Oscar Watch: Columnist Reacts to 2014 Academy Award Nominations


By Christian DiMartino

When Chris Hemsworth announced the nominations for the 86th annual Academy Awards on Thursday, January 16, I was pretty much expecting disappointment. They never get it perfect. There is usually one big error with the nominations. But when they were announced, it was not frustration I felt, it was surprise. Pleasant surprise. Finally, FINALLY, they got it just about right. Sure, there were some questionable choices made, but for the most part this is a good list of nominees. American Hustle and Gravity lead the nominations with 10, and 12 Years a Slave is right behind it with 9. Here is a rundown of the major categories.

Best Director

Alfonso Cuaron- Gravity

Steve McQueen- 12 Years a Slave

Alexander Payne- Nebraska

David O. Russell- American Hustle

Martin Scorsese- The Wolf of Wall Street

After Ben Affleck was snubbed last year for directing Argo, this category was basically up in the air. But this year, there were no huge surprises. The biggest surprise here, and I did not think this would ever be said, is Martin Scorsese. The Wolf of Wall Street is a movie that is either worshipped or despised. The other directors nominated were expected(David O. Russell and two time Oscar-winner Alexander Payne cannot be stopped). The other directors in contention for the final slot were Spike Jonze for Her and Paul Greengrass for Captain Philips. But really, how could the legendary Scorsese get snubbed?

Best Supporting Actress

Sally Hawkins- Blue Jasmine

Jennifer Lawrence- American Hustle

Lupita Nyong’o- 12 Years a Slave

Julia Roberts- August: Osage County

June Squibb- Nebraska

My predictions all came true for this category. There was a lot of talk about Scarlett Johansson receiving a nomination for her excellent voice work in Her. But if Andy Serkis could not get nominated for The Lord of the Rings, it is only fair to leave her out too. 

Best Supporting Actor

Barkhad Abdi- Captain Philips

Bradley Cooper- American Hustle

Michael Fassbender- 12 Years a Slave

Jonah Hill- The Wolf of Wall Street

Jared Leto- Dallas Buyers Club

Abdi, Cooper, Fassbender, and Leto were pretty much guarantees. There was one other guarantee, Daniel Bruhl for the underrated Rush, who did not quite make the cut. Instead the final slot went to Jonah Hill, who was nominated two years ago for his overrated performance in Moneyball. Now, I’m not saying this because of my deep inner hatred for Hill, but Bruhl deserved that last slot. Maybe not the win, but at least the nomination. He owns every second of that movie. Yes, even more than the almighty Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Also, Sam Rockwell deserved recognition for the sadly overlooked indie The Way Way Back.

Best Actress

Amy Adams- American Hustle

Cate Blanchett- Blue Jasmine

Sandra Bullock- Gravity

Judi Dench- Philomena

Meryl Streep- August: Osage County

There were a couple of big question marks here. I nailed this category also, but it was a close call. There is not a lot of love for August: Osage County, so it was unsure whether or not Streep would score her 18th Oscar nomination. She did. Then there was Amy Adams. There is plenty of love for American Hustle (the film has at least one actor nominated in each category), but the final slot belonged to the great Emma Thompson for her wonderful performance in Saving Mr. Banks. In the end, Thompson got left out. I’m not really happy about it, but in a year with such talent, not everyone can win.

Best Actor

Christian Bale- American Hustle

Bruce Dern- Nebraska

Leonardo DiCaprio- The Wolf of Wall Street

Chiwetel Ejiofor- 12 Years a Slave

Matthew McConaughay- Dallas Buyers Club

In the last category, I mentioned how someone was going to end up unhappy. Yeah, I spoke too soon. That was a guarantee with the best actor category, which has almost too many names in contention. The new and reborn McConaughay was a shoo-in, and so were Dern, Ejiofor, and Tom Hanks for Captain Philips. Since DiCaprio gets snubbed year after year, he was pretty much considered out (even after he won a Golden Globe), and there was not enough room for Bale. So, the final slot was set to go to Robert Redford’s overrated performance in the way-overrated survival tale All is Lost.

But as it turns out, none of that came true. Having my fingers crossed for DiCaprio finally came in handy. He finally scored his long awaited fourth Oscar nomination. Surprisingly, Hanks was left in the dark, which is a real shame. In the final ten minutes of Captain Philips alone, Hanks does his best work in nearly a decade. This is probably the most surprising snub. In all honesty though, the biggest snub, and this person was not even considered, was Hugh Jackman for Prisoners, the great movie that everyone forgot about. Jackman gave the performance of his career, and he was not even a contender.

Best Picture

12 Years a Slave                                     Her

American Hustle                                   Nebraska

Captain Philips                                    Philomena

Dallas Buyers Club                           The Wolf of Wall Street

Gravity

The Coen Brothers are an academy favorite, so it is sort of surprising that their latest, Inside Llewyn Davis, which got rave reviews, did not get nominated for best picture, let alone, original screenplay. The academy instead went with Dallas Buyers Club, a movie that is getting high appraise for its acting but nobody really loves it. So it is surprising to see it on the list. The biggest snub here, and it is one of the more critically acclaimed movies of the year, is Woody Allen’s latest masterpiece, Blue Jasmine. The film was nominated for three Oscars, but none of which were for best picture, which is a little ridiculous. This is his best film since Match Point back in 2005.

Overall, they did right for the most part. Sure, there were a few errors, but in a year this crammed with talent, they did a pretty good job. This is a good list of nominees. Hopefully they get it this right next year. 

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