Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Oscar Narrative: Snubs, Surprises, and The Guilds

So I have thought about these nominees all day, and here are my reactions, and finally, I will look at the next phase of this crazy race, including the guilds, and my first winner predictions.

1) Probably the biggest snub right off the back was Tom Hanks. We all knew that Best Actor would be brutal , but I never thought that Tom Hanks would be the casualty. Of course, the second big surprise was how Captain Phillips really under-performed, including missing for Greengrass and cinematography.
2) If Hanks was my number one, a close number two was the snub of Emma Thompson. Once again, with six top-notch actresses vying for five spots, someone was going to lose out. But Thompson, like Hanks, had hit all of the major markers that usually lead to Oscar nominations, but I guess Amy Adams was too strong with the American Hustle love, and I knew I was stupid to bet against Meryl, never again.
3) Saving Mr. Banks got only one nomination for Thomas Newman, which lets face it, with that branch, it is more about Newman than it is about the film. All of that talk about how much Academy members loved Saving Mr. Banks was just that, talk. It's relatively weak showing in the guilds should have been our sign, but most pundits, including myself, chose to ignore it.
4) I knew that buzz for Lee Daniel's The Butler and Rush had died, but when both walked away empty handed, particularly the snubs of Oprah and Daniel Bruhl, I was pretty surprised, and also a little disappointed.
5) I understand why Cars 2 didn't get nominated, but when Monsters University was snubbed, I was really surprised, especially when Despicable Me 2 was nominated, even though the original had been snubbed. I hope this is a sign to Pixar to get their shit together.
6) Hans Zimmer for both Rush and 12 Years a Slave
7) Inside Llewyn Davis for a lot, but especially Best Original Screenplay. I guess the WGA snub should have told us more than we wanted to know. This is particularly significant because the Coens had been on a bit of a streak.
8) Pacific Rim was dumb fun, but its Visuals were spectacular, and I'm surprised it missed here.
9) Stories We Tell was the only documentary which made it into my top twenty this year. I really think that the Academy messed up by not nominating it. It was such a wonderful piece of work. Although it probably paves the way for 20 Feet to Stardom, which is pretty awesome as well.
10) I'm sure I'll think of many more, but for now those are the ones that stuck out in my mind.

1) If Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks under-performed, it was Dallas Buyers Club that really over-performed, proving that it was really beloved within the Academy. It beat the Coens for an Original Screenplay nod, and got in in the coveted Film Editing Nomination over some big contenders including Thelma for Wolf.
2) Speaking of Wolf, it seems as if it finally hit its stride. It may have missed that editing nod (probably preventing it from winning), but nods for Dicaprio (and someone else, see below), Scorsese, and the screenplay, prove that Wolf was able to overcome its late start to really hit it off with the Academy.
3) Jonah Hill, no SAG, BAFTA, or Globe, who cares? He worked his but off for the film, and is pretty stellar in the role, and earns his 2nd Oscar nomination (who would have ever predicted he would be a two-time Oscar nominee?).
4) I had predicted Christian Bale to get in, but in the brutal Best Actor race, I was still surprised I actually got it right, and Leo, a nice surprise, who benefited from a late Wolf surge.
5) I had put Philomena into my 10th slot, so I knew it was a possibility, but I was still surprised to see that it was able to beat out some tough films for a Best Picture nomination, and be the only Weinstein nominee, over once predicted August: Osage County and Lee Daniel's The Butler.
6) Sally Hawkins was my sixth slot, so a nomination was not surprising. But beating out Oprah to do so was impressive. It was also nice to see her after she was snubbed for Happy-Go-Lucky. Blue Jasmine, I think would have been the tenth nominee, but its three nominations, including another one for Woody, show a good amount of support.
7) Not really that surprising, but yes, Bad Grandpa is an Oscar-nominated film. Let that one set in for a while (actually deserved in terms of quality Makeup, same with Lone Ranger, even though both films were bad).
8) I figured that Weinstein would get August: Osage County in, but I was pleasantly surprised and thrilled that Before Midnight got in.
9) Once again, as I rue over these nominees more will pop up, but for now, let's move on to the next phase.

Part II
Now the real race begins, and the landscape has shifted. Let me first say this to counter some of the articles coming out today. 12 Years a Slave can still easily win this award, getting all of the major nods that are important to the Best Picture formula. But that doesn't mean that it is unstoppable. It missed in Cinematography, which was a big snub, and indicative that it is not an across-the-board favorite. It also missed out on score, and the sound awards. These are not as significant as say directing, writing, acting, or editing, but they do signal that there may be something else brewing. That means that Gravity and American Hustle really can pull off the win. Both has missed (Screenplay, Makeup), but both still did extremely well, American Hustle getting all four acting nods, like Silver Linings did last year. But Hustle is much stronger than SLP, and Gravity still has one big factor going for it: The DGA. I still think that the DGA will reward Cuaron, and if that actually happens, it puts Gravity in a real place to win. The SAG Awards this Saturday are the first big test. If 12 Years can beat American Hustle, with all of its stars, it shows real strength. So here are my first winner predictions below, there will be more analysis, more discussion, and more and more and more over the next couple of days.

Best Picture - American Hustle
Best Director - Alfonso Cuaron "Gravity"
Best Actor - Matthew McConaughey "Dallas Buyers Club"
Best Actress - Cate Blanchett "Blue Jasmine"
Best Supporting Actor - Jared Leto "Dallas Buyers Club"
Best Supporting Actress - Jennifer Lawrence "American Hustle"
Best Adapted Screenplay - John Ridley "12 Years a Slave"
Best Original Screenplay - Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell "American Hustle"
Best Animated Feature - Frozen
Best Documentary Feature - 20 Feet From Stardom
Best Foreign Language Film - The Great Beauty
Best Cinematography - Gravity
Best Costume Design - The Great Gatsby
Best Film Editing - Gravity
Best Makeup and Hairstyling - Dallas Buyers Club
Best Production Design - The Great Gatsby
Best Original Score - Steven Price "Gravity"
Best Original Song - Let it Go from Frozen
Best Sound Mixing - Gravity
Best Sound Editing - Gravity
Best Visual Effects - Gravity

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