Thursday, January 16, 2014

Snubs, surprises in 2013 Oscar nominations

Emma Thompson is probably not feeling like kicking off her high heels right now. Despite a very strong run in the preliminary awards, she did not receive a Best Actress Oscar nomination as widely expected, with Amy Adams taking her spot for the dizzy, lackluster "American Hustle." It still got 10 nominations to tie for most with "Gravity," while "12 Years a Slave" followed with nine.

Thompson's has to be the biggest snub in a list of nominees that produced a few noteworthy surprises. Click here for the full list.

Robert Redford and Tom Hanks also were left off the list, with (relative) youngsters Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio taking their spots. I think perhaps while the people who saw "All Is Lost" loved Redford's noble, nearly wordless performance, not a lot of people saw the movie. Hanks' lack of nomination is much more puzzling, and infuriating.

Other than Thompson, Best Actress went according to expectations.

Best Picture nominees went pretty much down the line with my predictions, with "Saving Mr. Banks" and "Inside Llewyn Davis" being nudged out by "Philomena." "Banks" in fact received only a single nomination for musical score, while "Davis" got only cinematography and sound mixing. I'm perfectly fine with that; "Philomena" is a vastly superior film to both.

Jonah Hill and Bradley Cooper were surprise nominees in the Best Supporting Actor category; while both were good in their roles, neither approached the magnificence of Daniel Brühl in "Rush," which criminally did not receive a single nomination. Matthew McConaughey's chance for a double nomination disappeared with the chances for "Mud."

I was rather close on Supporting Actress, with Octavia Spencer from "Fruitvale Station" supplanted by Sally Hawkins in "Blue Jasmine." Loose talk about Oprah Winfrey getting snubbed for "The Butler" are just that; I don't think she ever really was in the running, and certainly didn't deserve to be.

For Director, my prediction that Paul Greengrass was the only one on my list who could be pushed out proved accurate;  Alexander Payne took his spot for "Nebraska." 

In Adapted Screenplay, I was again close with "Philomena" nudging out "August: Osage County," and deserving to. I got them all right in Original Screenplay.

A few other notables: They managed to get to five nominees for Animated Feature by padding it out with "The Croods" and "Despicable Me 2." There's been a habit lately of sliding in a little scene, foreign (usually French) animated film in this category, and they did it again with "Ernest & Celestine," which I don't think was on anyone's radar.

It was a high-profile year for documentaries, and several recognizable titles showed up there, including "The Act of Killing."

Once again, the Academy managed to nominate five foreign language films that hardly anyone in the U.S. has seen.

Overall, I was pretty happy with the list. Generally speaking, the pictures that were widely expected to get a bunch of nominations and didn't were ones I didn't care for, and the films that did better than expectations were deserving.

Sam Rockwell didn't get a nod for "The Way, Way Back," but I didn't really think he stood a chance. "Her," the best film of the year, came away with five nominations, including Best Picture and Original Screenplay, and has a real shot at being a dark horse winner in the latter. "Philomena" also came out with four nominations, including actress, picture and screenplay.

"Pacific Rim" didn't pick up a single nomination in the technical categories, which seems breathtaking for the best piece of big-budget entertainment in 2013. "Prisoners," my #2 film of the year, received only a cinematography nod.

My prediction tally: 35 out of 45 correct. Not bad, if I may say so myself.

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