Friday, January 16, 2015

Nominations for the 87th Academy Awards

It's all come down to this: this morning's yesterday's announcement of the nominees for the 87th Annual Academy Awards. Given the unpredictable, winding nature of this past awards season, it only stands to reason that this morning would bring quite a few surprises, snubs, and inevitabilities. And true to form, we got exactly that: for the first time under the new voting system in 2011 that allows for anywhere between five and ten Best Picture nominees, we got eight nominees this year, as opposed to nine in the three previous years. But that was only the beginning of the twists and turns the Academy had in store for us.

Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead all films with nine nominations apiece, including Best Picture nods, with The Imitation Game scoring eight and Boyhood and American Sniper following up with six apiece. Of the non-Best Picture nominees, Foxcatcher and Interstellar lead with five nominations each, with Mr. Turner following up with four, Unbroken and Into the Woods earned three apiece, and Wild, Inherent Vice, and Guardians of the Galaxy each scoring two nods each.

You can check out a full list of the nominees on the Academy Awards page of the blog, which you can get to by going to the "Academy Awards" tab under the header or by clicking here. As Oscar night approaches (February 22), we'll be publishing a number of articles about most of the categories, including special previews of all eight major categories (Picture, Director, the four acting, and the two writing) as well as FYC week as Oscar voting winds down (February 9-13).

Until then, here are some scattered thoughts I had this morning as the nominees were unveiled.

  • Selma's late-screener strategy flopped, as the film only scored two nominations: one for Best Picture and one for Best Original Song. It was shut out in Best Director (Ava DuVernay), Best Actor (David Oyelowo), and Best Original Screenplay, all of which it seemed to have a fair shot at being nominated for. That's the lowest nomination total for a Best Picture nominee since Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close only managed two in 2011. The strategy flopped for A Most Violent Year, too, which ended up completely shut out.
  • On the opposite end of the spectrum, American Sniper - another late entry in the race - seems to have benefitted from the Academy's respect for director Clint Eastwood and love affair with Bradley Cooper. The film ended up with a surprisingly robust six nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor for Cooper (his third acting nomination in three years), and Best Adapted Screenplay.

More after the jump.

  • For the first time since 2007, a filmmaker has been nominated for Best Director without their film earning a Best Picture nod. Bennett Miller was nominated for Foxcatcher, but his film didn't make the final cut. Since the Academy expanded the Best Picture field in 2009, it seemed unlikely that something like this would ever happen again (it wasn't unusual before then). Who was the last person to pull this off? Julian Schnabel, who was nominated for The Diving Bell & the Butterfly.
  • Miller's nomination in Best Director wasn't the only surprise in that category. Selma director Ava DuVernay was omitted, likely - as stated above - the result of the late screeners. DGA nominee Clint Eastwood failed to score a corresponding nomination for American Sniper, making it the first time in his career he's been nominated for Best Picture but not Best Director. And Globe nominee David Fincher (Gone Girl) is also absent, though the Academy seems to have made it clear they weren't really feeling his film this year (only one nomination, Rosamund Pike for Best Actress).

  • Among the acting nominees, Jake Gyllenhaal and Jennifer Aniston were the most notable omissions, as each earned both Golden Globe and SAG nominations for Best Actor and Best Actress, respectively, but neither could cross the finish line for the Oscars. In Best Actress, Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night) had been considered Aniston's toughest competition, but Bradley Cooper (American Sniper) had been considered a long-shot as late as yesterday. Similarly, Laura Dern (Wild) had all but been counted out in Best Supporting Actress, but she surprised with a nomination as well.
  • Trivia time! Both of Cotillard's career nominations - this one and her 2007 win for Best Actress - have come for French-language performances. She joins Sophia Loren (Italian), Marcello Mastroianni (Italian), Liv Ullman (Swedish), and Isabelle Adjani (French) as the only actors with multiple non-English performance nominations. Should she win, she would be the first actor ever to win multiple Oscars for non-English performances.
  • Speaking of foreign-language films, the biggest surprise among the nominees this year is the exclusion of Sweden's Force Majeure. The film was the only other film besides Ida (which was nominated, representing Poland) to score at various critics prizes, and it seemed like the film with the best chance of spoiling Poland's chances at finally being victorious in this category. Now it's up to another film to crush Poland's Oscar dreams.
  • Other notable feature-film omissions: The LEGO Movie failed to score a Best Animated Feature Film nomination, where it was considered by many to be the front-runner to win. However, this did pave the way for non-American entries Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, so it wasn't completely for naught (The LEGO Movie did get a Best Original Song nod for "Everything is Awesome," too, so don't feel too bad for it). Life Itself, a stirring portrait of film critic Roger Ebert, was left out of the Best Documentary Feature category, as was Jodorowsky's Dune, indicating that the Academy wasn't really into movies about the industry this year.
  • Finally, in terms of major franchise nominations, Marvel did particularly well this year, with both Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy picking up nominations for Best Visual Effects (with Guardians scoring an additional nod for Best Makeup & Hairstyling). And, for the first time ever, an X-Men movie has been Oscar nominated, with X-Men: Days of Future Past earning a nod for Best Visual Effects. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Peter Jackson's long-overdue farewell to Middle Earth (hopefully), earned only a single nomination, for Best Sound Editing. This makes it the first film in the franchise to not score multiple nominations, as well as the first to not be nominated for Best Visual Effects.
Obviously there will be much more coverage of the Oscar nominees over the next few weeks. Be sure to check back to see more. You can like The Entertainment Junkie on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, or follow the blog's official Tumblr for updates.

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