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Oscar Announcement Bring Flat-Out Shocks and Well-Deserved Nominations (Flack’s Analysis)

Posted on | January 15, 2015 | 3 Comments

Oscar nominations bring plenty of shocksWhen I first scrolled through the list of nominees for the 87th Academy Awards, I reacted with a “Whaaaat?”. Boy, were there were surprises abound. In the hours after the big announcement, the film world has been buzzing most about what wasn’t nominated, not what was. But while there were some eye-brow raising, disappointing, maybe even crushing snubs, there were also plenty of predictable but well-deserved nominations. Of the 11 categories I predicted, I was right about 42 out of 58 nominees; a fine, if imperfect, number. As always, everyone was left with a lot to talk about, and debate, defend, critique, argue over, and theorize about. Below, five big takeaways.

1. The Best Picture Category May Be The Least Surprising

Of the eight films that garnered Best Picture nominations, I had forecasted all (BoyhoodBirdman, Selma, The Imitation Game, The Grand Budapest Hotel, The Theory of Everything, and Whiplash) but one (American Sniper). So, what happened with Sniper? Presumably, the older male demographic of the Academy (isn’t that everybody?) really loved the Clint Eastwood war drama, despite tepid critics reviews. Still, Foxcatcher‘s lack of a nomination was a surprise, especially since it fared well elsewhere. And Gone Girl seemed to have a pretty fair shot (alas, Unbroken couldn’t deliver on it’s early frontrunner status). But enough nitpicking. The rest of the bunch was a foreseeable but merited, fairly eclectic group. The Academy deserves at least one “Bravo!” right there.

2. It’s a Good Year You’re an Audacious Indie Auteur…

Despite the love for British biopics, The Theory of Everything and The Imitation Game, the Academy reaffirmed it’s recently developed penchant for (relatively) low-budget feats of filmmaking artistry. Here’s proof: Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel scored nine nominations (largest tally for any film) while the current frontrunner, Boyhood, got six (in just every category it was expected to get nominated for). Budapest‘s beloved Wes Anderson scored his first Best Director nomination, while Foxcatcher’s Bennet Miller beat out Clint Eastwood in the same category (and Foxcatcher wasn’t even nominated for Best Picture!). Whiplash‘s five nominations, along with some esoteric surprises in other categories, were other examples of the Oscar’s newfound and refreshing indie sensibility.

3. But If You Made That Biopic That Wasn’t About a Brainy British Scientist…Sorry

SelmaSelmaSELMA!!!??? That was the general consensus from Twitter, which was set ablaze by Selma‘s surprising snubs. Though the MLK biopic did receive nominees for Best Picture and Song (no complaints there), director Ava DuVernay and lead actor David Oyelowo were missing in their categories. Why? Three possible answers. First and most importantly, yeah, there may be more than a little racism and sexism in the Academy, or at least some passé views on gender and race. Secondly, Paramount’s decision to only hand out screener copies to the Oscars coupled with the LBJ historical backlash may have had a negatively cumulative effect on the film, despite the trifling ridiculousness of both. And lastly, it is possible some voters liked other movies better (subjective taste is a thing). Unfortunately, we’re left with a great movie made by and about black people mysteriously passed over.

4. Snubs, Snubs, Everywhere!

Aside from Selma, there were some shocks in smaller categories, chiefly in the Best Animated and Documentary fields. In the former, unquestioned frontrunner The LEGO Movie was M.I.A., while Roger Ebert doc Life Itself was also left out. Both films were beloved by pretty much all who saw them, and got some of the more glowing reviews of the year. Little explanation there. French drama Force Majuere was left out of Best Foreign Film, while the acting categories included some unexpected nominees: Foxcatcher‘s Steve Carrell, American Sniper‘s Bradley Cooper, Two Days, One Night‘s Marion Cotillard, and Wild‘s Laura Dern. That said, I forecasted Inherent Vice‘s Adapted Screenplay nod when few others did.

5. And Take a Deep Breath Everybody

It’s hard not to be disappointed by some of the big snubs. But people laugh at the Oscars all year long…and then get upset when the nominees are as white and male as ever? Yes, Selma should’ve gotten more nominations. But the Oscars aren’t stopping anyone from seeing Ava DuVernay’s film. Go ahead, criticize the Oscars (and they do deserve criticism). But more importantly, go see Selma, and all the other films that were left out. Good movies are good movies, with or without awards recognition.

Comments

3 Responses to “Oscar Announcement Bring Flat-Out Shocks and Well-Deserved Nominations (Flack’s Analysis)”

  1. Papa
    January 16th, 2015 @ 7:01 am

    Good summary. Did you see this comment from Rolling Stone that expands strongly on your points on both Selma and Lego being slighted? http://rol.st/14F2GZV.

  2. Anisa
    January 17th, 2015 @ 6:16 am

    Bravo! For cutting through all the Oscar buzz and assessing films on their true merits (or lack of). Thanks for pointing out the realities / flaws of the Oscar machine taking it for what its worth and pushing people to go see the good ones on or off nominated list! Can’t wait now for your review of YOUR favorite films from 2014.

  3. FASCTR Gerald
    January 17th, 2015 @ 9:50 am

    Brilliant analysis. I was underwhelmed by Budapest. Apparently, it was too cool for my prosaic tastes. Love you.

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