Knee-Jerk React: OSCAR NOMINATIONS 2015

The full Oscar list with comments, in which David rages about a LEGO snub, and Sean just rages.

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

Sean: As with every year you’ve got to take the good with the mediocre. Any year where auteur works like Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel make the list with such a strong nomination count should be celebrated. Then you have a dynamic shoestring budget indie with the superb Whiplash and of course there is the miracle that is Boyhood (which will likely win in this category come February).The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game are your standard Oscar fare, neither offending nor inspiring anyone. The real surprise is Clint Eastwood’s bland, conservative, and formulaic American Sniper making it in. It had a big morning all around managing six nominations. And though the best film of 2014, Selma, was thankfully left in this line-up, considering it managed only one other nomination (Best Original Song) it is pretty clear that the smear campaign against it worked. Unlike the PGA and SAG, The Academy got screeners and DuVernay, Winfrey, and Oyelowo were out in full force promoting the film. Internal Academy politics at their finest.

David: Well, everything I wanted to get in (after all-but assured nominations for Boyhood and Birdman) got in. It’s awesome to see such widespread support for Grand Budapest Hotel, which had nine overall nods. I was also crossing my fingers hard for Whiplash, and that’s here. The biggest sigh of relief was for Selma, and Sean hit the nail on the head with that. Paramount ran an extremely poor, late-starting campaign, but it was fortunately loved by just enough to make the list. Out in the cold: Foxcatcher, Unbroken, Gone Girl. Sorry, guys.


Best Director
Alejandro González Iñárritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”

Sean: The Academy had a chance to make history by nominating Ava DuVernay for her incendiary work on Selma. She would have been the first black female filmmaker to be nominated for Best Director. It was not to be. Instead we are graced with Morten Tyldum’s fine, but rote execution on The Imitation Game. In all honesty he has no business being in this line-up of truly exemplary work. Bennett Miller held on to his Cannes love for most of the year, but it’s somewhat surprising that he is here while Foxcatcher is absent in the Best Picture lineup. I guess we should just be thankful that Clint Eastwood missed here, which is weird considering how much they appeared to love American Sniper.

David: Most pundits wrote off American Sniper, on virtue of it being a bad movie. Shows what we know. Hard to imagine anything stopping the Linklater/Boyhood train at this point, but DuVerney should be here. I’m grateful, however, that Wes Anderson made the cut. It’s about time.


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

Sean: Bradley Cooper made it in for his introverted, mostly physical performance. It’s a performance that barely registers and it’s almost as perplexing as his nomination for American Hustle last year.  At least there was blood pumping in that character. Obviously the Bradley Cooper love is here to stay a while with Oscar. Steven Carell looked vulnerable but managed to hold his spot. David Oyelowo’s omission hurts. Bad. It is also shocking that Jake Gyllenhaal didn’t make it in for Nightcrawler considering how much buzz there has been for his performance and the film itself the last few months.

David: I’m less shocked about about Gyllenhaal’s absence, but Oyelowo’s — who gave the best performance of the year, for my money — is profoundly sad. This was a tough, tough category, even though Keaton should run away with it. I would much rather see Ralph Fiennes than Steve Carell.


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”

Sean: We were all saved from having to hear the words “Oscar Nominee Jennifer Aniston” this morning. Instead, Marion Cotillard made it in for her critically acclaimed performance in Two Days, One Night. Marion Cotillard has been on the bubble for a nomination for several years now after her win for La Vie en Rose. It’s good to see her back. Julianne Moore still faces no real competition for the win, as much as Reese Witherspoon’s campaign would like to think otherwise.

David: Meanwhile, Ros Pike musters Gone Girl’s only nomination. Sorry, Rachel!


Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Sean: These are the same names that have been nominated throughout the season. It’s a bit boring at this point, but it is what it is. J.K. Simmons will walk away with this one unless there is a sudden Birdman resurgence.

David: Still doesn’t seem like Duvall deserves to be here, but what are you going to do? Not nominate Robert Duvall? No matter how awful, awful, awful his movie was? The scandal! GO SIMMONS.


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

Sean: Laura Dern is definitely a welcome surprise in this category. I’m sad that Rene Russo couldn’t make it in for her career best performance in Nightcrawler, especially after the BAFTA support. No Jessica Chastain is also a shock.

David: Yeah, I expected to see Chastain as well. But I don’t have any quibbles with these nominees; they’re all some of the best parts of their respective films. Even you, Streep, whose record will never be broken except by Streep.


Best Adapted Screenplay
“American Sniper” (Jason Hall)
“The Imitation Game” (Graham Moore)
“Inherent Vice” (Paul Thomas Anderson)
“The Theory of Everything” (Anthony McCarten)
“Whiplash” (Damien Chazelle)

Sean: Paul Thomas Anderson made the cut for an extremely polarizing film. Industry respect obviously played a big role. That he was adapting a work by Thomas Pynchon that was said to be unfilmable certainly helped. Whiplash was deemed an adapted screenplay for dubious reasons by the Academy, but on the upside it now has a fair shot of winning its category. Its stiffest competition will be The Imitation Game.

David: I was terrified category confusion was going to block out Whiplash, but it’s here, and Gone Girl surprisingly is not. Only thing that could have made it better is a Chazelle director nod, but I’ll settle for this one.


Best Original Screenplay
“Birdman” (Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo)
“Boyhood” (Richard Linklater)
“Foxcatcher” (E. Max Frye, Dan Futterman)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Wes Anderson, Hugo Guiness)
“Nightcrawler” (Dan Gilroy)

Sean: After lots of talk of it surprising in various categories, Nightcrawler only managed a single nomination. The Grand Budapest Hotel has the chance of picking up its lone big award of the night here, but Birdman and Boyhood are also in the hunt. Selma‘s omission here is tragic.

David: I’m expecting/hoping Wes Anderson will score here on Oscar night, as the competition is too stiff elsewhere. This is also yet another category where Selma and Paramount will be asking “What happened?”


Best Cinematography
“Birdman” (Emmanuel Lubezki)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Robert D. Yeoman)
“Ida” (Ryszard Lenczweski; Lukasz Zal)
“Mr. Turner” (Dick Pope)
“Unbroken” (Roger Deakins)

Sean: Deakins’ work in Unbroken is pretty paint-by-numbers for him. His industry support and name recognition got him here. This is probably the least deserving of his many nominations throughout the years. Ida‘s black and white cinematography is the welcome surprise in this category. It’s disappointing that Bradford Young’s acclaimed work in either Selma or A Most Violent Year couldn’t get him in the race. It looks like Emmanuel Lubezki is about to win back to back Oscars.

David: “Chivo” Lubezki is one of cinematography’s brightest lights, and one-upped his impossible trick last year (Gravity) with Birdman. I too am bothered by the absence of Bradford Young ,but I’m happy to see Dick Pope (not “Dick Poop,” Cheryl Boone Isaacs) for his sumptuous, painterly work on Mr. Turner.


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

Sean: What a fun unexpected nomination for the 70’s groove in Inherent Vice. Colleen Atwood delivered the most uninspired work of her career in Into the Woods, but no one cares. She’s a giant in the industry. The Grand Budapest Hotel has a real shot here.

David: I don’t have much to add. Atwood should be disqualified for the Wolf zoot suit.


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

Sean: It’s odd not to see Birdman here.  Perhaps that one long shot trick was a bit too convincing. So glad Whiplash made it in. It should win, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. American Sniper now has to win somewhere and this might be it.

David: Pretty shocked not to see Birdman, as well, but YES TO TOM CROSS. The editing on Whiplash was absolutely brilliant, especially that final scene. Again, I really, really don’t get the American Sniper surge. As an editor, this annoys me greatly. The film is lifeless. The Oscar will probably still go to Boyhood, which is fine with me.


Best Makeup and Hairstyling
“The Grand Budapest Hotel”
“Guardians of the Galaxy”

Sean: These are all worthy nominees in their own way, but if they were going to go for subtle character transformation then The Theory of Everything should be here over Foxcatcher.

David: Huzzah for the misfits of Guardians of the Galaxy! If there were a “most makeup” category, this would win. Drax alone deserves some kind of award.


Best Music (Original Score)
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Alexandre Desplat)
“The Imitation Game” (Alexandre Desplat)
“Interstellar” (Hans Zimmer)
“Mr. Turner” (Gary Yershon)
“The Theory of Everything” (Jóhann Jóhannsson)

Sean: As expected, Alexandre Desplat managed two nominations this year. His The Grand Budapest Hotel work is vastly superior to The Imitation Game. He now has the potential to split his own votes and let someone else come in to take the award. I’m betting on Jóhann Jóhannsson.

David: I am agreeing SO HARD with you on Desplat: his GBH score is the better of the two, and I’m thrilled to see it here. Also thrilled for Hans Zimmer. Not a bad crop of nominees under the circumstances.


Best Music (Original Song)
“Lost Stars” from “Begin Again”
“I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”
“Everything is Awesome” from “The LEGO Movie”
“Glory” from “Selma”
“Grateful” from “Beyond the Lights”

Sean: We were saved from the excruciating pop lineup of the Golden Globes. Selma can take solace in knowing it will win one award at the Oscars. Perhaps they think that is recognition enough for the film.

David: Thank the Oscar gods LEGO Movie scored here, at least. (Rant on that forthcoming.) No Lorde, no Lana del Rey? It’s a miracle! “Lost Stars” is no “Falling Slowly,” but it definitely deserved the nomination. Great list.


Best Production Design
“The Grand Budapest Hotel” (Adam Stockhausen; Anna Pinnock)
“The Imitation Game” (Maria Djurkovic; Tatiana Macdonald)
“Interstellar” (Nathan Crowley; Gary Fettis, Paul Healy)
“Into the Woods” (Dennis Gassner; Anna Pinnock)
“Mr. Turner” (Suzie Davies; Charlotte Watts)

Sean: I would like someone to explain to me what exactly is nomination worthy about Into the Woods‘s production design. It’s such an ugly film all around with really basic, unimaginative design elements. This is a lazy unearned nomination. The rest of this slate is respectable.

David: Yeah, I’m not tracking with that. But who cares when GBH is racking it up in the crafts categories? Go GBH!


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

Sean: This is The Hobbit‘s lone nomination. Middle-Earth fatigue has finally set in for the Academy, which is a real shame considering how strong the craft elements of the film are. This is about the only award American Sniper deserved to be nominated for.

David: Yeah, because “prestige-ish” films with guns always make it into this category. Whatever. Pulling for Hobbit for sentimental reasons, but I really don’t care.


Best Sound Mixing
“American Sniper”

Sean: I love seeing Whiplash here. I love seeing Interstellar here even more. It’s a big middle-finger to all the whiny naysayers on its immersive, experimental mix. Well done Academy.

David: Haha, yeah — a lot of people annoyed by this one. I didn’t have a problem with Interstellar’s mix, so I’m pleased it’s here. Whiplash, absolutely, but you know that already. The biggest surprise? No Into the Woods. Musicals ALWAYS get rubber-stamped for this category.


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

Sean: While I’m glad to see X-Men: Days of Future Past get some love (it’s the best superhero movie of 2014 by a mile), it’s not cool that it probably came at the expense of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, which featured the best visual effects of the new trilogy.

David: I heard reports that Hobbit’s reel wasn’t very well received at the FX wing’s bake-off. Too bad. But we got not one but two Marvel films, the magnificent Interstellar, and Apes. I can live with that.


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

Sean: Considering The Lego Movie was in it to win it, it is jaw-droppingly shocking to see it miss here. How to Train Your Dragon 2 will now take this award without competition. No, Big Hero 6 is not a threat.

David: WHAT. THE. EFF. HOW DO YOU NOT NOMINATE LEGO? DOES THE ANIMATION BRANCH HATE JOY THAT MUCH? DID THEY WAKE UP THAT MORNING AND STEP ON THE LEGOS THEIR KIDS LEFT OUT? HOW DOES THIS HAPPEN??? This is by a mile the biggest shock, not because it should have been nominated, but because it should have WON. Instead, they included two traditionally hand-drawn films. I’m sure they’re fine, but give me a break. I’M FURIOUS.


Best Foreign Language Film
“Wild Tales” (Damián Szifrón; Argentina)
“Tangerines” (Zaza Urushadze; Estonia)
“Timbuktu” (Abderrahmane Sissako; Mauritania)
“Ida” (Pawel Pawlikowski; Poland)
“Leviathan” (Andrey Zvyagintsev; Russia)

Sean: Ida and Leviathan remain the two power players here. Expect them to duke it out for the win. Everyone else should be happy to be here.

David: Surprise omission: Force Majeure. But otherwise, I concur. Moving on.


Best Documentary Feature
“Finding Vivian Mayer”
“Last Days in Vietnam”
“The Salt of the Earth”

Sean: Another huge shock this morning was Life Itself missing after coasting through the season. For a while it seemed like honoring Roger Ebert’s legacy by awarding Steve James’s film was a real possibility. CITIZENFOUR and Virunga are the big players left here.

David: Yeah, it’s a shame to not see Life Itself, especially because of Ebert’s huge legacy within the industry. But the documentary branch always goes its own way.


Best Documentary (Short Subject)
“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”
“Our Curse”
“The Reaper”
“White Earth”

Best Short Film (Animated)
“The Bigger Picture”
“The Dam Keeper”
“Me and My Moulton”
“A Single Life”

Best Short Film (Live Action)
“Boogaloo and Graham”
“Butter Lamp”
“The Phone Call”

Sean: Per usual I have yet to see any of the shorts nominated in either category. I’m hoping to catch them before the ceremony. Congratulations to the nominees.

David: Ditto. This year there’s not even a Disney or Pixar animated short I can point to, so I’ll be throwing darts like the rest of us come prediction time. On the whole, I’m mostly pleased — LEGO and Selma snubs notwithstanding. Go Boyhood, Whiplash, and Grand Budapest! Now the fun begins.

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