Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

Ten things worth noting about those Oscar nominations

Yes, we know that Hanks and Redford got unexpectedly snubbed. The superb Inside Llewyn Davis was robbed. But what else?

Fri, Jan 17, 2014, 17:48


1. A film by David O Russell has, for the second year running, received nominations in all four acting categories. Before last year, when he managed the sweep with Silver Linings Playbook, no film has managed that feat since Warren Beatty’s Reds in 1982. American Hustle will (despite not being very good) take some beating.

2. For only the second year since the award’s inception, an eligible Pixar film has failed to make the best animated feature shortlist. The so-so Monsters University shares that unhappy record with the dire Cars 2. Meanwhile, the company’s corporate partners at Walt Disney animation look set to triumph with the magnificent Frozen. Things could get tense in the canteen.

3. If you surveyed any Oscar boffin three months ago, he or she might have argued that the two female acting Oscars were already decided: Cate Blanchett was set to win lead for Blue Jasmine; Oprah Winfrey had supporting in the bag for The Butler. Blanchett retains favourite spot. But, after lacklustre early awards-season scores, Ms Winfrey was not even nominated. She’ll be mad.

4. Where is the little film that could? Over the last decade — and particularly since the number of nominations was increased — a smallish indie has usually battered its way to a best-picture nod: Winter’s Bone, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Precious. It’s nice to see the cracking Philomena there. But, with Harvey Weinstein behind the campaign, an experienced director like Stephen Frears at the helm, and seven-time nominee Judi Dench in the cast, that film doesn’t really meet the criterion.

5. Out there in the Narnia that is best documentary, two of the most favoured films failed to make the grade. Before post, there seemed to be three certain nominees: The Act of Killing, Blackfish and Stories We Tell. Blackfish, a film on the treatment of Orcas in captivity, has been causing Sea World much embarrassment since its release. Sarah Polley’s Stories We Tell is among the best reviewed films of the year. Yet neither made it in. Act of Killing looks strong.

6. Bad Grandpa received more nominations than The Butler, Blue is the Warmest Colour and Fruitvale Station put together. Okay. This is a bit of a cheat. The Jackass film got one nod for best makeup or hairstyling, whereas none of those much-fancied films received a single nomination. Still, this does highlight the oddness of the Oscars.

7. Every single one of the nine pictures nominated for best film was released in the US between October and December. This is depressing news as it will encourage the studios to stick with their theory that Oscar voters are so doddery they can’t remember anything they saw in August. Of course, there is real chicken-and-egg situation here. If you only release films that are likely to win Oscars in the later months then you are just assisting that bias.

8. To the bewilderment of just about everybody, an obscure ditty from an unheralded Christian film made it into the best original song race. The shortlisting of “Alone Yet Not Alone” from Alone Yet Not has already kicked up some controversy. The godless heathens at Deadline inform us that Bruce Broughton, composer of the song, is a a former Governor of the Academy and a former head of its music branch and that William Ross, composer of the film’s score, is conductor of the Oscar ceremony’s orchestra. Just a coincidence.

9. Jennifer Lawrence is in a strong position to break two records. Currently a slight favourite in the best supporting actress race, Lawro, should she convert, will become the first woman to win back-to-back acting awards since Katharine Hepburn in 1967 and 1968. She would also become the youngest person to win two acting Oscars. Mind you, will the voters want to elevate the Lawster so quickly into the ionosphere?

10. Despite heading the nominations table, American Hustle somehow managed to miss out on a nod for best hair and makeup. The performances were pretty good. The music supervision was up to scratch. But the wigs were the film’s strongest selling point. Weren’t they?