All right, guys, if you’ve been looking for a space to unpack your feelings about the Oscar nominations, let our comments section be your dresser drawers. I, for one, am still RAGING about The Lego Movie not being nominated for Best Animated Film, because it was miles better even than some of the Best Picture nominees. Like, I’m sincerely furious. Who knew.
Okay, let’s check out the nominees. And of course I will yap about my feelings because I am the one typing, but you can skip that part.
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything
I haven’t seen Selma — my house didn’t receive that screener, nor Big Eyes, nor A Most Violent Year, all three of which were essentially frozen out here, actually. So I can’t comment on those. It feels like everyone who’s seen Selma loves it, but the trouble is, they are very few in number. It’d be nice if Selma won, but I also think it’s run a curious campaign where you didn’t hear much about it until it was almost too late. I think Boyhood will win because everyone is so enamored of the concept, but I’d honestly rather it was The Grand Budapest Hotel. Whiplash was well-made and hard to watch at times, but too slight in the end I think. Imitation Game, American Sniper, and Theory of Everything were all average movies with excellent performances, to me. I particularly thought Theory of Everything was disappointing; it’s based on Jane Hawking’s book, but you wouldn’t know it. Her story is to me the more interesting (I always like the tales of the people caught in the blast rather than at the center of it), but the movie couldn’t resist the Best Actor bait of having someone be Stephen Hawking. The problem is, we know his story, more or less. The movie shines a light on Jane, and every time her struggle becomes intriguing — which is basically always — it zips back to Stephen, and suffers for it. I also wish Still Alice had gotten a look, because I thought it made smart choices that gave the movie dignity instead of mawkishness. And I liked Gone Girl better than many of these as well.
Steve Carell, “Foxcatcher”
Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “The Imitation Game”
Michael Keaton, “Birdman”
Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”
Michael Keaton is fantastic in a weird but weirdly engrossing movie that I thoroughly enjoyed even when I was marveling at… well, the weirdness. The other four were good acting in a bad (Foxcatcher) or fine (Imitation Game) or blah (the others) movie. Again… just my opinion. Not trying to preach. But GIVE IT TO KEATON. Bradley Cooper snuck in here in place of David Oyelowo or Jake Gyllenhaal (Nightcrawler), and Ralph Fiennes also missed out, which SUCKS because he’s BRILLIANT in The Grand Budapest Hotel. Just brilliant. But it’s really hard to be mad at Bradley Cooper, because he is really, really, really against-type and great in American Sniper. This is a tough category, y’all If anything I MIGHT have bumped out… hmm. I actually don’t know. MAYBE Steve Carell, although he IS good. I don’t think he was only nominated because of the prosthetic nose. Didn’t HURT, but. You know who else I miss, though? Ben Affleck. He was terrific in Gone Girl. Here is how I’d have done it: Keaton, Redmayne, Cooper, and Fiennes for SURE. And then a coin flip on the others. Sorry, Benedict. You were good but I’d have liked to compare you and Carell to Oyelowo, at least.
Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”
Felicity Jones, “The Theory of Everything”
Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”
Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl”
Reese Witherspoon, “Wild”
Cotillard was the surprise. Amy Adams must be throwing things at the wall and shouting, “WHAT MORE DO I HAVE TO DO,” but honestly, I think Julianne Moore would’ve beaten her anyway. I want her to win, but the fact that it has an air of destiny about it makes me nervous that someone else will sneak in there and steal it. If that happened, I would want it to be… Felicity Jones. Because, and I know this is unpopular, I didn’t think Rosamund Pike was good enough in Gone Girl. She sold one half of Amy Dunne, but not the other, at all. In fact, of all the performances, hers may have been my least favorite (which isn’t to say it wasn’t effective or enjoyable, but just… I don’t want to talk too much about it for fear of ruining it for anyone even though I know the book has been out for an eternity, but… okay SPOILERS FORTHCOMING DON’T KEEP READING IF YOU DON’T KNOW THE BOOK PLOT I think she failed to make Amy charismatic enough in the early parts of the relationship. Pike played her as a cool, one-note sociopath the whole time, to the point where it was hard to watch any of it without wondering why these people aren’t all DISCUSSING what a one-note sociopath she seems to be.)
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”
Laura Dern, “Wild”
Keira Knightley, “The Imitation Game”
Emma Stone, “Birdman”
Meryl Streep, “Into the Woods”
I would FOR SURE have put in Carrie Coon (Gone Girl) instead of Laura Dern. I also think Kristen Stewart in Still Alice was better, and more essential; something about her particular affect was crucial to the tone that movie tried to strike. From what I’ve heard, Chastain was masterful in A Most Violent Year, and even though I haven’t seen it… I don’t know, aside from the Coon-Dern swap, my gut might have been to take out Keira or Meryl and pop in either Chastain or Stewart. Meryl was good, but… and you know what? None of it matters. They’re just filling slots. This is Patricia Arquette’s to lose, and I can’t be mad at that. If she DOES lose, I hope it’s to the also excellent Emma Stone, who managed to keep her spark but also be very different than we’ve ever seen her.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Robert Duvall, “The Judge”
Ethan Hawke, “Boyhood”
Edward Norton, “Birdman”
Mark Ruffalo, “Foxcatcher”
J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”
No one but J.K. Simmons has a shot, right? And that’s ALSO fair. He is… I mean, he’s not a supporting actor, to me, but whatever. Miles Teller should’ve gotten more love for what he did, but Simmons was fantastic, as he is in everything, but in a wildly different way than I’m accustomed to from him. Ruffalo feels a little weird in here, perhaps; he’s great, as usual, but didn’t have anything THAT impressive to do? If I’m remembering right? Ed Norton is awesome in Birdman, essentially playing himself. Alec Baldwin was good in Still Alice, and honestly, sorry Mr. Duvall, but I’d have stuck him in here in your place.
Alejandro González Inárritu, “Birdman”
Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”
Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”
Morten Tyldum, “The Imitation Game”
Richard Linklater seems to be the hot favorite, but I think he — consciously or not — is getting rewarded for the concept and the production, and patience, and organization, rather than perhaps his direction. For my money, Alejandro González Inárritu’s work was more stimulating and essential and brave. And I would not in a hundred years have nominated Bennett Miller, but whatever, they need a head count. They need bodies to lose to Linklater.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE
“Big Hero 6″
“How to Train Your Dragon 2″
“Song of the Sea”
“The Tale of Princess Kaguya”
SHUT UP, ACADEMY. IT WAS THE LEGO MOVIE. YOU ARE ALL WRONG. Note: I haven’t seen any of the other ones. Note: I STILL VOTE LEGO.