Today the Oscar nominations were announced. I love the Oscars. It is the Artists’ Super Bowl/Olympics/World Cup all wrapped in one. So many kinds of artists are required to make a film. Oh, to be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences!!! Although we watched every year as a family, my love was cemented when I laid eyes on one. I wrote this bit about it in 2008:
The actors are nice, but I’m going to see them ad nauseum repeated on every news broadcast, info-tainment program, entertainment-style blog, and magazine cover. I LOVE, actually I FLOVE (you know what the “F” is for) the real awards – the Arts and Science of Motion Pictures. I love the costumes (Edith Head), I love the makeup (Rick Baker), I love the score (okay, I AM sick of John Williams), I love the art direction, I love the writing, I FLOVE the animators. I love seeing artists, real artists choke up over being recognized in front of an international audience. Their peers have chosen them, the people who know what sound editing, and cinematography, and visual effects really are, and really mean to the ultimate success of a motion picture. (Don’t you love that expression “motion picture”? stop and think about it!).
In April of 1979 I was at Dorval Airport waiting for a friend to arrive from Edmonton, at the other arrival gate we noticed a group of about 30 people with a camera or two manned by CBC staffers, so forget our friend, we’re watching this gate….. Well two (not-movie-star-style) people start down the escalator carrying gym bags, the crowd goes wild, we get in close…. They open the gym bags and lift out an Oscar ® each…. They are mobbed as they hit the floor, they hold out the Oscars ®, never letting go, Oscar ® firm in grip, I get in close, maybe 3-4 feet away…. They are impressive, no, they are FIMPRESSIVE!!!!! OH MY GOD….. It is John Weldon and Eunice MacAulay fresh from Los Angeles, fresh from winning for Best Animated Short (“Special Delivery”, NFB)…. I want one, I want one SO BAD. Years later I finally consider what categories I might eventually be eligible in… hmmmm… original screenplay?? animated short? live-action short? documentary short? (note: does not play well with others).
There are 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press. If, in any category in the Golden Globes, there are five nominees – a winner could get all 93 votes and win. If all the votes went to only two nominees, a winner could get 47 votes and win. If the category is really tight and the votes are spread evenly, a winner could get 19 votes and win.
The People’s Choice basically rewards the most popular who have already been rewarded with the money at the box office. I have never seen the point. I don’t even care about any of the red carpets, I can watch the highlights the next day.
The only way to vote for an Oscar, is to have been a nominee, or to be specifically invited – and you don’t buy your way into the Academy. (Unless you count massive marketing campaigns that help a person be noticed for a nomination in the first place.) There are thousands of members, all knowledgeable about the actual difficulty and art of making films in all regards.
Editors know what makes good editing. Sound technicians know what makes good sound. Directors know that all the components are required for a film to have its maximum impact. Sure, some will vote for their friends, but I think most are pretty serious about how they vote, and respect their professions.
Every single category is important. The categories should NOT be trimmed, because every category makes the movie distinct. A different editor, a different cinematographer, makeup, effects – would change your movie-going experience.
The only category that bothers me certain years is Song – and that is because these days the song is seldom integrated into the movie and instead played over the credits for an exit “mood”. Last year “Let It Go” was integral to the Frozen movie, a high point narratively, so it is important to the overall film, and deserved a win.
But this year three nominees in Song jumped out at me: “Everything is Awesome” because despite not having seen the Lego Movie I am guessing it occurs during the action, and it’s a quirky catchy fun song. “Glory” is specific in a meaningful way because it relates the events of Selma to today (even though again I do not know where it is placed in the film – however end credits in a historical/biographical film are often integral to the film) and it is a very good song. I really enjoyed Common’s acceptance speech at the Golden Globes. And Glen Campbell – there is a Glen Campbell song from a documentary on his last tour of his life before full blown Alzheimers sets in. If it is possible that Glen Campbell will be there and perform this song (that I have not heard) I know I will cry. And if he cannot be there, I will cry too. The song is titled “I’m Not Gonna Miss You”. Glen Campbell is a very well respected musician and has had a very cool career, cooler than most people realize.
So, I have seen only one of the nominated films, but I do know something about all the main nominees. I will not be seeing Guardians of the Galaxy (2), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (1), X-Men: Days of Future Past (1), or The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies (1). For those who love those genres – these categories push these artists forward to create even better films next time. Nominations in artistic categories have made me notice these films again:
- Interstellar 5
- Unbroken 3
- Ida 2
- Dawn of the Planet of the Apes 1
- Maleficent 1
I saw the film Mr. Turner (about JMW Turner, an artist whose works I love) and while I would hesitate to recommend it because of its narrative style, I was blown away by the scenes set at the Salon in Paris. It was as close to being there as I think anyone could ever reproduce. The film is up for Cinematography, Costume Design, Score, and especially Production Design for which Suzie Davies and Charlotte Watts deserve a win. A nomination made me want to learn these artists’ names, and that they are first time nominees. Director Mike Leigh knew what he was doing to hire them! Since he is a repertoire style director, I shall look up to see if he always uses them…
Canada and the National Film Board are big winners in animated shorts, and I immediately noticed Torill Kove: Me and My Moulton. I remember seeing her film My Grandmother Ironed the King’s Shirts and I know that she won for yet another short (gotta look her up) !
Three documentaries piqued my interest: CitizenFour (about Edward Snowden), something attached to Wim Wenders!, and Virunga (sounds familiar???) – again to the internet!! For foreign-languages film: Ida, the entry from Poland is also up for cinematography, and Leviathan, the film from Russia won the Golden Globes – both worth scanning the art-house cinema’s upcoming schedule to see if they will play locally.
There are seven films vying for main honours and award tallies, followed by five somewhat less prominent films (but still with multiple nominations) with at least one major category, and five with a single major nomination. That is seventeen films that people will check out or notice, or maybe make a list to see (as below).
I expect Richard Linklater and Boyhood to get Writing, Directing and Film – for the success of a big risk taking movie. J.K. Simmons seems to be a lock for Whiplash (Supporting). Patricia Arquette is the most likely Supporting Actress winner, but YAY for Laura Dern (Wild) and for Emma Stone (Birdman)! You’re in the Academy! You can hang out with Jennifer Lawrence at a voting party next year! (I know, pathetic fangurrrl…)
Acting will be between Michael Keaton (Birdman) and Eddie Redmayne (Everything) knocking out Hawke*. Let’s say Keaton for the film resonating with Hollywood. Felicity Jones (Everything) and Julianne Moore (Alice) and Rosamund Pike (Girl) have all had great reviews in notable films, while Marion Cotillard (Days) and Reese Witherspoon (Wild) already have Oscars. Moore might be the favourite, but I’m going Pike – to make a round of first timers (first nomination into the win) for all the major categories. (I’m fudging a little, because Linklater has been nominated in Adapted Screenplay before, but Boyhood is an Original Screenplay.) I have no feeling for a favourite for Adapted so I’m with Whiplash – for all that abusive dialogue Simmons is going to win for.
- Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) 9
- The Grand Budapest Hotel 9
- The Imitation Game 8
- American Sniper 6
- Boyhood 6
- The Theory of Everything 5
- Whiplash 5
- Foxcatcher 4
- Into The Woods 3
- Inherent Vice 2
- Selma 2
- Wild 2
- Gone Girl 1
- Still Alice 1
- The Judge 1
- Two Days One Night 1
- Nightcrawler 1
*Edit – I realized shortly after writing that Ethan Hawke is in the Supporting category.