On this, the day I celebrate (lowercase of course) a year in blogging the Oscar nominations are announced. All in all, it is a very weak nominations list in my opinion. You could come up with a series of great films just from the omissions. A lot of the time, the Oscars are essentially culturally worthless – does anyone remember The Artist? – the films that are actually important will become clear in the coming years/decades. The ones that dared to do more, to push the boundaries of what we thought possible, to challenge us and, most admirably of all: the ones that are remembered.
In my impending – it’s coming soon, I swear – end of year round up the overall conclusion is that 2014 was a pretty fantastic year for movies, whatever your tastes were. The shame is the Oscars hardly reflect that instead opting for the ‘safer’ choices. I said it last year, do not trust the Oscars!
Anyway, let’s start at the top:
The Theory of Everything
The Oscar votes are quite senile – though, this is nothing new. Most of the films here were released in that golden ‘oscar winner’ season. Let’s look at release dates (in England): American Sniper, 16th January; Birdman, 1st January; Boyhood, 11th July; The Grand Budapest Hotel, 7th March; The Imitation Game, 14th November; Selma, 9th January; The Theory of Everything, 1st January; and Whiplash, 16th January.
Five of the seven films nominated for Best Picture will be released in January in the UK. Five. I know it shouldn’t matter what time a film is released – a good film is a good film after all – but I can’t escape the feeling that so many terrific films that were released earlier have been forgotten, like (LEGO, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, Under the Skin, The Raid 2, Two Days, One Night Guardians of the Galaxy, Snowpiercer, on) and subsequently replaced with below-par oscar bait (another year, another time I get to wheel out this old phrase).
Now we all know how I feel about The Imitation Game (spoiler, I didn’t like it at all), and for any fans of it out there, is it really better than of those films I listed above? And even still, is it one of the best seven films of the year? If you think so, well, you’re entitled to your opinion. It’s no secret that the Oscars don’t go for blockbusters, which is the only possible reason for not including The Lego Movie, or even Guardians of the Galaxy. Everything is not awesome. Both Lego and Guardians were fresh takes on something that could’ve been generic and stale nothing films. Lego especially was highly original, a kid’s film for adults. It’s just so rare that something like that comes along, and to not recognise it is just awful. Really though, it’s more disappointing than annoying.
That said, a nomination for The Grand Budapest Hotel is extremely welcome and it is thoroughly deserved – as are the rest of its nominations. But really, all this quibbling over nothing, because it is clear that Boyhood will win, right? Birdman is next on my watchlist but as it stands, nothing on this list really comes close to Boyhood. And that’s the real shame of this list, Boyhood is magnificent don’t get me wrong but there are films that could mount a serious challenge this year. Speaking of which, where in the blue rinsed hell is Gone Girl, or Nightcrawler?
Alejandro González Iñárritu – Birdman
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Bennett Miller – Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum – The Imitation Game
More Imitation Game? You have got to be kidding.
Linklater will win this though; shooting over twelve years potentially gives him an advantage over the rest of the competition but even in the finished product, it is a joy to watch. You can’t stop the School of Rock. Again, Grand Budapest won’t be far behind as it is some of Anderson’s best work and from what I’ve heard Iñárritu will be in with a shout for Birdman, but as I say, it’s on my watchlist.
David Fincher is the most notable omission here. Boo!
Steve Carell – Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper – American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton – Birdman
Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything
No Ralph Fiennes?! Just goes to show, if you want an Oscar don’t do comedy. Same applies to Channing Tatum in 22 Jump Street. Just because they are comedic performances doesn’t mean they are lesser than super serious dramatic ones.
No Jake Gyllenhaal?! Nightcrawler was snubbed pretty hard this year, but Gyllenhaal’s performance was a real highlight of Nightcrawler and likely the thing that most people take away from it.
No Andy Serkis?! Maybe next year, MoCap, you can play with the big kids.
What I will say, to silence the naysayers is that Benedict Cumberbatch was actually very good in The Imitation Game. And this snuck up on us: this is the third consecutive year that Bradley Cooper has been nominated for an oscar. He’s on a stellar run.
I just can’t really get excited about these best actor picks, I’m sorry. Who will win? I really don’t care.
Marion Cotillard- Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones – The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore – Still Alice
Rosamund Pike – Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon – Wild
All hail the Oscar voters who nominated Marion Cotillard! Her performance in Two Days, One Night is one of those rare great performances that aren’t all bells and whistles – understated, muted and brilliant. Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl was fantastic as well.
In the supporting actress category Meryl Streep gets her obligatory nod. I think that’s 19 (!) now, so well done Mrs Streep.
Best original screenplay
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo – Birdman
Richard Linklater – Boyhood
Max Frye and Dan Futterman –Foxcatcher
Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy – Nightcrawler
This will be a contentious one hopefully, out of the three I’ve seen (Boyhood, Grand Budapest and Nightcrawler) there’s not much between them. Grand Budapest probably edges it out due to its irresistibly sharp wittiness.
I’ve only seen one of the films nominated for best adapted screenplay (Imitation Game) and two of the ones I haven’t seen aren’t even out yet! And the other two are only recently out! So excuse my lack of knowledge. But for adapted, where is Gone Girl‘s nod? Sometimes I just despair…
Emmanuel Lubezki – Birdman
Robert Yeoman – The Grand Budapest Hotel
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski – Ida
Dick Pope – Mr Turner
Roger Deakins – Unbroken
My favourites here are Grand Budapest (surprise! What can I say, it’s a great film) and Ida, both are wildly different so at least we have some variety for a winner! Ida is just gorgeous; it’s a strange thing, where every shot just seems perfect. A lot of the times the characters are off-centre and it creates this strangely absurd and comedic atmosphere to the whole film, terrific stuff. However, Lubezki and Deakins never fail to do amazing work, so it’s all up in the air at the moment!
Best original score
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
Please give it to Grand Budapest! Comedy scores are so hard to do; when they don’t work they’re either too silly or not silly enough. And Desplat (with two nominations in this category, bravo!) really nails it as it fits the tone and, most importantly, pace of the film perfectly.
Shame about Gone Girl and Under The Skin (especially) not being there.