Google+ Cinema Viewfinder: Nominations for the 86th Academy Awards (and Brief Analysis)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Nominations for the 86th Academy Awards (and Brief Analysis)

by Tony Dayoub

The Dayoub household is under a flu quarantine of sorts, so it was hard to muster any kind of my usual enthusiasm for the Oscar nominations announcement this morning as I lay watching them from my sickbed. But here's the most complete list of nominees I could find. I'll chime in with my thoughts as necessary (in italics), primarily in the form of pointing out any major snubs. Highlighted in red are the nominees I'm rooting for, not my predictions. I know there are many who try to predict Oscar winners, but this way lies madness, in my humble opinion. Feel free to leave your thoughts or tell me who you're rooting for in the comments section.

Here's the list of nominees, all in all, not a bad one in this very competitive year:

Best Picture

12 Years a Slave

American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
The Wolf of Wall Street

It's nice to see that despite all of the quite pointless controversy and the lateness of its release for consideration,
The Wolf of Wall Street is acknowledged here and throughout many other categories. But what is Captain Phillips doing here? And with this category allowed up to 10 nominations, why ignore Inside Llewyn Davis, which was virtually ignored by the Academy in all but the most minor categories?

Best Director

David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Again, the Coen Brothers were snubbed for the sublime
Inside Llewyn Davis. I'll stop soon.

Best Actor

Christian Bale, American Hustle
Bruce Dern, Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club

It's tough to say anyone here was undeserving. But Oscar Isaac was superb as the title character of (all together now)
Inside Llewyn Davis. And his performance in Her was among Joaquin Phoenix's very best if least showy. Bruce Dern should actually have been nominated for supporting actor which would have opened the venerable-seventies-actor slot for the snubbed Robert Redford of All is Lost.

Best Actress

Amy Adams, American Hustle

Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

No Emma Thompson (
Saving Mr. Banks)? Maybe Meryl's recent speech at the National Board of Review dinner, decrying the rehabilitation of Uncle Walt's more distasteful qualities, helped open Thompson's slot for her instead. I'm elated that Amy Adams rates a nomination since this is her career best performance in a role that represents American Hustle's heart. Cate Blanchett is the favorite, but I wouldn't be too surprised if Adams wins.

Best Original Screenplay

American Hustle – Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
Blue Jasmine – Written by Woody Allen
Her – Written by Spike Jonze
Nebraska – Written by Bob Nelson
Dallas Buyers Club – Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack

Seriously, can you get more original than Her, about a man that falls in love with his operating system?

Best Adapted Screenplay

Before Midnight – Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
Captain Phillips – Screenplay by Billy Ray
Philomena – Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
12 Years a Slave – Screenplay by John Ridley
The Wolf of Wall Street – Screenplay by Terence Winter

Still find it surprising that Captain Phillips got so much love.

Best Supporting Actress

Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave

Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
June Squibb, Nebraska
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine

I'm hoping a simple acknowledgement is all that current it-girl Jennifer Lawrence receives because Lupita Nyong'o is considerably more deserving. Was anyone else surprised that Oprah wasn't nominated for
Lee Daniels' The Butler? Meh... me neither.

Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

A fairly predictable set of nominees, and I'll be surprised if anyone but Jared Leto gets the Oscar. Still, it would have been nice to see James Gandolfini get a posthumous nod for his understated performance in Enough Said.

Best Animated Film

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine

The Wind Rises

What's most notable here is that this is the first time a Pixar movie, in this case
Monsters University (which wasn't bad, but...), isn't nominated. Hopefully it will serve as a wake-up call for the creatively troubled animation facility.

Best Documentary Feature

The Act of Killing Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen

Cutie and the Boxer Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
Dirty Wars Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
The Square Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
20 Feet from Stardom Nominees to be determined

All of these were on my list of 2013's top docs, save for The Square which I have yet to see (but I understand it deserves its nomination). One glaring omission though is Blackfish, the Sea World exposé.

The rest:

Best Cinematography

The Grandmaster

Inside Llewyn Davis

Best Costume Design

Michael Wilkinson, American Hustle
William Chang Suk Ping, The Grandmaster
Catherine Martin, The Great Gatsby
Michael O’Connor, The Invisible Woman
Patricia Norris, 12 Years a Slave

Best Documentary Short Subject

CaveDigger Jeffrey Karoff
Facing Fear Jason Cohen
Karama Has No Walls Sara Ishaq
The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed
Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall Edgar Barens

Best Film Editing

American Hustle Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten
Captain Phillips Christopher Rouse
Dallas Buyers Club John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa
Gravity Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger
12 Years a Slave Joe Walker

Best Foreign Language Film

The Broken Circle Breakdown Belgium
The Great Beauty Italy
The Hunt Denmark
The Missing Picture Cambodia
Omar Palestine

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Dallas Buyers Club Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa Stephen Prouty
The Lone Ranger Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Best Original Score

John Williams, The Book Thief
Steven Price, Gravity
William Butler and Owen Pallett, Her
Alexandre Desplat, Philomena
Thomas Newman, Saving Mr. Banks

Best Original Song

"Alone Yet Not Alone" from Alone Yet Not Alone
Music by Bruce Broughton; Lyric by Dennis Spiegel

"Happy" from Despicable Me 2
Music and Lyric by Pharrell Williams

"Let It Go" from Frozen
Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez

"The Moon Song" from Her
Music by Karen O; Lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze

"Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen; Lyric by Paul Hewson

Best Production Design

American Hustle
Production Design: Judy Becker; Set Decoration: Heather Loeffler

Production Design: Andy Nicholson; Set Decoration: Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard

The Great Gatsby
Production Design: Catherine Martin; Set Decoration: Beverley Dunn

Production Design: K.K. Barrett; Set Decoration: Gene Serdena

12 Years a Slave
Production Design: Adam Stockhausen; Set Decoration: Alice Baker

Best Animated Short Film

Feral Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden
Get a Horse! Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim
Mr. Hublot Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares
Possessions Shuhei Morita
Room on the Broom Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

Best Live Action Short Film

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me) Esteban Crespo
Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything) Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras
Helium Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson
Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?) Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari
The Voorman Problem Mark Gill and Baldwin Li

Best Sound Editing

All Is Lost Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns
Captain Phillips Oliver Tarney
Gravity Glenn Freemantle
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Brent Burge
Lone Survivor Wylie Stateman

Best Sound Mixing

Captain Phillips Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro
Gravity Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson
Inside Llewyn Davis Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland
Lone Survivor Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Best Visual Effects

Gravity Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould

The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds
Iron Man 3 Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick
The Lone Ranger Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier
Star Trek Into Darkness Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton


Erich Kuersten said...

Hahah - yeah a rawther lackluster but predictable set, I was actually surprised they didn't nominate 'The Book Thief' since it's got all the ingredients Oscar loves. As for Llewyn, my guess is they either didn't see it (did they not get screeners?) and/or they don't vote for films where the lead is a jerk, because they're worried their nephews will think its okay to start being surly... or maybe they're still squirming under the yoke of the now long gone production code's moral edicts?

tom hyland said...


Very entertaining post. I guessed you liked "Inside Llewyn Davis," huh? "-) Seriously, the Academy has shown a lot of love toward the Coens, so the overall lack of nominations was a bit of a surprise.

How about Thelma Schoonmaker not getting a Best Editing nomination for "Wolf of Wall Street"? To me, this was a bit of a shock, especially as she's won three Oscars in this category and she received so much praise for her work with this film, trimming it down from four hours to three.

I'm a bit surprised at the lack of nominations for "Saving Mr. Banks." Did the Academy think that by honoring this film, it would have been too much of a inside pat on the back for Disney? Whatever you thought of the film - I loved it and I know you admired it as well - it is a marvelous technical work, so this could have easily been nominated for Best Editing - it certainly deserved that over "Dallas Buyers Club" in this category.

One question - why do you believe that Bruce Dern should have been a Supporting Actor nominee? This is a leading performance, it is not? I do agree with you that Robert Redford should have been nominated for Best Actor.

Patrick Wahl said...

I saw Gravity, I liked Gravity, I just feel that it was overrated, so I see it not winning a whole lot (ditto for Her), maybe Cinematography. I think your political orientation is coloring your view of Captain Philips. Read your review, saw it a few weeks later, completely disagreed with your takes. Would have liked to see Hanks nominated, but probably can't bump any of the actual nominees either. We do agree on Inside Llewyn Davies. An odd movie but for some reason also my favorite of the year.

Tony Dayoub said...

Erich, I'm actually surprised at how unconventional the Academy went this year. They could have gone and made it strictly an AMERICAN HUSTLE or 12 YEARS sweep this year, going with a popular/art schism, shut everyone else out, and most of us would have done the typical bitch-and-moan, "I'm not that surprised" schtick we usually do, end of story.

The very fact that THE WOLF OF WALL STREET had such a respectable showing, despite its flagrant irreverence in an Oscar sense, is one reason I don't necessarily agree with your take on it. After all, its lead is a major league, surly jerk.

Tony Dayoub said...

Tom, here's why I believe Schoonmaker didn't get the nod this year. TWOWS was rushed out to theaters, through no fault of hers. If there's one problem I had with that glorious movie, it's that it still feels too fat/the pacing is off. Another 2 months, and I think it could have baked up perfectly. As it is, I'm kind of glad we got the shaggy mess we did.

SAVING MR. BANKS is just contaminated now by all of the backlash "Uncle Walt" got from so many now in positions of power in Hollywood. I mean, you know some of that fear of Disney (the man and the organization) has diminished when Streep can rip into him the way she did without fear of reprisal (she's cast as the Witch in Disney's upcoming adaptation of Sondheim's INTO THE WOODS).

As for Dern, though he plays a substantial part in NEBRASKA I still believe it is a supporting part. I always view the protagonist as the person who undergoes a change because of the story. While he certainly experienced a journey of sorts, it is Will Forte that is changed by the experience. Dern is essentially the same cranky but blissed out soul he was at the end of the picture as he was at the start. His role was supporting that of Forte. Screen time is not the measuring stick for me is what I'm saying.

Tony Dayoub said...

Patrick, I can't entirely dismiss your theory as to why CAPTAIN PHILLIPS fell flat for me. After all, I was going to defend myself with how inaccurate the story was in the movie, favoring Phillips despite the fact that many of his crew blame him for recklessly travelling through the dangerous area in the first place.

But then, the considerable inaccuracies of SAVING MR. BANKS didn't bother me one whit. So touché.

Patrick Wahl said...

I saw a few contradictory comments from crew members on the accuracy of Captain Philips, so that did cause me to hold back from it just a bit.