The Academy Award nominations are in! But you already knew that. Like 99% of America, you likely haven’t seen too many of the nominees yet. The complete list is available in myriad locations (here’s the example I’ve been using for reference), so I don’t see a point in wasting time or space copying, pasting, and reformatting all that off someone else’s site. The nice thing about running my own site is I have no high-pressure word-count quotas to meet.
I’ve seen and written about three of the nominees so far — Birdman, Boyhood, and Selma — all of which I super-liked, all of which I wish could win all the prizes, one of which was dealt a far crappier hand than the other two by the elderly white voting majority of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences. Perhaps Selma‘s most egregious error was in failing to better balance the dual celebrations of black and white nobility like The Help did. Who can say.
The following lists and other thoughts popped into my head throughout the day while I mulled over this year’s honorees:
Eight talked-about films not nominated for Best Picture:
Into the Woods
A Most Violent Year
Films not nominated for Best Visual Effects:
Amazing Spider-Man 2
Edge of Tomorrow
The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies
Transformers: Age of Extinction
Snubbed animated features, for better or worse:
Book of Life
The LEGO Movie
Mr. Peabody and Sherman
The Nut Job
The Penguins of Madagascar
Planes: Fire & Rescue
Best Picture nominees with zero nominations for acting or directing:
Films with any nonwhite nominees for acting or directing:
Ideal categories for pigeonholing Selma:
Best Original Song
Best Black Film
Best Religious Film
Best Film with a Lady Director (Can her snub be any more reductive? Say, relabel her a directress? directorette?)
Best Film with Any Shred of Relevance to Major Headlines
Best Film with 99% or Higher on the Tomatometer
Best Film Costarring Anyone from The Wire
Films receiving exactly two nominations:
Guardians of the Galaxy
Best Fight #1: Boyhood vs. Birdman. I’d hate to have to decide between them.
Best Fight #2: Interstellar vs. Best Sound category fans who hated Nolan’s experiment. (Them: “Booo! I couldn’t hear some of the dialogue!” Nolan: “YOU WEREN’T SUPPOSED TO! THAT WAS THE WHOLE POINT!” Them: “Lalalalala now we can’t hear YOU.”)
The Fruitvale Station Honorary Award for Best Films With Zero Nominations: Snowpiercer (I’m sure it was ineligible since it was released overseas in 2013, but still), and the two documentaries I saw last year, Life Itself and The Internet’s Own Boy.
(Related note: I’m surprised I’ve heard of a record-breaking two of the Best Documentary Feature nominees. Citizenfour, about the fugitive Edward Snowden, sounds like one of those movies I really ought to see; and Virunga, which Netflix has been plugging like crazy on Twitter for the past few months.)
The Best Original Song nominees, in order from Most Awesome to Most Just-Okay:
1. “Everything is AWESOME!!!“, Tegan and Sara, featuring the Lonely Island — The sonic equivalent of a triple-sauced hot fudge sundae with quadruple-chocolate ice cream and eight kinds of chocolate candy toppings. Consume it once and you’ll be bouncing and sleepless for days. Have it several times in a row, and the management will not be held responsible for the consequences or the awesomeness thereof.
2. “Glory“, John Legend and Common — Lyrically sharp, topical, inspiring, spiritual, and emotional. I have one personal issue with it: needs drums. I mean a real drum presence. A few subtle cymbal and tom-tom rolls are nice, I guess, but if someone out there in the land of remixes could turn this into a fierce big-beat march, then it rockets to #1 on my chart.
3. “I’m Not Gonna Miss You“, Glen Campbell — From the documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, which followed the famed country singer along on a farewell tour complicated by the onset of Alzheimer’s. Despite some issues along the way (I know for a fact things went awry during his Indianapolis show), he soldiered on and now he’s Academy Award Nominee Glen Campbell. This final track (Campbell has been living in an Alzheimer’s facility since last April) is from the viewpoint of a husband who admits he’s selfishly happy that he’ll never know what it’s like to grieve for his wife because he’s dying first. My wife would punch me in the face if I sang something like that to her, even if I were dying. Country music doesn’t get much darker than that. I hope.
4. “Grateful“, Rita Ora — A self-empowerment anthem from the acclaimed pitfalls-of-pop-life drama Beyond the Lights about how living through tragedies and mistakes can make us better and stronger once we reach the other side. It’s positive and it swings about as well as any other heavily produced radio-friendly single, but teen-Me has a deep-down knee-jerk reaction knowing it’s written by professional Top-40 careerist Diane Warren. I might rate it higher if it had played somewhere in the middle of the Selma end credits.
5. “Lost Stars“, Adam Levine — From the Keira Knightley pitfalls-of-corporate-rock indie drama Begin Again, it’s…an acoustic ballad by the Maroon 5 guy. PASS.
We now have thirty-seven days until the main event on February 22nd. Viewers, start your viewing nnnnnnow. And feel free to diversify your Oscar-season playlist with a few coulda-been contenders that you think were cruelly overlooked. The nice thing about compiling your own best-of list is you don’t have to let the Academy’s limitations define your boundaries.