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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Oscar Announcement Reactions

By Joshua Handler

Better late than never, here are my reactions to last Thursday's Oscar nomination announcement: 

The most exciting nomination today was Marion Cotillard's for Two Days, One Night, the Dardennes' newest masterpiece.  Cotillard's Best Actress nomination is huge given the fact that the film is still in extremely limited release, has little to no awards campaign, and is not in English.  The performance is also the greatest of 2014, so to see it recognized by the Academy is very exciting.

The Salt of the Earth is nominated for Best Documentary.  As one of the best films of 2014, it's wonderful to see it nominated.

Bennett Miller, Richard Linklater, and Wes Anderson are nominated for Best Director.  Bennett Miller's surprise nomination for directing Foxcatcher is exciting given that no one expected it and so much of the film's success is due to his slow-burn, unnervingly meditative approach.  Richard Linklater and Wes Anderson should've each been nominated many times in the past for their consistently strong direction, but they haven't.  I'm thrilled that their latest films, Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel, have struck a chord with the director's branch.

Bradley Cooper is nominated for his third Oscar in a row.  His performance in American Sniper is his best, and I'm thrilled to see his work honored.

Whiplash is nominated for five Oscars including Best Picture.  It's my favorite movie of the past year.  Enough said.

Ida was nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar.  This nomination is a bit of a surprise, but is very well-deserved.

The most ridiculous snubs were for Selma, a landmark film that deserved screenplay, director, actor, supporting actress, and cinematography nominations.  The film was only nominated for Best Picture and Best Song.

Hands-down the biggest surprise this year was the fact that The LEGO Movie was not nominated for Best Animated Feature.

The second biggest surprise was Life Itself's snub in the documentary feature category.  Steve James should've had multiple films nominated in the past, but none have been.  Jesse Moss' The Overnighters also should've been nominated for Best Documentary Feature.

Nightcrawler's lack of nominations other than Best Original Screenplay is deeply disappointing.  Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo gave two of the best performances of the year, yet neither was nominated.  And a Best Picture nomination would've been nice.

Robert Elswit should've either been nominated for the Best Cinematography Oscar for either Nightcrawler or Inherent Vice, yet wasn't nominated for either.

Foxcatcher is superb and should've been nominated for Best Picture.  As were Wild and Into the Woods.

The Adapted Screenplay category had two huge snubs: Nick Hornby's screenplay for Wild and Gillian Flynn's for Gone Girl.  Hornby's screenplay was subtly moving and Flynn's was the perfect mix of pulp thriller and clever social commentary.

And finally, the foreign language film category.  I have seen all five films nominated, and while I like most of the ones I've seen, only two of them astounded me: Zaza Urushadze's humane anti-war film, Tangerines, and Damián Szifrón's Wild Tales, an inventive, completely insane film comprised of tales of revenge.

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