Jan 162015


Overnight the 87th Academy Award nominations were announced, and in a race that was as wide open and unpredictable as any other, there were a fair share of surprises. Who would have expected Selma to land just two nominations (including one of eight Best Picture spots), for Gone Girl and Nightcrawler to land just a lone nomination apiece, and for Foxcatcher to nab five, including Bennett Miller for Best Director and Steve Carell for Best Actor, but not score a Best Picture nomination?

In the wide open Best Actor race Bradley Cooper score his third straight Oscar nomination for American Sniper, while Marion Cotillard snuck into the Best Actress field for Two Days, One Night. The Lego Movie and Life Itself missed out on nominations for Animated Feature and Documentary, respectively.

Birdman and The Grand Budapest led the field with nine nominations apiece, with The Imitation Game scoring 8 and Boyhood and American Sniper 6.

You can find out the complete list of nominees, with commentary, after the jump:

Performance by an actor in a leading role

  • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher

  • Bradley Cooper, American Sniper

  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game

  • Michael Keaton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Well, after nominations at the SAG and the Golden Globes it looked like Jake Gyllenhaal was set for another Oscar nomination, but Nightcrawler was almost completely overlooked. David Oyelowo and Selma similarly. Carrell, as has been long expected, claimed his spot, but Cooper snuck in over Gyllenhaal, Oyelowo, Fiennes and Spall for his third straight Oscar nomination. Incredible.

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

  • Robert Duvall, The Judge

  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood

  • Edward Norton, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

  • J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

This category followed the trend of the SAG, with Robert Duvall joining the heavily-favoured foursome. I am just happy that Mark Ruffalo is recognised for Foxcatcher (and Ethan Hawke for Boyhood), but this is Simmons’ to lose.

Performance by an actress in a leading role

  • Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night

  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything

  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice

  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl

  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Well, Jennifer Aniston and Cake just ran out of steam. It is not a popular film, poorly reviewed save for Aniston’s performance. Marion Cotillard had been winning a lot of critics awards, but had not been recognised by the SAG or the Golden Globes, so she was no sure thing here. It is one of the year’s best performances and completely deserving. The others here were expected. Moore is the clear favourite, after winning the Golden Globe over a similar field.

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

  • Laura Dern, Wild

  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game

  • Emma Stone, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Another surprise. Laura Dern for Wild. No Rene Russo for Nightcrawler or Jessica Chastain for A Most Violent Year. Meryl made the cut-off, somehow. A weak field in my opinion.

Best animated feature film of the year

  • Big Hero 6 

  • The Boxtrolls 

  • How to Train Your Dragon 2 

  • Song of the Sea 

  • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya 

No The Lego Movie. Huge surprise. Perhaps it is the fact that a short stretch of it isn’t animated? Surely not. This becomes pretty open with How to Train Your Dragon 2, winner of the Golden Globe, and the critically-adored The Tale of the Princess Kaguya in contention.

Achievement in cinematography

  • Emmanuel Lubezki, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  • Robert Yeoman, The Grand Budapest Hotel

  • Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski, Ida

  • Dick Pope, Mr. Turner

  • Roger Deakins, Unbroken

Hey, the first nomination for The Grand Budapest Hotel. I almost predicted this category correctly. I said Ida deserved a nomination, but likely wouldn’t score one. Well, there it is. Lubezki, Yeoman and Pope were expected (and deserved). Deakins scores his eleventh (twelfth?) nomination for Unbroken, which I haven’t seen.

Achievement in costume design

  • Milena Canonero, The Grand Budapest Hotel

  • Mark Bridges, Inherent Vice

  • Colleen Atwood, Into the Woods

  • Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive, Maleficent,

  • Jacqueline Durran, Mr. Turner

Yeah. No surprises here. Turner and The Grand Budapest Hotel would have made my cut, and there is every indication that Inherent Vice is going to feel like a trip through the 1970’s.

Achievement in directing

  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood

  • Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher

  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel

  • Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Whoa! One of the most bizarre selections, taking into account what we know about Best Picture/Director crossover. Bennett Miller scores Best Director for Foxcatcher. Fine. Deserved. But the film failed to score a Best Picture nomination. Miller doesn’t have much of a chance anyway, because this is almost-certainly going to Linklater, but it is fascinating. Wes Anderson scores his first nomination as Best Director, and Morten Tyldum (like Miller) beat out a crowded field (including Ava DuVernay for Selma, David Fincher for Gone Girl, Damien Chazell for Whiplash and Clint Eastwood for American Sniper) to score his first Oscar nom.

Best documentary feature

  • CitizenFour 

  • Finding Vivian Maier 

  • Last Days in Vietnam

  • The Salt of the Earth 

  • Virunga

A lottery. I knew that Last Days in Vietnam and Salt of the Earth were a strong chance of a nomination, but still I left them out of my predictions. CitizenFour was a lock, but Steve James’ heavily-favoured Roger Ebert documentary Life Itself missed out. I can understand why. It isn’t an amazing documentary (like Virunga or Keep on Keepin’ On – not nominated), but its subject hit the heart of so many film lovers.

Best documentary short subject

  • Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1 

  • Joanna 

  • Our Curse 

  • The Reaper (La Parka) 

  • White Earth

Congrats to the nominees. I know nothing about them, unfortunately.

Achievement in film editing

  • Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach, American Sniper

  • Sandra Adair, Boyhood

  • Barney Pilling, The Grand Budapest Hotel 

  • William Goldenberg, The Imitation Game

  • Tom Cross, Whiplash

I didn’t even get this right. Birdman, for its tiny number of seamless, invisible cuts missed out, with American Sniper and Whiplash expectedly joining Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel. I have contention with The Imitation Game here. In many categories, in fact.

Best foreign language film of the year

  • Ida (Poland)

  • Leviathan (Russia)

  • Tangerines (Estonia)

  • Timbuktu (Mauritania)

  • Wild Tales (Argentina)

A shortlist of nine. Four had to miss out. I did not expect Force Majeure to be one of them. Ida scored that Cinematography nomination, and Leviathan won the Golden Globe (beating Ida). Obviously the favourites, but I have to keep Tangerines on my radar. If only I saw Timbuktu at SFF (instead of sleeping) I’d have a more rounded opinion on this category.

Achievement in makeup and hairstyling

  • Foxcatcher 

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel 

  • Guardians of the Galaxy

Expected. Only The Theory of Everything posed a threat here.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

  • Alexandre Desplat, The Grand Budapest Hotel 

  • Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game 

  • Hans Zimmer, Interstellar

  • Gary Yershon, Mr. Turner 

  • Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Theory of Everything 

Two nominations for Alexandre Desplat. Thankfully The Grand Budapest Hotel is one of them. That’s the work he should win for, but it could go to Globe winner Johannsson. Yershon’s work for Mr  Turner, which I don’t remember very well, a surprise nomination.

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

  • “Everything Is Awesome” from The Lego Movie – Music and Lyric by Shawn Patterson

  • “Glory” from Selma – Music and Lyric by John Stephens and Lonnie Lynn

  • “Grateful” from Beyond the Lights – Music and Lyric by Diane Warren

  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” from Glen Campbell…I’ll Be Me – Music and Lyric by Glen Campbell and Julian Raymond

  • “Lost Stars” from Begin Again – Music and Lyric by Gregg Alexander and Danielle Brisebois

Yay, a nomination for Beyond the Lights. So the voters saw it then. Where is the nomination for Gugu Mbatha-Raw? Absolutely bizarre that the recognised element of The Lego Movie is ‘Everything is Awesome’. And poor Selma. It’s one win at the Golden Globes was in this category, too.

Best motion picture of the year

  • American Sniper 

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 

  • Boyhood

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel 

  • The Imitation Game 

  • Selma 

  • The Theory of Everything 

  • Whiplash

Eight nominees this year. The first time there has been anything other than nine since the new system started. How does one evaluate this? There were no surprises, really. Only, who was ultimately excluded. Save for Selma the other nominees scored 5+ nominations each, so their inclusion makes sense. No Nightcrawler or Gone Girl, widely believed to be amongst the ten core chances here. But scoring only a single nomination apiece, showed they weren’t favoured. And no Foxcatcher, which isn’t unexpected except that it scored five nominations in big categories.

Achievement in production design

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel 

  • The Imitation Game 

  • Interstellar 

  • Into the Woods 

  • Mr. Turner

Fair enough. Again, The Imitation Game. Okay.

Best animated short film

  • The Bigger Picture 

  • The Dam Keeper 

  • Feast 

  • Me and My Moulton 

  • A Single Life 

Best live action short film

  • Aya 

  • Boogaloo and Graham 

  • Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak) 

  • Parvaneh 

  • The Phone Call

Achievement in sound editing

  • American Sniper 

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 

  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies 

  • Interstellar 

  • Unbroken

No Fury? Come on.

Achievement in sound mixing

  • American Sniper 

  • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 

  • Interstellar 

  • Unbroken

  • Whiplash 

Achievement in visual effects

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier 

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 

  • Guardians of the Galaxy 

  • Interstellar 

  • X-Men: Days of Future Past 

Interstellar, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Guardians would have surely been nominated. But I would have thought Godzilla more worthy than say, X-Men?

Adapted screenplay

  • Jason Hall, American Sniper 

  • Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

  • Paul Thomas Anderson, Inherent Vice 

  • Anthony McCarten, The Theory of Everything 

  • Damien Chazelle, Whiplash

With Whiplash considered for Adapted (from Chazelle’s own short film, I think) this category got a little more competitive. So competitive in the end that Gone Girl (a too-faithful adaptation by Gillian Flynn from her own novel) missed the cut. Many have been surprised that Paul Thomas Anderson received a nomination for Inherent Vice, but no one has successfully adapted Pynchon before. It would not be easy.

Original screenplay

  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo, Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 

  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood

  • E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman, Foxcatcher

  • Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness, The Grand Budapest Hotel

  • Dan Gilroy, Nightcrawler

Thankfully Dan Gilroy’s bold, cynical and satirical screenplay for Nightcrawler made the cut. He (and Gyllenhaal) are the guys to thank for that wonderful film. It should have featured a lot more here. Foxcatcher was amongst a bunch of films (Mr Turner and Selma included) that seemed to be competing for a slot. The Best Picture winner is very likely in this field, but not necessarily the winner – as the Golden Globes suggested.

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