Thursday, January 16, 2014

List of Academy Award nominations and reactions

The Oscar nominees are in.  Below is a complete list along with my thoughts in each category.  This year has been a busy one for me, so I've seen less of the films than I have at this point in any other year in recent memory.  Without a clear runaway winner, this year promises to be an interesting one for Oscar watchers.

Films I have seen are in bold.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
12 Years a Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
American Hustle
Captain Phillips
The Wolf of Wall Street

I am woefully underqualified to comment on this category, having seen only two of the films.  Of the two I have seen, Gravity was by far my favorite.  12 Years a Slave is the likely winner, though don't count out American Hustle for a late run at the trophy, especially after receiving ten nominations, including noms in each of the acting categories.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave
Leonardo DiCaprio for The Wolf of Wall Street
Christian Bale for American Hustle
Bruce Dern for Nebraska
Matthew McConaughey for Dallas Buyers Club

A few months ago, many prognosticators had Ejiofor as the likely winner for this award, with Robert Redford serving as the potential spoiler for All is Lost.  But after Redford missed out on the nomination and Matthew McConaughey won the Golden Globe, this race is up in the air.  However, the dust will likely settle soon, especially after the SAG Awards, since it's the rare year that the winner of this award isn't evident long in advance.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Amy Adams for American Hustle
Cate Blanchett for Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock for Gravity
Judi Dench for Philomena
Meryl Streep for August: Osage County

Amy Adams and Cate Blanchett are the favorite after the Golden Globes, and Bullock doesn't seem to have much momentum.  Meryl Streep receives her 18th nomination and Judi Dench her 7th, but both are very unlikely to win.  Adams is probably the favorite over Blanchett by a hair, but my vote would go to Bullock.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Barkhad Abdi for Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper for American Hustle
Jonah Hill for The Wolf of Wall Street
Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave
Jared Leto for Dallas Buyers Club

More and more this is looking like Jared Leto's year.  No one else has picked up any momentum, and Leto's role is the type that Academy voters love.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine
Julia Roberts for August: Osage County
Lupita Nyong'o for 12 Years a Slave
Jennifer Lawrence for American Hustle
June Squibb for Nebraska

This is looking like a lock for another gold statuette for Jennifer Lawrence.

Best Achievement in Directing
Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
David O. Russell for American Hustle
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street
Alexander Payne for Nebraska

Steve McQueen and Russell both have shots, but this is Cuaron's award to lose.  He absolutely deserves it.

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
American Hustle: Eric Singer and David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine: Woody Allen
Her: Spike Jonze
Nebraska: Bob Nelson
Dallas Buyers Club: Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack

American Hustle will likely take home this one, but maybe, just maybe, Her could launch a sneak attack.  The Academy has a history of rewarding daring films in the screenwriting categories.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Previously Produced or Published Material
Before Midnight: Richard Linklater
Captain Phillips: Billy Ray
12 Years a Slave: John Ridley
The Wolf of Wall Street: Terence Winter
Philomena: Steve Coogan

I'd love to see Steve Coogan's Oscar Speech, but this one's going to John Ridley for 12 Years a Slave.  The only film I've seen in the category if Before Midnight, so I'm not qualified to comment, but I loved the script and would be thrilled to see Linklater win an Oscar for this amazing series.

Best Animated Feature of the Year
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises

The Academy has done a tremendous job selecting some lesser known films in this category since its inception, and I look forward to watching Ernest & Celestine, which I'm sure I would have otherwise missed.  The Croods and Despicable Me 2 have little chance of a win, so it will either go to the massively popular and outstanding film Frozen to to the legendary Miyazaki for The Wind Rises, with a small chance of Ernest & Celestine sneaking in.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
The Broken Circle Breakdown: Felix Van Groenigen (Belgium)
The Missing Picture: Rithy Panh (Cambodia)
The Hunt: Thomas Vinterberg (Denmark)
The Great Beauty: Paolo Sorrentino (Italy)
Omar: Hany Abu-Assad (Palestine)

Haven't seen any of these, the only film I know anything about is The Great Beauty.

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Gravity: Emmanuel Lubezki
Inside Llewyn Davis: Bruno Delbonnel
Nebraska: Phedon Papamichael
Prisoners: Roger Deakins
The Grandmaster: Philippe Le Sourd

Will this be the year that Roger Deakins finally wins his first Oscar after ten previous nominations?  Sorry Roger, but the Oscar will, and should, go to Emmanuel Lubezki for his groundbreaking and beautiful work in Gravity.

Best Achievement in Editing
12 Years a Slave: Joe Walker
American Hustle: Alan Baumgarten, Jay Cassidy, and Crispin Struthers
Gravity: Alfonso Cuaron and Mark Sanger
Captain Phillips: Christopher Rouse
Dallas Buyers Club: Martin Pensa and John Mac Murphy

A few great choices here.  My vote would easily go to Gravity, but American Hustle is the type of film that often wins the editing Oscar.

Best Achievement in Production Design
12 Years a Slave: Adam Stockhausen and Alice Baker
American Hustle: Judy Becker and Heather Loeffler
The Great Gatsby: Catherine Martin and Beverley Dunn
Her: K.K. Barrett and Gene Serdena

American Hustle or The Great Gatsby will likely win this award, though I suppose 12 Years a Slave also has a good shot at it.

Best Achievement in Costume Design
American Hustle: Michael Wilkinson
The Great Gatsby: Catherine Martin
12 Years a Slave: Patricia Norris
The Grandmaster: William Chang
The Invisible Woman: Michael O'Connor

The award has to go to American Hustle, which has by far the most iconic costumes of the year.  That said, I am largely unfamiliar with The Grandmaster or The Invisible Woman, and it's quite possible both have superior costuming work.

Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling
Dallas Buyers Club: Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa: Steve Prouty
The Lone Ranger: Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua Casny

Ugh, I hate when the Academy nominates films like Bad Grandpa.  The makeup work in it looks great, but now I have to see this terrible looking film.  It's hard to imagine the Academy giving an award to either Bad Grandpa or The Lone Ranger, so look for Dallas Buyers Club to win this one.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
The Book Thief: John Williams
Gravity: Steven Price
Her: William Butler and Andy Koyama
Saving Mr. Banks: Thomas Newman
Philomena: Alexandre Desplat

I'm not familiar with these scores, so I don't have any insight into who will or should win.  Williams, Newman, and Desplat are all heavyhitters.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
Despicable Me 2: Pharrell Williams ("Happy")
Frozen: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez ("Let It Go")
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom: Bono, Adam Clayton, The Edge, Lary Mullen Jr., Brian Burton ("Ordinary Love")
Alone Yet Not Alone: Bruce Broughton ("Alone Yet Not Alone")
Her: Karen O ("The Moon Song")

A win for Robert Lopez would leave him just an Emmy away from an EGOT.  U2 has the star power to win this one, but I expect "Let It Go" from Frozen.

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Gravity: Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead, Chris Munro
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick, and Tony Johnson
Captain Phillips: Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith, and Chris Munro
Inside Llewyn Davis: Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff, and Peter F. Kurland
Lone Survivor: Andy Koyama, Beau Borders, and David Brownlow

The sound work in Gravity was subtle and brilliant.  It should win the Oscars in both sound categories.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
All is Lost: Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
Captain Phillips: Oliver Tarney
Gravity: Glenn Freemantle
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Brent Burge
Lone Survivor: Wylie Stateman

See above.

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Gravity: Timothy Webber, Chris Lawrence, David Shirk, and Neil Corbould
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug: Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton, Eric Reynolds
Iron Man 3: Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash, Daniel Sudick
The Lone Ranger: Tim Alexander, Gary Grozenich, Edson Williams, and John Frazier
Star Trek Into Darkness: Roger Guyett, Pat Tubach, Ben Grossmann, Burt Dalton

This award absolutely needs to go to the team behind Gravity.  Not only the best Visual Effects of the year, but possibly the best I've ever seen.

Best Documentary, Feature
The Act of Killing: Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sorensen
Cutie and the Boxer: Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
Dirty Wars: Rick Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
The Square: Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
20 Feet from Stardom: Morgan Neville

Sorry, no insight here.

Best Documentary, Short Subject
"Cavedigger": Jeremy Karoff
"Facing Fear": Jason Cohen
"Karama Has No Walls": Sara Ishaq
"The Lady In Number 6": Malcolm Clarke and Carl Freed
"Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall": Edgar Barens

I really loved "Cavedigger" and "Facing Fear."  "Facing Fear" is a wonderful short film about tolerance, and is catnip to Academy voters.  "Cavedigger" is a far less conventional film, but it is completely unique and tells an extraordinary story.  I'd be happy to see either win, and I look forward to tracking down the rest of the nominees.

Best Short Film, Animated
"Feral": Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
"Get a Horse!": Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
"Mr. Hublot": Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
"Possessions": Shuhei Morita
"Room on the Broom": Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

I wasn't as in love with "Get a Horse!" as everyone else was, though it's great to see Disney doing shorts in front of their films again.

Best Short Film, Live Action
"Aquel no era yo": Esteban Crespo
"Just Before Losing Everything": Xavier Legrand
"Helium": Anders Walter
"Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?" Selma Vilhunen
"The Voorman Problem": Mark Gill

"The Voorman Problem," starring Tom Hollander and Martin Freeman, is beautifully made and a lot of fun, though I haven't seen the rest.

And now, the list of films I must add to my list of those to see, making the completion of the Every Oscar Ever project that much more difficult.

Oscar Nominated Films to See
12 Years a Slave
Dallas Buyers Club
Captain Phillips
The Wolf of Wall Street
August: Osage County
The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises
The Broken Circle
The Missing Picture
The Hunt
The Great Beauty
The Grandmaster
Inside Llewyn Davis
The Invisible Woman
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger
The Book Thief
Saving Mr. Banks
Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Alone Yet Not Alone
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor
All is Lost
Iron Man 3
The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom
Karama Has No Walls
The Lady in Number 6
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall
Mr. Hublot
Room on the Broom
Aquel no era yo
Just Before Losing Everything
Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?

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