Thursday, January 15, 2015

87th Academy Award Nominations!!!

Oscar noms are here! And as is always the case on this most exciting of mornings, the Academy had a handful of surprises to keep us interested.

I think the biggest takeaway from this year's crop is that for the first time since shifting to the variable number of nominees, the Best Picture race yielded less than nine contenders. Instead, we have eight, all of which I predicted, but my ninth prediction (Nightcrawler) was obviously less beloved than all those guilds suggested.

The nomination leaders are Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel, racking up nine apiece. Close behind was The Imitation Game with eight, followed by Boyhood and American Sniper with six.

So what to glean from all this? To my eyes, this is now a three horse race between The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Imitation Game, and Boyhood. They are the only Best Picture nominees to additionally turn up in the three essential categories of director, screenplay, and editing.

The big losers of the day? Well, hard as it may be to think of a Best Picture nominee being a big loser, Selma has clearly underperformed with the industry, earning only two nominations total. The aforementioned Nightcrawler failed to translate its precursor love into Academy love, earning but a lone citation (at least a worthy one, for Dan Gilroy's screenplay, but ouch for Gyllenhaal!).

And what of the one-hit wonders? Films that you weren't expecting to get anything but suddenly pop up in single category thus earning the title "Academy Award nominee". There are a few of them in Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song, including The LEGO Movie which shockingly missed on a Best Animated Feature nomination (that's gotta smart for Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the presumed frontrunners until now).

Some other films did pretty well for themselves despite being outside the Best Picture conversation. Interstellar picked up five nods, including two contentious ones in both sound categories. Foxcatcher picked up five as well, but failed to gain entry to the Best Picture race. Mr. Turner picked up four in the craft categories.

I'll make some more commentaries on the individual categories throughout the morning, but I'll conclude for the moment with a quick list of best nominations and the worst snubs:

-Foxcatcher for director and screenplay...HELL YEAH!
-Captain America for visual effects...HELL YEAH!
-Ida for cinematography...HELL YEAH!
-Both Song of the Sea and Princess Kaguya for animated feature...HELL YEAH!
-Marion Cotillard for actress...HELL YEAH! (No offense to Jen, but I wasn't particularly looking forward to Cake)
-Whiplash for sound mixing...HELL YESSSSSS! Seriously, let's make this one happen.

-Glen Keane snubbed for animated short...HELL NO!
-No Theory of Everything for makeup...HELL NO!
-No Gyllenhaal for actor...HELL NO!
-No Force Majeure for foreign film...HELL NO!
-No Fury for sound...HELL NO!
-No Godzilla for, uh, anything...HELL NO!

[UPDATE:] I've tabulated my overall prediction results, and I correctly anticipated 81 of 106 nominations (I didn't attempt the shorts), identical to my results from last year! So as a tie breaker I decided to look at my early predictions to see how they compared to last year's. I guessed 34 nominees way back in May. Again, identical to last year! Am I plateauing?

Best Picture
American Sniper
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash
It's kind of odd that there was enough passion for Selma to sneak in here but that it only received one additional nomination, while Foxcatcher (which I'm delighted to see pop up in five categories!) didn't have enough support to be a ninth nominee. Five of these eight are in my top ten, but the other three don't even come close. I can't help but feel that it's one of those three that will win, but we'll have to wait for the PGA until we can be sure.

Best Director
Wes Anderson - The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu - Birdman
Richard Linklater - Boyhood
Bennett Miller - Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum - The Imitation Game
My predix = 3/5, missed Anderson and Miller.
So the big surprise here is that Eastwood (a steak-eater's preference and director branch idol is ever there was one) missed the cut for a film that obviously is quite popular with the Academy at large. But Bennett Miller is definitely trading up.
I think this makes him the first lone director nominee since the Academy expanded Best Picture, right? Should've given Wes Anderson's momentum more credence. Good for them both.

Best Actor
Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper - American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton - Birdman
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
My predix = 3/5, missed Cooper and Carell.
I had an intuition about Cooper that I should have gambled on. Mea culpa. Gyllenhaal is a snub that must sting after scoring with every other major precursor. Unlikable character? But you could say that about four of these characters. The only one who isn't unlikable is the one I suspect will win.

Best Actress
Marion Cotillard - Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
My predix = 4/5, missed Cotillard.
Again, I should have gone with my gut, which told me that Jennifer Aniston was in a precarious position. Thrilled for Cotillard, who has now FINALLY earned her second Oscar nomination despite turning out great performances on an annual basis since La Vie En Rose.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall - The Judge
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
Edward Norton - Birdman
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash
My predix = 4/5, missed Duvall.
Ugh. The one acting category where I anticipated a surprise is the one acting category that lined up 5/5 with the Globes, SAG, and BFCA. Go figure. Now I have to seek out The Judge. Damn you, Academy!

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Laura Dern - Wild
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Emma Stone - Birdman
Meryl Streep - Into the Woods
My predix = 4/5, missed Dern.
No Jessica Chastain. I might be more outraged by this if I ever get to see the film. Like I say: "Open in January at your own risk." But you certainly won't find me complaining about Laura Dern surprising here. She's just so wonderful and graceful in Wild.

Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything
Whiplash
My predix = 4/5, missed Inherent Vice.
Should have known the writers would spring for PTA, but I guess I was thrown off because they didn't go for The Master, arguably a better movie. Category wasn't as competitive this year. Despite its dubious placement, I'm stoked that Damien Chazelle has earned an Oscar nomination for Whiplash. It would be criminal for him not to have been.

Best Original Screenplay
Birdman
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Nightcrawler
My predix = 4/5, missed Foxcatcher.
Didn't want to predict Foxcatcher, but I should have given the writers branch more credit. This might be the single strongest category of the year. Not a weak screenplay among them, and any one would make a swell winner.

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
My predix = 4/5, missed Princess Kaguya.
Wow. The LEGO Movie. Just... wow. Easily the most surprising snub of the year, but not one that has me crying into my morning tea. Replacing it with Isao Takahata's artful swan song is a huge upgrade (although it would be a slighter better upgrade had it replaced Big Hero 6). It makes me so happy (like, you have NO IDEA how happy) to see the anime master, who made what I consider the greatest animated motion picture ever, with an Academy Award nomination for his final film. Favourite nomination of the year by a landslide.

Best Foreign Language Film
Ida
Leviathan
Tangerines
Timbuktu
Wild Tales
My predix = 4/5, missed Tangerines.
The Force Majeure snub isn't so surprising (frosty film), but it disappoints all the same. Not only is it one of the year's best films, in any language, but it's also one of the few foreign films I've seen this year. Living in any place besides NY or LA makes it really tough to see all these in time. Clock is ticking now, and I hope I can find Leviathan, Tangerines, Timbuktu, and Wild Tales in time!

Best Documentary
Citizenfour
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam
Salt of the Earth
Virunga
My predix = 3/5, missed Last Days in Vietnam and Salt of the Earth.
Clock is ticking for me on this category too, having only seen Citizenfour, the likely winner now that Life Itself is out of the running. I feel for Steve James, who has been famously snubbed before (0 Oscar nominations in this category, if you can believe that), but let's face it, his Roger Ebert biography was not an awards-worthy doc.

Best Cinematography
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ida
Mr. Turner
Unbroken
My predix = 4/5, missed Ida.
My completely justifiable fear that Interstellar would sneak in and win this category to go along with visual effects turned out to be for naught. Thankfully, we will at last have a year wherein the two categories are won by different films (Hallelujah)! And in its place, one of the nominations I was dying to see happen, Ida! This is a pretty great lineup; When your weakest link is Roger freakin' Deakins, you know you're looking at excellent cinematography nominees.

Best Editing
American Sniper
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Whiplash
My predix = 4/5, missed The Grand Budapest Hotel.
The fact that Grand Budapest made it in over Birdman is a telling sign as to which of these co-nomination leaders is truly in the best position. I'll be giving Anderson's film the edge over Inarritu's in a few categories now, including screenplay.

Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner
My predix = 5/5!
Finally, a perfect prediction record! Glad I followed my hunch on Interstellar's gritty production design.

Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner
Maleficent
My predix = 4/5, missed Inherent Vice.
Strong group. I've made it known how I'm no fan of Inherent Vice, but this was one nomination it just needed to earn.

Best Original Score
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Interstellar
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything
My predix = 4/5, missed Mr. Turner.
Most pundits knew the top four, but predictions for that fifth slot were all over the map. I don't anyone saw it going to Gary Yershon's austere string compositions for Mr. Turner. That crazy music branch!

Best Original Song
“Lost Stars” Begin Again
"Grateful" Beyond the Lights
"I'm Not Gonna Miss You" Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me
“Everything is Awesome” The LEGO Movie
“Glory” Selma
My predix = 3/5, missed Glen Campbell and Beyond the Lights.
Beyond the Lights should thank it's lucky stars that music branch members are sent a DVD with all the song clips as they appear in their films, because this movie sent out no screeners and was little seen theatres. Question is: Is this now a landslide for under-performing Best Pic nominee Selma, or do spurned LEGO Movie fans turn the tide?

Best Sound Mixing
American Sniper
Birdman
Interstellar
Unbroken
Whiplash
My predix = 3/5, missed Interstellar and Whiplash.
The two that I missed are really a tale of two soundscapes: Whiplash boasts one of the best sound designs of the year, full stop. Interstellar, on the other hand... well, let's just say that film and I don't hear ear-to-ear. I'm gonna have nightmares for the next six weeks that it ends up winning.

Best Sound Editing
American Sniper
Birdman
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
Interstellar
Unbroken
My predix = 4/5, missed The Hobbit.
Oh, that Hobbit series. You just knew it wouldn't be shut out completely. But a single sound citation makes it Jackson's least awarded Middle Earth excursion yet. Good riddance (although, to be fair, the sound work is fine). It saddens me that neither Godzilla nor Fury could find recognition in either sound category.

Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
Interstellar
X-Men: Days of Future Past
My predix = 3/5, missed Captain America and X-Men.
After about a half a dozen movies, the X-Men series finally scored an Academy Award nomination. Guess I'll have to go see them all, now! Saddened for the loss of Godzilla's beautifully animated creatures, but Captain America is a fine alternative.

Best Makeup
Foxcatcher
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy
My predix = 2/3, missed Foxcatcher.
This category becomes really interesting now. The Grand Budapest Hotel is clearly the most beloved film, but Guardians of the Galaxy has by far the showiest work. Gonna be a tough call.

Best Animated Short
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Feast
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life
While I celebrate the long-overdue nomination of animator Isao Takahata, I mourn the snubbing of another great, overdue animator in Glenn Keane, whose beautiful Duet was obviously too short and simple to win the respect it deserved from the animation branch.

Best Live-Action Short
Aya
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak)
Parvaneh
The Phone Call

Best Documentary, Short Subjects
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Joanna
Our Curse

The Reaper (La Parka)
White Earth

1 comment:

  1. I was a bit fan of LEGO Movie, so it's snub really saddens me. Oh well. I am now in the Dragons 2 boat for that category!

    Overall a pretty good slate in most of the categories. Aside from the obvious snubs, I found that a lot of these were well deserved. I kinda wanted Interstellar to surprise with a Best Picture nom since I really like that film, but oh well. It was an acquired taste after all.

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