"Dreams feel real while we're in them. It's only when we wake up that we realize something was actually strange." -Inception

Sunday, January 19, 2014

2014 Oscar Nominations Announced!

The nominations for the 86th Oscars were announced early this past Thursday morning at 5: 30 am PST in Los Angeles by AMPAS President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and actor Chris Hemsworth (Thor).
This year, there were so many great films (strangely from the latter half of the year) that the competition was fierce and the possibility of snubs and surprises in such a tight race was high.  In the end, 9 films ended up being nominated for Best Picture. Why not 10, if the field was crowded? Chalk it up to complicated Academy rules that make ten nominees impossible to get in recent years. And I'm guessing I'm not the only one is who driven mad by the uneven number. I wish they would just go back to 10 nominees for best picture.

As a result, there were several films that failed to score any nominations (Lee Daniels' The Butler, Fruitvale Station, Rush) and others who surprised with solid presence (Philomena, Nebraska, Captain Phillips). Some films like Inside Llewyn Davis and The Grandmaster ended up only with technical nominations when many were expecting them to show up in the Best Picture and Best Foreign Film categories respectively.

Once again, American Hustle and Gravity are leading the pack with 10 nominations each and 12 Years a Slave not far behind with 9 nominations.  David O. Russell became the rare director to have his actors receive nominations in all the acting categories two years in a row. I imagine all actors will be queuing up to act in his films.  That is, if Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper or Jennifer Lawrence allow them!

The full list is below:

Christian Bale in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Bruce Dern in “Nebraska” (Paramount)
Leonardo DiCaprio in “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Chiwetel Ejiofor in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Matthew McConaughey in “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)

My take: Except for Bruce Dern, all the other actors in this field are playing characters based on real people. Most notable snubs in this category include Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips and Robert Redford for All is Lost. I was also hoping to see Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) score his first ever nomination. The Academy rarely rewards young actors (though Jennifer Lawrence is the exception to every rule) so I knew the chances were rare. But one can always hope that Jordan will be nominated one day. Christian Bale is the lone previous winner here.

Barkhad Abdi in “Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Bradley Cooper in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Michael Fassbender in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Jonah Hill in “The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Jared Leto in “Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)

My take: None of these actors have ever won an Oscar before and for Bradley Cooper and Jonah Hill, it's their second nomination. But the story is here is Jared Leto, previously of the band Thirty Seconds on Mars, who returned to acting after a long break in Dallas Buyers Club. This is a once-in-a-lifetime-role and Leto is the overwhelming favorite.

Amy Adams in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Sandra Bullock in “Gravity” (Warner Bros.)
Judi Dench in “Philomena” (The Weinstein Company)
Meryl Streep in “August: Osage County” (The Weinstein Company)

My take: Except for Amy Adams, all of these wonderful actresses have won an Oscar before. But Adams does have 4 previous nominations, albeit in the supporting actress category. This is her first lead actress nomination. Might she sneak through the veterans and score her first win? American Hustle seems to be quite beloved with critics and audiences across America so it is quite possible. But count out acting powerhouses Cate Blanchett and Meryl Streep at your risk.

Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics)
Jennifer Lawrence in “American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Julia Roberts in “August: Osage County” (The Weinstein Company)
June Squibb in “Nebraska” (Paramount)

My take: This is one category that usually produces the most upsets (see: Mira Sorvino in Mighty Aprodite or Tilda Swinton in Michael Clayton) so who will break through this year or will it go to the Girl on Fire, Jennifer Lawrence? The race for now seems to be between Lupita Nyong'o and Jennifer Lawrence who seem to be dividing up all the major awards up so far.

“The Croods” (20th Century Fox)
Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson
“Despicable Me 2” (Universal)
Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri
“Ernest & Celestine” (GKIDS)
Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner
“Frozen” (Walt Disney)
Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
“The Wind Rises” (Walt Disney)
Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki

My take: Last year's winner for Best Animated Feature for Brave, Pixar Studios' latest feature film, Monsters University, failed to land a nomination. Instead, Walt Disney Animation's Frozen along with The Croods and Despicable Me 2 ended up as the studio-produced films. Ernest & Celestine from France and Japan's The Wind Rises (also master animator Hayao Miyazaki's last film) ended up with the final two nominations. For me, the race is on between Disney's Frozen which is having such a hot streak both at the box office and as a pop culture phenomenon and The Wind Rises, which is atop many critics' lists for best animated feature.

“The Grandmaster” (The Weinstein Company) Philippe Le Sourd
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Emmanuel Lubezki
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (CBS Films) Bruno Delbonnel
“Nebraska” (Paramount) Phedon Papamichael
“Prisoners” (Warner Bros.) Roger A. Deakins

My take: And we're back on Roger Deakins watch again this year. The famed cinematographer has been nominated 10 times before, this year is his 11th nomination. Will he ever win an Oscar? This category is actually very competitive as some of the most gorgeously and stylishly shots films of the past year are all together. I'm so torn, this is going to be one tough category to predict though I must say that Gravity does have a slight edge here over the others.

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Michael Wilkinson
“The Grandmaster” (The Weinstein Company) William Chang Suk Ping
“The Great Gatsby” (Warner Bros.) Catherine Martin
“The Invisible Woman” (Sony Pictures Classics) Michael O’Connor
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Patricia Norris

My take: I'm not aware about the costumes in The Grandmaster and The Invisible Woman but the favorites here are American Hustle (that 70s and 80s fashion!), The Great Gatsby (Catherine Martin is previous winner for Moulin Rouge!) and 12 Years a Slave (nominee Patricia Norris is 83 and has been nominated five times before). If The Great Gatsby wins any Oscar, it's this one.

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) David O. Russell
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Alfonso Cuarón
“Nebraska” (Paramount) Alexander Payne
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Steve McQueen
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount) Martin Scorsese

My take: The only one of the directors who has previously won in this category is Martin Scorsese. But sadly, that's the only Oscar he owns. Will that be changed this year? Or will history be created as Steve McQueen becomes the first black director to win the directing Oscar? Other strong contenders include David O. Russell and Alfonso Cuarón whose films have received 10 nominations each. I have a feeling it might a repeat of last year when Ang Lee won for the Life of Pi, the most technically difficult film out of all the nominees. Gravity, a script he wrote and edited, easily fits the bill for that.


“The Act of Killing” (Drafthouse Films)
Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen
“Cutie and the Boxer” (RADiUS-TWC)
Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
“Dirty Wars” (IFC Films)
Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
“The Square” (Netflix in association with Worldview
Entertainment and Participant Media)
Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
“20 Feet from Stardom” (RADiUS-TWC)
Nominees to be determined

My take: The Act of Killing was named the Best Film of 2013 by Sight and Sound and featured in the lists of many critics' best of 2013. The others I'll have to acquaint myself with, though The Square and 20 Feet from Stardom have also received honorable mentions this past year.

Jeffrey Karoff
“Facing Fear”
Jason Cohen
“Karama Has No Walls” (Mudhouse Films)
Sara Ishaq
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed
“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”
Edgar Barens

My take: Time to do some homework.

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Christopher Rouse
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features) John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Joe Walker

My take: Alfonso Cuarón scored his second nomination this year for editing Gravity with Mark Sanger. They were previously nominated for editing Children of Men (2006). Big surprise not to see Thelma Schoonmaker here for editing that wild ride that was The Wolf of Wall Street. The jerky camerawork of Captain Phillips gave me a headache so I'm not considering it as a threat in this category. It's the big 3, American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave that are battling it out here.


“The Broken Circle Breakdown” (Tribeca Film) – Belgium
“The Great Beauty” (Janus Films) – Italy
“The Hunt” (Magnolia Pictures) – Denmark
“The Missing Picture” (Strand Releasing) – Cambodia
“Omar” (Adopt Films) – Palestine

My take: The year started with such a bang at Cannes and The Past and Blue is the Warmest Color immediately became the frontrunners for the foreign film. But The Past never made it to the shortlist and Blue is the Warmest Color never made it past the eligibility rules. Italy's The Great Beauty and Denmark's The Hunt are the frontrunners by default. The rest I'll have to read up on.

“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features) Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
“Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” (Paramount) Stephen Prouty
“The Lone Ranger” (Walt Disney) Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

My take: Fruitvale Station has zero, I repeat, zero nominations and Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is not only a nominee but the clear frontrunner in this category. Sometimes the Academy Award nominations baffle me.

“The Book Thief” (20th Century Fox) John Williams
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Steven Price
“Her” (Warner Bros.) William Butler and Owen Pallett
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company) Alexandre Desplat
“Saving Mr. Banks” (Walt Disney) Thomas Newman

My take: The legendary John Williams at age 81 scored his 44th nomination (beat that, Meryl Streep!) for best original score. He's only won 5 times. The scores for Gravity, Her and Saving Mr. Banks were my personal favorites this past year. Thomas Newman (son of Alfred Newman and cousin of Randy Newman) really needs to win one of these someday but I really do believe this one belongs to Steven Price.

“Alone Yet Not Alone” from “Alone Yet Not Alone” (Enthuse Entertainment)
Music by Bruce Broughton Lyric by Dennis Spiegel
“Happy” from “Despicable Me 2” (Universal)
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go” from “Frozen” (Walt Disney)
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song” from “Her” (Warner Bros.)
Music by Karen O Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” (The Weinstein Company)
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Lyric by Paul Hewson

My take: While I'm thrilled with the nominations of 'The Moon Song' from Her, 'Happy' from Despicable Me 2 and I'm guessing 'Ordinary Love' from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is really popular, 'Let It Go' from Frozen needs to win this category. Firstly because I'm dying to see incomparable Idina Menzel perform the song live and secondly, (this is very important), Robert Lopez is on EGOT watch! If he wins, he will have an Emmy (a Daytime Emmy but an Emmy nevertheless for The Wonder Pets),Tonys for Avenue Q and The Book of Mormon and a Grammy for The Book of Mormon. To experience an EGOT happening live in front of you is something else indeed.

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard
“The Great Gatsby” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Catherine Martin; Costume Design: Beverley Dunn
“Her” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker

My take: My personal favorite here is the set and production design for Her, a futuristic world with muted, soft colors I could totally imagine myself in. The big 3 are again quite strong here but the visuals in The Great Gatsby were eye-popping extravagant and quite amazing.

Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
“Get a Horse!” (Walt Disney)
Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
“Mr. Hublot”
Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
Shuhei Morita
“Room on the Broom”
Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

My take: The only one of these that I've seen is the startling Get a Horse! the rediscovered short from the Mouse House. It's time to watch some animated shorts!


“Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)” (FREAK Independent Film Agency)
Esteban Crespo
“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)”
Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras
Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson
“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)”
Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari
“The Voorman Problem”
Mark Gill and Baldwin Li

My take: Time to do some major homework. I don't recognize any of the shorts here.


“All Is Lost” (Lionsgate & Roadside Attractions) Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Oliver Tarney
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Glenn Freemantle
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Warner Bros.) Brent Burge
“Lone Survivor” (Universal) Wylie Stateman

My take: I had system of figuring out these categories last year, I need to go back and find that again this year.

“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Warner Bros.) Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges,
“Inside Llewyn Davis” (CBS Films) Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
“Lone Survivor” (Universal) Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

My take: See above.

“Gravity” (Warner Bros.) Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould
“The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” (Warner Bros.) Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
“Iron Man 3” (Walt Disney) Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
“The Lone Ranger” (Walt Disney) Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
“Star Trek Into Darkness” (Paramount) Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

My take: A superhero, a hobbit, a lone ranger are up against two stories set in space. Like last year, there's a clear frontrunner here. Gravity is a definite lock.

“Before Midnight” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by Billy Ray
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company) Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by John Ridley
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount) Screenplay by Terence Winter

My take: All solid nominees here for adapted screenplay although this category does throw in some surprises now and again. I'd love to see the trio of Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke recognized for their intellectual 'Before' trilogy.

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
“Blue Jasmine” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Woody Allen
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features) Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
“Her” (Warner Bros.) Written by Spike Jonze
“Nebraska” (Paramount) Written by Bob Nelson

My take: I'm incredibly biased here, I'm rooting for Spike Jonze's Her all the way and not considering anyone else.

“American Hustle” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
“Captain Phillips” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers
“Dallas Buyers Club” (Focus Features)
Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers
“Gravity” (Warner Bros.)
Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman, Producers
“Her” (Warner Bros.)
Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers
“Nebraska” (Paramount)
Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers
“Philomena” (The Weinstein Company)
Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers
“12 Years a Slave” (Fox Searchlight)
Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Paramount)
Nominees to be determined

My take: Finally, we come to the big Kahuna. 9 pictures, one surprise nominee (Philomena, the lone Weinstein Company product), 3 frontrunners and 5 other pictures hoping to break through. This year, I've already seen 8 of the 9 nominees with Nebraska being the only one to watch from this list. This is a first for me.

Who will win? We'll find out all when the awards will be held on March 2, 2014 in a ceremony hosted by Ellen DeGeneres. I can't wait until then. Can you?

1 comment:

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