Friday, January 9, 2015

'Selma' Stumbles Again With BAFTA Miss

The British Academy of Film and Television announced their annual list of nominees early this morning (or late last night), and as always there are a few interesting things to sift through.

The biggest takeaway is the complete snubbing of presumed Oscar heavyweight Selma in every category. Screeners were only sent to Academy members, of which there is some overlap with BAFTA, but obviously not enough to make a difference. Or perhaps the geographically specific story of Dr. King's political battles in the Jim Crow South doesn't resonate as strongly with the Brits as it would Stateside. Or perhaps it didn't open yet overseas and would not qualify anyway.

At any rate, the film has been virtually absent from industry nominations thus far, save for a couple of nods from the Costume and Hair/Makeup guilds. It makes it tremendously difficult to anticipate just how big or small its Oscar showing is going to be.

Films that we know will have a big showing with the Academy have also done so with BAFTA (10 nods for Birdman, 9 for The Imitation Game), but the official nomination leader is a bit of a surprise: The Grand Budapest Hotel with a field-leading 11(!) nominations! Do its European influences sing louder to the British demographic than they will with AMPAS? We'll know in less than a week, but I think it may be safe to assume that it will become Wes Anderson's first Best Picture nominee (and, I've been pondering lately, maybe even bring him a win in Best Original Screenplay).
Read up on all the nominees with some additional commentaries from me:

Best Film
Birdman - Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher, James W. Skotchdopole
Boyhood - Richard Linklater, Cathleen Sutherland
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales, Jeremy Dawson
The Imitation Game - Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman
The Theory of Everything - Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten
Grand Budapest is the real deal. I wonder if the love felt for this film might actually lead it to win something else in addition to production design... original screenplay perhaps?

Outstanding British Film
’71 - Yann Demange, Angus Lamont, Robin Gutch, Gregory Burke
The Imitation Game - Morten Tyldum, Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky, Teddy Schwarzman, Graham Moore
Paddington - Paul King, David Heyman
Pride - Matthew Warchus, David Livingstone, Stephen Beresford
The Theory of Everything - James Marsh, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce, Anthony McCarten
Under the Skin - Jonathan Glazer, James Wilson, Nick Wechsler, Walter Campbell
Easy win for The Imitation Game?

Best Director
Birdman - Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Boyhood - Richard Linklater
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson
The Theory of Everything - James Marsh
Whiplash - Damien Chazelle
No Morten Tyldum. Instead they opted for another Brit, James Marsh. I wouldn't expect AMPAS to follow suit.

Best Actor
Benedict Cumberbatch - The Imitation Game
Eddie Redmayne - The Theory of Everything
Jake Gyllenhaal - Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton - Birdman
Ralph Fiennes - The Grand Budapest Hotel
With Carell bumped to supporting, there was a gap here and the best possible choice to fill it is Ralph Fiennes. I don't mind telling you that my three favourite leading man performances of the year can be found amongst these five. And the other two are no slouches either. Brutally competitive category.

Best Actress
Amy Adams - Big Eyes
Felicity Jones - The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore - Still Alice
Reese Witherspoon - Wild
Rosamund Pike - Gone Girl
Amy Adams was in my predictions for the longest time (sight unseen, of course), but every major group kept opting for Aniston and I still don't completely buy it. Maybe a fringe player like Cotillard could surprise.

Best Supporting Actor
Edward Norton - Birdman
Ethan Hawke - Boyhood
J.K. Simmons - Whiplash
Mark Ruffalo - Foxcatcher
Steve Carell - Foxcatcher
This just gives me further reason to doubt Robert Duvall's chances for the critically dismissed The Judge, but who takes his place? Surely not Carell, who has been appropriately campaigned as a lead.

Best Supporting Actress
Emma Stone - Birdman
Imelda Staunton - Pride
Keira Knightley - The Imitation Game
Patricia Arquette - Boyhood
Rene Russo - Nightcrawler
Not so surprising to see hometown favourite Imelda Staunton turn up for Pride, a film that's done much better across the pond than it has over here (though I'm told it's just dandy). A more telling Oscar bellwether might be the inclusion of Rene Russo -- itself a fine choice given how great she is in the film -- which indicates the wide support Nightcrawler has. Interesting note: Chastain has missed here and with SAG, both industry groups. Like I keep saying: "Open in January at your own risk". The release of Chandor's All Is Lost last year was similarly mishandled.

Best Original Screenplay
Birdman - Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris Jr, Armando Bo
Boyhood - Richard Linklater
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wes Anderson
Nightcrawler - Dan Gilroy
Whiplash - Damien Chazelle
I've stubbornly been holding on to the notion that Mr. Turner would be the surprise Oscar nominee in this category (the writers always nominate him), but if even the Brits are turning a cold shoulder then it's time to hop aboard the Nightcrawler bandwagon.

Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper - Jason Hall
Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn
The Imitation Game - Graham Moore
Paddington - Paul King
The Theory of Everything - Anthony McCarten
Swap out Paddington for Whiplash and I think we've got our Oscar lineup. But Wild really deserves to be in here.

Outstanding Debut of a British Writer, Director or Producer
Elaine Constantine (Writer/Director) - Northern Soul
Gregory Burke (Writer), Yann Demange (Director) - ’71
Hong Khaou (Writer/Director) - Lilting
Paul Katis (Director/Producer), Andrew De Lotbiniere (Producer) - Kajaki: The True Story
Stephen Beresford (Writer), David Livingstone (Producer) - Pride

Best Film not in the English Language
Ida - Pawel Pawlikowski, Eric Abraham, Piotr Dzieciol, Ewa Puszczynska
Leviathan - Andrey Zvyagintsev, Alexander Rodnyansky, Sergey Melkumov
The Lunchbox - Ritesh Batra, Arun Rangachari, Anurag Kashyap, Guneet Monga
Trash - Stephen Daldry, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Kris Thykier
Two Days, One Night - Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne, Denis Freyd
Remember when everyone thought Trash would be a major Oscar player because it was directed by Daldry? Did that even get released this year? Anyway, the only two of these on the Oscar shortlist are Ida and Leviathan, both likely nominees.

Best Documentary
20 Feet from Stardom - Morgan Neville, Caitrin Rogers, Gil Friesen
20,000 Days on Earth - Iain Forsyth, Jane Pollard
CITIZENFOUR - Laura Poitras
Finding Vivian Maier - John Maloof, Charlie Siskel
Virguna - Orlando von Einsiedel, Joanna Natasegara
Oh look: 20 Feet from Stardom isn't done being overrated yet. Just can't stick to its own year, can it (baffling international release schedules!). Anyway, I had recently added Virguna and Finding Vivian Maier to my predictions, so this is a good sign.

Best Animated Film
Big Hero 6 - Don Hall, Chris Williams
The Boxtrolls - Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable
The LEGO Movie - Phil Lord, Christopher Miller
I've only seen six animated films this year, and these three are all on the bottom. Depressing slate here. I really hope the Academy can right the ship by going for one of the GKIDS titles.

Best Cinematography
Birdman - Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Robert Yeoman
Ida - Lukasz Zal, Ryzsard Lenczewski
Interstellar - Hoyte van Hoytema
Mr. Turner - Dick Pope
Fist of all: IDA!!! Hell yeah!!!
Second of all: I like Hoyte van Hoytema, I really do, but this is concerning. I don't want Interstellar, with its muddy palette, swooping in and stealing the Oscar away from some more deserving cinematographer by virtue of its special effects.

Best Film Editing
Birdman - Douglas Crise, Stephen Mirrione
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Barney Pilling
The Imitation Game - William Goldenberg
Nightcrawler - John Gilroy
The Theory of Everything - Jinx Godfrey
Whiplash - Tom Cross
This category is continuing to give me trouble prediction-wise. Beyond The Imitation Game I'm not confident in any other contender.

Best Production Design
Big Eyes - Rick Heinrichs, Shane Vieau
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Adam Stockhausen, Anna Pinnock
The Imitation Game - Maria Djurkovic, Tatiana MacDonald
Interstellar - Nathan Crowley, Gary Fettis
Mr. Turner - Suzie Davies, Charlotte Watts
Remember when everyone was predicting Big Eyes to score an Oscar nod in this category until they actually saw the film? I wonder if the BAFTA branch saw the film themselves or if they just voted for it because it's Tim Burton? I like the inclusion of Interstellar, which also scored with the ADG and the BFCA. Reconsidering its chances at an Oscar nod now...

Best Costume Design

The Grand Budapest Hotel - Milena Canonero
The Imitation Game - Sammy Sheldon Differ
Into the Woods - Colleen Atwood
Mr. Turner - Jacqueline Durran
The Theory of Everything - Steven Noble
Delighted to see Steven Noble get in for his quiet character-defining period wardrobe on The Theory of Everything, but not sure the work is flashy enough to win over the Academy's costume branch.

Best Original Score
Birdman - Antonio Sanchez
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar - Hans Zimmer
The Theory of Everything - Jóhann Jóhannsson
Under the Skin - Mica Levi
Under the Skin is probably the coolest nomination we'll see from a large mainstream voting body all season. All told, this lineup is pretty terrific. Lots of good scores to choose from this year.

Best Sound
American Sniper - Walt Martin, John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff, Alan Robert Murray, Bub Asman
Birdman - Thomas Varga, Martin Hernández, Aaron Glascock, Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Wayne Lemmer, Christopher Scarabosio, Pawel Wdowczak
The Imitation Game - John Midgley, Lee Walpole, Stuart Hilliker, Martin Jensen
Whiplash - Thomas Curley, Ben Wilkins, Craig Mann
LOVE LOVE LOVE the nominations of Whiplash and Birdman (both of which you'll find represented on my own personal ballot later this month)! The Imitation Game showing up here is very King's-Speech-eque; Sound was clean but hardly awards-worthy.

Best Visual Effects
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Erik Winquist, Daniel Barrett
Guardians of the Galaxy - Stephane Ceretti, Paul Corbould, Jonathan Fawkner, Nicolas Aithadi
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, R. Christopher White
Interstellar - Paul Franklin, Scott Fisher, Andrew Lockley
X-Men: Days of Future Past - Richard Stammers, Anders Langlands, Tim Crosbie, Cameron Waldbauer
No Godzilla. Remember last year when Star Trek Into Darkness showed up on the BATFA list and then ousted Pacific Rim from the Oscar ballot? I wonder if creature features just aren't in vogue with awards groups these days...

Best Makeup & Hair
The Grand Budapest Hotel - Frances Hannon
Guardians of the Galaxy - Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou, David White
Into the Woods - Peter Swords King, J. Roy Helland
Mr. Turner - Christine Blundell, Lesa Warrener
The Theory of Everything - Jan Sewell
Woods and Turner are already out of the Oscar running, but the other three are the ones I've been predicting ever since the bakeoff list was unveiled. That can only mean one thing: At least one of them is bound to get snubbed.

Best British Short Animation
The Bigger Picture - Chris Hees, Daisy Jacobs, Jennifer Majka
Monkey Love Experiments - Ainslie Henderson, Cam Fraser, Will Anderson
My Dad - Marcus Armitage
The Bigger Picture is on the Oscar shortlist.

Best British Short Film
Boogaloo & Graham - Brian J. Falconer, Michael Lennox, Ronan Blaney
Emotional Fusebox - Michael Berliner, Rachel Tunnard
The Karman Line - Campbell Beaton, Dawn King, Tiernan Hanby, Oscar Sharp
Slap - Islay Bell-Webb, Michelangelo Fano, Nick Rowland
Three Brothers - Aleem Khan, Matthieu de Braconier, Stephanie Paeplow
Boogaloo & Graham is on the Oscar shortlist.

Rising Star Award
Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Jack O'Connell
Margot Robbie
Miles Teller
Shailene Woodley

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