Get ready to place some more bets on this year's award season, because the Oscar nominations are officially out. Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead with nine nominations each, with The Imitation Game following closely with eight. Boyhood and American Sniper got six, while Whiplash, Interstellar, and Foxcatcher each scored five. However, other films were left in the dust even despite the heavy academy and critical attention—what happened, Selma?
Selma only nabbed two nominations and though one of those is for Best Picture (the other is for Best Original Song), the surprising part is that the film's director, Ava DuVernay, and its actors were given the cold shoulder. Considering the academy's affection for historically dramatic films (12 Years a Slave, Argo, The King's Speech, Schindler's List, etc.), it's definitely a little strange that Selma would get the brush off. The slight will definitely rub many people the wrong way, especially considering that had DuVernay gotten the nomination, she would have been the first African American woman to be up for the Best Director award.
Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight
While generally the Golden Globes are a pretty good indicator of who will nab recognition at the Oscars, that isn't always the case. Jennifer Aniston is a pretty great example. She may have gotten noms for her performance in Cake at the SAG awards, Critics Choice, and the Globes, but she certainly didn't for the Oscars. To be honest, I haven't seen Cake and I've barely heard a peep about it, but she's apparently great.
One great surprise was Laura Dern's nomination for Best Supporting Actress for Wild. So far, she's pretty much been overlooked, which is strange considering she is probably the best part of that film. Sorry, Reese, but I wanted those flashback scenes to go on forever.
Nightcrawler is another big shock. It seems as if everyone is obsessed with this twisted flick, but I guess the acclaim wasn't enough for the film industry. Its only nomination goes to its writer/director Dan Gilroy, with nothing to its star Jake Gyllenhaal. And why the heck isn't Miles Teller getting nominated for his performance in Whiplash? I'm really glad J.K. Simmons score the Best Supporting Actor nom (he won the Globe), but Teller deserves the attention. I never thought watching someone play drums would evoke such an intense physical and emotion reaction from me, but he did it.
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Here's something I honestly don't understand. Why did American Sniper get six nominations? Can someone explain this to me? Perhaps with a pie chart and candy to distract me from the bloated story that never bothers to delve into the psychology its premise promises? It's going to be a touchy subject considering it tells the tale of Chris Kyle, the man credited for being the deadliest sniper in American military history, but it's just not very good. Certainly not six nominations good. Bradley Cooper is really the only shining light and unfortunately, the screenplay never actually gives him the chance to do anything other than hulk around. Had a half hour of war been swapped for a half hour of recovery, instead of speeding through the last years of Kyle's life as if it didn't matter, the film would have been so much better.
One of the coolest parts about this round of awards season is the outpouring of love for The Grand Budapest Hotel and its auteur filmmaker Wes Anderson. He's been a cult favorite since 1996's Bottle Rocket, but in the past he's been mostly brushed to the side by the academy, as if he was that strange little brother with the high-waisted pants that no one wants to claim as their own. Between his seven feature-length films, many of which are considered to be some of the best comedic films made, have only gotten some four nominations among them. Anderson definitely doesn't need the extra acclaim, but the academy is finally giving him the pat on the back he rightly deserves could open some doors for future comedies. That said, no nomination for Ralph Fiennes? That will never make sense. And don't even get me started on the total disregard for Jenny Slate's performance in Obvious Child and Tom Hardy's stellar turns in Locke and The Drop.