Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reactions to Oscar Nominations - 2014

Well, it's safe to say we're back in the thick of things with this morning's Oscar nominations and tonights Critic's Choice Awards.

Personally, I feel the Academy missed the mark in many ways this morning.  Not a single nomination for two of my favorite films of last year, Rush and Monsters University, not even make-up for Rush, which was beat out by Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.  Just let that sit for a moment, for the rest of time, Bad Grandpa will further be known as an Oscar nominee, but not Rush or Monsters University.

The latter of the two films is the biggest shocker, with Monsters University being shut out completely in the animation race, which is showing signs that perhaps animators aren't as smitten with Pixar as they once were.  Personally, I still think Pixar is the most original animation house in the US, so for films like The Croods and Despicable Me 2 to beat it, is a serious oversight in my opinion.

Of course, my biggest frustration with the Oscar nominations came in the form of Saving Mr. Banks getting only one nomination for Best Original Score and nothing else.  No Emma Thompson, no Best Picture, no Best Original Screenplay, joining Gravity on the sidelines in the Screenplay race to be two of the best written films of 2013 overlooked.  Then there's Tom Hanks missing for both Saving Mr. Banks and Captain Phillips, with the Academy opting for Christian Bale and his phoned in performance in American Hustle instead (seriously, if anyone thinks this is one of Bale's best performances, go back and watch films like American Psycho or The Prestige).

Then there's the whacked out music categories.  If Inside Llewyn Davis was going to get any mention it would have been for Best Original Song, and it didn't even get that, and composer Hans Zimmer completely missed out after one of the more prolific years of his career.  While I would have most wanted his score from Man of Steel or Rush nominated, Zimmer didn't even get in for composing the music for 12 Years a Slave, which speaking of that film, it finally showed a few signs of slowing down.

12 Years a Slave only got nine nominations total, three of which in the acting categories, missing out in Best Cinematography.  Can a film win Best Picture without its cinematography being nominated?  Yeah, but it's not very common, but there and again, American Hustle didn't get in either, while still tied with Gravity for the most nominations with ten apiece.  Seeing as how American Hustle or 12 Years a Slave will still probably wind up winning Best Picture, it is kind of funny that neither film will probably win the most awards come March 2nd.

With four of American Hustle's noms being in the acting categories, with only two of them having a realistic shot (being Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence), there is a very good chance that American Hustle may only take home three to five Oscars due to the little love shown on the technical side of the film.  Meanwhile, Gravity has the added benefit of being the frontrunner for Director, Editing, Visual Effects, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, and Cinematography.  We're looking at a very good chance that Gravity may wind up with the most wins come March 2nd, but it may still lose the big prize to either American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave, simply because the actors are the largest branch in the Academy and they tend to love movies with a large ensemble of actors, and that isn't Gravity.

As a whole, a bad morning of nominations can't shake my love of the Oscars, but it was a very dismal nomination morning.  Sometimes I feel like these voting bodies simply vote on an autopilot system, especially in the acting, writing, and technical categories.  I think voters, rather than being creative and looking for what truly was the best work of the given year in a particular category, just chalk up a film that's a Best Picture play because they aren't thinking right.  This might explain why American Hustle got a nod in all four acting categories and in Best Original Screenplay, where as the three best written films of the year:  Gravity, Saving Mr. Banks, and Rush, got snubbed.

Overall, this Oscar season is still a highly unpredictable one, with three films still having a very realistic shot of winning Best Picture:  American Hustle, Gravity, and 12 Years a Slave.  As is usual, there will be at least one or two surprises on Oscar night, but I would not place bets on any other film winning Best Picture.  If Gravity ekes out a win at the Critic's Choice Awards tonight, and American Hustle manages to win the Best Acting Ensemble award at the SAG Awards Saturday, then we may really be in for a photo finish for Best Picture.  If Gravity fails to get the Critic's Choice award for Best Picture, then I think its chances at the Best Picture Oscar are over, even though it still might win anywhere from five to seven Oscars.

With all that taken care of, I'll be back later today to post my predictions for tonight's Critic's Choice Movie Awards, which air on the CW.  It's usually the sloppiest produced award show, but it's still a major precursor for the Oscars.

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