Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Reactions to the 2015 Oscar Nominations

So, wow!  The Academy manages to throw a few wrinkles in the Oscar contest this morning with their announcement of the nominees for this year's Academy Awards.  Here are the nominees for Best Picture:

American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

At first glance, that seems as if everything went as most predicted, but you've got to look deeper to realize what's truly a contender and what must have made it by the skin of its teeth.

First and foremost, I've got to point out that the Academy really loved The Grand Budapest Hotel, giving Wes Anderson's latest 9 nominations, the most any film got this year.  While I personally wasn't a big fan of the film, it is nice to see Wes finally get some much deserved recognition in the Best Director category.  They also loved Birdman, which got 9 nominations as well.

Aside from that, the other nomination leaders were The Imitation Game with 8, American Sniper and Boyhood with 6; Foxcather, Whiplash, The Theory of Everything, and Interstellar with 5; Mr. Turner with 4; and Into the Woods and Unbroken with 3.  I was personally happy to see Unbroken get the three nominations it got, considering a lot of pundits were predicting it might get none, but I still find it a shame that the movie isn't nominated for Best Picture, Best Director, or that Miyavi didn't get a nom for his turn as the Bird.  Granted, I thought Roger Deakins' cinematography was one of the best things about Unbroken and so the nomination in that category helps to soften the blow.  However, the biggest surprises out of the nomination leaders were Foxcather getting in for Best Director, but missing out entirely on Best Picture.  A similar thing happened with both Mr. Turner and Interstellar getting a lot of mentions, but drawing a big ol' goose egg in the bigger categories.  It seems like those are movies that the Academy respected, but didn't really love.

Another big surprise for many is surely going to be the omission of The LEGO Movie in the Best Animated Feature Film category.  For once the Academy seemed to go with the more traditionally animated films like drawn by hand beauties Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, and even the stop motion stylings of The Boxtrolls.  But before anyone bemoans that there aren't any CG animated films, both Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2 made the cut (with the latter probably now becoming the frontrunner).  I guess The LEGO Movie will have to find solace in its sole nomination for Best Original Song.

Of course what's sure to be the biggest running story of the whole next month and a half leading up to the actual show (amongst critics and Oscar bloggers at least), is the fact that Selma only got 2 nominations, one for Best Picture and one for Best Original Song.  I think this is indicative that the film never really caught on the way that so many critics were trying to make it.  The bottom line is, the major question of the story's accuracy in regards to people who actually were real, probably hurt the film big time when it came to the Academy.  I for one was not surprised it got snubbed royally, but is it really being snubbed when you still manage to eke out a nomination in the biggest category of all, granted that's a nomination that more than likely would have not occurred had there still been only five nominees for Best Picture like there used to.

If we still did five nominees for Best Picture, I'd say they'd be:  American Sniper, Birdman, Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, and The Imitation Game, judging by the way that the nominations shook out, and here's why.  Typically the two races to watch in terms of predicting Best Picture are Best Director and Best Film Editing.  Out of those two categories, only three films managed to get nominated for both:  Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Imitation Game.  After that it doesn't take much more deduction to realize that American Sniper and Birdman, both with their high nomination tallies, would have probably made the cut as well.  This leads me to say that your Oscar winner will more than likely be either Boyhood, The Grand Budapest Hotel, or The Imitation Game, for all of the reasoning I just listed above.  Out of those three, all three of them have a play on the big award and I wouldn't be surprised if any of them wound up winning.

In my gut I feel that The Grand Budapest Hotel will win a lot of awards, but will miss out on the key awards it will need to win Best Picture (i.e. Film Editing and Director).  I think whatever wins Film Editing and Director will be very telling come Oscar night.  If the same movie wins both, then that's your Best Picture winner, but if it is split between two different movies, we'd better watch out.  I could very easily see The Imitation Game getting Film Editing and Boyhood getting Best Director, and if that happens we might really have a fun time at the Oscars wondering about which film will be in that Best Picture envelope.  So if I had to make a prediction now, I would go with The Imitation Game eking out the win.  Not that Boyhood isn't deserving, it's just important to note that Harvey Weinstein (the most infamous producer/studio head of campaigning for Oscar) is the backer of that film.  Just saying.  Besides, The Imitation Game is a very good movie, and at the end of the day it is the kind of movie I could get behind as the Best Picture winner if it does indeed wind up being the winner.  However, there is still a lot of campaigning left to be done, so nothing is set in stone.

The 87th Annual Academy Awards will air on ABC Sunday Feb. 22nd at 7e/6c.

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