MCN Columnists
David Poland

By David Poland

20 Weeks To Oscar: Nominations Morning

The Oscar nominations are in and the big surprise is… no real surprise.

Yes, there are people with expectations and disappointments and preferences all over the place. But I think by the end of December, everyone kind of knew what this year looked like… lots of good candidates and not a whole lot of sure bets.

Nominations that were “locked in” that didn’t happen were led by Robert Redford, who was just too inaccessible for his own good… on top of being in a performance that excited critics more than non-critics for its lack of inherent emotion. Not a thing wrong with the performance. Perfect by that standard. But the thing that really makes the movie work – that it is a procedural – ended up undercutting the performance as an Oscar nominee in a very crowded acting field.

The same is not completely untrue for Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips, except for the hugely emotional last few minutes of the film. In this brutally competitive year for Best Actor, 5 minutes of greatness was not enough to get in.

Also not happening was Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks, a movie that was screwed mostly by Disney’s marketing. Clearly, the big no-get on that film was Emma Thompson. And she worked her butt off for the film. But Hanks did not. And Disney stuck the company logo on an awards movie and stuck the shadow of Mickey Mouse on early advertising enough to leave the film commercially flailing. If you handed this movie to 2 or 3 other awards minds out there, there would have been nominations… whatever you think of the film. This was a failure of the art of selling.

Oprah didn’t get a long presumed nomination… which suffered from being long presumed. Oprah was a part of that. She took The Hollywood Reporter route, which is like pushing for live-saving medicine in a high-gloss perfume commercial. Nothing wrong with that, but it puts no skin in the game and voters notice that… or at least, don’t step up in response to it. This goes along with the Redford “snub.” Tod Browning’s ‘One of us” could be the theme song of the Oscar voter.

If you look at the Top 8 categories, there are no major surprises, really… just a rocking of the boat that has been established for months a little to one side or another. There are no SHOCKERS. The closest thing, really, is realizing that Sally Hawkins, who has been touted heavily for Oscar noms 3 or 4 times already, is getting her 1st nod here.

As for The Year Of The Black Nominee, that ship felt like it sailed months ago. Three acting nominations for people of color. The one movie, 12 Years A Slave. First person who writes about The Academy being racist – which it is, a little – better be very careful or they will deserve electroshock.

It’s interesting that the only two Best Picture nominees to get Cinematography nods are Nebraska and Gravity.

It’s interesting that Gravity is the only Best Picture nominee to fail to get a screenplay nod.

It’s most interesting that every single one of the Top 8 categories is up for grabs this year.

Congratulations to everyone who got nominated this morning.

Sorry to the many who deserved nominations and didn’t get them.

Now we have a smaller field to discuss… but pretty much the same field… and now, more conversation…

Be Sociable, Share!

35 Responses to “20 Weeks To Oscar: Nominations Morning”

  1. movieman says:

    Lubezki was nominated for “Gravity,” Dave.

  2. alynch says:

    “It’s interesting that the only two Best Picture nominees to get Cinematography nods are Nebraska and 12 Years A Slave.”


    The only snub I’d say I’m genuinely shocked by is Hanks. I mean sure, the big emotions only really came out in the final 5 minutes, but they didn’t come out of nowhere. It was a perfectly calibrated performance. Every single scene you can see him becoming a bit more undone.

  3. Daniella Isaacs says:

    Did I not predict CAPTAIN PHILLIPS would come out wanting today? (No director or star nods.) Yes I did. Also… DALLAS BUYERS CLUB gets an all-important editing nomination (over WOLF OF WALL STREET?!?) There will be those who say it’s actually a threat to win the big one. I hope it doesn’t.

  4. Breedlove says:

    So, Megan Ellison…I’m trying to figure out how impressed I should be. Definitely seems to have great taste in movies, but if I had access to billions I’d bankroll any film PTA wanted to make too. Is she a hands-on producer with creative input who affects the quality of the films in some way, or an ATM machine? How does that work?

  5. Ray Pride says:

    Corrected, thanks.

  6. Hallick says:

    “Did I not predict CAPTAIN PHILLIPS would come out wanting today? (No director or star nods.) Yes I did.”

    Ahoy, Captain Easyguessnoduh! The helm of the USS Selfcongratulation is yours.

  7. Hallick says:

    And set course for mid-October 2013, the last time anybody thought the movie was some kind of lock for Best Picture and Director!

  8. Hank Graham says:

    I’m grinning at the cinematography nod for “Gravity.” It’s “Life of Pi” all over again, where a special effects movie gets a nod in this field, although the images were not a product of the cinematography, but manufactured by the special effects.

    Shouldn’t members of the academy be better able to see that distinction? But the ASC nominated it, too, so I may just be in the minority on this. (Although I’d also point out that the ASC award last year did NOT go to “Life of Pi.”)

    They’ll probably give the award to either “Gravity,” repeating what they did last year with “Life of Pi,” or to “Nebraska,” because of the showiness of having a movie in black and white (although I hasten to add that Papamichael’s work is very good in that film.)
    Either way, Roger Deakins will continue his run as the man who’s been nominated the most without winning.

  9. movieman says:

    Is “Alexander Payne” the new Coen Bros.?
    I’m guessing the poor showing of “Llewyn Davis” may have had to do with the “indie” split between “Her,” “Nebraska” and “DBC.” The fact that the movie was a bit of a head-scratcher for some (many?) may have impacted its “passion index” voting.
    But it’s still odd that “A Serious Man” snuck in four years ago, but not “Llewyn” today.
    Gotta admit to loving the “Mr. Banks” snub. Didn’t see that coming.
    Two tech nods for “The Grandmaster,” yet WKW still couldn’t score his first (best foreign film) nomination. Tragic.
    Do It! Do It! Do It! Do the “American Hustle”!

  10. YancySkancy says:

    I’m beginning to think David lacks the capacity for surprise, or has a different definition of it than most people. Agreed there are no SHOCKERS, but that’s what happens when there are at least 20 weeks of tea-leaf reading before the nominations. Have we had a shocker in the last few years? I’m not sure what would have qualified as one this year — maybe Sarah Paulson in 12 YEARS A SLAVE, an acclaimed performance but absent from most predictors and never seriously considered a contender? Or are we talking totally left field like Johnny Knoxville in BAD GRANDPA? 🙂

  11. YancySkancy says:

    When was Sally Hawkins “touted heavily” for an Oscar other than for HAPPY-GO-LUCKY?

  12. chris says:

    I think the omission of “Stories We Tell” and “Blackfish” is at least a semi-shocker (although the category isn’t the mess that it usually is).

  13. Bulldog68 says:

    Not a shocker but I thought Forest Whitaker might have squeaked in. Unfortunately I think people where choosing either 12 Years or The Butler, but not both. No evidence to support that of course.

  14. joshua says:

    yancy-tote agree.

  15. Bob Burns says:

    Hawkins had a bit of an awards run with Made in Dagenham.

    the Academy is less racist than most rich white folk, for sure.

  16. Pj says:

    Agreed that it lack the shockers of last year. Sure Hill was a bit of a surprise but with Rush disappearing from guilds you could see the spot open and it all came down a roll of a dice. And everyone has been going after Greengrasses spot, so him missing wasn’t a shock. Payne over Jonze is only mildly surprising.

  17. Keil S. says:

    At this point there’s only one award I’ll be truly rooting for: Before Midnight for Adapted Screenplay (although I still believe it belongs in the Original category). Hopefully voters won’t let doubts about its category placement keep them from putting it on their final ballot.

    As for my predictions, I predicted 36 of 44 slots (in the Best Pic, Director, Acting, and Screenplay categories). My love for Llewyn and my lukewarm response toward American Hustle clouded my judgment a bit (I left David O. Russell, Amy Adams, and Christian Bale off my predictions, though Adams and Russell were alternate choices).

  18. Hallick says:

    Who did the Razzies snub this year?

  19. Logan says:

    Emma Thompson’s omission is a Genuine shocker, followed by omission of Oprah, Tom, and Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell. Redford’s flagging chance has been written about for weeks. I’m really glad for Philomena’s squeaking in and would vote Dench for Best Actress in a heartbeat if I had a vote.

  20. Jerry says:

    Though Amy Adams has lots of momentum, I thnk Cate Blanchett still has best actress locked up. I will be rooting for Amy.

  21. Stephen Holt says:

    David, I’m counting four black nominees this morning. So this is kinda historic.

    Lupita Nyong’O (Supp. Actress)
    Chiwetel Ejiofor (Actor)
    Steve McQueen(director)
    Barkhad Abdi (Supp. Actor)

    You can’t call them African-American, because *gasp* non of them are American! Maybe that’s WHY they got nominated. In addition to their superlative work.

  22. The Pope says:

    I had really, really, really hoped that Adèle Exarchopoulos would get a nod.

    Instead, I’ll happily settle for:

    Cate Blanchet
    Chiwetel Ejiofor
    Jared Leto / Michael Fassbender
    Lupita Nyong’o / June Squibb

  23. Hcat says:

    Movieman, the Coens exclusion this year may simply have come down to campaigning. A serious man was released through focus who has experience in this game while CBS is still learning. No matter it’s merits does anyone think that Philomena would be on this list if it was released through IFC?

  24. chris says:

    Barkhad Abdi is an American citizen, Stephen Holt. Not sure about N’yongo.

  25. cadavra says:

    Well, I guess I’m self-flagellating after the practically total wipe-out of BANKS. This is what happens when you let punk-ass kids into the Academy; they go for the shiny objects rather than good, solid, story-driven filmmaking. (AMERICAN HUSTLE for Screenplay? WHAT Screenplay???) And how could Thelma be overlooked for cutting the fastest three-hour film in history in record time?

    You know it’s a bad year when the only things smile-worthy are the snubbing of GRANDMASTER and BLUE IS THE WARMEST COLOR, the two most overrated foreign films of the year, and the visual effects nod for LONE RANGER.

  26. Daniella Isaacs says:

    Don’t be a douchbag, Hallick.

  27. Spassky says:

    WTF on “Hustle” in general (cept for Adams)

  28. lazarus says:

    Thelma was clearly penalized for the film’s length. Polley snubbed because the Doc part of the Academy don’t want more actors thinking they can do as good a job.

    Gravity’s screenplay wasn’t picked by many to get in, but how does it win Best Picture without a nom there? The last to do so was Titanic, and this ain’t that juggernaut.

    Really happy for The Great Beauty. And William Chang, who would have been equally deserving of Production Design and Editing honors for The Grandmaster, as well as his nomination for Costume Design.

  29. Sam says:

    Surprised Pixar was shut out of Best Animated Feature, even in a 5-wide field. I’m not surprised at the actual slate of nominees; it’s just weird that Monsters University was the unlucky 6th.

  30. cadavra says:

    Interesting statistic: if Nyong’o wins, she’ll be the fifth of the last eight Supporting Actress winners who’s a minority.

  31. Hallick says:

    “Interesting statistic: if Nyong’o wins, she’ll be the fifth of the last eight Supporting Actress winners who’s a minority.”

    A good bar bet winner of a statistic would be asking people to name the two African-American actresses who won the Best Actress Oscar.

  32. cadavra says:

    Are you counting Charlize Theron? 😉

  33. G. Crowley says:

    Ellison is an ATM machine. Guided by CAA and their talent department to choose the films to finance.

  34. Hallick says:

    Yep, cadavra. And therein lies the “trick” of the question.

  35. Pete says:

    Gravity can contend for BP if it wins the DGA and BAFTAS. It’s going to basically run the table in the techs.

    Hustle needs Russell to win DGA and WGA to stay in this.

    12 Years can also win BAFTAS, but not being eligible for WGA makes a key piece of their Best Picture path a bit if a mystery.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon