Thursday, January 15, 2015

Oscars Nominations Prove the Academy is Out of Touch with Race and Gender

Well that happened! To say that this year’s Oscar nominees are a disappointment is a bit of an understatement.

Let’s start with the first announcement, which was done by J.J. Abrams and Alfonse Cuaron.  Two of the biggest locks for nominations were shut out, The Lego Movie in Best Animated Feature, and Life Itself in Best Documentary Feature.  To say that these snubs are appalling is an understatement.  Lego was easily one of the best animated films of the year, and Life Itself was one of the best documentaries.  Explaining their non-presence will never be possible.

I also knew American Sniper was going to show up big namely because it got nominations in Editing, and showed up with the Sound nominations.

The only silver lining in the first round of these nominations was the numerous times Abrams and Cuaron said The Grand Budapest Hotel, which ended up tied with Birdman for the most nominations, they each had 9.

The second half of the presentation should have been subtitled “From Out of Nowhere.”  The first of its kind was Laura Dern in Wild, happy for her, but she did not snag a single precursor nomination.  I knew that fifth spot was shaky, Dern was a pleasant surprise.  I just wish it had gone to Rene Russo.  Speaking of Nightcrawler, the Guilds love did not match here; it only received one nomination in Original Screenplay, another out nowhere thing for a film that seemed to have so much more support.

I know I should have thought Bradley Cooper was bigger threat, hell I was event tweeting about him last night, but it still came from out of nowhere.  Cooper is the first Lead Actor nominee to get into this race without a single major precursor Best Actor nomination since Tommy Lee Jones was nominated for In the Valley of Elah (2007).  What does Jake Gyllenhaal have to do to get an Oscar nomination?

The next “from out of nowhere” goes to Marion Cotillard; she was nominated at the Broadcast Film Critics’ Awards, but nowhere else.  Cotillard was also a big winner at the Critics’ Awards, and her presence makes more sense over Anniston, there is a prestige to her name as a past winner.  I guess I just thought if anyone was bumping Anniston it was Amy Adams, but Harvey did distribute both Two Days One Night and Big Eyes (the latter completely snubbed).

In a way Bennett Miller was “from out of nowhere” too; he was not nominated for a major award in the Director race for Foxcatcher, which scored 5 nominations including Actor (Steve Carell), Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), and Original Screenplay, but was snubbed in 8 films Best Picture race?  Miller is the first Director in about 8 years to get nominated in this category without a corresponding Best Picture nomination.  This is also the first year since the amendment to rule about the number of nominees that their have been less than nine, wonder if this trend will continue?

Let’s move on to Best Picture, where the Academy nominated Selma, which is great, but it only got one other nomination in Best Original Song, which is a travesty.  Someone tweeted online “This is the equivalent of The Academy saying they have a black friend” and I agree.  This film deserved so much more, namely because it was an excellent film.  I blame news outlets, especially NBC News  for stirring up controversy about the way LBJ was represented.  LBJ was represented as a complex man, like most politicians, move on!  The film’s Director Ava DuVernay would have also been the first Black female nominated for Best Director, but her snub is a sting, and proof that this majority male, majority white organization failed to show honor a diverse number of people, and this includes not only people of color, but women as well.

DuVernay is the most obvious snub; she was a director candidate who had a strong presence talking about her film.  I think the other big loss this morning was the snub of Gone Girl’s screenwriter Gillian Flynn, whose screenplay was a front runner for a long time.  Flynn adapted her novel into the film and crafted one of the most perfect films this year with Director David Fincher.  The two will be crafting a television series together, that will probably get tons of attention and awards, because women are more respected in television, but I digress.  Flynn was the only serious female screen writing contender, and the majority white male Academy snubbed her.  The film also received only one nomination, thank God Rosamund Pike was nominated for this performance.

Today’s nominations showed me that the Oscar voters are beyond out of touch, and I should stop getting excited for this day.  There was an episode of the television series How I Met Your Mother about realizations, and glass shattering in your head, the glass shattering symbolizes an ultimate realization that you can no move forward from.  Today was that moment with the Academy for me.  I have felt their disjointedness before, but today sealed the deal.  I will watch the Oscars because Boyhood will win, and it will be a good thing that they will accomplish, but the nominees prove there is a long way to go, and this Academy has to look inward at ways to fix these problems.  Also Cheryl Boone Isaacs said “Dick Poop.”  Figured I would end on a little levity. 

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Oscar Predictions (Last Ones for 2014 Nominees)

Best Picture
1- Boyhood
2-The Imitation Game
3- Birdman
4-The Grand Budapest Hotel
5- The Theory of Everything
8-Gone Girl
If 10...
10-American Sniper

Based on Guilds, and BAFTA these seem to be the nine that have the most support, in this order in my opinion.  In fact if there were only five nominees, I am certain my top five would be the Best Picture nominees, aren't you glad there is a chance for 10?

American Sniper has been creeping around this race, but is missing support significant from SAG, and BAFTA.  You could say the same for Selma, which is why I have it lower on my list, but I do not think the Academy will ignore this film.

I am going with my gut on these, and I think these top nine will be the nominees.

Best Director
1-Richard Linklater-Boyhood
2-Alejandro González Iñárritu-Birdman
3-Wes Anderson-The Grand Budapest Hotel
4-Damien Chazelle-Whiplash
5-Ava DuVerney-Selma
6th Morten Tyldum-The Imitation Game 

Today's DGA nominees were lackluster, to stay the least.  The inclusion of Clint Eastwood and Morten Tyldum, who have not received a single major nomination is a joke.  I will say that it seems these two films peaked around DGA voting, so it is not surprising that they were included.

There are only three nominees that have been nominated across the board, they are Linklater, Inarritu, and Anderson.  Their films have tremendous support as well, they are in.

The Globes had Ava DuVernay for Selma and David Fincher for Gone Girl, BAFTA have James Marsh for The Theory of Everything, and Damien Chazelle for Whiplash.  The DGA as stated above had Eastwood, no not for Jersey Boys, but American Sniper, and Tyldum for The Imitation Game.

To say that these last two spots is going to be a crap shoot, is an under statement, there has been no consensus, but my gut says Chazelle, and DuVernay with Tyldum as a spoiler.

Best Actor
1-Michael Keaton-Birdman
2-Eddie Redmayne-The Theory of Everything
3-Benedict Cumberatch-The Imitation Game
4-Jake Gyllenhaal-Nightcrawler
5-David Oyelowo-Selma
6th Place-Ralph Fiennes-The Grand Budapest Hotel

Once again, I think my top three are near locks.  I think Keaton is the front runner, while Redmayne is a very close second.  I think youth will be his downfall.  Cumberbatch is riding the The Imitation Game wave.  I think Gyllenhaal is safe bet, he has nominations at the Globes, BAFTA, and SAG, but so did Hanks, so nothing is for sure.

I think the last two men fighting out for that fifth spot are Oyelowo for Selma, and Fienes for Grand Budapest. Neither are up at SAG, Carell is the fifth spot there, but I think he will be bumped supporting.  Fiennes made it in at BAFTA, which can be a great predictor, but he is also a BRIT, and there is bias there.  I have gone back and forth on this one, but I think its Oyelowo. 

Best Actress
1-Julianne Moore-Still Alice
2-Reese Witherspoon-Wild
3-Rosamund Pike-Gone Girl
4-Felicity Jones-They Theory of Everything
5-Jennifer Anniston-Cake
6th Place-Amy Adams-Big Eyes 

I am still not sold on Anniston, and I think with Weinstein behind Big Eyes Amy Adams will land the fifth spot.  I am jumping out on a lot of ledges for these last spot acting nominees, I hope they pay off!  Adams scored a BAFTA nod too, not sure Anniston was eligible, but  I think people take her seriously.

Best Supporting Actor
1- J.K. Simmons-Whiplash
2-Edward Norton-Birdman
3-Mark Ruffalo-Foxcatcher
4-Ethan Hawke-Boyhood
5-Steve Carell-Foxcatcher 
6th Place-Robert DuVall-The Judge

DuVall has been the fifth place, place holder for the Globes and SAG; he is a big name well respected person.  Carell showing up in supporting at BAFTA is a tell tale sign in my opinion, and I think the Academy will want to reward his performance with a nomination.

Best Supporting Actress
1-Patricia Arquette-Boyhood
2- Meryl Streep-Into the Woods
3-Keira Knightly-The Imitation Game
4-Emma Stone-Birdman
5-Renee Russo-Nightcrawler 
6th Place-Jessica Chastain-A Most Violent Year

Hollywood has Chastain fever, but it would be the sole nomination for A Most Violent Year, and while that can happen, I am more hesitant day by day.  I think Russo showing up at BAFTA is also a nod to how much people like Nightcrawler.  I am using a lot of BAFTA to predict my nominations, which could be a a very good thing or very bad.

Best Adapted Screenplay
1-The Theory of Everything
2-Gone Girl
3-The Imitation Game
5-American Sniper

Best Original Screenplay
3-The Grand Budapest Hotel

5-Mr. Turner 

Best Animated Feature
Big Hero 6 
The Boxtrolls
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Lego Movie
The Tale of Princess Kaguya 

Best Documentary Feature
The Case Against 8 
Last Days in Vietnam
Life Itself 
The Overnighters 

Best Foreign Language Film 
Force Majeur (Sweden) 
Ida (Poland)
Leviathan (Russia)
Timbuktu (Mauritania)
Wild Tales (Argentina)

Best Cinematography
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Mr. Turner 

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

Best Editing 
Gone Girl/The Grand Budapest Hotel 

Best Make-Up/Hair Styling
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Theory of Everything 

Best Original Score 
Gone Girl
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game 
The Theory of Everything 

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

Best Sound Editing
American Sniper 
Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Sound Mixing
American Sniper  
Into the Woods 

Best Visual Effects 
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
The Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies