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

Friday, January 16, 2015

2015 Oscar Nominations Announced!

 It's the most wonderful time of the year, it's time for the Oscar nominations! The noms this year were announced by directors JJ Abrams and Alfonso Cuaron and Chris Pine and Academy President Cheryl Isaacs Boone in a slightly different manner.  This time, not everyone got the shaft, every nomination was announced live in two segments. As usual they were surprises, snubs and eventual celebrations as everyone gathered to laud the best of a year gone by. The full list of nominations with my reactions below:


American Sniper: Clint Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar, Bradley Cooper and Peter Morgan, Producers
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Alejandro G. Iñárritu, John Lesher and James W. Skotchdopole, Producers
Boyhood: Richard Linklater and Cathleen Sutherland, Producers
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson, Scott Rudin, Steven Rales and Jeremy Dawson, Producers
The Imitation Game: Nora Grossman, Ido Ostrowsky and Teddy Schwarzman, Producers
Selma: Christian Colson, Oprah Winfrey, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, Producers
The Theory of Everything: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Lisa Bruce and Anthony McCarten, Producers
Whiplash: Jason Blum, Helen Estabrook and David Lancaster, Producers

My take: Well, well, well, now I'd say we have ourselves an Oscar race. Although with only 8 nominees, there are some movies that missing from the race. Most notably, Gone Girl and Wild, both of which featured female leads. Any surprises as why they're missing from the list? Guardians of the Galaxy was another crowd pleaser this past year, a good candidate of why popular films also deserve to be part of the conversation. I'm guessing Christopher Nolan's Interstellar, another big blockbuster, was just too much to process for the Academy voters.  And just because animated features have their own category, it doesn't mean they can't be considered for best picture. Without any competition from Pixar, DreamWorks, Disney and Warner Bros' The LEGO Movie all brought their A-game, but it wasn't enough.  Onto the actual nominees, American Sniper, Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel are giving Boyhood tough competition here. Boyhood only has 6 total nominations compared to Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel's 9 each. Even The Imitation Game has 8 noms. Eventually, I do think that Boyhood will walk away with the top prize. 


Steve Carell in Foxcatcher
Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game
Michael Keaton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything

My take: The big takeaway in this category is that Bradley Cooper is a three-time nominee against four first time nominees. That's right, Cooper has scored his nominations for three straight years. Impressive indeed! All the first-timers are completely deserving of their nominations (Yay Benedict!), though I wish Miles Teller (Whiplash), Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler) or David Oyelowo (Selma) would have gotten some recognition as well


Robert Duvall in The Judge
Ethan Hawke in Boyhood
Edward Norton in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Mark Ruffalo in Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons in Whiplash
My take: How did Robert Duvall manage to sneak in? I had seen some critics correctly predicting his nomination but didn't take it seriously. Never assume in an Oscar race. J.K. Simmons has this locked down tight, but I expect Edward Norton to give him a run for his money. Ethan Hawke in Boyhood was guaranteed and I loved that Mark Ruffalo got a nom for Foxcatcher, his Dave Schulz is understated and sincere. Ruffalo's had a good 2014. 


Marion Cotillard in Two Days, One Night
Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore in Still Alice
Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon in Wild
My take: Is this year that Julianne Moore is finally rewarded for her long career and outstanding work in almost every film she's in?  I certainly hope so. Gone Girl's Rosemund Pike received the film's lone nomination for her role. She's amazing in it (pun intended), one of my favorite performances of the past year.  I haven't see most of these performances yet except Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything, a statement I hope to rectify soon. There was a lot of talk about Jennifer Aniston breaking through with her work in Cake but she was snubbed this year. 


Patricia Arquette in Boyhood
Laura Dern in Wild
Keira Knightley in The Imitation Game
Emma Stone in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)
Meryl Streep in Into the Woods

My take: The incomparable Meryl Streep makes history once again with her 19th nomination (the most of any actor) and before I begrudge her nomination, she really was great in Into the Woods. Keira Knightley returns with her second nomination this time in the supporting category.  Laura Dern, too, earns her second nomination after 23 years! She was last nominated for Rambling Rose in 1991. Emma Stone and Patricia Arquette are both first-timers here but I don't think anyone can beat Arqueette this year. 


Big Hero 6: Don Hall, Chris Williams and Roy Conli
The Boxtrolls: Anthony Stacchi, Graham Annable and Travis Knight
How to Train Your Dragon 2: Dean DeBlois and Bonnie Arnold
Song of the Sea: Tomm Moore and Paul Young
The Tale of the Princess Kaguya: Isao Takahata and Yoshiaki Nishimura

My take: Holy Snub, Batman! The biggest shock from the nominations is the exclusion of The LEGO Movie from this category. It was a slam dunk to many. Now, it looks like How to Train Your Dragon 2 is leading favorite. And after the sad news from Studio Ghibli that there would be no more feature films, it's wonderful to see Isao Takahata's The Tale of the Princess Kaguya here. Been hear nothing but praise since it released.  This coming on the heels of Hayao Miyazaki's honorary Oscar at the Governor's Awards is bittersweet.


Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Emmanuel Lubezki
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Robert Yeoman
Ida: Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski
Mr. Turner: Dick Pope
Unbroken: Roger Deakins

My take: I've only seen two films in this category and already I can tell that Roger Deakins isn't going to be the favorite here. This makes me sad. I need to finish watching the rest of the nominees, especially looking forward to seeing Ida. 


The Grand Budapest Hotel: Milena Canonero
Inherent Vice: Mark Bridges
Into the Woods: Colleen Atwood
Maleficent: Anna B. Sheppard and Jane Clive
Mr. Turner: Jacqueline Durran

My take: All period films nominated here no big surprise.  Really hope The Grand Budapest Hotel wins. Every one in the cast of the film had such an eclectic look. 


Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Alejandro G. Iñárritu
Boyhood: Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher: Bennett Miller
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Wes Anderson
The Imitation Game: Morten Tyldum

My take: The biggest surprise here is director Benett Miller's nomination.  He was previously nominated for his first film Capote (2005). Wes Anderson receives his fourth nomination but his first as best director. Morten Tyldum also gets his first best director nomination for his first English film for The Imitation Game. The real competition is between Alejandro G. Iñárritu and Richard Linklater and we all know which way the majority is leaning. Big snubs here were David Fincher for Gone Girl and Ava DuVernay for Selma. Real missed opportunities here.


CitizenFour: Laura Poitras, Mathilde Bonnefoy and Dirk Wilutzky
Finding Vivian Maier: John Maloof and Charlie Siskel
Last Days in Vietnam: Rory Kennedy and Keven McAlester
The Salt of the Earth: Wim Wenders, Juliano Ribeiro Salgado and David Rosier
Virunga: Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara

My take: I was surprised to see the acclaimed documentry, Life Itself, on Roger Ebert not make the cut.  But the buzz in the documentary world has been mostly about CitizenFour and Virunga. I have go back and do some research on the rest of the nominees. 


Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1: Ellen Goosenberg Kent and Dana Perry
Joanna: Aneta Kopacz
Our Curse: Tomasz Sliwinski and Maciej Slesicki
The Reaper (La Parka): Gabriel Serra Arguello
White Earth: J. Christian Jensen

My take: It's homework time on these shorts!


American Sniper: Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach
Boyhood: Sandra Adair
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Barney Pilling
The Imitation Game: William Goldenberg
Whiplash: Tom Cross

My take: Believe it or not, this is my favorite category at the Oscars.  What ties a movie together is the editing and sets it apart from being just a film and takes it to the great film.  That said, I'm disappointed that Gone Girl isn't here. I'd love to see The Grand Budapest Hotel or Whiplash win here but something tells me Boyhood will win.


Ida: Poland
Leviathan: Russia
Tangerines: Estonia
Timbuktu: Mauritania
Wild Tales: Argentina

My take: This is embarrassing, I haven't even one of the films here. Time to rectify that!


Foxcatcher: Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Frances Hannon and Mark Coulier
Guardians of the Galaxy: Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou and David White

My take: This is actually a tough category.  Steve Carell's look in Foxcatcher is the most striking but the aliens of Guardians of the Galaxy vs the cast of characters in The Grand Budapest Hotel (for Tilda Swinton alone!) is the real competition.


The Grand Budapest Hotel: Alexandre Desplat
The Imitation Game: Alexandre Desplat
Interstellar: Hans Zimmer
Mr. Turner: Gary Yershon
The Theory of Everything: Jóhann Jóhannsson

My take: My second favorite category at the Oscars.  Pereninal favorites Hans Zimmer and this year a double nominee Alexander Desplat were expected but I have a feeling that the front runner is Jóhann Jóhannsson with his score for The Theory of Everything. It truly felt incandescent.  


“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

My take: How do you take a catchy song like 'Everything is Awesome' and turn into a downer? You don't nominate the film for best animated feature. *facepalm*  On the other end of the spectrum, there's Glory from Selma with the film's only other nomination.  I loved 'Lost Stars' from Begin Again and I'm kinda rooting for it, secretly hoping that Adam Levine will sing it at Oscar night.


The Grand Budapest Hotel Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
The Imitation Game Production Design: Maria Djurkovic; Set Decoration: Tatiana Macdonald
Interstellar Production Design: Nathan Crowley; Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
Into the Woods Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Anna Pinnock
Mr. Turner Production Design: Suzie Davies; Set Decoration: Charlotte Watts

My take:  Interstellar makes an appearance here with one of its few nominations (a small win for the contemporary films) but for me, it's The Grand Budapest Hotel all the way.  That powder pink hotel is forever etched in my brain (in a good way!).


The Bigger Picture: Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees
The Dam Keeper: Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi
Feast: Patrick Osborne and Kristina Reed
Me and My Moulton: Torill Kove
A Single Life: Joris Oprins

My take: I have woefully neglected the animated shorts this past year. I definitely should mend that soon.


Aya: Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis
Boogaloo and Graham: Michael Lennox and Ronan Blaney
Butter Lamp (La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak): Hu Wei and Julien Féret
Parvaneh: Talkhon Hamzavi and Stefan Eichenberger
The Phone Call: Mat Kirkby and James Lucas

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


American Sniper: Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Martín Hernández and Aaron Glascock
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: Brent Burge and Jason Canovas
Interstellar: Richard King
Unbroken: Becky Sullivan and Andrew DeCristofaro

My take: Great to see Interstellar here with its deliberate choice of silence mixed into the film's soundtrack.  Something tells me that American Sniper and Birdman are the favorites in the sound categories here.


American Sniper: John Reitz, Gregg Rudloff and Walt Martin
Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and Thomas Varga
Interstellar: Gary A. Rizzo, Gregg Landaker and Mark Weingarten
Unbroken: Jon Taylor, Frank A. Montaño and David Lee
Whiplash: Craig Mann, Ben Wilkins and Thomas Curley

My take: Love that Whiplash got nominated here. Watch the film to see how cleverly it weaved the music into the narrative. Really hoping that it will eventually win.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Bryan Grill and Dan Sudick
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, Daniel Barrett and Erik Winquist
Guardians of the Galaxy: Stephane Ceretti, Nicolas Aithadi, Jonathan Fawkner and Paul Corbould
Interstellar: Paul Franklin, Andrew Lockley, Ian Hunter and Scott Fisher
X-Men: Days of Future Past: Richard Stammers, Lou Pecora, Tim Crosbie and Cameron Waldbauer

My take: The only time Hollywood blockbusters (all of them have grossed over $100 million) get any love is this category.  One of these films has an ace up its sleeve called Andy Serkis. Who do you think will win now?


American Sniper: Written by Jason Hall
The Imitation Game: Written by Graham Moore
Inherent Vice: Written for the screen by Paul Thomas Anderson
The Theory of Everything: Screenplay by Anthony McCarten
Whiplash: Written by Damien Chazelle

My take: Not seeing Gillian Flynn's name here for Gone Girl really hurts. The film was textbook adaption done right, maybe because Flynn adapted her own book. I tell myself that even Citizen Kane didn't win any Oscars and move on.  For me, the clear cut winner now is Damien Chazelle's screenplay for Whiplash.


Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance): Written by Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Jr. & Armando Bo
Boyhood: Written by Richard Linklater
Foxcatcher: Written by E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman
The Grand Budapest Hotel: Screenplay by Wes Anderson; Story by Wes Anderson & Hugo Guinness
Nightcrawler: Written by Dan Gilroy

My take: Once again, this one's between The Grand Budapest Hotel and Birdman. I wonder if having so many screenwriters will hurt the film's chances. Most of the previous winners have been solo writers. 

The 87th annual Oscar awards, hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, will be given out on February 22, 2015. 

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