The 2014 Oscar nominations have been announced. And as usual, there is plenty to celebrate and plenty to sit back and ponder. There are also plenty to scream about.
Although the unusual thing is I find myself without a film to get behind in the race. It was the same sort of challenge I had when picking my “Best of 2013” list. There are some great films nominated, but none of them stand out as the great film that AMPAS would get behind. On the one hand, this will make the show quite dramatic and unpredictable. On the other hand, this makes the choices they make ripe for complaints and controversy come March 3rd.
I’ll only briefly examine the bigger prizes. The complete list can be found on IMDB.
American Hustle (2013)
Captain Phillips (2013)
Dallas Buyers Club (2013)
12 Years a Slave (2013)
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)
Here’s my confession that’s going to affect the rest of the article. I have not seen 12 Years a Slave. No good explanation – I just didn’t get around to it and more films looked interesting to me personally. I definitely want to see it now but I cannot analyze it. Anyway, this slate is sort of a conservative pick. Anyone could have guessed this would be the slate of nominees. The one exception is Philomena, because no one saw that movie. I would say Gravity, because that was my best film of the year. But AMPAS usually hates science fiction, so I’m not sure. 12 Years a Slave and American Hustle are the front runners, so I’m going to go with American Hustle.
Bruce Dern. Moving on.
Meryl Streep again? I haven’t seen August: Osage County but it didn’t look like it would stand out. This is a tough pic. I would think Sandra Bullock, maybe, simply because she was carrying the entire film by herself. That’s a challenge for any actor. When your singular performance help makes the film the best of the year? You deserve the top prize.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jonah Hill gave an incredible performance in Wolf of Wall Street. Just incredible. I found his character almost more effective than DiCaprio. But then Abdi’s performance in Captain Phillips was also good and I thought him a winner after seeing the film for the first time. For me it’s a toss up between those two.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
It will probably be Jennifer Lawrence. Just because. Although I would like June Squibb to win. I have no knowledge of the other nominees.
Alfonso Cuaron just won the Golden Globe for directing. I’m going to go with him here too. Of course it’s usually the custom that whoever wins the DGA top prize will win the Oscar as well. Those aren’t announced until the 25th, so we shall have to see.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
My gut reaction is to say Wolf is a lock. But I don’t know. Captain Phillips was a great screenplay but was marred by accusations of how “inaccurate” it was. Considering the accolades the film has been winning in other circles, 12 Years a Slave seems equally likely.
BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
Spike Jonze won a Golden Globe for his script and he deserves to win the Oscar. Her was intelligent and touching. The other films either don’t have a chance due to politics (Woody Allen) or because the strength of those films was not in the writing. Her would have worked just as well as a Murakami novel – it almost transcended the idea of what a screenplay can do. Hopefully it will be rewarded accordingly.
The biggest snub that upset me was the lack of Blue is the Warmest Color in the Best Foreign Film category. With that, AMPAS demonstrates how they remain a remarkably prudish bunch. To me, that belonged not just in the Foreign category but as a Best Picture nominee. All I can tell you is to go see it and scratch your head. Also, why was Pacific Rim not nominated in any of the technical categories? Because of its bad box office? That’s a pretty weak excuse for such an incredible effects film. And nothing from either Great Gatsby or Inside Llewyn Davis in the Best Original Song field? I would have given anything to see Florence + The Machine perform at the ceremony. Heck, Justin Timberlake and Oscar Isaacs would have been equally great. It was a missed opportunity for a good show even if they didn’t win. But overall this was a very predictable year for nominees. We shall have to see what happens when they pick the winners.