a most violent year, academy awards, academy of motion picture arts and sciences, american hustle, american sniper, amy adams, atticus finch, ava duvernay, bennett miller, big eyes, bill corso, bradley cooper, brendan gleeson, cake, calvary, clint eastwood, dan futterman, dardenne brothers, david fincher, dennis liddiard, e. max frye, edith piaf, foxcatcher, gone girl, grand budapest hotel, how to train your dragon 2, inherent vice, jean-luc godard goodbye to language, jennifer aniston, jennifer lawrence, jenny slate, jessica chastain, john boorman, kathryn bigelow, la vie en rose, laura dern, lego movie, life is beautiful, male, marion cotillard, mark ruffalo, martin cahill, obvious child, paul thomas anderson, roberto benigni, selma, social network, steve carell, the general, the help, trent reznor, two days one night, white, zero dark thirty
Last week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences blessed us with their annual masturbatory list of what their (old and white) membership thought were the best films, performances, and technical achievements of the year. In typical form, they got it wrong and in many cases VERY wrong. Of course, they got it right in some places, too. But, as usual, the missteps fair outweighed what they got right.
So let’s get into it…
Ava Duvernay getting screwed a la Katrhyn Bigelow for Best Director for Selma. Now, I’m in the same position as I was with Zero Dark Thirty not having access to the film yet. I will be getting a screener soon as I’m voting in the Independent Spirit Awards, so I will be able to pass full judgment then on the merits of the film. However, this is a film that has been so universally praised that it is hard to figure how Ms. Duvernay was passed over except that she is an African-American woman, one of whom has never been nominated in this category. That the membership of the academy is overwhelmingly white (93%) and male (76%) makes this hard to dismiss.
The Lego Movie not getting any nominations except for that annoying ass song is really sad. This is a film that appeared on a lot of Best of 2014 lists…for the whole year, not just for animation. That is was passed over is incredibly curious. It, like Selma, above has been universally praised as well. Perhaps the Golden Globes actually predicted this when How to Train Your Dragon 2 stole the award away on Sunday night. I’m frankly baffled by all of it.
Jenny Slate being passed over for a Best Actress nom in Obvious Child might perhaps be the biggest error of all. She brought such life to her character, Donna Stern, and was able to tackle one of the most polarizing topics in America today (abortion) with grace and wit. So, it’s no wonder that the largely male population of the Academy dismissed the film and her performance. Shame on you, Academy.
Gone Girl getting NO love. I was surprised at how much I liked this one. I didn’t read the book, because why do that when you can see the movie, right? The script by Gillian Flynn, who wrote the novel, was solid and David Fincher is always on point (unless he does an Alien film). Trent Reznor and Atticus Finch‘s score was just as good as the one they won for for The Social Network. So what missed here? HUGELY popular novel, great cast, great performance, a director at the top of his game…I don’t understand. After seeing American Sniper, I honestly can’t understand how it having such a terribly sentimental and hokey script, one that literally made me laugh out loud several times because of its ridiculousness, was able to secure a nomination over Gone Girl.
Paul Thomas Anderson not getting a nom for his direction in the wildly awesome Inherent Vice. Arguably the finest director working today (he has had ZERO misses in his oeuvre), it’s hard to process this one. While not the most easy film to connect with, Anderson’s abilities are on full display and from a technical sense, this should be all one needs in a film. I guess if this is that case, perhaps Jean-Luc Godard should have also gotten a nomination for his 3D masterpiece (from what I’ve heard) Goodbye to Language.
And lastly, I would like to point out that once again, Brendan Gleeson delivered one of the finest performances of the year in Calvary and was overlooked. Smaller and foreign films are so often passed over for these awards, and I understand in a way – Hollywood hosts these “look-at-us” awards every year to perpetuate their own machine, so if foreign stars take home the prizes, the lights grow a little dimmer in Hollywood. I get that. But fuck – get this man a nomination! He deserved the award for his amazing portrayal of Martin Cahill in John Boorman‘s The General. Funny enough the award that year went to Roberto Benigni, an Italian, for his super sappy performance in Life Is Beautiful. SIGH. I fucking give up. If you haven’t seen Calvary, get there. It is my #1 film of 2014. It will blow you away.
I could go into great detail about the films they passed over, and will do so closer to the awards in February when I release my list of who and what I thought the nominees and winners should be.
Marion Cotillard‘s nomination for the Dardenne Brothers‘ latest opus Two Days, One Night was a bit of a surprise as most people were expecting Jennifer Aniston to grab one for her lauded performance in Cake. We all know that Cotillard has the chops as she has already won an Oscar for her role as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose. But as I stated before, it’s rare we see actors from foreign countries get the nods. While this film is still rolling out here in the US, I can’t wait to see it. Both the Dardennes and Cotillard make great choices and the premise of this film – a woman has to convince her coworkers over two days and one night to vote to keep her job rather than firing her and splitting her salary as a bonus between them all – is one of the more intriguing of the year. I do wonder why it missed the Best Foreign film cut.
Jessica Chastain, like Amy Adams (who could have easily gotten a nod herself for Big Eyes), is somewhat of an Academy darling nominated twice already for her roles in Zero Dark Thirty and The Help. I thought she was a shoo-in for A Most Violent Year, playing a role similar to Jennifer Lawrence‘s in American Hustle.
But alas, Laura Dern took home the nod for her role in Wild. Honestly, I didn’t even know she was in the film. So, yeah, I was a little surprised.
In the “How the fuck did this not happen” category – Foxcatcher gets nominations for Best Director (Bennett Miller), Best Actor (Steve Carell), Best Supporting Actor (Mark Ruffalo), Best Original Screenplay (E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman) and Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling (Bill Corso and Dennis Liddiard). How the fuck does it not garner a Best Picture nomination? I have yet to see the film, but this simply doesn’t add up.
And lastly, I’ll end with American Sniper‘s 6 nominations. I saw the film last night and I just can’t believe the Academy is as ridiculous as this. 6 nominations? Are you serious? Get out your pom-poms and let’s kiss Eastwood‘s ass some more…except not enough to give him a Best Director nod. Does this mean that the film was good enough to make the Best Pic cut in spite of Eastwood‘s direction? They did nominate him in that fucking mess that was Mystic River and he won for the awful Million Dollar Baby.
That does it for the 2015 edition of Hey! The Academy Fucked It Up Again.
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