- Of the nine movies I predicted to get nominated for Best Picture today, all got in except Gone Girl, giving us the first lineup in Oscar history with eight nominees. Of that set, Foxcatcher missed the cut despite nailing nominations in Actor, Supporting Actor, Screenplay and Director, giving us the first lone director nomination since the Best Picture field expanded in 2009. How on earth did that happen? Foxcatcher is apparently admired for its individual elements only, yet not loved enough to garner 5% of #1 votes. Weird.
- The complete opposite happened to the beleagured Selma, which landed a Best Picture nomination and one other nod for Best Song, which frankly makes the Picture nom look pretty token, wouldn't you say? There's a reason people are talking about how all 20 acting nominations this year went to white people- I guess a year after 12 Years a Slave won Best Picture, the Academy thought well, that's enough of race relations for a while. Despite rapturous reviews and the fact that the Academy was sent screeners of the film, they very nearly rejected it completely, which is sad, and more a reflection on them than the film. I do think the movie was damaged by the LBJ controversy that heated up right during the voting period- that seems pretty difficult to deny at this point.
- Nightcrawler was only nominated in Screenplay, despite its strong showing at all the guilds AND Bafta, which I guess tells us that genre movies, no matter how well they play with the industry, are always going to have a hard time with the Academy. I had thought Gone Girl and Nightcrawler were vying for the same slot- in the end, it turns out there was no room for either of them.
- Okay, there were a lot this year, so let's just go down the line- Jennifer Aniston misses in Best Actress for Marion Cotillard?!! I couldn't believe it- how did they see 2 Days, 1 Night? Or did they? To be honest, I think this may be more a rejection of Aniston than an embrace of Cotillard, who is a previous winner. Jennifer Aniston simply is not taken seriously by the Academy, which I had always believed was the case, and I only wish now I had stuck to my guns on it (of course, I assumed Amy Adams would take that final slot, not Cotillard, so I guess it wouldn't have mattered). Marion Cotillard can thank the critics for putting her on the map for this one, a rare nomination that came from a non-existent Oscar campaign.
- David Oyelowo overlooked for Selma. This a tragic misstep in my opinion- did they really need to nominate Bradley Cooper three years in a row? If anything, I thought Selma might get snubbed in Picture but make the cut for Actor, like Malcolm X did 25 years ago. He is far more deserving than either Steve Carell or Cooper for this performance.
- Here's a big one- The Lego Movie not nominated for Animated Feature?! How the hell did that happen? I never thought it would actually win with the overall Academy, but for the animators to snub the biggest animated hit of the year, which got incredible reviews on top of it? I'm stunned. Did they hate the live-action segment of the movie? The fact that its directors, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, move back and forth between animation and live action films? I'm at a loss- they've never done anything like this before and all I can say is that it's very, very strange (and I'm not even the movie's biggest fan).
- Life Itself shut out of Best Documentary- that's pretty surprising too. Okay, so I guess filmmakers still hate critics, right? Or the documentary branch has a longstanding hatred of poor Steve James, who was once again not nominated 20 years after Hoop Dreams became the most notorious Oscar snubbing in history. Are they still holding a grudge against him for all the ensuing backlash that made them look bad? Or is this a way of forcing the overall Academy to vote for the political film (and now default frontrunner) Citizenfour, knowing they have not done so for the past two years when given a choice between a popular film about artists and one with a more serious and weighty subject matter? I'm kinda thinking it's the latter.
- Ava DuVernay, who would have made history as the first black female director nominated, is sadly overlooked, although it did seem inevitable with so little support for Selma overall.
- Gone Girl shut out of Adapted Screenplay- this is actually a big one, because that film was winning so many critics awards for the script and most considered it a genuine threat for the win in this category. The fact that Gillian Flynn missed here (and she would have been the only female writer nominated) has to tell you that they really hated this movie. I can't help but wonder if they would have embraced it had the ending been a little more Fatal Attraction-esque (which back in the day was nominated for 7 Oscars), and SPOILER ALERT- had Rosamund Pike's villainous Amy get what's coming to her instead of being allowed to triumph completely over Ben Affleck's Nick. With the Academy being such a boys club, I honestly think if the film had a different ending, they would have gone for it after all (if anything, just to reward the box office of a well-reviewed, adult-oriented thriller, like they did with Fatal Attraction).
- In the acting categories, obviously Bradley Cooper pulled out his third consecutive nomination (a feat only matched by a very exclusive group including Spencer Tracy, Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino and most recently, Russell Crowe), and Laura Dern's friends in the Academy came through for her after all in Supporting Actress, which I had always thought was likely to happen, despite no precursor support.
- Bennett Miller takes the Best Director slot away from Clint Eastwood, the person I actually thought was least likely to happen there. Wow. Other than that, the eclectic directors branch stuck with the DGA nominees, including Wes Anderson and Morten Tyldum, which shows just how insanely loved Grand Budapest and Imitation Game are.
- Other minor, but happy surprises in the tech categories- Mr. Turner! Not skunked after all, getting nods for costumes, production design, cinematography and most surprisingly, score. All very well deserved, along with a cinematography nod for Ida's gorgeous black and white photography- very cool choices (which is not something you can say in general about many of these nominees).
- The Song category redeems itself from the horrors of their nominations just last year and the year before by giving us some pretty decent picks this time around, including "Everything is Awesome" (Lego Movie's only nomination now, as fate would have it), "Lost Stars" from Begin Again (yay!!! Will Keira and Adam sing a duet?) and the song from Beyond the Lights, an overlooked film from the late fall, which was totally unexpected. Even though "Lost Stars" is my favorite, I completely expect the John Legend/Common song from Selma to win this category now, since it was treated so shabbily by the industry overall.