Oscars 2014: Surprises and snubs in this year’s crop of nominees

Oscars

At this point in awards season, and after weeks of best-of year-end lists that take some of the guessing out of the awards-prediction game, very few revelations could really surprise movie fans following the Academy Awards’ nominations announcement this morning and indeed, pretty much every nominee announced was a possible contender. No left-field entries here.

Nine movies will be competing for the best picture Oscar, with American Hustle and Gravity picking up 10 nominations each, followed by 12 Years a Slave with nine. Quebec directors’ Denis Villeneuve and Jean-Marc Vallée’s films picked up seven nominations in total: Prisoners is nominated in the cinematography category for the great work by director of photography Roger Deakins, who also worked on last year’s visually mesmerizing Skyfall. Dallas Buyers Club picked up two acting nominations for Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey – two Golden Globe winners already – as well as makeup, editing and best original screenplay nominations. Dallas Buyers Club will also be vying for the best picture Oscar.

Ever since the Academy upped the best-picture nominees to “a maximum of 10,” I’ve felt that you can still have five without missing any. This year is no different: American HustleCaptain PhillipsDallas Buyers ClubGravityHerNebraskaPhilomena12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street. I could have done with just HustleGravityHer12 Years and Wolf.

Like the Globes, the Academy chose not to nominate Lee Daniels’ The Butler in any category. Notably missing is Oprah Winfrey from the best supporting actress category, which will be a repeat of the Globes: Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine, Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle, Lupita Nyong’o for 12 Years a Slave, Julia Roberts for August: Osage County and June Squibb for Nebraska.

Over on the supporting actors’ side, Jonah Hill gets his second Oscar nomination for The Wolf of Wall Street. He’ll be up against Globe winner Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club), Captain Phillips‘ Barkhad Abdi, American Hustle‘s Bradley Cooper and 12 Years a Slave‘s Michael Fassbender. Hill “replaces” Daniel Bruhl from Rush, the Ron Howard film that also got 0 nominations, though its other star, Chris Hemsworth, hosted the Oscar nominations ceremony this morning.

Pixar, a fixture of the best animated Oscar category, is MIA this year. The studio’s 2013 film, Monsters University, failed to pick up a Golden Globe nomination last month, and will sit out the Oscar race too. Instead, The CroodsDespicable Me 2Ernest and CelestineFrozen and The Wind Rises will be duking it out for the prize which, in its 12-year existence, has gone to Pixar films seven times.

The Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis got a lot less love than I thought it would, picking up only two nominations: cinematography and sound mixing. Oscar Isaac, who plays the title character, did not pick up a best actor nomination, and neither did Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips. Instead, Christian Bale (American Hustle), Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) are nominated.

Inside Llewyn Davis didn’t pick up a best song Oscar either, though neither did Lana Del Rey, for her excellent “Young & Beautiful” off The Great Gatsby (a two-time nominee, in the costume and production design categories) soundtrack. Nominees in that category are: “The Moon Song” from Her, “Let It Go” from Frozen, Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” from Despicable Me 2, “Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and “Alone Yet Not Alone” from Alone Yet Not Alone.

Over on the documentary side, Canadian filmmaker Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell and Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s Blackfish are both MIA; the Academy has instead decided to honour The Act of KillingCutie and the BoxerDirty WarsThe Square and 20 Feet from Stardom.

Other surprises, snubs and some dream nominations:

  • Nothing for Spring Breakers, which might have picked up a supporting actor nod for James Franco. I would have also liked to see it get an editing nomination (perhaps instead of Dallas Buyers Club, which wasn’t really groundbreaking, editing-wise);
  • No nominations for Blue is the Warmest Colour in the best foreign film category – where Canada won’t be competing for the first time in three years – and no recognition for Adèle Exarchopoulos;
  • While Blue Jasmine picked up three nominations (Blanchett, Hawkins for acting, Allen for his original screenplay), it didn’t get a best-picture nomination;
  • Margot Robbie for The Wolf of Wall Street, which did pick up five nominations (picture, actor, supporting actor, director and adapted screenplay); 
  • All Is Lost gets just one nomination, in the sound editing category. No lead actor nod for Robert Redford and no nomination for Alex Ebert’s score, which won a Golden Globe;
  • Emma Thompson in Saving Mr. Banks: the saving grace of a borderline Disney propaganda film (Saving Mr. Banks is a Disney movie about the making of a Disney movie, with Tom Hanks as Walt Disney!);
  • They’re crowded fields already, but Her‘s Joaquin Phoenix (lead actor) and Scarlett Johansson (supporting actress) would have made nice additions. Spike Jonze’s film picked up five nominations: picture, song, score, screenplay and production design;
  • While Gravity picked up 10 nominations, including best picture, it did not pick up a writing nod. A movie hasn’t won best picture without picking up at least a nomination in the screenplay categories since 1997, when James Cameron’s Titanic won 11 Oscars;
  • American Hustle picked up 10 nominations, but it should have been 11. No nod in makeup and hairstyling?! “He had this combover that was rather elaborate …” Dallas Buyers ClubJackass: Bad Grandpa and The Lone Ranger are the three nominees in that category;
  • At this point, all the nominees had too much momentum – from year-end lists, from other awards – to really make room for Fruitvale Station‘s Michael B. Jordan and Octavia Spencer;
  • 12 Years a Slave got nine nominations, but none for Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography.

The Oscars will be handed out on March 2 in a ceremony hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. You can check out the full list of nominees here.

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