Thursday, January 15, 2015

2015 Oscar Nominations (Reaction and Analysis)

For the first time in Academy history all 24 categories were announced this morning for the 2015 Oscars, with J.J. Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron handling duties for the technical awards while Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Chris Pine read off the "major" categories. I liked this new approach since it builds suspense for the Best Picture reveal while giving air time to deserved, but often overlooked (and almost always difficult to pronounce) names in less publicized categories. If anything, it was nice not having to go hunting online in search of who was nominated in editing or cinematography for a change. Hopefully they continue with this, even if you had to feel for them having to continuously announce Birdman's FULL title for each of its 9 nods (tying The Grand Budapest Hotel for the most). But for fans of the film, and Michael Keaton, they were just happy to get the news. It all went off without a hitch, at least until Isaacs mispronounced Mr. Turner cinematographer Dick Pope's name as "Dick Poop." But I'm guessing he'll be too elated over his surprise nomination to hold a serious grudge.

There are only maybe one or two developments that came out of this I'd consider shocking, with a couple mini surprises sprinkled about here and here. It mostly went as expected, even when it came to a couple of the snubs, if you can call them that. "Overlooked" is probably the better word to describe most of the morning's exclusions. As we approach the big show on Sunday, February 22nd, it's looking more and more like I'll have seen and possibly even reviewed all the Best Picture nominees in contention, which would be a first.
 With Boyhood, Birdman, The Theory of Everything and The Grand Budapest Hotel already in the books and a huge Whiplash review coming within the week, I'm at least halfway there. The latter two are definitely bringing up the rear with Boyhood out in front as my favorite, at least for now. Just as I have no real problems with any of these nominees, I'm suspecting very few will complain with longtime consensus choice and fan favorite Neil Patrick Harris hosting the telecast. It's likely the only objection to be raised is why he wasn't picked to do this sooner. Here's my rundown of the big newsmaking items to come out of the nominations:

-8 Best Picture nominees. That's one less than usual and the least amount since this whole "anywhere from 5 to 9" nominee system was instituted in 2011 in response to the backlash of having way too many at 10. Any reduction is fine by me since the choices have gotten increasingly ridiculous and pointless with more slots to fill and the knowledge that whichever film doesn't get in for director can't usually win (bizarre Argo situation excluded).

-American Sniper's inclusion was a surprise, although it was recently surging to the point that this could have been predicted. Same goes for The Grand Budapest Hotel, but that traveled quite a distance from the beginning of last year to make it. I like it, but think it's far from Wes Anderson's best and a questionable nominee in the category. Still, it probably needs a second viewing from me.

-Selma gets in but David Oyelowo misses out on the Best Actor nod, as does Ava Duvernay for Best Director. But this movie was losing steam from the get-go, with the LBJ controversy and what not. It's lucky it even made it in at all.

-Would have replaced either Budapest or The Theory of Everything with Foxcatcher in a heartbeat but I'm glad Bennett Miller made the cut for Director since he was in jeopardy.

-We can now type the phrase "Oscar-nominated director Wes Anderson."

-The Imitation Game director Morten Tyldum becomes the Tom Hooper of this year's Oscar race. Minus the win.

-Voters went for Steve Carell despite rumors he'd be snubbed in favor of Nightcrawler's Jake Gyllenhaal. But in hindsight it makes sense given their history. If they didn't nominate Brad Pitt for Fight Club or Christian Bale for American Psycho, they won't start honoring cool anti-hero performances now. Real-life hated figures are more up their alley, especially when played by comedians donning prosthetic noses.

-Bradley Cooper riding that American Sniper wave to his third straight (!) nomination.

-It's not much of a surprise Marion Cotillard got in for Two Days, One Night. Or much of a surprise that she would get in for anything she does.

-Jennifer Aniston was not "snubbed." If she somehow got in for Cake (a movie few have seen or heard of) I would have been shocked. While Best Actress is admittedly one of the thinner categories this year, it's not THAT thin.

-The LEGO Movie not nominated in Animated Category. Okay, now that's a shock. You even heard the justifiable gasps in the auditorium during that one. Not sure what happened here other than maybe the voters were put off by the animation style. Was the script too subversive? But even that doesn't make sense. I'm grasping at straws here.

-Not much of a showing for Gone Girl, which is a shame. No Picture, no Fincher, no Reznor and Ross for Score and no cinematography acknowledgment. Worst of all, Gillian Flynn's screenplay goes unnoticed. How?  But at least Rosamund Pike's in and NPH is hosting. So there's that.

-Supporting Actor and Actress went almost exactly as expected, with one notable exception: Laura Dern for Wild. While I'm sure most would rather that surprise slot go to Rene Russo for Nightcrawler (actress comeback of the year), Dern is universally beloved within the industry so that explains that.  

-Ruffalo nominated for Foxcatcher!

-"Lost Stars" from Begin Again makes it in for Best Original Song!

-Very good news that Paul Thomas Anderson at least nabbed a Best Adapted Screenplay nod for Inherent Vice, even if I have my doubts at to whether he'll win. It almost makes up for the Gone Girl omission. 

-Whiplash questionably included as an adapted rather than original screenplay because it was "adapted" (or more accurately expanded) by writer/director Damien Chazelle from his own short film. That doesn't make much sense, but a nomination is a nomination and it earned 5 of them, including Best Picture. I'll keep my poker face on since I'll have a whole lot to say about the film soon enough.

-Strong Original Screenplay category with both Foxcatcher and Nightcrawler thankfully making the cut alongside Birdman, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel, the latter of which you could actually make a case for being adapted.

-Worst snub: Roger Ebert: Life Itself  for Best Documentary. I guess they really don't like film critics, or at least movies about them. The Academy messed up there.


Francisco Gonzalez said...

Agree with ya, Gyllenhal in Nightcrawler was ignored because it was too subversive and it attacks the media, any movie that does this will be ignored, no matter how good. Wish it was the 70's again, when films like Network could win best screenplay....oh wait....maybe Nightcrawler will win that one! Here's hoping!

jeremythecritic said...

Yeah, Nightcrawler really felt like that kind of edgy movie the Academy would never embrace, which hurt Gyllenhaal's chances. I'm actually surprised it managed to get the screenplay nomination. But at least that's something I guess.