Oscar Isaac plays a pissy '60s folk singer who likes cats in the Coen Brothers' "Inside Llewyn Davis." Credit: Alison Rosa
For reasons that have always seemed cruel and unusual, the city of Los Angeles got mobilized early this morning to announce the Academy Award nominations at a time even the East Coast found a bit early. It was 5:30 a.m. PST when Chris Hemsworth — the star of the once-presumed-Oscar-bound “Rush” — and AMPAS public relations representative Cheryl Boone Isaacs dryly read off the list of obvious and not so obvious Oscar nominees for 2013.
Even more than the Golden Globes — which at least separate certain categories into sometimes haphazardly defined “drama” and “musical and/or comedy” factions — the Oscars can be a frustrating bunch, especially as they’re the awards most people will pay attention to in the future.
“American Hustle” inevitably ran off with 10 nominations. So did “Gravity,” although most of its noms were technical ones a more actor-driven film like “Hustle” could never dream of scoring — even one with ‘70s duds and Christian Bale’s impressive combination toupee-and-combover. “12 Years a Slave” was right behind them with nine, including citations for director Steve McQueen as well as actors Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o.
“Nebraska” got six, as did “Dallas Buyers Club.” Despite some controversy over certain op-ed writers who thought it should have been more obvious about not approving of what it depicted, “The Wolf of Wall Street” nabbed five, including one that Leonardo DiCaprio ought to win.
It’s here that we shall engage in the traditional bout of pointing out all the perceived “snubs,” even if that would imply that AMPAS voters actually get together and talk about all the acclaimed people and films they’re going to thumb their nose at. (They don’t.)
Still, we’re assuming there was some write-in problem that resulted in the Coen brothers’ exceedingly liked “Inside Llewyn Davis” getting shut out of everything but cinematography (for Bruno Delbonnel) and sound mixing. The Oscars have historically loved the Coens, and it was just assumed “Llewyn” would at least be among the 10 — 10! — Best Picture noms, with perhaps star Oscar Isaac garnering a little love. (Alas, the most memorable song — “Please Mr. Kennedy,” featuring Adam Driver whooping and injecting odd commentary in the background, was deemed ineligible.)
None of that happened. Perhaps half the voters mistakenly wrote in “Llewellyn?” Let that be a lesson to acclaimed filmmakers trying to use weird names in their titles.
Meanwhile, “The Croods” got one nomination.
Among the other genuine shock “snubs” include Robert Redford, whose wordless performance as the only man in the nautical survivalist drama “All is Lost” was widely seen as one of his finest turns, a comeback in a year that also saw his lackluster (but not terrible) “The Company You Keep.”
Tom Hanks gave two performances made for Oscar voters: one that deserved it (“Captain Phillips,” whose final scene contains arguably his finest work) and one that didn’t (“Saving Mr. Banks”). “Saving Mr. Banks” only scored a single nom for Thomas Newman’s sickly score, and we should be glad it was only one, despite our for Emma Thompson in general.
Also missing was “Captain Phillips”’ director, Paul Greengrass, who in fact directed the hell out of the picture — certainly sweating roughly ten thousand times more than “Nebraska” helmsman Alexander Payne, who did get nominated.
“Lee Daniels’ The Butler” was dissed by the Globes, and the Oscars did the same thing. But it was expected AMPAS would pick up on “Fruitvale Station,” the Sundance favorite that became a sizable indie hit this year. Star Michael B. Jordan was considered a favorite, and would have deserved it to boot.
Also licking its wounds is Sarah Polley’s documentary “Stories We Tell,” which was AWOL — but at least voters didn’t recoil from “The Act of Killing” in horror. The intensely disturbing doc, that hangs with remorseless Indonesian former death squad members, was nominated, as was the small and rather excellent “The Missing Picture.”
Here’s a little shout-out for Daniel Bruhl, who should have been singled out for his work in “Rush,” and would have had anyone seen it. He was incredible, as were his false teeth.
And still, at least “Before Midnight” got recognized for its script. That was nice.
The Oscars air Sunday, March 2. The complete list is below:
"American Hustle" "Captain Phillips" "Dallas Buyers Club" "Gravity" "Her" "Nebraska" "Philomena" "12 Years A Slave" "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Christian Bale, "American Hustle" Bruce Dern, "Nebraska" Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Wolf of Wall Street" Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years A Slave" Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club"