The nominees for the 87th Annual Academy Awards have been revealed (read the full list) – and, as it true for any year, the choices have ranged from very predictable to more than a little surprising. Meanwhile, cinephiles and film lovers have already taken to the ‘Net to show support for movies, filmmakers, and/or actors who were (or were not) recognized by the Academy, in equal measure.
Boyhood is viewed by many as being the current favorite to take home the the Best Picture Oscar (it also won Best Drama at the 2015 Golden Globes), having now been nominated by the Academy for direction, supporting actor/actress, original screenplay, and editing. The movie was scripted and directed by Richard Linklater, who shot the film over the course of twelve years, as a way of telling the story of protagonist Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) and his journey towards young adulthood.
Both Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel received more Oscar nods than Boyhood, but all three films could end up walking away with more than one award on Oscar night. Birdman star Michael Keaton is a favorite to win Best Actor for his meta-role as Riggan Thomson, a former superhero movie actor who aspires to successfully put on his own off-Broadway play. Keaton’s Birdman costars Edward Norton and Emma Stone also received Oscar nods for their supporting roles in the film, though neither is a front-runner.
Keaton aside, Birdman seems more likely to win for non-acting elements – like Emmanuel Lubezki’s cinematography, which creates the illusion that almost the entire movie was shot in a single take. It’s certainly possible that this will be a year when the Academy splits the difference and gives Birdman co-writer/helmsman Alejandro González Iñárritu the Best Screenplay and/or Director Oscar, while Boyhood winds up as Best Picture. The Birdman screenplay won at the Golden Globes, after all…
Grand Budapest Hotel may take home awards in such areas as production and costume design, as co-writer/director Wes Anderson’s film (a madcap adventure set in a fictional European country on the brink of WWII) has been most heavily praised for its visual aesthetic. However, the movie failed to land a single acting nomination, which is an indicator that its Best Director and/or Picture chances are pretty remote.
Fellow Best Picture nominee Whiplash, by comparison, is most likely to win for J.K. Simmons’ supporting turn in the film; a role that’s already won him a Golden Globe, for playing the tyrannical and perfectionist top instructor at a prestigious music conservatory. The movie itself remains something of a black horse candidate to win in other categories, though, as evidenced by writer/director Damien Chazelle getting overlooked for Best Director consideration.
The Best Picture nominees The Theory of Everything (a Stephen Hawking biopic), The Imitation Game (an Alan Turing biopic), and American Sniper (the Chris Kyle biopic) – notice a trend? – have all been most heavily-praised for their lead actor’s performance, but for the time being Keaton has the most momentum to win. His larger body of work also give him an edge on Eddie Redmayne, who (besides Keaton) was the other actor who won at the 2015 Globes ceremony (for his work as Mr. Hawking). As indicated before, Boyhood and Birdman are also far ahead of their Best Picture competition, in terms of their chances of winning.
Meanwhile, Bennet Miller’s Foxcatcher – the drama about real-life multi-millionaire John du Pont’s destructive relationship with the Olympic wrestling Schultz brothers – missed out on a Best Pic nod, though Miller was nominated (for directing), along with two of the three main stars from the film (Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo). The trio may end up going empty-handed on Oscar night, though, seeing as none of them have thus far been getting the same attention that other awards contenders in the same categories have.
Co-writer/director Christopher Nolan’s somewhat divisive space exploration tentpole, Interstellar, landed a handful of technical awards nods (like sound editing/mixing and score), but similar to Foxcatcher it might not win in any of the categories for which it has been nominated. The overall positive, yet mixed, reception for Nolan’s latest big-budget offering is no doubt part of the reason why the film didn’t land nominations in any of the “major” categories (as some had predicted it could this time last year).
There are, however, a number of movies that could end up walking away with at least one Oscar when all is said and done. That includes the DreamWorks’ animated sequel How to Train Your Dragon 2 (the Best Animated Feature front-runner) and the live-action blockbuster sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (for Best Visual Effects). Which brings us to…
Selma, a historical drama that highlights the Martin Luther King Jr. led push for voting equality during the 1960s, was nominated for Best Picture and Best Song at the 2015 Oscars ceremony. However, the Academy’s decision to ignore the film with respect to every other Oscar category – including direction (for Ava DuVernay), lead actor (for David Oyelowo), and cinematography (for Bradford Young) – has already proven to be a fairly controversial one.
DuVernay’s film was a late arrival in 2014, though that didn’t prevent American Sniper from getting more recognition; and by far, Selma was the better-received of the pair, critically-speaking (read our review). However, for whatever reasons (be it political or otherwise), the Golden Globe-winning Selma was largely shutout of the major Oscar categories.
Similarly, Rosamund Pike was nominated for her lead performance in Gone Girl – David Fincher and screenwriter Gillian Flynn’s adaptation of Flynn’s best-selling crime/suspense novel – but otherwise the critically-acclaimed feature went unnoticed by the Academy. Meanwhile, David Ayer’s WWII tank action/drama Fury – a favorite of multiple Screen Rant staff members – didn’t landed a single Oscar nod, despite also earning its fair share of acclaim for both its performances and technical qualities alike (including the score by Gravity‘s Oscar-winning composer, Steven Price).
Of the pair, though, Fincher’s movie was the one that was considered a Best Picture shoo-in, early on during the awards season buildup. Moreover, the Academy in recent years has tended to at least nominate Fincher’s projects in the technical Oscar areas (cinematography, editing, and so forth), so Gone Girl being ignored for those elements too comes as something of an unexpected development.
The LEGO Movie, rather unexpectedly, failed to land a nomination in the Best Animated feature category. The acclaimed film (which does, in fact, include some live-action material) landed an Oscar nod for its catchy tune “Everything is Awesome”, but many considered the film to be the front-runner in the animation quadrant for several months.
Then again, after the film lost to How to Train Your Dragon 2 at this month’s Golden Globes ceremony, Lego Movie (from directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller) being snubbed by the Academy comes as a *somewhat* smaller shock, because of that. No worries, though, Lord has already received a different award to substitute for the lack of a Best Animated Feature Oscar nomination.
Other miscellaneous Oscar “snubs” include:
- Jake Gyllenhaal, who was considered a near shoo-in Oscar nominee for his performance in Nightcrawler (the film got a screenplay nod, though).
- Snowpiercer, the critically-acclaimed sci-fi action/thriller (set on a futuristic train), failed to land a single nod, even in the technical categories.
- Ralph Fiennes was passed over for Best Actor Oscar consideration for The Grand Budapest Hotel (despite also being considered a front-runner), as was Tom Hardy for his celebrated literal one-man show in the acclaimed drama Locke (which takes almost entirely in Hardy’s car in the film).
- Gugu Mbatha-Raw was passed for any Oscar consideration despite having a breakout year with her acclaimed leading performances in the sociopolitical historical drama Belle and the showbiz drama/romance Beyond the Lights, respectively.
- Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Big Eyes – director Tim Burton’s memoir about the artist Margaret Keane – both got passed over for acting Oscars, despite each being nominated for Golden Globes (and Adams winning).
No doubt, opinions will differ on which movies, filmmakers, and actors deserved recognition and got it – and which ones deserved more attention, but were denied it – by the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. However, this is the current standing as we enter the final month of film awards season, preparing for the biggest cinema awards show of them all.
Agree/disagree with the Academy’s choices? Let us know in the comments section!
The 87th Annual Academy Awards ceremony will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris and air on ABC on Sunday, February 22nd, 2015 at 7 pm ET/4 PT.