12 Random Thoughts on The Oscar Nominations

2013 oscars

The Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday morning (see the full list here) and, ever since, various movie bloggers and reviewers have been speculating about whether or not 12 Years A Slave is still the front-runner and why certain actors and films were nominated while others were ignored.

Now, as a semi-serious film blogger, how can I not look at all of these people engaging in foolish speculation and pompous pontification and ask myself, “Why not me?”  Seriously, if Sasha Stone and Jeff Wells can make a career out of being wrong year-after-year, why not me?

With that in mind, here are 12 random thoughts on the Oscar nominations.

1) There was one film that was popular with audiences but less so with critics that still seemed like it was a sure bet to get at least a few nominations.  And yet somehow, when the nominations were announced, its name was nowhere to be seen.  I’m talking, of course, about Pacific Rim.  How Pacific Rim failed to score nominations for either sound or visual effects is one of the great Oscar mysteries.

2) On a personal level, I was really disappointed that Sarah Polley’s brilliant Stories We Tell was not nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

3) Whatever else may be said about it, Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa will be forever immortalized in the Academy’s history books.  It was nominated for Best Makeup.

4) When it comes to Best Director, I predicted that Martin Scorsese would be snubbed and his spot would be taken by Spike Jonze.  Instead, Paul Greengrass was snubbed and Alexander Payne was nominated for Nebraska.  

If I had to make a prediction today, I would predict that Alfonso Cuaron is going to win the Oscar but Gravity probably won’t win best picture.  (That’s right — it’s Ang Lee and Life of Pi all over again.)

5) Speaking of predictions, I totally nailed Best Supporting Actress, correctly predicting that Sally Hawkins would be nominated and Oprah Winfrey would be snubbed.  So yay me!

6) There’s been a lot of speculation about why the Academy snubbed Oprah but was it really that surprising?  Lee Daniel’s The Butler was an aggressively safe and rather banal film, a fact that became even more obvious when it was compared against 12 Years A Slave.  Looking back over the past year, it’s obvious that most Oscar watchers decided early on that Oprah was an Oscar front-runner solely because she’s Oprah Winfrey.  Her victory was perceived as being predestined and the majority of the online film community were too  busy hopping on the bandwagon to actually realize that nobody was really that enthusiastic about either The Butler or Oprah’s performance.

7) After Meryl Streep gave her speech criticizing Walt Disney at the National Board of Review, a lot of people speculated that she may have either hurt her chances to be nominated for August: Osage County or that she may have hurt the chances of Emma Thompson and Saving Mr. Banks.  Not surprisingly, Awards Daily’s Sasha “I am a Genius” Stone took it upon herself to write a typically condescending post where she defended Meryl Streep, said the speech would not hurt Thompson’s chances, and that everyone but her was an idiot.

Well, I’m not going to speculate on whether Sasha was correct or not.  However, on Thursday morning, Meryl Streep was nominated for August: Osage County (a film that has, to be put it generously, received mixed reviews) while Emma Thompson was not.  Furthermore, Saving Mr. Banks was not nominated for Best Picture and Tom Hanks was not nominated for playing Walt Disney.

Now, to be honest, it’s tempting to say that this was all because of Meryl’s speech but that’s a rather simplistic way to look at it (which, of course, is one reason why a lot of people are saying just that).  The fact of the matter is that Saving Mr. Banks was a film made by Disney to primarily celebrate itself.  Regardless of how well-made the film may have been, it was still hard to escape the idea that it was essentially a commercial.

8 ) Incidentally, there were two films that I really did not want to have to see.  One was Philomena, because the commercials were kinda tedious and it looked like the type of film that all of my girlfriends would be like, “Oh Lisa, you would love this movie so much,” which would almost obligated me to watch it and try to find a reason to dislike it.  (Because nobody tells me what to like…)

The other was August: Osage County, largely because mainstream Hollywood always messes things up whenever they try to make a movie about the middle of the country.  I’ve lived in Oklahoma, I’ve got family in Oklahoma, and I’m bored with films about how much people in California and New York think that the rest of us suck.

However, thanks to the Oscar nominations, I’m now going to have to sit through both of them.  Hopefully, my instincts will be proven wrong and they’ll be turn out to be better than I am expecting.

9) I was really hoping that James Franco would somehow get nominated for Best Supporting Actor but sadly, it did not happen.  However, I was happy that Barkhad Abdi got nominated because he really was the best thing about Captain Phillips.

Consider this: Jonah Hill is now the most honored member of the cast of Superbad.

10) I was really surprised that neither Tom Hanks nor Robert Redford was nominated for Best Actor.  Leonardo DiCaprio deserves the Oscar but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bruce Dern win.  And I bet he’ll gives a great acceptance speech.

11) Going into the nominations, 12 Years A Slave was considered by most to be the front-runner.  After the nominations were announced, 12 Years A Slave suddenly looked a lot weaker.  While it was nominated in all of the major categories, it also failed to pick up nominations for some of the categories — like Cinematography and Sound — that it seemed like a natural for.  At the same time, American Hustle got all of the nominations it was expected to receive and a few unexpected ones as well.  12 Years A Slave is still a strong contender but, looking at the nominations, American Hustle seems to have the momentum.

12) Regardless of what wins in March, the best film of 2013 remains Upstream Color.