Oscar Watch: Delving Deeper into Academy Award Nominations

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The Oscar nominations have been announced and it’s an interesting list to say the least. In a year that could have seen them pushing the envelope and rewarding a film like Nightcrawler with a Best Picture nod, the Academy went safe and kept Jake Gyllenhaal and his film off their list of nominees, although it did get a Best Screenplay nod.

Academy Awards Logo

What else struck us is that all that backlash about Steve Carell not being a lead actor, and truly being a Supporting Actor in Foxcatcher never came to fruition. In the most competitive of categories, the man who was once the leader of The Office will now forever be known as Academy Award Best Actor nominee Steve Carell!

Then, there is the puzzling Academy obsession with American Sniper.

The film was mildly received by reviewers (check out our American Sniper review), but we had a feeling that Oscar would love the Clint Eastwood film as Eastwood scored a DGA nod the other day, at the expense of the helmer of Selma and others. American Sniper not only scored for Best Picture, but also got a well deserved nod for Bradley Cooper for Best Actor, joining Carell in that category.

Bennett Miller is one of our favorite directors. The work he did on Capote and Moneyball is brilliant. But, let’s be real, Foxcatcher is not one of his best and given how competitive the field was this year, we’re utterly shocked that he is on the list of Best Director nominees. We absolutely think that Selma’s director, Ava DuVernay, should have had that spot.

But, more on snubs and surprises later on in the day. This is about the people who got nominated.

The surprise in the Best Actress category was that Marion Cotillard scored for her role in Two Days, One Night. We should have seen this one coming as the former winner for La Vie En Rose is adored by the Academy. There had been talk of Jennifer Aniston getting her first nod for Cake, but in hindsight, that was just silly talk, now wasn’t it?!

Rosamund Pike Is Gone Girl

We’re delighted to see Rosamund Pike score a Best Actress nod for her role in Gone Girl. That movie is not nearly as riveting as it is without her. Also a treat is the presence of Laura Dern for Wild. Dern’s Supporting Actress nod is so deserved as the entire journey that Reese Witherspoon’s character takes in the movie does not work without the role of Dern casting a shadow over the entire film.

The Academy also showed its love for international animation as some films got bumped in that category (again, more on that later with our Snubs and Surprises). Little known animated films Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya scored nominations in the Best Animated Feature Film category over a blockbuster animated flick or two! We’re psyched for those two films and take solace that in fact, Everything Is Awesome is truly relative (cough, cough).

And two songs we adore made it into the Best Original Song category and we could not be more thrilled. Lost Stars from Begin Again highlights one of the more underappreciated movies of the year. It is a brilliant piece of work and it will be incredible to see it performed live on Oscar night. Also a joy is the presence of Grateful from Beyond the Lights. That film is one of our favorite movies of the year, and to have billions across the globe discover it on Oscar night is a true blessing.

So, who is our front-runner at this early point in the process?

Birdman and Boyhood have to be considered front-runners. Even though The Grand Budapest Hotel scored nine nominations and leads the pack in terms of number, sentimentality always wins out come Oscar night and either Michael Keaton’s comeback or Richard Linklater’s astounding achievement should look to be hoisting that Best Picture trophy on Oscar night on February 22.

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