Friday, January 16, 2015

Film Friday: Oscar Noms and Snubs

Since I was very young, our family would always watch the Oscars. Los Angeles is the movie town, with thousands of people working at the film studios, production companies and costumers, not to mention the hundreds of restaurants and other businesses that cater to the various film productions shooting in and around town. My hometown is on the outskirts of L.A., but it is a bastion for film and television production, providing a big boost to the economy. Seldom does someone not say that they have some involvement with "the industry." All that being said, there is something special about living in L.A. on Oscar night, since the town practically shuts down for the Academy Awards. Couple that with the fact that I and several family members are big film fans or work for the studios and it's easy to see why the Oscars are the awards show most significant to us.

The nominees for Best Picture are...
American Sniper
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

As of this writing, I've seen four of the nominees and hope to see three more. Selma was fantastic with a great performance by David Oyelowo and was the first film I saw this year that I walked out of the theater thinking "That is a sure-fire Oscar best picture." Birdman was good, but I didn't love it as much as the critics did. The Imitation Game and The Theory of Everything both were pretty good and I favored Theory a touch more, but I'm hesitant to say they were the definitive Best Picture.

As good as those films may be, it isn't Oscar season without snubs. When Ben Affleck was left out of the Best Director race for Argo in 2012, I thought that would be the last time in a long while that there would be a snub of that epic of proportions. Boy, was I wrong. The omission of The Lego Movie is nothing short of highway robbery. That film has been ranked No. 1 on my rankings for most of the year, was named the presumptive winner by many Oscar handicappers and has a ridiculously high score on Rotten Tomatoes. I went into the movie with little expectation and was beyond pleasantly surprised after viewing it. The film has a lot of heart and can be enjoyed by the widest possible audience while still being smart. It doesn't stoop down to children and entertains adults as well. Were the other animation contenders like Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2 good? Absolutely, but they would have been no match for Lego, whose sole nomination was for the song "Everything is Awesome."

Other notable snubs include Gone Girl and Nightcrawler for Best Picture, Ava DuVernay (director) and Oyelowo (actor) for Selma (both pictured at right). Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo (acting), David Fincher (director) and Gillian Flynn (adapted screenplay) also got snubbed for Nightcrawler and Gone Girl, respectively. Having said that, some of the categories like actor and director were stacked full of viable nominees, so I'm less disappointed over these than the glaringly obvious omission of Lego.

For a full list of the nominees, click here. I'll be revealing my picks before Oscar night Feb. 22.

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