Thursday, January 15, 2015


The Oscar nominations were announced early this morning of January 15 and as always the Academy is more than a little schizophrenic. They nominate “American Sniper” for six awards including Best Picture but Clint Eastwood is left off the directors’ list? “Foxcatcher” is nominated for five Oscars including Best Director but it doesn’t get a Best Picture nomination? True, directors nominate directors and everyone votes on Best Picture, but the fact that Eastwood's film did so well elsewhere but kept him off the list suggests inconsistency at best, and stupidity at worst. Same with the "Foxcatcher" inconsistencies.

Hard to explain such kind of balloting, but then the Academy Awards are nothing if not endlessly controversial and more than a little upsetting in those they pick or pass over. In fact, there were plenty of egregious omissions this AM. Here are the 10 worst:

1.) “The Lego Movie” wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Feature.
It could’ve been a nominee for Best Picture, that's how great this comedy was, and the laugh-a-minute family film was considered a shoo-in to win in the animated category by most pundits and prognosticators. But now that is not to be. Either the animators were jealous of its success as it even took Best Original Screenplay in a lot of year-end critics' awards, or they figured everyone else would be voting for it so they didn't need to. No matter, this was the worst snub of the slate this morning.

2.) Gillian Flynn was snubbed for her adaptation of her bestselling book “Gone Girl”.
Like “The Lego Movie”, Flynn was considered the lock for a win in her category, but she didn’t even muster a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. Her transfer of her bestselling novel was masterful and should be taught as a "How To" in screenwriting courses. But the Academy was too blind to realize her achievement. Hopefully, the Writers Guild of America will correct Oscar’s slight and give Flynn their award for her work.

3.) “Selma” only received two Oscar nominations.
Did the bad press about its portrayal of LBJ hurt this terrific film? Did the lack of screeners being sent out to various guilds lower its visibility? Very possibly, because "Selma" could have easily been up for whole slew of prizes including Best Director, Actor, Screenplay and both Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress nominees. Instead it only received a nominated for Best Song and for the big prize of Best Picture. What happened?

4.) Jake Gyllenhaal was passed over for Best Actor.
In the final weeks of Oscar predictions, Gyllenhaal was considered an absolute lock. And “Nightcrawler” was coming on strong in balloting and thus expected to get nods in Best Picture, editing, cinematography and even the Best Supporting Actress categories. Instead, it came up way short with only Dan Gilroy’s snarky and clever screenplay getting rewarded.

5.) “Nightcrawler” was snubbed everywhere except for Best Original Screenplay.
Are thrillers just too ‘genre’ for the Academy? Or was the story of the sleazy videographer too pungent a commentary on today’s morals and entertainment? No matter what the reason, the snubbing of this edgy, of-the-moment film was inexplicable.

6.) “Force Majeure” wasn’t nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.
Once considered a three-way race between “Ida”, “Leviathon” and this darkly clever Swedish comedy, Best Foreign Language Film is now short of a great contender with this snub.

7.) “Gone Girl” was snubbed in every category except Best Actress.
Again, does the Academy deem thrillers as not serious enough or a lower genre to award with too many accolades? Pre-Oscar awards have seen tons of prizes go to Flynn, as well as the film’s score by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. And its editing by Kirk Baxter and cinematography by Jeff Cronenweth should have figured in the nominations today as well. Heck, even director David Fincher was considered a top director contender. But the Academy said, “Done Girl.”

8.) Clint Eastwood wasn’t nominated for Best Director.
If you’re going to nominate “American Sniper” for six big Oscars including a surprise nomination for Best Picture, but you don’t nominated the venerable and acclaimed director of it, something is very off.

9.) Ralph Fiennes was an also-ran for Best Actor.
Granted, there were so many great possibilities for Best Actor this year that the list could’ve easily yielded 20 nominees. Still, if “The Grand Budapest Hotel” is going to warrant a walloping nine nods, then its leading man should have been in the bunch. It was the one of the truly great performances this year.

10.) “Life Itself” was snubbed in the Best Documentary Feature category.
The story of Roger Ebert made for one of the best films of the year, let alone documentaries, but once again, the documentarians that vote in this category must resent doc’s that do well at the box office or are too popular.

Still, for every questionable omission, there are those that are surprising and delightful. The score for “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was delightful and the composing branch rightfully recognized that Alexandre Desplat deserved a nomination for that film as well as his work on “The Imitation Game.”

And it was wonderful to see that Marion Cotillard was remembered for her amazing work in “Two Days, One Night”. It’s a foreign language film but the Oscar voters were willing to read subtitles in this case, so good for them and us. It’s just a shame that the Academy missed so many other great choices across the board this year. It’s one of the most confounding ballots in some time.

But then, that’s the Oscars, isn’t it?

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