I love the Oscars. Yeah, it’s political, and sure the Academy is about as diverse as Mecca Bingo on any given night, but it’s all good fun. The 2015 nominations were announced this past Thursday, and along with a nod for Dick Poop (Thanks for the laughs, Ms Academy President!), it saw Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Birdman lead the way with nine nominations a piece. The Brits, as expected, did pretty well too: Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones were both recognised for their performances in The Theory of Everything, while Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley both received acting nods for The Imitation Game, as did Rosamund Pike for Gone Girl.
The biggest surprise, however, came in the most unlikely of places: the Animated Feature Film category. Yep, the Academy saw no room for The LEGO Movie, despite the fun-tastic hit raking in over $400 million at the box office globally, causing a social media sh*t storm. Well, not quite, but people were pretty miffed… What was worse, in my eyes, was the lack of recognition for Jake Gyllenhall’s fabulously freaky turn in the intriguing Nightcrawler. Not the greatest of films, but a performance which affected me like few others have over the past 12 months. Looking at the Best Actor fivesome – which is an extremely strong group – I’d happily kick out Cumberbatch and an overrated Michael Keaton performance to make room for the Brokeback Mountain star. B-Coops getting in there for American Sniper shouldn’t be seen as that much of a surprise – an American war film directed by Clint Eastwood; sounds like the Academy’s ultimate dream movie to me!
While we’re at it, how the heck didn’t director Damien Chazelle get recognised for the awesome Whiplash? Despite his film being nominated for Best Picture (and it’s one of the strongest in the pack), the 29-year-old – despite orchestrating the whole flippin’ thing – couldn’t even get a look-in in the directors category. How does that work!?! Similarly with the impressive Foxcatcher, director Bennett Miller was deservedly recognised for his own work, yet the film – despite also landing two acting nods – couldn’t catch a break in the Best Film group. What more exactly can a film do? Guardians of the Galaxy‘s supreme leader, James Gunn, can’t quite believe it either.
Like most people, I’m a little surprised by Robert Duvall’s inclusion in the Best Supporting Actor group. The Judge, which also starred everyone’s favourite arrogant-but-we-love-him-anyway movie star, Robert Downey Jnr, was a let-down. Duvall’s own performance was decent, but certainly not one you’d particularly remember longer than the journey home from the cinema. Laura Dern’s Oscar nod for her supporting role in Wild, however, is far more baffling. The actress, it appears, has simply smiled her way to a nomination. A flowery performance, full of smiles, hugs and over-sentimentality: she made Kiera Knightley’s unremarkable, and hugely over-egged performance in The Imitation Game, look like a world-beater.
At the end of the day, I’ll be more than happy if Whiplash and Mr Redymayne get the recognition they thoroughly deserve. Yeah, I’m loud and proud: Team Redmayne/Simmons/Chazelle/Whiplash all the way, people! Did I say Whiplash was amazing? No?!? Well it is. Anyway, regardless of what all us mere mortals think, the 87th Oscars, hosted by the ever-loveable Neil Patrick Harris, will take place on Sunday 22nd February where we’ll find out who the Academy peeps have chosen as the best of the best for 2014. See you over at the Film Trance Twitter page for some live tweeting on the night, guys!