Thursday, January 15, 2015

Oscar Nominations: So, uh, That Happened

Well, count me somewhat perplexed. I don't really know how to nail down the nominations this year--they're not amazing, they're not terrible, they're not too out of left field. They're just sort of....there. Like furniture. Still, there's some pretty exciting furniture in there (as well as some clearly termite-infested hellspawn demonkin furniture too), so let's dive in and see what Oscar Santa brought us!

Note: I'll put asterisks next to everything I predicted, so you can see how I did.

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

I'd love to take credit for getting this whole lineup correctly, but I also predicted Gone Girl, so it doesn't work. And check it out! This is the first time since their new 'variable number of nominees' that we've *actually* gotten a number other than 9, which is pretty cool. I don't explicitly hate anything in this lineup (though I'm not fond of The Theory of Everything and have yet to see American Sniper), so I suppose it could be worse. Great to see Selma here--since, as you'll see, the Academy really didn't embrace it on the whole.
Early Winner Prediction: Boyhood

Wes Anderson-The Grand Budapest Hotel*
Alejandro Gonzalez Innaritu-Birdman*
Richard Linklater-Boyhood*
Bennett Miller-Foxcatcher
Morten Tyldum-The Imitation Game*

Foxcatcher? The Academy sure went adventurous with that one--that, or they just *really* love Bennett Miller. I wish I loved the movie more, so I could be happier about it showing up here. Tad disappointing to see Tyldum here, but we always knew that was going to happen. Also worth noting: Bennett Miller is the first 'lone director,' i.e. a movie that gets a direction nomination but not a best picture one, since the Academy expanded their Best Picture roster to 10 nominees in 2009.
Early Winner Prediction: Richard Linklater-Boyhood

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

...Well ok then. Three-time Academy Award Nominee Bradley Cooper, ladies and gents. I mean, I like Coops as much as the next guy, but maybe that's a bit much for this stage in his career? Continuing the Foxcatcher love-in as well. Honestly, I'm not a *huge* fan of a lot of these performances. Awful to see that Ralph Fiennes couldn't ride the Grand Budapest tidal wave to a nomination here. So I guess we'll just be rooting Keaton til the end then!
Early Winner Prediction: Michael Keaton-Birdman

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

Here's Gone Girl's single, sad little nomination--the Academy *really* didn't jump on that bandwagon, which is a shame. Lovely to see Cotillard finally rewarded after a crazy good career after her first Oscar win, even though I've no idea how I'm going to be able to see that movie before the Oscars. And, of course, that Julianne Moore is probably steamrolling toward her first Oscar.
Early Winner Prediction: Julianne Moore-Still Alice

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

Man, what a boring category. I mean, there are plenty of fine performances, but it went entirely as expected--and made room for a sleepy Robert Duvall in a pretty much universally hated movie. Super.
Early Winner Prediction: J.K. Simmons-Whiplash

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

Surprised to see Dern here--I'd written off her chances some time ago. But who can resist The Face? Streep racks up nod #19 here, which is a number so big that it doesn't even seem real anymore.
Early Winner Prediction: Patricia Arquette-Boyhood

Original Screenplay
The Grand Budapest Hotel*

Again with the Foxcatcher. Goodness. And poor Nightcrawler--plenty of people were predicting that the Academy would go pretty wild for it. And they ought to have, since it's better than most all of the Best Picture nominees.
Early Winner Prediction: Boyhood

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

Gone Girl missing in this category is a real shocker to me--I'd have figured if it were safe anywhere, it was here. Eked out by a Thomas Pynchon stoner comedy. ....Although, since I haven't see Inherent Vice, I really shouldn't take that tone with it. Maybe it's a masterpiece. I don't know (yet).
Early Winner Prediction: The Imitation Game

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

You know, I had Interstellar predicted right until the last minute, and then I got intimidated by Tim Burton films' track record in this category, and I blinked (blissful sidebar--Big Eyes went home empty-handed this morning, which means now I don't have to see it. Rejoice!). Here begins the Interstellar love-in: I think it's a fun, worthy choice in this category, but I am just going to lose it when I have to mention it in categories a bit further down.
Early Winner Prediction: The Grand Budapest Hotel

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

That risky Inherent Vice call I made in this category looks a whole lot less silly now, given that basically nobody else was predicting it. So clearly I'm the best at this, is what I'm saying. Obviously. I can't argue with Maleficent getting in here, but it also means that it takes the case for worst movie up for an Oscar this year (that I've seen). Also terrible: Johnny Depp's unholy zoot suit nightmare in Into the Woods is now Oscar-Nominated. Yeesh.
Early Winner Prediction: Into the Woods

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

Whole lot of wackiness going on here. Love seeing Captain America here--I mean, it's effects really aren't as good as some of the the movies it beat, but I love the movie like crazy, so I'm gonna let it slide. Fun to see X-Men getting the first nomination in its entire franchise history--we can just pretend that it's for X2 and call it good. Also worth noting--The Hobbit failing to get a nomination here makes it the first Middle Earth movie to do so. Guess the Academy finally got sick of Peter Jackson's bloated, sickly saga of furry little men swinging axes at various green screens. Also pretty gutted to see Godzilla miss here-as well as everywhere. I guess my "Yay Godzilla!" fan-club letters weren't as powerful as I hoped they would be.
Early Winner Prediction: Interstellar

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

Not thrilled to see Foxcatcher here. Don't care that much about Budapest in this category. It is fun, though, to see Galaxy here, whose makeup was consistently inventive and funny. Interesting side-note: Guardian's nomination here makes it the first Marvel Studios movie since Iron Man (in 2008) to get more than one nomination; and it's also the first Marvel Studios movie to be nominated for something other than Visual Effects or Sound Editing.
Early Winner Prediction: The Grand Budapest Hotel

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

Funny, I took American Sniper out of my picks at the last minute too. ...But it was to slide Budapest in, so it all comes out a wash, I guess. Again surprised to see Gone Girl miss here; normally they go crazy for Fincher films in this category.
Early Winner Prediction: Boyhood

The Grand Budapest Hotel*
Mr. Turner*

As soon as I posted my final predictions, I immediately regretted having The Theory of Everything instead of Ida--every single time (seriously, literally every single time) in almost a decade, they've nominated any movie that was shot in black and white. So I really should have gone for Ida here, given the decade's worth of precedence. Oh well. As an aside, it's a really, really great movie, so I'm glad it showed up somewhere.
Early Winner Prediction: Birdman

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

As always, I find this category just the tiniest bit ghastly. Although, to be fair, it could be worse--I actually kind of love both Budapest and The Imitation Game here, and I think the Interstellar score has some lovely moments (even if it also has some ridiculous and overwrought moments as well). I haven't seen Mr. Turner yet, but I'm surprised to see it here by virtue of the fact that absolutely no one has mentioned its music for the entire Oscar season. So either it's a hidden gem, or it's a totally perplexing choice. I'll let you know once I see it.
Early Winner Prediction: The Imitation Game

Sound Mixing
American Sniper*

My joy at seeing such intelligent, subtle picks like Birdman and Whiplash is totally washed out by the unbelievably stupid, totally hideous bit of Oscar afterbirth that is Interstellar's nomination in this category. I haven't heard such a sloppy, ill-advised sound mix in a big budget film since....probably ever. (And I'm not alone on this--google 'Interstellar sound problems' and weep. Theaters literally had to puts signs in the lobby telling audiences that there wasn't a problem with their equipment, that's just the way Interstellar sounded.) On an up note: I DON'T HAVE TO .SEE THE GODDAMN TRANSFORMERS MOVIE. The Academy has been forcing me to watch those stupid, stupid movies for years now, and I finally get to avoid one. Thank you, Academy. Thank you.
Early Winner Prediction: American Sniper (because if Interstellar wins I am seriously going to lose it.)

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

Excited, if a little perplexed, to see Birdman here. Glad to see The Hobbit get at least one nod--I hated, hated, hated that movie, but I'm too much of a Middle Earth fan to want to see the last entry in the franchise get shut out completely. And the sound on that movie was awfully impressive.
Early Winner Prediction: American Sniper

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*

So glad that A) the beautiful ditzy pop explosion that is "Everything is Awesome" made it here, and B) glad that Selma got at least *one* other nomination. Seriously, its only other mention is in Best Picture. Which is really weird. And leads me to believe that it *almost* didn't make it in Picture either. Good grief. Also--I kind of look like a genius with this category, which must be a fluke, because this is usually the toughest predict, and normally I flop around like a tuna fish in a volcano when trying to predict here. Go me,  I guess. Interesting side fact: this category was probably The Hunger Games' best chance at a nomination (for the dirge-y Lorde end track), but since it missed, it becomes only the fourth highest grossing movie of the year since 1980 to not receive any Oscar nominations whatsoever. Another fun fact--the last time this happened was least year with Catching Fire. (Note: I know that Mockingjay Part 1 isn't the highest grossing movie of the year right now, but it's only $3 million away from Guardians of the Galaxy's total, and it made over a million just last weekend, so I feel pretty safe in assuming that it will become the highest grossing film of the year before too long.)
Early Winner Prediction: "Glory"-Selma

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

The Lego Movie missing here is EASILY my least favorite thing about this morning. I'm still pissed, honestly. It's such a clever, inventive little movie--definitely in my top 20 for the year. And while it is certainly lovely to see this branch go classy and nominate two foreign, artsy features (Kaguya and Song of the Sea), couldnt' they have kicked out the Dragon sequel instead? Nuts. This one's going to bug me for a while.
Early Winner Prediction: ....I would have said The Lego Movie, but that's not an option, so...How to Train Your Dragon 2, I guess?

Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales-Argentina*

I'm a little bummed that Force Majeure couldn't land here, but I haven't seen Tangerines (which presumably bumped it out), so I suppose I shouldn't judge. Also cool to see Mauritania get an Oscar nomination with its first ever submission. African films so rarely find a place here (and when they do, it's mostly South Africa), so it's groovy to see some variation.
Early Winner Prediction: Ida

Documentary Feature
Finding Vivian Maier
Last Days in Vietnam*
The Salt of the Earth

I can't get passionate about anything here, since I haven't seen anything. A little surprised that the relatively acclaimed Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself didn't make it here. I kept hearing about this Vivian Maier movie, but I still have no idea what it is, so I didn't predict it.
Early Winner Prediction: Citizenfour

Note: Of the main nominees (i.e. not animated, foreign, or documentary), I haven't seen American Sniper, Selma, Two Days, One Night, Still Alice, The Judge, Inherent Vice, Mr. Turner, Beyond the Lights, or Glen Campbell: I'll Be Me. I'm going to have a theater blitz this weekend and see Selma, Sniper, and Vice, and I'll see Still Alice and Mr. Turner when they finally crawl into theaters in the middle of the country. I've still got a problem, though--The Judge, Two Days, One Night, Beyond the Lights, and Glen Campbell aren't in theaters near me, they aren't available on Netflix, and I can't get them on Amazon Instant. So I've really no idea how I'm going to see them before Oscar night. Which is a shame, because four movies really is quite a lot to leave out. But we'll do our best.

As far as predicting goes, I did relatively well--I (mostly) nailed Picture, Supporting Actor, and Original Song (still shocked by that), and only really messed up Actor, Visual Effects, Film Editing, and Sound Mixing. ...Which sounds like more than what it was in my head. Oh well. I tried.

For those counting at home, here's a list of the most nominated films:
1. Birdman-9
2. The Grand Budapest Hotel-9
3. The Imitation Game-8
4. Boyhood-6
5. American Sniper-6
6. The Theory of Everything-5
7. Whiplash-5
8. Foxcatcher-5
9. Interstellar-5
10. Mr. Turner-4

And, for comparison here's a (by no means complete) list of notable films that weren't nominated for anything this morning: Cake, Godzilla, Big Eyes, Fury, Force Majeure, Winter Sleep, Mommy, A Most Violent Year, The Homesman, The Fault in Our Stars, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay--Part 1, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Transformers: Age of Extinction, Noah, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Under the Skin, The Babadook, Pride, Stranger by the Lake, The Guest, 22 Jump Street, Edge of Tomorrow, Nymphomaniac, Muppets Most Wanted,  The Maze Runner, Divergent, Rio 2, Lucy...etc. I'm sure.

In summation: ...not too bad this year. I could have gone for them being a bit more adventurous, but they certainly could have made some worse choices. What do you think? An embarrassing slate of nominees? A brilliant one? Somewhere in between?

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