2015 Academy Awards - Oscar Nominations

The 2015 Oscar nominations have just been announced, and there are a lot of surprises, some good and some bad. I've scribbled down a few notes of my initial impressions.

1) The Grand Budapest Hotel rides high with 9 nominations, covering all the major categories. It was the surprise winner at the Golden Globes, and now that momentum has real steam. It's also a nice rebuke to the "awards season," where contending films are all packed into December and January. This could be Wes Anderson's year; he's one of my favorite young directors, and I'm sure he's also a favorite of yours.

2) Birdman also scored big, which makes me happy because I really loved this movie. It's funny and irreverent, it's jazzy and funky, the dialog is snappy, Michael Keaton, Ed Norton and Emma Stone are terrific, and the editing is absolutely dynamite. If it wins Best Picture, I'll feel very happy indeed. I'm tired of comedies being ignored by the Oscars.

To the surprise of absolutely no one, my two favorite movies of 2014 are Hayao Miyazaki's The Wind Rises, and Isao Takahata's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya. I'll put Birdman right after that. I really had a lot of fun watching it.

3) I honestly did not expect Takahata's Princess Kaguya to get nominated for Best Animated Feature. Thank God it did.  This film has received tremendous praise from critics; for once in a great while, America cracked open the door to sneak out of Walt Disney's closet, and discovered a genuine alternative. The Box Trolls and Song of the Sea are also excellent movies, but Paku-san is a true master of the cinema, a Renoir or an Ozu for our time. He operates on a higher plane.

I think there's a chance that Princess Kaguya will win the Oscar. It should, obviously. Heck, both Takahata and Miyazaki deserve nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. But Hollywood's unbreakable phobia of animation, especially from Japan, always gets in the way. There are a lot of animated feature films worthy of Best Picture. You have your favorites, I have mine. I think we can all agree on this point. Let's agree on this year's Best Animated Feature Oscar. Paku-san! Paku-san!

4) Meryl Streep will always be nominated. Is there ever a year when Meryl Streep doesn't get nominated? We should just give her an award every year, just for being herself. The Meryl Streep Award For Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence!  Seriously, though, she was really fantastic in...wait, what? Into the Woods?! Is this a joke? Okay, who hacked the servers again?

5) This was not a good year for "Oscar Bait" movies. Perhaps the voters are wising up to what has become an extremely stale formula? Foxcatcher, The Theory of Everything, and Selma all underperformed. Speaking of which...

6) Selma got screwed.  I suppose the recent negative buzz over the film's portrayal of LBJ (he was, in fact, a driving force behind the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act) should have tipped us off.  Perhaps the recent racial tensions spooked Academy voters? Hollywood, despite its "liberal" image, is a very timid town. I think because of this, Selma is a lock for Best Original Song.

7) Birdman got screwed in the Best Film Editing category. If any movie deserves an Oscar for editing, it's this one. Right? I can't remember the last time a movie impressed me with its editing, its cheerfully clever way of fusing scenes together to create the illusion of one gigantic take. It becomes a bit of a parlor game to spot the edits. Inexcusable.

8) The Lego Movie got screwed. Here is where frustrations over the Academy's archaic views of animation will boil over. Did they even watch this movie, or dismiss it upon one glance of the movie poster? This movie is no saccharine toy commercial, but a wicked smart satire with the best "Hitchcock" surprise ending I've seen in ages. C'mon, Mark Mothersbaugh worked on The Lego Movie, which automatically gives it the "DEVO Seal of Approval." What more do ya want?

9) Life Itself, the Roger Ebert documentary, got screwed. This is one of the more astonishing oversights. I can't even begin to explain it. How many movie critics carried as much influence as Ebert? Pauline Kael? Andrew Sarris? Stanley Kaufman? It's a very short list. Oscar owes us one hell of an explanation for this oversight.

Finally, speaking of which...

10) Bill Plympton Got Royally Screwed. Repeat again after me, animation lovers: Bill Plympton Got Royally Screwed. Find whoever is responsible for this crime and throw them into the dungeon.

The 2015 Academy Awards nominations follow after the jump:

2015 Motion Picture Academy Awards Nominations:

Best Picture
The Theory of Everything
The Imitation Game
The Grand Budapest Hotel
American Sniper

Best Director
Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

Documentary Feature
Last Days in Vietnam
The Salt of the Earth
Finding Vivian Maier

Animated Feature Film
Big Hero 6
How to Train Your Dragon 2
The Boxtrolls
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya
Song of the Sea

Foreign Language Film
Wild Tales

Short Film – Animated
The Bigger Picture
A Single Life
The Dam Keeper
Me and My Moulton

Short Film – Live Action
Boogaloo and Graham
The Phone Call

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

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

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

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

Actor in a Supporting Role
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash
Edward Norton, Birdman
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
Robert Duvall, The Judge

Writing – Adapted Screenplay
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game
Damien Chazelle, Whiplash
Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything
Jason Hall, American Sniper
Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice

Writing – Original Screenplay
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo, Birdman
Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler
E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, Foxcatcher

Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman
Roger Deakins, Unbroken
Robert D. Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Dick Pope, Mr. Turner
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lynzewski, Ida

Film Editing
Sandra Adair, Boyhood
Tom Cross, Whiplash
William Goldenberg, The Imitation Game
Joel Cox and Gary Roach, American Sniper
Barney Pilling, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Production Design
Into the Woods
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
Mr. Turner

Costume Design
Colleen Atwood, Into the Woods
Anna B. Sheppard, Maleficent
Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Jacqueline Durran, Mr. Turner
Mark Bridges, Inherent Vice

Makeup and Hairstyling
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Guardians of the Galaxy

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

Music – Original Score
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Johann Johannsson, The Theory of Everything
Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Gary Yershon, Mr Turner

Music – Original Song
“Glory” by Common and John Legend, Selma
“Lost Stars” by Gregg Alexander, Danielle Brisebois, Nick Lashley and Nick Southwood, Begin Again
“Everything Is Awesome” by Shawn Patterson, The LEGO Movie
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” by Glen Campbell, “Glenn Campbell: I’ll Be Me
“Grateful,” Beyond the lights

Sound Editing
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
American Sniper

Sound Mixing
American Sniper


Kuruma Torajiro said...

You're absolutely right about Kaguya-hime. The part comprising the last 20 or so minutes, for me, is some of the greatest experience I've had with any form of cinema. Wind Rises is very good, and one of Miyazaki's best films, but Paku-san's effort could and should take a seat on Kinema Junpo's top 10 Japanese films ever, Oscar win or not. Although bagging the award could give him the worldwide attention long overdue.

Blue Samurai said...

So sad that its true. Miyazaki should be getting more credit and awards for some the great movies he did. I'm glad that a movie from Studio Ghibli is being recognized by Hollywood at least.

Matt said...

Isao Takahata really does operate on a higher plane. I couldn't put it well enough. His films are all masterpieces.

Natalie Belton said...

Despite that I often disagree with the Oscars. This year proved to be pretty surprising for all of the reasons you listed. Let's keep our fingers crossed about the nominees!

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