Thursday, January 16, 2014

Oscar Nominations 2013: My Thoughts

Unlike last year, there were few surprises in the nominations this morning. It was a nice mix though.  When AMPAS (inevitably) allows more than 5 nominees in each of the acting categories, the Oscars will become garbage.  Until that time, it's still a big deal to be nominated. Which brings me to my yearly rant: we don't need to have more than 5 Best Picture nominees.  How much better (and exclusive) would the list be if it were just (using Best Director as a guide): American Hustle, Gravity, Nebraska, 12 Years A Slave, and The Wolf of Wall Street?  How is it better to add: Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Her and Philomena to the list— three of which are there because they showcased great acting (and received the appropriate nominations in those categories [save perhaps the slighted Hanks])? Ranting over. (Well until I get to Best Song.) UPDATE: Now that I've seen Her I'm a little less grouchy about the list!! Even still, I hold to my belief that less is more.

OK, the biggest surprise is surely the love of The Wolf of Wall Street. Coincidentally, I was discussing this movie yesterday with one friend who was contemplating seeing it and another who told me that Leo would get nominated.  I told my friend who was thinking of seeing it that, in all it's excess, it's certainly a memorable movie, entertaining for sure, and very Scorsese (an "auteur" movie if there ever was one— if his credit didn't appear you'd know it was his).  I toyed with putting it in my top ten, but will probably resist even with the Oscar attention (this is the "danger" of not posting a top ten before the Oscar nominations: I'm thinking about it anyway!). My other friend who predicted the Leo nomination, I told no way— he always gets overlooked and it's a controversial movie.  I was wrong!! He is deserving (as is now-two-time nominee Jonah Hill).  I'm happy that Hill has received a nomination so quickly after Moneyball, to offset the Marisa Tomei-like "how-did-that-happen?" of his nomination for Moneyball.  (Tomei had to wait nearly ten years for her next nomination to erase the flukeness of her My Cousin Vinny win.)

Leo clearly took Tom Hanks' nomination away from him. And likely Hill took Hanks' Saving Mr. Banks supporting nomination slot.

Inevitably, there is the generally-speaking lead actor that gets shoved into the supporting category so as to get a nomination vote.  This year it's Barkhad Abdi who got it.  Yes, the movie is called Captain Phillips. But to call Abdi a supporting player is nonsense.  There were two male leads in that movie: it was the story of both of those characters.

Blue Jasmine surely deserved more nominations, and is a better movie than at least 6 of the 9 nominees, but happy Woody Allen got a screenplay nomination and Sally Hawkins got a supporting nomination in addition to the inevitable nomination for Cate Blanchett as Best Actress.  Three nominations (in major categories) ain't bad I guess.

I would have liked to have seen Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini get nominated for Enough Said, but it didn't happen.  Admittedly, there wasn't much room for them in the crowded acting categories.

Happy this morning: Julia Roberts, in her first nomination since she won for Erin Brockovich a dozen years ago; not-too-happy: Oprah Winfrey not nominated for Lee Daniel's The Butler— which received 0 nominations! (It didn't deserve any, really.)

American Hustle's four acting nominations give it a boost for winning Best Picture. It will be an odd Best Picture win, if that happens (it's more likely Gravity will start to gain momentum IMO).  Pulling off the all-acting-categories-sweep feat is not an easy task, as I noted last year when Silver Linings Playbook did it (at that time, the first since 1981s Reds).  Pretty cool that David O. Russell did it again with virtually the same cast.

No nomination for Robert Redford.  Not too shocking: it's been buzzless for quite a while now.  Inside Llewlyn Davis also got little attention (2 noms): although also not too much of a surprise. I was a bit surprised that Fruitvale Station didn't get anything, but again, not terribly surprised.

I'm so glad Judi Dench was nominated (although I didn't get to see Philomena: my biggest "missed it" regret 2013).  She was overlooked for Skyfall, and I'm glad she has a post-Bond nomination to her credit.

By the way, not quite sure how Before Midnight is an "adapted" screenplay.

And now for my annual Best Song rant.  Why, why, WHY do we have this category? It made sense when-- you know-- musicals were a popular genre (from the 1930s to the 70s).  Now it's the usual excuse to nominate big-name people in the music industry for songs nobody knows with the inevitable forced animated movie song picks.

I forgot to do my what-will-get-the-most-nominations prediction blog entry, but I probably would have said 12 Years A Slave, and would have been wrong— American Hustle and Gravity lead with ten each (Slave got nine).

As for the reading of the nominations?  When will the Academy ever learn NEVER ever ever to have the Academy president be a part of the broadcast.  Love that reading of "you may know them better as U2"-- what feeling!

The clapping for Ernest & Celestine as animated feature film was interesting: were there friends and or/the actual filmmakers there? Or will this be the upset for what I considered a two-picture race between Frozen and The Wind Rises? (Gold Derby had it pegged as sixth for a nomination, so maybe that was it.)

All in all, I think the Academy got it right.  Everyone always busts on the nominations.  Why? Because THEIR movie didn't get this or that, usually. But it seems to me that the Academy has, through it's history, always been pretty close to the mark. Yes, Citizen Kane didn't win Best Picture and Hitchcock never won for Best Director, yada yada (note: after all, Hitch got 5 career nominations and Kane was nominated for Best Picture). On the whole, was there really anything that wasn't included this year? Not really. A good list.

Looking forward to the awards!

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