, as usual

The Broadcast Film Critics Association don't hold a lot of sway in terms of convincing guilds or Academy members what to vote for in January, but they do give a pretty accurate snapshot of where all the contenders stand at this early point in the season. Since many categories have six nominees, there are rarely any egregious snubs, and even if there are it can hardly derail a campaign.

It seems that Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and Boyhood are the most popular with this group, picking up 13, 11, and 8 nominations respectively. It'll be interesting to see how closely this correlates to the Academy's response.
All the nominees (including those dubious genre categories) after the cut, with my usual brief commentaries:

Best Picture
Birdman
Boyhood
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Nightcrawler
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Unbroken
Whiplash
Pretty good chance your Oscar slate will be comprised of eight or nine of these. Interesting to see Nightcrawler in there though.

Best Director
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava DuVernay, Selma
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman
Angelina Jolie, Unbroken
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
The directors branch of the Academy is a little more choosey. Of these six, only Linklater and Iñárritu feel safe.

Best Actor
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton, Birdman
David Oyelowo, Selma
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
One of the few surprise omissions of the day is Steve Carell, but I've been starting to think that of the five presumed frontrunners, he may be in the shakiest spot. It's not uncommon for the actors branch to snub comedians despite putting in a strong dramatic performance. Timothy Spall has his fans. And clearly, so does Jake Gyllenhaal.

Best Actress
Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild
I'm still not entirely sold on Jennifer Aniston's Oscar prospects. The movie is awfully small, and does she have as much pull with the movie-centric Academy as she does with the TV-friendly SAG and HFPA? Of Course, I'm none too confident in Cotillard's chances either, seeings how she's been getting passed over for stellar work ever since her breakthrough win in 2008. Who gets that fifth slot?

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, Inherent Vice
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Is it really gonna be this same lineup (sans Brolin, natch) with the Academy? Someone's bound to fall out. How much do people really love The Judge?

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Tilda Swinton, Snowpiercer
Yay Tilda! She's probably ending up on my shortlist for Supporting Actress, so it's nice to see her pop up here knowing she hasn't got a snowball's chance with the Academy.

Best Acting Ensemble
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Selma
The only SAG nominee not chalked up here is The Theory of Everything (which is hardly a great feat of 'ensemble' acting anyhow). Birdman looks like a probable winner with both organizations, but I wouldn't count out Boyhood.

Best Young Actor/Actress
Ellar Coltrane, Boyhood
Ansel Elgort, The Fault in Our Stars
Mackenzie Foy, Interstellar
Jaeden Lieberher, St. Vincent
Tony Revolori, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Quvenzhane Wallis, Annie
Noah Wiseman, The Babadook
I gotta think the appeal of voting for a twelve-year performance will be too great for the BFCA to pass up. That'll be a nice bit of recognition for Ellar Coltrane. However, I may lend my vote to Mackenzie Foy if I had a ballot in hand.

Best Original Screenplay
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler
Whiplash
Nightcrawler has a terrific script, so go Dan Gilroy! That said, if his nomination had to come at another's expense, I'm majorly bummed that it was Foxcatcher. This category is so competitive. Any one of these could have won in a normal year. On the one hand, it's great to have a strong Oscar lineup. But on the other, it sucks that at least one masterpiece is going to be snubbed (possibly more).

Best Adapted Screenplay
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Unbroken
Wild
Having recently seen Wild, I have a feeling it just might supplant Unbroken in this category. Nick Hornby is much respected by the writers branch, and of the numerous complaints I here about Unbroken, one of the most common ones is with its lack of shape and structure.

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
The Book of Life
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The LEGO Movie
For whatever reason, foreign toons never register (or simply aren't eligible) with all the precursors. I still maintain that the animation branch will dig deeper than this shallow pool of American contenders when determining the Oscar slate. I've finally caught up with all five of these, and the only one I actively like as a whole is Dragons 2.

Best Foreign Language Film
Force Majeure
Ida
Leviathan
Two Days, One Night
Wild Tales
All of these have already been honoured with a critical win or a Globe nomination this season, but we know how idiosyncratic the foreign nominating committee is.

Best Documentary Feature
Citizenfour
Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
Jodorowsky’s Dune
Last Days in Vietnam
Life Itself
The Overnighters
The two-horse race between Citizenfour and Life Itself continues.

Best Cinematography
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Interstellar
Mr. Turner
Unbroken
Hmm... is Hoyte van Hoytema's murky 75mm lensing (which some have complained about) really still a threat? Are we witnessing a continuation of the trend that is large voting bodies equating great visual effects with great photography? If he squeezes into AMPAS' top five, will my ten-month-old prediction come true?

Best Editing
Birdman
Boyhood
Gone Girl
Interstellar
Whiplash
Had a feeling Whiplash would garner some love for Tom Cross' sensational editing before this season was done. I'm wagering he earns an Oscar nod to boot. That said, the film is probably too small to win anything beyond J.K. Simmons' performance, which makes me suspect that Gone Girl could be in the hunt for the win. Are David Fincher movies becoming to Best Film Editing what Tim Burton movies are to Best Art Direction?

Best Art Direction
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Snowpiercer
Grand Budapest doesn't seem like it needs my help to crack the production design branch's top five (in fact, it's beginning to look like it'll win the whole deal and rightfully so), so I'll throw all my good luck prayers behind Snowpiercer to show up on nomination day.

Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Maleficent
Mr. Turner
People are talking about Atwood winning her fourth Oscar for Into the Woods, despite that really dopey wolf costume (which is rumoured to have been Johnny Depp's idea).

Best Score
Birdman
Gone Girl
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
The Theory of Everything
Sub out Birdman (ineligible) and Gone Girl (too unconventional) for Unbroken and something else, and I think you have your Oscar lineup. It's a shame though. Birdman and Gone Girl are two of the year's best musical accomplishments. This list is highly respectable.

Best Song
"Lost Stars" from Begin Again
"Big Eyes" from Big Eyes
"Yellow Flicker Beat" from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
"Everything is Awesome" from The LEGO Movie
"Glory" from Selma
"Lost Stars" is the only song from Begin Again they decided to submit, which is simultaneously dumb (soooo many great songs!) and smart (you have to eliminate vote splitting just to get nominated with this branch, let alone win).

Best Visual Effects
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Edge of Tomorrow
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Ouch for Godzilla. Will it suffer the same fate that Pacific Rim did last year? I've been wondering. Maybe monster movies are just too cool for the Academy.

Best Hair & Makeup
Foxcatcher
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Into the Woods
Maleficent
The makeup branch is known to do its own thing, so I wouldn't be surprised if only one of these makes it into the Oscar race. Some of my favourite work of the year (Theory of Everything, Wild, Grand Budapest, Snowpiercer) is far more subtle than most of these, so here's hoping the makeup branch does indeed shake things up a bit.

Best Action Movie
American Sniper
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Edge of Tomorrow
Fury
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America all the way. It's not Oscar compatible but its execution as an action movie deserves some form of recognition.

Best Actor in an Action Movie
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Tom Cruise, Edge of Tomorrow
Chris Evans, Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Brad Pitt, Fury
Chris Pratt, Guardians of the Galaxy
Eeeehhhhh... Evans, I guess? All these guys are decent but not particularly awards-worthy. I'm not counting Cooper because I haven't heard a single person who's seen it describe American Sniper as an action movie.

Best Actress in an Action Movie
Emily Blunt, Edge of Tomorrow
Scarlett Johansson, Lucy
Jennifer Lawrence, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1
Zoe Saldana, Guardians of the Galaxy
Shailene Woodley, Divergent
Okay, here's a contender I can get behind, no matter how superfluous the category is: Emily Blunt is BADASS in Edge of Tomorrow.

Best Comedy
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
St. Vincent
Top Five
22 Jump Street
Either Birdman or Grand Budapest would make handsome winners.

Best Actor in a Comedy
Jon Favreau, Chef
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Bill Murray, St. Vincent
Chris Rock, Top Five
Channing Tatum, 22 Jump Street
Gotta be Keaton, right?

Best Actress in a Comedy
Rose Byrne, Neighbors
Rosario Dawson, Top Five
Melissa McCarthy, St. Vincent
Jenny Slate, Obvious Child
Kristen Wiig, The Skeleton Twins
So I haven't seen any of these, but I'm hoping to catch up with Neighbors before the end of the season. I understand Rose Byrne is great in it.

Best Sci-Fi/Horror Movie
The Babadook
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Interstellar
Snowpiercer
Under the Skin
I'll be caught up with Babadook and Under the Skin pretty soon, and I've heard very good things about both. Assuming that's true, this is actually a pretty awesome collection.

1 comment:

  1. I realize that you probably haven't seen it, but I freaking loved the nomination for Ansel Elgort in The Fault in Our Stars. He was terrific in it.

    But yeah, a lot of these are just basically the Top Six in every category at this current stage in the competition. A lot of these nominations I'm really happy about (the aforementioned Elgort, Snowpiercer, Grand Budapest, etc. etc.), and yeah, Rose Byrne is really good in Neighbors.

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