Thursday, January 15, 2015

Will this be the Most Boring Oscars...Ever?

Today, the full list of Academy Awards nominations went out. You can find them at the bottom of this particular post, but I assume by now, you've seen them, as well as all of the well-deserved internet rage that came after them. Why? Well, this looks to be the single most white-bread, boring Academy Awards in years. Possibly, it will be the single least interesting Oscars I've ever seen. Let's dive into why:

Creativity is no longer rewarded
The best animated movie this year was, hands down, The Lego Movie. I'll fight anyone who says otherwise. Phil Lord and Chris Miller took what, by all rights, should have been a more soulless cash in than the Smurfs movies and gave it heart, and soul, and an ending that touched audiences everywhere. They did it by subverting expectations as to what an animated film could be, while holding fast to a stop-motion animation style that should have sunk them immediately. And yet, the Best Animated Feature list contains no mention of The Lego Movie. We had a lot of good movies this year, but snubbing the Lego Movie is a hard thing to get past.

Too many people are being nominated just for being there
Look, Meryl Streep is a great actress. So is Robert Duvall. But are Into the Woods and The Judge really their best work? Did American Sniper end up in the Best Picture race for any other reason than Clint Eastwood's name? It's been a year where a lot of new and interesting ideas have come to light, and while some of them have been rewarded (Boyhood, Birdman), most of them have not. Even if we're outside of the usual genre snubs like Snowpiercer and Guardians of the Galaxy, what about a film like Rosewater? The Academy seems to be overrun by awards thanking people for their service in the past, not what they actually accomplished this year. Or, in Streep's case, it seems to be a case of "Oh, Meryl was in something this year? Nominate her!"

 The Technical awards are a mess.
Interstellar was an interesting movie - we certainly didn't hate it the way a lot of folks did. But one of the largest complaints was how badly the film's sound was mixed - dialogue was constantly lost to Hanz Zimmer's BRUUUUUUMS and the ship's engine noises. And yet, it's nominated for Best Sound Mixing. Meanwhile, while Dawn of the Planet of the Apes should win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects - or I riot - where is Godzilla in that line-up? And again, where's Guardians of the Galaxy on production design? It's a weird, weird list.

Oh and - by the way - no actors of color got nominated
If there's anything to make you go "Bu-whaaaaa?" in this day and age, it's this. How did this happen? How did Selma, by all accounts an Oscar worthy film, get knocked out of every category except the big race? Beyond the Lights got picked up for Best Original Song, and that's it. This is the first time this has happened since 1998. Look - Eddie Redmayne and Benedict Cumberbatch and all of the other white actors and actresses that got their names put into the hat deserve to be there, but the fact that the Academy didn't see fit to recognize even one person of color of any kind this year is really, really off the wall. The most culturally diverse movie nominated for a major award this year is Big Hero 6 (Which, by the way, thank you Big Hero 6.) How does that happen?

This year was an amazing year at the Golden Globes. We got to see stories of racially and sexually diverse people be nominated and handed awards left and right. But this year's Oscars seems to have taken a step in the wrong direction. And not only is that morally wrong - it's going to lead to the single most boring Oscar ceremony in years. Maybe ever. Congrats, Academy, you've guaranteed more people will tune out than ever.

Here's the full list:
Best Picture
"American Sniper"
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
"The Imitation Game"
"The Theory of Everything"
Best Director
Wes Anderson, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Alejandro González Iñárritu, "Birdman"
Richard Linklater, "Boyhood"
Bennett Miller, "Foxcatcher"
Morten Tyldum, "The Imitation Game" 
Best Actress
Marion Cotillard, "Two Days, One Night"
Felicity Jones, "The Theory of Everything"
Julianne Moore, "Still Alice"
Rosamund Pike, "Gone Girl"
Reese Witherspoon, "Wild" 
Best Actor
Steve Carell, "Foxcatcher"
Bradley Cooper, "American Sniper"
Benedict Cumberbatch, "The Imitation Game"
Michael Keaton, "Birdman"
Eddie Redmayne, "The Theory of Everything" 
Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, "Boyhood"
Laura Dern, "Wild"
Keira Knightley, "The Imitation Game"
Emma Stone, "Birdman"
Meryl Streep, "Into the Woods" 
Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, "The Judge"
Ethan Hawke, "Boyhood"
Edward Norton, "Birdman"
Mark Ruffalo, "Foxcatcher"
J.K. Simmons, "Whiplash" 
Best Adapted Screenplay
Paul Thomas Anderson, "Inherent Vice"
Damien Chazelle, "Whiplash"
Jason Hall, "American Sniper"
Anthony McCarten, "The Theory of Everything"
Graham Moore, "The Imitation Game" 
Best Original Screenplay
Wes Anderson and Hugo Guinness, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Dan Futterman and E. Max Frye, "Foxcatcher"
Dan Gilroy, "Nightcrawler"
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo, "Birdman"
Richard Linklater, "Boyhood" 
Best Foreign Language Film
"Wild Tales" 
Best Documentary Feature
"Finding Vivian Maier"
"Last Days in Vietnam"
"The Salt in the Earth"
Best Animated Feature
"Big Hero 6"
"The Boxtrolls"
"How to Train Your Dragon 2"
"Song of the Sea"
"The Tale of The Princess Kaguya" 
Film Editing
"American Sniper"
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
"The Imitation Game"
Best Song
"Everything Is Awesome" from "The Lego Movie"
"Glory" from "Selma"
"Grateful" from "Beyond the Lights"
"I'm Not Gonna Miss You" from "Glen Campbell...I'll Be Me"
"Lost Stars" from "Begin Again" 
Best Original Score
Alexandre Desplat, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Alexandre Desplat, "The Imitation Game"
Johann Johannsson, "The Theory of Everything"
Gary Yershon, "Mr. Turner"
Hans Zimmer, "Interstellar" 
Best Cinematography
Roger Deakins, "Unbroken"
Emmanuel Lubezki, "Birdman"
Dick Pope, "Mr. Turner"
Robert Yeoman, "The Grand Budapest Hotel"
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski, "Ida" 
Best Costume Design
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
"Inherent Vice"
"Into the Woods"
"Mr. Turner" 
Best Makeup and Hairstyling
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
"Guardians of the Galaxy" 
Best Production Design
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"
"The Imitation Game"
"Into the Woods"
"Mr. Turner" 
Best Sound Editing
"American Sniper"
"The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies"
Best Sound Mixing
"American Sniper"
Best Visual Effects
Captain America:
"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"
"Guardians of the Galaxy"
"X-Men: Days of Future Past" 
Best Short Film, Live Action
"Boogaloo and Graham"
"Butter Lamp"
"The Phone Call" 
Best Short Film, Animated
"The Bigger Picture"
"The Dam Keeper"
"Me and My Moulton"
"A Single Life" 
Best Documentary, Short Subject
"Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1"
"Our Curse"
"The Reaper"
"White Earth"

Mike Fatum is a filmmaker, and the Editor in Chief and podcast co-host of the Ace of Geeks. He loves award shows, most of the time, and really hopes someone gets John Travolta to introduce Benedict Cumberbatch.
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