Friday, January 16, 2015

Oscar Oscar Oscar

Oscars--the only award that matters. (Nobels?  Hah!)  The nominations are out.  There weren't too many surprises, but let's look at the main categories.

BEST MOTION PICTURE OF THE YEAR

American Sniper

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel

The Imitation Game

Selma

The Theory of Everything

Whiplash

Some years back they opened up the category to allow up to ten nominees, partly for commercial reasons--big hits could be nominated and thus more viewers would tune in to the show.  Didn't apparently work this year.  Except for the potential of American Sniper, none of these films are going to make $100 million domestic. 

As for quality, some decent choices but nothing that exciting, and little unexpected.  Only eight made it, which means a bunch of titles that might have sneaked in, such as NightcrawlerInterstellar or Foxcatcher or even Gone Girl or Into The Woods, were snubbed.  Selma, snubbed elsewhere, got in.  American Sniper was far from guaranteed, and Whiplash is a bit of a surprise, but no real shocks.

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE

Steve Carell in Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

The biggest surprise is David Oyelowo didn't make it as MLK in Selma, allowing Bradley Cooper to get in.  Another slight is no Jake Gyllenhaal for Nightcrawler.   A few even dreamed of Timothy Spall for Mr. Turner or Ralph Fiennes in Grand Budapest Hotel.  Still, there's only room for five so some have got to be left out. 

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Robert Duvall in The Judge
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons in Whiplash

Keeps up with its historical reputation as the best category.  Entirely predictable.  The only tiresome choice is Robert Duvall, giving us the Robert Duvall we've seen many times before, just more boring than usual.

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE

Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore in Still Alice
Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon in Wild

Not that greatest category, but no shocks.  The big snub here is Jennifer Aniston for Cake--she was probably replaced by Marion Cotillard (who's already won an Oscar).

PERFORMANCE BY AN ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE

Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
Laura Dern in Wild
Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game
Emma Stone in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep in Into the Woods

Meryl Streep?  Really?  Do they have to nominate her for everything she does?  She was okay in the movie (as was Emily Blunt and Anna Kendrick) but maybe they could have chosen someone new.  Didn't think much of Laura Dern either, who gets her second nomination (her dad has two and her mom has three).  Doesn't matter much as Patricia Arquette probably has this thing locked up. 

ACHIEVEMENT IN DIRECTING

Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Everyone is making a big deal about Ava DuVernay not getting nominated for Selma, though I think her work was competent but uninspired and the Academy got it right.  A bit surprising not to see Clint EastwoodBennett Miller probably took his space.  David Fincher was snubbed--Gone Girl may not be deep, but it's a director's film.  Still no love for Christopher Nolan, but he's never been nominated in this category.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE FILM OF THE YEAR


Big Hero 6

The Boxtrolls

How to Train Your Dragon 2

Song of the Sea

The Tale Of The Princess Kaguya

Everything is not awesome--the big snub here is The Lego Movie.  It certainly deserved a spot more than the dreadful How To Train Your Dragon 2.  I would have liked to see The Book Of Life but that wasn't in the cards.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM OF THE YEAR

Ida (Poland)

Leviathan (Russia)

Tangerines (Estonia)

Timbuktu (Mauritania)

Wild Tales (Argentina)

The big surprise here is no Force Majeure.  And where is We Are The Best!?

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

American Sniper Written by Jason Hall
The Imitation Game Written by Graham Moore
Inherent Vice Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory of Everything Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
Whiplash Written by Damien Chazelle

Not the most inspired group.  Might have expected Gillian Flynn for adapting her own Gone Girl.  And what is that mess Inherent Vice doing here?

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
Boyhood Written by Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler Written by Dan Gilroy

A more lively category than adapted, and Nightcrawler finally gets some notice.  By the way, Linklater and Anderson are both nominated for three Oscars.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE

CitizenFour

Finding Vivian Maier

Last Days in Vietnam

The Salt of the Earth

Virunga

The big surprise here is Life Itself is missing.  Maybe some Hollywood people still resent Roger Ebert.

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