Oscar Nominations: Good News/Bad News with Odd Mix

Yay for Laura Dern!
Oscar brought the crazy this morning!  In one of the weirdest mornings since "... Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close..." the Academy brought lots of surprises. The good/news bad news is that were two notable omissions for every pleasant surprise. I'm happy regardless since Laura Dern finally got some love for Wild, edging out some stiff competition and getting the recognition that's largely eluded her this season. I'm sad that Jessica Chastain missed the cut, but Dern's in good company with Meryl Streep for Into the Woods and Patricia Arquette for Boyhood, although Streep's nom for Into the Woods (her whopping 19th Oscar nomination) means that for once I'm not actually rooting for Meryl Streep to win. I don't quite know how to handle this, but I'm sure my friends will breathe a sigh of relief at our annual Oscar party.

Other happy events of Oscar morning include the well-deserved nomination of Finding Vivian Maier, one of my Top Ten films of 2014, in the Feature Documentary category, but the docs have a few surprises with the major snub of the Roger Ebert doc Life Itself. Virunga is a worthy nominee and I haven't seen The Last Days of Vietnam or The Salt of the Earth (yay for Wim Wenders, though!). Assume that Citizenfour (lame!) is the winner.
Rooting for Finding Vivian Maier

Also getting lots of attention is the Animated Feature category with the snub of The Lego Movie. Lego, largely considered the frontrunner, missed out to dark horse The Song of the Sea. I'm rooting for How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, though, so I can't complain about Lego missing out. (And Lego director Phil Lord made an Oscar, so everything is awesom.)

The big story of the morning is Selma missing out big time with only two nominations: Best Picture and Best Song. There's really no excuse given the strength of the film, Ava DuVernay's direction, and David Oyelowo's performance as Martin Luther King, but I don't think that Selma's snub may be attributed to racism or sexism in the Academy. (They gave the prize to 12 Years a Slave last year, after all.) I honestly think that Selma's absence is mostly due to the fact that it came very late in the game to a strong and competitive group of contenders. American Sniper, on the other hand, was ready and more widely available, and it took the little bit of wiggle room in the categories. (Again, I haven't seen American Sniper yet, so I can't join the chorus of people jeering its nominations, although it's hard to think that Bradley Cooper is stronger than Oyelowo, Ralph Fiennes, or Jake Gyllenhaal.)

I think Selma's absence also offers the same explanation for Jennifer Aniston's absence for Cake: did enough people see it? I haven't seen it, but I'm glad that Marion Cotillard made the cut for Two Days, One Night instead since it's a strong performance and she's had an impressive year with both that and The Immigrant. (Two Days, One Night opens at The ByTowne in February.) Also, all these Cake jokes are priceless.

Other crazy business of Oscar morning includes the return of a Best Director nomination without a corresponding Best Picture nomination. That honour goes to Foxcatcher's Bennett Miller. This gap seems rare in the era of a Best Picture field that can range from 5-10 nominees, but I think that simply shows what a strong and competitive year it was.

A snub for Birdman in the Editing category is a bad sign, especially since that technical coup of the long take is the film's most impressive feat. The wide shut-out of Gone Girl is equally surprising outside of Rosamund Pike's Best Actress nomination. No Screenplay nomination for Gillian Flynn? No score nomination for Reznor and Ross? The screenplay snub is especially bad since nominee Whiplash isn't actually an adaptation, but in the category due to wonky Academy rulings. Nick Hornby's remarkable adaptation of Wild also failed to make the cut. But it's nice to see Paul Thomas Anderson's tricky adaptation of Inherent Vice get some notice.

Other good news, though, is a Best Animated Short for Canada's Me and My Moulton by Torill Kove. Kove, a past winner for The Danish Poet, has stiff competition for Disney's Feast. "Lost Stars" also has a Best Song nomination after missing out at the Golden Globes. It competes with Globe-winner "Glory", "Everything is Awesome" by Tegan and Sara, and Glen Miller, which means that Oscar night should at least have some of the best musical performances in years.

Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead with nine nominations apiece, although they both missed some notable nominations like the editing and Ralph Fiennes, respectively, while The Imitation Game came on strong with eight nominations and Boyhood with six. It's down to those four!

What do you think of today's nominations?

The nominees:

(Will update winner predictions on the Oscar Predictions page soon!)

Best Picture:

American Sniper

Best Director

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Bennet Miller, Foxcatcher
Morten TyldumThe Imitation Game

Best Actor

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch,  The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress

Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actor:

Robert Duvall, The JudgeEthan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash


Best Supporting Actress

Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Laura Dern, Wild
Keira Knightley,  The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman 
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Original Screenplay

Birdman – Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo
Boyhood – Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher – E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel– Wes Anderson
Nightcrawler - Dan Gilroy

Best Adapted Screenplay

American Sniper - Jason Hall
The Imitation Game – Graham Moore
Inherent Vice – Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory of Everything – Anthony McCarten
WhiplashDamien Chazelle

Best Film Editing:

American Sniper

Best Cinematography:

Best Costumes:

Mr. Turner

Best Production Design:

Mr. Turner          

Best Score:

The Grand Budapest Hotel– Alexandre Desplat
The Imitation Game  – Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar – Hans Zimmer and the church organ
Mr. Turner - Gary Yershon
The Theory of Everything - Johann Johannsson

Sound Mixing:

American Sniper

Sound Editing:

American Sniper
The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies

Visual Effects:

Captain America: Winter Soldier
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Guardians of the Galaxy
X-Men: Days of Future Past

Best Make-up

Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Song:

Lost Stars,” Begin Again
"Grateful,c" Beyond the Lights
"I'm Not Gonna Miss You," Glen Miller: I'll Be Me
"Glory", Selma

Best Documentary Feature:

The Last Days of Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth

Best Foreign Language Film:

Ida - Poland
Leviathan - Russia
Tangerines - Estonia
Timbuktu - Mauritania
Wild Tales - Argentina

Best Animated Film:

Big Hero 6
Song of the Sea

Best Animated Short:

The Bigger Picture
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton
A Single Life

Best Live Action Short:

Boogaloo and Graham
Butter Lamp
The Phone Call

Short Documentary Short:

Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
Our Curse
The Reaper 
White  Earth