Friday, January 17, 2014

Oscar nominations for 2013 movies

The snubs intrigue more

     Do there have to be nine movies up for Best Picture?  It means that each movie was nominated as the best of the year by at least 5% of the voters.  If all of the Academy members voted, then at least 300 selected Philomena.  It’s a good two-hander (Judi Dench and Steve Coogan) with an excellent
script, but so was Saving Mr. Banks.  Where was the love for live action Disney?  Disney made the list, but it was the animated one.  

     A number of Best Picture choices resembled critics’ Top 10 lists of the year.  This is a big step forward from about thirty years ago when there was usually a big budget or big grossing junker that somehow got a nod.  Nebraska, Her, and Dallas Buyers Club are boutique choices with a small number of intense fans, including us in one case.  Some other smaller, likable movies that were mainly two-handers included Enough Said (best romantic comedy of the year) and Before Midnight (the most trenchant movie about marriage and middle age in a long while) yet the first was completely overlooked and the second was recognized for its screenplay but nothing else.  The National Society of Film Critics chose the great Inside Llewyn Davis for film, lead actor Oscar Isaac, and directors Joel and Ethan Coen.  Its perfect homage to the folk era was the song “Please Mr. Kennedy,” also overlooked by the Academy.

     Lee Daniels’ The Butler, an American historical epic featuring African Americans directed by a previously Oscar nominated director, was a box office winner and deserving of accolades with excellent performances by Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, and David Oyelowo.  It’s difficult to understand fewer than 300 Academy members voting for it.  The epics that will fight it out are 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, and potentially Gravity.  If I were betting, I’d go with American Hustle.  

     The acting categories are the real problem because only five can be nominated in each, whereas the Golden Globes choose ten for lead performers.  In some of the afore-mentioned movies, what about Emma Thompson, Julia Louis Dreyfus, James Gandolfini, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke?  Because the majority of movies feature male, rather than female, actors, that is the most competitive category.  Tom Hanks could have been up for either of his movies this year and Robert Redford already won the New York Film Critics’ Circle Award, but neither ended up with a nod.  From the nominees selected, I’m rooting for Matthew McConaughey, Cate Blanchett, Jared Leto, and Jennifer Lawrence, though June Squibb was delightful on CBS Sunday Morning and we haven’t yet seen Nebraska.

I'm going to sit back and relax until the Oscars on March 2nd.

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