Before I unload my outrage, I want to maintain that Cheryl Boone Isaacs is the best president A.M.P.A.S has had since Frank Pierson. And based on ‘Dick Poop’, ‘Richard Link-Later’, and an embarrassed moment of silence after announcing the Best Director nominees, she was clearly as shaken as most of us by how The Academy voted this year.
Yeah, isn’t it? To be honest, I smelled disappointment beforehand. Antonio Sanchez’s score for Birdman was disqualified, a good number of impressive films didn’t make the Foreign Language shortlist, and Whiplash was deemed an adapted screenplay.
Then suddenly (like 3 days ago), everyone started falling in love with American Sniper despite it being laced with inaccuracies all over. But since it released wide rather late, it didn’t have to shield itself from accusations the way Selma did for two whole weeks. Deep down, I was scared Selma would pay the price for Sniper‘s upsurge. There was also some overlooking from all the Guilds, but even that didn’t matter.
Here’s an entire pile of shocking snubs in the wake of the nomination announcement:
Selma in most major categories: I called it months ago on this very blog, I said Ava DuVernay will find being nominated much harder than her male counterparts. But I still hoped to be dead wrong, and for a while it seemed that I would be, DuVernay would make history. Today, I hate that I predicted that and I’m amazed that despite her film being superior to three of the nominees (no names will be named), she’s the one who got left out. Moreover, David Oyelowo’s universally acclaimed performance was also ignored in favor of Bradley Cooper. Best Actor, a crowded race this year, was bound to yield some disappointment (Gyllenhaal and Spall also robbed), but Oyelowo was a lock till the last minute, his absence is inexplicable. Bradford Young is the future, his cinematography elevates any indie in quality, also not nominated.
Life Itself: Steve James, the man notoriously overlooked for Hoop Dreams 20 years ago, found himself in the same position with his latest documentary feature despite the acclaim. Roger Ebert would give this move Two Thumbs Down.
Benoit Delhomme: If there’s one fantastic thing about The Theory Of Everything, it’s the breathtaking cinematography. But since Academy voters almost never honor groundbreaking camerawork and lighting (because DP’s should only be people who can shoot vistas of mountains and trees) and thanks to the Reserved For Roger Deakins Spot, younger virtuosos like Delhomme and Young don’t get their due.
Gillian Flynn: The only female scribe with a realistic chance of a screenplay nomination for Gone Girl, was missing from the final list of nominees, a revelation that belied months of Oscar buzz. Flynn used to be a film critic for Entertainment Weekly, could this be a vendetta against her by the voters?
Douglas Crise and Stephen Mirrione: They were supposed to win Film Editing for Birdman, not even nominated. It feels like a cruel joke, except that it isn’t.
Force Majeure: Another apparent lock (in Foreign Language Film) was somehow not in the final five, even though the race seemed down to it and Ida (both films are spectacular btw).
To be completely fair, it isn’t a total letdown, here are some of the pleasant surprises:
Beyond The Lights, the poignant yet little-promoted drama by Gina Prince-Bythewood got some love in Best Original Song with Grateful, a Diane Warren pseudo-ballad. Although, Fly Before You Fall made a far better candidate.
Marion Cotillard landed a Best Actress nod for her phenomenal work in Deux Jours, Une Nuit, and it’s pretty well-deserved. But must say, it’s hard not to feel bad for Jennifer Aniston after the tireless campaigning she did with Cake.
And FINALLY, Wes Anderson got some deserved nominations beyond his staple screenplay nod for The Grand Budapest Hotel, one of my favs this year and one of his best works.
2013 was pretty disappointing in terms of the snubs too, culminating with a horrible ceremony hosted by Seth MacFarlane (We Saw Your Boobs anyone?). But after last year’s wonderful turn, I was hoping things were looking up but clearly, this was a backlash year. Here’s hoping better for 2016.