Thursday, January 16

Oscar Nominations

I wasn't going to do a posting on the Oscar nominations but then I watched them being announced and got all caught up in the excitement.  Or maybe it was because Chris Hemsworth was reading them.  As is the case with every Oscar year, there were predictable nominees and also some surprises.  I cannot do every category here but let's hit some highlights.

Best Actor nominees:

Christian Bale - American Hustle
Bruce Dern - Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor - 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey - Dallas Buyers Club

I am surprised that Tom Hanks wasn't nominated for Captain Phillips.  I am shocked that Robert Redford wasn't in there for All Is Lost, a wonderful actor giving one of his best performances in years.  Also a bit surprised that Idris Elba wasn't given a nod for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom and the same for Forest Whitaker in The Butler.  I have not (yet) seen Nebraska, but Bruce Dern is a good actor, given a rare opportunity in a lead role, and he would seemingly be a sentimental favorite and those pesky Oscar voters love their sentimental favorites, doncha know?  I am a bit surprised Christian Bale is in here but not unhappy about it.  He won a supporting Oscar for The Fighter, directed by his Hustle director, David O. Russell.  McConaughey also deserves inclusion here, not only for a tour-de-force performance but because he has been on fire as an actor lately.  I would jump up and down if Ejiofor won for 12 Years a Slave.  But my bet is on DiCaprio in one of the best roles he's ever had and God knows he's overdue for some Academy recognition.

Best Actress nominees:
Amy Adams - American Hustle
Cate Blanchett - Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock - Gravity
Judi Dench - Philomena
Meryl Streep - August: Osage County

I am still in recovery over Emma Thompson being snubbed for Saving Mr. Banks.  Streep, Bullock and Dench are all completely fine in their respective roles, but I also think all have turned in better work.  So for me it's down to Adams and Blanchett, each of whom is dazzling in her part.  Despite four previous nominations, Adams is the only non-Oscar winner in this category and I thought she was the best thing about American Hustle.  Nonetheless, I said it in my review of Blue Jasmine and I will say it again... you ain't seen a female performance the likes of Cate Blanchett.

Best Supporting Actor nominees:
Barkhad Abdi - Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper - American Hustle
Michael Fassbender - 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill - The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto - Dallas Buyers Club

This category, unlike best actor and actress, is, in my opinion, a shoo-in.  Four of these gentlemen are gonna have to be happy with the nomination and the Academy luncheon.  Hill's nomination surprises me and I would have traded him in for Daniel Brühl in Rush.  Fassbender is my favorite actor of today and if they wanna give him an Oscar, ok by me.  Abdi deserves the nomination but not so sure I would agree with a win.  I did not find Cooper's Hustle role to be Oscar-worthy and yet I certainly enjoyed him as I always do.  Hope he's not getting a complex over going home empty-handed.  The shoo-in is Jared Leto as the tenacious drag queen of Dallas Buyers Club, a riveting performance at every level.

Best Supporting Actress nominees:
Sally Hawkins - Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence - American Hustle
Lupita Nyong'o - 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts - August: Osage County
June Squibb - Nebraska

Here is the toughest main category for me to call.  I am shocked, shocked, shocked that Oprah was not nominated for her superb performance in The Butler.  I can only attribute that to some sort of Oscar backlash.  Is she too big, too rich, does she have her fingers in too many pies?  No need in giving her any extra attention?  Well, whatever... shame on you idiot voters.  Again, I cannot comment on Nebraska or June Squibb, except I'm betting she doesn't win.  Likewise, Jooleah.  Everything was good about 12 Years a Slave and that includes Nyong'o.  Hawkins would be most deserving of a win for Blue Jasmine and I must acknowledge that she aided and abetted Blanchett in her own masterful performance.  But my bet is on Lawrence... whose time it still is.  Despite a best actress win just last year, I think we have a new Oscar trivia question on the horizon. 

Best Director nominees:
Alfonso Cuarón - Gravity
Steve McQueen - 12 Years a Slave
Alexander Payne - Nebraska
David O. Russell - American Hustle
Martin Scorsese - The Wolf of Wall Street

I think the Golden Globes got it right... and you may never hear me say that again... when they awarded Cuarón for his superb direction of Gravity.  I'll tell you what... I thought I was in space.  I was on the edge of my seat for all he gave to me in his quest for realism.  In what could have been cheesy wasn't at all.  This was a director's picture, pure and simple.  No one could have brought that all together in the professional, most perfect way that was done except a superb director.  If he does win, it may be one of those rare times when a director wins for a film that doesn't, so read on.

Best Picture nominees:
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

Great.  This gives me another chance to carp about more than five nominees.  It's stupid and I hate it.  Ok, that's it.  I have to add Her to my side of the ledger that includes Nebraska.  I did not particularly care for Philomena and its inclusion here seems woefully misguided.  All the others are worthy films.  I think it's down to American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave and if the Academy has even a vestige of class remaining (and I have some doubts on that), the award will go to 12 Years a Slave, a win that years from now will make everyone burst with pride. 

American Hustle and 12 Years a Slave, I'm thinking, will win their respective writing awards.  The most nominations (10), went to Hustle and Gravity, with Slave trailing with nine.  We'll see how to all pans out on March 2.

What do YOU think?

Tussle with Russell

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