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Thursday, January 15, 2015


Oscar nomination day is like Christmas morning to me, a heady mix of anticipation sure to be followed by a little disappointment.  There was a bit of both to be had today.

A few thoughts:

-The 4 apparent "frontrunners", which have Picture/Directing/Screenplay nominations are Boyhood, Birdman, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Imitation Game. I haven't yet seen The Imitation Game, but the other 3 are among my very favorites of the year. So I really shouldn't complain too much about other snubs. Can we all just take a minute and say how great that a Wes Anderson movie LED the nominations? Not only that, they released it early in the year, showing they didn't give a hell about the Oscars.  And that the presumed frontrunner is a very independent film by Richard Linklater? Here's to quirky and idiosyncratic directors continuing to do what they do best.

-I'm very excited by Marion Cotillard's nomination. I haven't seen Two Days, One Night yet but I think she just might be the best Actress of her generation, and it's good to see the Academy look towards foreign films.

-This race is 20 white people.  Pretty terrible in 2015, but it says a lot about Hollywood, which films get funded, which films get made, and which films get voted on.  Which leads me to.....

-Selma. Damn.  Sure it got a Best Picture nomination, but only joined by a measly Best Song nomination. A few weeks ago, many pundits were putting it in the top 3 or 4 contenders.  There are movies in the race that I like a bit more than Selma, but it is strange and telling that this type of movie was so ignored across the board. It seems crazy to nominate the film and ignore the masterful central performance (David Oyelowo), the costumes, the cinematography (by the great young Black cinematographer Bradford Young), and of course the directing (Ava DuVernay). The Academy had the chance to make history by nominating the first African-American female director, and they didn't.  
-The nominations feel very male as well.  Gillian Flynn couldn't manage a screenplay nomination for the megahit Gone Girl (which I thought might win), and Wild, a story centered around a woman, also got passed over in screenplay.

On the categories I predicted, I got 36/43 for an 84% prediction rate. Last year I was 82% and the year before 87%, so right in the middle.

Here's the category-by-category rundown for those who are interested. I've also foolishly put my initial predictions (in everything except the short films) in italics.

Best Picture
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

I predicted these 8, but I thought there would be 9 with Gone Girl as the 9th.  Pretty proud of myself here, my first time predicting Best Picture correctly.

Best Director
Alexandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

I predicted 4/5, thinking they would go with Damian Chazelle for Whiplash over Bennett Miller.  The saddest omission here is Ava Duvernay (Selma).

Best Actor
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

My worst category, with only 3/5. I thought they would go David Oyelowo (Selma) and Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) over Carrell and Cooper. A category chock full of contenders ended up looking a little lackluster.

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

4/5, and happily because we don't have to say Oscar nominee Jennifer Aniston (Cake)! Instead Marion Cotillard got in. I haven't seen Two Days, One Night yet but I love Cotillard (including her other performance this year in The Immigrant) and the directors the Dardenne brothers.

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

5/5.  If I continue my tradition of seeing all the major nominees, this means I have to watch The Judge.... yikes.

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

4/5. I picked Rene Russo (Nightcrawler) and they went with Dern. I prefer Russo's performance, but also love Dern so am very happy for her.

Best Adapted Screenplay
American Sniper
The Imitation Game
Inherent Vice
The Theory of Everything

4/5.  I (along with everyone) thought they would nominate Gone Girl, and I missed Inherent Vice.  One of the biggest shockers of the day was Gone Girl missing.

Best Original Screenplay
The Grand Budapest Hotel

4/5. I thought they'd go Selma, but they went with Foxcatcher, which did very well for a movie not in the Best Picture race.

Best Cinematography
Birdman – Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel – Robert Yeoman
Ida – Lukasz Zal & Ryszard Lenczewski
Mr. Turner – Dick Pope
Unbroken – Roger Deakins

Great category! Sooooo excited for the Polish film Ida, which is great and has stunning cinematography.  It's on Netflix instant-check it out!

Best Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales

Best Makeup and Hairstyling
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Original Score
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Mr. Turner
The Theory of Everything

Best Original Song
“Lost Stars,” Begin Again
“Everything is Awesome,” The LEGO Movie
“Glory,” Selma
“Grateful,” Beyond the Lights
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me

A fun category! The first three songs are all great.

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
Song of the Sea
The Tale of Princess Kaguya

OK, maybe this is the biggest shock.  No The Lego Movie, easily the most acclaimed animated movie of the year.

Best Documentary—Short
Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Our Curse
The Reaper
White Earth

Best Film Editing
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game

Best Production Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

Best Animated Short
The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

Best Live Action Short
Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp
The Phone Call

Best Sound Editing
American Sniper
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Best Sound Mixing
American Sniper

Best Visual Effects
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Documentary — Feature
Finding Vivien Maier
Last Days of Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth

No Life Itself, the Ebert documentary! I guess not everyone loves a movie critic....

Best Costume Design
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Inherent Vice
Into the Woods
Mr. Turner

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