So, for those of you who don't already know, I am a bit of a movie fanatic and, thus, live and breathe for awards season. The Academy Awards are like a steak and potatoes dinner... they're the top of the food chain. Maybe that's why I force myself out of bed at 5:00 in the morning the day that the nominations come out (which was today, if you haven't guessed). Like every year, I went in this morning with high expectations and, like every year, I was a bit let down. It's sad, but true. The reality is that there is no such thing as a perfect Oscars. If there were, "The Babadook" would have received a nomination for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress... I could continue.
Anyway, let's get into the reason that we're all here: to talk about the snubs and surprises from the nominations this year. I'll kick things off with a snub because, hey, I'm positive like that. One of the things that annoys me the most about the Oscars, especially in recent years, is when they nominate a strange number of films for Best Picture. I appreciate that the Academy wanted to extend the amount of nominees to acknowledge more great films, but extend it to a certain amount of films. Last year, it was nine films. This year, it's only eight! Certainly they could have come up with two other films deserving of a Best Picture nomination. How about I name a few films that the Academy overlooked in this category? "Gone Girl," "Nightcrawler," "Wild," "Foxcatcher," "Interstellar"... I think I have proven my point.
Now, for a pleasant surprise. One thing that the Academy did right, concerning the Best Picture category, was nominate "Whiplash." I think most film fans expected to see "Whiplash" in a few select categories (Best Supporting Actor), but I did not expect to see it among the Best Picture nominees. The Academy isn't always the friendliest to independent films. It usually only selects one or two independent features as nominees for Best Picture. I fully expected "Boyhood" and "Birdman" to receive nominations, but expected the Academy to fill the rest of the slots with commercial picks (American Sniper), period pieces, and critical darlings. I'm glad to see the Academy switching things up a bit.
Back to the snubs. Those who know me well know that I have two favorite actresses, Kate Winslet and Jessica Chastain, who have both been repeatedly wronged by the Academy (in my humble opinion, of course). In 2013, Jessica lost out against Jennifer Lawrence in the Best Actress category, which was one of the biggest Oscar snubs of all time (again, in my humble opinion). This year, the Academy overlooked her completely by not even giving her a nomination! "A Most Violent Year" was a fine film, and Jessica did what Jessica always does. She was fantastic. Was it her best work? No. Did it deserve a nomination? Hell yes, it did! What makes it even more of an injustice is that they gave the last spot to Meryl Streep for "Into the Woods". Look, I'm no fool. I know that Meryl Streep is one of the greatest actresses of all time. I know that she is beloved by the Academy. But is she so loved by them that they will nominate her for anything? "Into the Woods" was a mediocre film and I believe that the Academy knows that. Hence, why they ignored it in basically every other category. That nomination should have been Chastain's.
One of the biggest surprises this year was Marion Cotillard's Best Actress nomination for "Two Days, One Night". Now, I'll admit that I have not seen the film yet (although I am anxious to see it!), but I love Marion Cotillard. What an elegant, classy lady! Since I have not seen "Two Days, One Night" (yet), I cannot judge her performance. However, I have seen Marion in "La Vie En Rose," "Rust and Bone," "Inception," "The Dark Night Rises," etc. So, I am familiar with her work, both native and foreign. The fact that she's receiving this nomination for a foreign film is also exciting to me, because I am a strong advocate for foreign films (*cough* The Babadook *cough*) and I love to see foreign films garner positive attention from the Academy.
Another big snub this year happened in the Best Animated Feature category. This snub probably provoked more outrage than anything else in the list of nominations. Everybody wants to know the same thing, where is The LEGO Movie? We're still waiting for your answer, Academy! Song of the Sea? Nobody even knows what that is. That film is playing in three theaters right now nationwide. Three theaters! I'm really curious to know how that film even qualified for a nomination. Basically, everything is NOT awesome in this category.
On the other hand, one really cool surprise in the Best Animated Feature category is the inclusion of the Tale of Princess Kaguya. Now, I have not seen the film yet, but it is exciting to see Studio Ghibli films being recognized by the Academy.
Now, back to the snubs. The snubs were abounding in the Best Director category. No love for David Fincher this year. No directing nomination and no nomination for Gone Girl in the Best Picture category. He has to be having a pretty rough day. Also, a big snub for Ava DuVernay for Selma. I also would have liked to see James Marsh get a nomination for The Theory of Everything, but I'm not surprised at all that he didn't. Other notable snubs include David Oyelowo being overlooked in the Best Actor category. Many critics are citing historical inaccuracy for Selma, which is always damaging to films during the Oscars. I fully believe that the contraversy surrounding Zero Dark Thirty two years ago is what kept Jessica Chastain from her rightful (in my opinion) Oscar win. And, how about Jennifer Aniston? I have not seen Cake yet, but many people were expecting to see her get nominated for her performance. Jennifer, herself, expressed disappointment at not receiving a nomination. Do you think that she deserved a Best Actress nomination over Cotillard? Let me know! Also let me know what you think the biggest snubs and surprises were this year!