Film Fanatic: Breaking Down the Oscar Nominations

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2014 Oscar Nominations Analysis 

The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards were announced Thursday morning.  American Hustle and Gravity lead the way with 10 nominations apiece with 12 Years a Slave right behind them with 9 nominations.

American Hustle-Collider
‘American Hustle’ was the big winner from the nominations announcement. | (Collider)

Hustle is undoubtedly the biggest winner from this announcement as most of the film’s nominations are from major categories.  Gravity received Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress nods while the rest of its nominations were for technical categories.

BEST PICTURE

  • American Hustle
  • Captain Phillips
  • Dallas Buyers Club
  • Gravity
  • Her
  • Nebraska
  • Philomena
  • 12 Years a Slave
  • The Wolf of Wall Street

For the third year in a row, nine films made it into the Best Picture category and the two surprises have to be Philomena and Dallas Buyers Club.  Two of the smaller films this year, the thought was that one of the two would be nominated while the other would miss the cut over more mainstream fare like Saving Mr. Banks.  But for once the Academy rewarded independent films with strong performances and screenplays.

BEST DIRECTOR

  • David O. Russell – American Hustle
  • Alfonso Cuaron – Gravity
  • Alexander Payne – Nebraska
  • Steve McQueen – 12 Years a Slave
  • Martin Scorsese – The Wolf of Wall Street

The directing category didn’t really have any surprises (unlike last year when Ben Affleck wasn’t even nominated for Argo), but I would have liked to have seen Paul Greengrass get nominated for his work on Captain Phillips.  It isn’t easy creating and sustaining tension and action in one location and Greengrass definitely pulled it off with the majority of Phillips taking place on a boat (and an even smaller boat for the last 40 minutes).

BEST ACTOR

  • Christian Bale – American Hustle
  • Bruce Dern – Nebraska
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor – 12 Years a Slave
  • Matthew McConaughey – Dallas Buyers Club

The Best Actor category was also pretty predictable.  Bruce Dern getting nominated over Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) and Robert Redford (All Is Lost) was really the only surprise.  Apparently men lost at sea isn’t very compelling or noteworthy to the Academy.

BEST ACTRESS

  • Amy Adams – American Hustle
  • Cate Blanchett – Blue Jasmine
  • Sandra Bullock – Gravity
  • Judi Dench – Philomena
  • Meryl Streep – August: Osage County

The only real surprise in the Best Actress category to me anyway was Sandra Bullock’s nomination for Gravity.  Yes, she did a great job basically carrying the entire film since she was the only person in it for the majority of it, but an effects-driven film rarely gets acting nominations.  I guess the Academy likes seeing females in survival situations over their male counterparts (see the last paragraph).

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

  • Barkhad Abdi – Captain Phillips
  • Bradley Cooper – American Hustle
  • Michael Fassbender – 12 Years a Slave
  • Jonah Hill – The Wolf of Wall Street
  • Jared Leto – Dallas Buyers Club
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
Jonah Hill is really happy about his second Oscar nomination. | (TheWrap)

 

How about Barkhad Abdi!  He goes from being a limo driver in Minnesota to an Academy Award nominated actor.  Good for him.  Jonah Hill now has two Oscar nominations.  Think about that awkward, weird, kind of creepy kid you saw in that one scene in The 40-Year-Old Virgin and realize he’s now a multiple nominee.  Amazing how far he’s come.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

  • Sally Hawkins – Blue Jasmine
  • Jennifer Lawrence – American Hustle
  • Lupita Nyong’O – 12 Years a Slave
  • Julia Roberts – August: Osage County
  • June Squibb – Nebraska

Sally Hawkins is the big surprise here.  She beat out Oprah!  Not many people can say they’ve beaten Oprah at anything.  If I were her, I’d be more excited about that because she has no shot of actually winning the Oscar.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Eric Warren Singer, David O. Russell – American Hustle
  • Woody Allen – Blue Jasmine
  • Craig Borton, Melissa Warlick – Dallas Buyers Club
  • Spike Jonze – Her
  • Bob Nelson – Nebraska 

Dallas Buyers Club sneaks its way into another category.  Woody Allen is the Meryl Streep of the original screenplay category.  If he writes his name down on a piece of paper he gets a nomination.  Spike Jonze needs to work more.

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke – Before Midnight
  • Billy Ray – Captain Phillips
  • Steve Coogan, Jeff Pope – Philomena
  • John Ridley – 12 Years a Slave
  • Terence Winter – The Wolf of Wall Street
Before Midnight-vanityfair.com
‘Before Midnight.’ | (vanityfair.com)

As for the Adapted Screenplay category, seeing Linklater, Delpy and Hawke nominated for Before Midnight is a wonderful sight and I hope people seek out the most underrated and under-appreciated trilogy ever conceived.  Also great to see Steve Coogan nominated for an Oscar.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • The Broken Circle Breakdown
  • The Great Beauty
  • The Hunt
  • The Missing Picture
  • Omar

Sadly I haven’t seen any of these films but The Hunt is supposedly a great film and it’s on Netflix Instant.  I smell an instant pick on WDTWG coming soon.

BEST ANIMATED FEATURE

  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Ernest & Celestine
  • Frozen
  • The Wind Rises

No love for Pixar all of a sudden.  Monsters University received mostly positive reviews when it came out, but apparently the Pixar creative rut continues.  I think we can all assume Frozen is taking home this trophy.

Other snubs and surprises

Have the Coen Brothers upset the Academy?  Only two nominations for cinematography and sound mixing.  I thought the Academy liked depressing movies.

If you’re wondering why Blue is the Warmest Color didn’t get nominated for Best Foreign Film, it’s because it’s rated NC-17 and wasn’t submitted by French authorities due to its explicit content.  Since when are the French prudes?

Stories We Tell and Blackfish getting shut out of the Best Documentary category is a surprise.  Both received great reviews and the latter has gotten a lot of attention since its release which is usually beneficial for Oscar campaigning season.

Prisoners, which came out in September (not that long ago), only got one nomination for cinematography.  The performances were terrific and despite its 2-and-a-half-hour running time, the film was compelling and dramatic.

Best Makeup and Hairstyling had three nominees: Dallas Buyers Club, The Lone Ranger and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.  Did you see American Hustle Academy?  Those hairdos deserved recognition.  Do I now live in a world where Jackass is an Academy Award nominated film?

Tune in for the Oscars on March 2 on ABC.

 

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