Final Predictions – Oscars 2015

We’re only a week out from the big day. All the precursors are in, so it’s time to go on the record. These are my picks for who’s going to win at the Oscars next Sunday night (Feb. 22), along with some bet-hedging and griping about what should’ve been nominated in the first place. Agree? Disagree? Let’s find out.

Best Animated Short: “Feast”

Best Live Action Short: “The Phone Call”

Best Documentary Short: “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1”

Predicting the short categories isn’t quite the blind stab that it used to be, thanks to improved distribution that has gotten the nominees out into theaters and various streaming services ahead of the ceremony. But, since most of the Academy members are now watching these at home on screeners rather than at official in-theater screenings, in some ways it’s become even more difficult to gauge how they’re leaning. So it’s still a bit of a crapshoot, but I’m betting on the following: 1) without a standout opponent, the lavish production value and style of Disney’s “Feast” will rule the day in the animated field; 2) familiar face Sally Hawkins (a Supporting Actress nominee just last year) will lean voters towards “The Phone Call” in live action; and 3) the heart-breaking but ultimately optimistic subject matter of “Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” (exactly what it sounds like) makes voting for it in documentary feel both good and important, which is exactly the spot where the Academy loves to be.

Best Documentary Feature

Laura Poitras’ first-hand account of Edward Snowden’s leak of classified NSA documents and his flight to Russia has been stream-rolling through the documentary prizes this season, and there’s pretty much no reason to think it won’t win here. “Finding Vivian Maier” was an unexpected art-house hit, but “Citizenfour” has immediate political resonance, and the Academy tends to favor right here-right now docs.

Will win: “Citizenfour”

Could win: “Finding Vivian Maier”

Should’ve been here: (abstain – I’ve been really behind on the documentaries this year)

Best Original Song

One of the first seriously difficult calls of the night. The favorite among the audiences at home will obviously be “Everything Is AWESOME,” Tegan + Sara’s outrageously infective tune from “The LEGO Movie,” but there are some big subplots going on underneath two of the other nominees. There was of course much talk of the general lack of “Selma” in the Oscar nominations, but this is one of the only places where DuVernay’s movie slipped through, and voters upset by the film’s absence elsewhere may very well automatically tick it off here (the fact that it’s a great, fierce song, is actually an appropriate cap to the film, and had a much-discussed performance as the Grammys last week helps too). But then there’s “I’m Not Gonna Miss You” by Glen Campbell, country superstar and occasional actor who is now suffering from Alzheimer’s. The nominated song is effectively the last one that Campbell will ever write, and that narrative will likely play gangbusters with the Academy’s older generation. This category won’t tell us who will win Best Picture, but pay close attention anyway – it may tell us a lot about how Academy demographics are (or are not) shifting.

Will win:“Glory,” from “Selma”

Could win: “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” from “Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me”

Should’ve Been Here: “I Love You All,” from “Frank”

Best Sound Mixing

See here for a good run-down of the difference between Sound Mixing and Sound Editing – but the upshot is that musicals tend to fare well in Mixing, where all the disparate dialogue, score and effects tracks are combined into one comprehensible soundtrack (the inclusion of “Interstellar” here is a mystery in that regard). That’s good news for “Whiplash” and “Birdman,” both of which rely heavily on their jazz-infused scores. “Birdman” is the technical marvel of the year, but I’m thinking that the outlier status of “Whiplash” here means something special.

Will win: “Whiplash”

Could win: “Birdman”

Should’ve been here: “Under the Skin,” “God Help the Girl”

Best Sound Editing

With “Whiplash” out of the way here, the general voters will gravitate more towards their favorite film.

Will win: “Birdman”

Could win: “American Sniper”

Should’ve been here: “Under the Skin,” “The Babadook”

Best Visual Effects

Another tough call. More ground-breaking motion-capture work from Andy Serkis and the “Planet of the Apes” team? Universally beloved “Guardians of the Galaxy?” Ballyhooed, practical space effects from “Interstellar?” There’s a lot of options here and you could make a good case for any. Going with my gut here.

Will win: “Interstellar”

Could win: “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”

Should’ve been here: “Under the Skin”

Best Film Editing

All five nominees are in the Best Picture hunt, so there are no particular clues there. “American Sniper” has the traditional scenes of war suspense/thrills that can do well here, while Sandra Adair had the unenviable task of paring down footage shot over 12 years to put together “Boyhood.” But since it’s a film that’s all about rhythm, the editing in “Whiplash” is the most obvious – and obviously great, even for non-editors.

Will win: “Whiplash”

Could win: “Boyhood”

Should’ve been here: “Under the Skin”

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

And now we enter Wes Anderson territory. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” was perhaps the most unexpected awards season success of the year, running away with tons of love from both the critics and the guilds. Anderson’s aesthetic is always about meticulous design, and this seems to be the year we’re rewarding him for his whole back catalog of great craft. Expect a GBH runaway in the middle of the show.

Will win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Could win: “Foxcatcher”

Should’ve been here: “The Babadook”

Best Costume Design

See above.

Will win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Could win: “Mr. Turner”

Should’ve been here: “A Most Violent Year”

Best Production Design

See above, again; though the practical, non-green-screened spaceship sets of “Interstellar” has its advocates.

Will win: “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Could win: “Interstellar”

Should’ve been here: “Snowpiercer”

Best Cinematography

After a decade of futility, the man they call Chivo is now an unstoppable Oscar machine. More or less no question now that he’ll triumph over Roger Deakins (again) – the big one is, can he be back next year for Iñárritu’s “The Revenant” and make it three in a row?

Will win: Emmanuel Lubezki, “Birdman”

Could win: Robert Yeoman, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Should’ve been here: Daniel Landin, “Under the Skin,” Bradford Young, “Selma”

Best Animated Feature

A category that seemed locked up a year ago was suddenly, but briefly thrown into chaos by the inexplicable exclusion of “The LEGO Movie.” But when the dust settled after that kerfuffle it seems fairly obvious what the second-most-beloved animated film of the year was.

Will win: “How to Train Your Dragon 2”

Could win: “Big Hero 6”

Should’ve been here: “The LEGO Movie,” of course

Best Foreign Language Film

Wow. I’ve seen three of the nominees and already this category is so much better than the Best Picture lineup, you guys. “Leviathan,” “Ida” and “Timbuktu” are all off-the-charts good: gorgeously crafted, devastating social-political dramas that leave you feeling worn down but enlightened about some piece of human nature. But when it comes to this category, that’s exactly what will probably work against them: they’re all so good, in similar ways, so how do you choose between them? That’s why I’m leaning towards “Wild Tales,” Damian Szifron’s reportedly insanely entertaining anthology film, to triumph. It just stands out the most, the same way Argentina’s “The Secret In Their Eyes” pulled ahead of “The White Ribbon” and “A Prophet” a few years back.

Will win: “Wild Tales” (Argentina)

Could win: “Leviathan” (Russia)

Should’ve been here: “Force Majeure” (Sweden)

Best Original Score:

Tricky. Alexandre Desplat’s greatest competition might be himself; will fans of “The Imitation Game” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” split between the two or rally behind one to make sure Desplat is rewarded? (“Grand Budapest” could and should be that option if so) But, don’t count out Jóhann Jóhannson; there are some serious fans of that film in the Academy, and Jóhannson’s score is undoubtedly one of the best and brightest things about it.

Will win: Alexandre Desplat, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Could win: Jóhann Jóhannson, “The Theory of Everything”

Should’ve been here: Mica Levi, “Under the Skin”

Best Original Screenplay:

Ugh, the category that is my perpetual downfall in this competition. Too often I lean towards a Best Picture frontrunner, trying to take in the overall picture rather than just going for the option with the strongest personality behind it (e.g. Quentin Tarantino for “Django Unchained,” Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris”). So I’m going to try to self-correct this year and say instead of the flashy, but by-committee “Birdman” screenplay, they continue to dole out a career reward to Wes Anderson, who has certainly been one of the most unique voices in film this past decade or two.

Will win: Wes Anderson, “The Grand Budapest Hotel”

Could win: Alejandro Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, Armando Bo, “Birdman”

Should’ve been here: John Michael McDonagh, “Calvary,” J.C. Chandor, “A Most Violent Year”

Best Adapted Screenplay

Man. Who the f— knows. Again, the go-with-the-best-picture-leader theory would lean us towards the prestige drama of “The Imitation Game” or “The Theory of Everything,” but both of those films are so strongly oriented toward their performances rather than the screenplay. “Inherent Vice” is flashier, but way too out there for general Academy taste. That’s why I think I have to go again with crowd-pleaser “Whiplash,” the script that’s the most in-your-face with how sharp it is. I’m just now realizing that this little Sundance drama may very well end up with four Oscars on five nominations. That’s an impressive haul.

Will win: Damien Chazelle, “Whiplash”

Could win: Graham Moore, “The Imitation Game”

Should’ve been here: Gillian Flynn, “Gone Girl”

Best Supporting Actress

Three of the four acting categories are signed, sealed and delivered. Let’s power through.

Will win: Patricia Arquette, “Boyhood”

Could win: Emma Stone, “Birdman” (but not really)

Should’ve been here: Tilda Swinton, “Snowpiercer”

Best Supporting Actor

Will win: J.K. Simmons, “Whiplash”

Could win: Edward Norton, “Birdman” (but not really)

Should’ve been here: Ben Mendehlson, “Starred Up”

Best Actress

Will win: Julianne Moore, “Still Alice”

Could win: Rosamund Pike, “Gone Girl” (but not really)

Should’ve been here: Scarlett Johannson, “Under the Skin”

Best Actor

Man oh man. This is the one that’s going to do me in this year. I can feel it. Eddie Redmayne’s hit the traditional markers of success (Golden Globe, SAG award, BAFTA), but Michael Keaton’s still hanging around there with the Golden Globe (comedy) and the “comeback” narrative. And then there’s Bradley Cooper hanging around with high praise in an unexpected box office smash, just waiting to slip up the middle and be the shock winner a la Adrien Brody. I don’t know. Literally nothing I choose feels right. I’ll be gritting my teeth all night waiting for this category.

Will win: Eddie Redmayne, “The Theory of Everything”

Could win: Michael Keaton, “Birdman”

Should’ve been here: there were so many options, they should’ve just expanded the category to ten this year – Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler,” David Oyelowo, “Selma,” Timothy Spall, “Mr. Turner,” Brendan Gleeson, “Calvary,” Joaquin Phoenix, “Inherent Vice”

Best Director

The directors guild went for Iñárritu, but I can’t help but think that from the outside looking in, more Academy members will be impressed by Linklater’s obvious achievement. Does that mean we’re headed for the second Director/Picture split year in a row…?

Will win: Richard Linklater, “Boyhood”

Could win: Alejandro Iñárritu, “Birdman”

Should’ve been here: Jonathan Glazer, “Under the Skin,” Pawel Pawlikowski, “Ida,” Andrei Zvyagintsev, “Leviathan”

Best Picture

Seemingly down big to “Boyhood,” “Birdman” swung back in the season with huge wins from the Screen Actors Guild, the Producers Guild and the Directors Guild. Only “Apollo 13” has hit that trifecta and failed to take Best Picture as well. Clearly people in the industry love it (should it triumph, we need to have a discussion about Hollywood’s recent self-obsession; believe it or not, only two films that are really explicitly about filmmaking have won Best Picture, and they’ve both come within the past five years: “The Artist” and “Argo”). The “Birdman” vs. “Boyhood” showdown smacks of last year’s “Gravity” vs. “12 Years a Slave:” two very, very different films, both great in their own way. I think another Picture/Director split leaves everyone feeling rewarded.

(Do I feel good about picking “Birdman” for Best Picture and not Michael Keaton for Best Actor? You bet I don’t. That doesn’t make any sense. But throw logic out the door this year. It’s been a bumpy ride, and I expect that to continue.)

Will win: “Birdman”

Could win: “Boyhood”

Should’ve been here: “Under the Skin,” “Ida,” “Leviathan,” “Calvary,” “Timbuktu”

Reviews: Snowpiercer and Guardians of the Galaxy

I have been severely lax this summer in keeping up with my reviews – a paucity due, in my mind at least, to a combination of increased effort put into my running diary of my summer in Maine (expect one more entry wrapping up my experience with the wonderful folks at Northeast Historic Film) and a general desire these past few months to completely turn off my brain whenever possible. It hasn’t helped that, frankly, I found most of this summer’s big-ticket offerings uninspired: solid and entertaining perhaps, but generally unworthy of extended discussion. There were exceptions of course (more on that in a minute), but getting back within striking distance of New York’s fabulous film scene is really what’s got the gears grinding again.

To limit this already overlong introduction, the point is that I’ve got a severe backlog of films to write about and no better time than now, before the semester starts, in which to do so. My thoughts might be slightly curtailed here just to keep things moving along, but feel free to chime in with some comments and we’ll see if we can get a discussion going! First up, a sci-fi double-header.

Snowpiercer

There’s a certain trend running through contemporary cinema that I like to call the New Nihilism. It’s not a movement bound by national or aesthetic loyalties – the primary examples I can think of come from filmmakers from Denmark to New Mexico, from art-house bonanzas to Netflix favorites – the unifying factor is a suggestion, whether overt or insinuated, that humanity might be better off at this point if we just hit the self-destruct button. Global annihilation is nothing new (Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay have been merrily blowing up international landmarks for 20 years now), but it’s strangely troubling to me to see the particular good-riddance attitude of Lars Von Trier seeping into even mainstream blockbusters.

Not that Bong Joon-ho’s bizarro sci-fi/action mash-up “Snowpiercer” is a mainstream blockbuster – even though he’s working for the first time in the English language and has gathered a host of recognizable Hollywood actors for the occasion, the idiosyncratic sense of genre that Bong brought to his works in Korea (“The Host,” “Memories of Murder,” “Mother”) is still firmly in place. Playing at times like a live-action adaptation of a lost attempt by Frank Miller at anime, “Snowpiercer” bounds between dark comedy and dark… just, dark. The class warfare allegory is neither subtle nor especially insightful, and the film’s screenplay (co-written by Bong and Kelly Masterson, from the graphic novel by Jacques Lob and Jean-Marc Rochette) puts undue weight on a monologue-heavy third act, but the ornaments hung on this tree are so shiny that one’s attention, and delight, is quite easily directed elsewhere.

The first and foremost thing in the film’s favor is its design: though it bears significant influence from the similar dystopian future societies of Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” and “12 Monkeys,” the train-bound, global-ice-age setting gives “Snowpiercer” a fascinating set of limitations. As Chris Evans and his motley crew of tail-end rabble make their way forward to seize control of the engine from the front-end high-rollers, each new car becomes a new challenge: not just for the upstart rebellion, but the director’s imagination. Aquarium, classroom, spa, prison – the function and form of every room becomes its own wonder.

The claustrophobic atmosphere of the train also gives the actors considerably more to do than they might in your typical action flick, as characters from both sides of the struggle bump and rattle against each other, often violently. The performances range from the earnest (Evans, unable, ultimately to the film’s detriment, to shed the all-American decency that makes him a great Steve Rogers) to the downright silly (Tilda Swinton and Allison Pill, both marvelous), but the fierce commitment of all involved to the bit somehow makes this ungainly assortment work. Song Kang-ho and Ko Ah-sung, the leading father and daughter from Bong’s “The Host,” return in similar roles here, directly walking and bolstering the fine tonal balance between irreverence and sincerity that makes Bong’s films stand out.

With a film this sly and unpredictable, it’s nearly impossible to provide an ending that’s “satisfying” in any traditional sense, and so “Snowpiercer” clatters and stutters to its less-than-inevitable conclusion. If that doesn’t sound like a compliment, I’m not sure whether it is either; your ultimate opinion on the film may lie in your general feelings toward the New Nihilism. As a genre DJ, Bong remains an elite talent; as social commentator I find his results more mixed.

Verdict: 3 out of 4 stars

Guardians of the Galaxy

I don’t know if it’s the polarization of acceptable responses brought on by the Age of Hype, or some deep-seeded personal drive toward perversity and contrarianism, but Marvel is turning me into a killjoy. I don’t like being the crotchety old man berating children from the porch, especially since the children in this metaphor are generally mild-mannered and well-intentioned: Marvel Studios has raised the action blockbuster to a level of consistent entertainment for which Hollywood has been searching for a couple decades, and they should be complimented for that. At the same time, I don’t order a Coke and come back saying it tastes like a fine Scottish malt, if you see what I’m saying.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” is a slick, smooth ride, a propulsive sci-fi adventure with a good ear for a one-liner. It’s notable among Marvel’s Phase 2 offerings to date for bearing the actual, personal stamp of its director; while “Thor: The Dark World” and “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” plodded under the restrained visual sense of former TV directors like Alan Taylor and the Russo brothers, James Gunn treats “Guardians” as more than just an expanded budget, and his fondness for bright colors and angles beyond the standard shot-reverse shot makes this film stand out among the brown-on-black Nolan copycats.

It also confirms, now that we’ve moved to a completely new sector of the Marvel universe, the studio’s savvy casting ability. Not many people would’ve seen Chris Pratt on “Parks & Recreation” and seen a leading man in the making, but Pratt has an inherent likability that keeps the audience on his side, even when his characterization errs on the side of asshole. The trend of outperforming thin material is true for more or less the whole cast, from Zoe Saldana’s Gamora (a hard-ass space assassin prone to bits of helplessness and romantic swooning at moments convenient for Pratt’s Star-Lord), Bradley Cooper’s Rocket Raccoon (the quippy bounty hunter, trying too hard to be Han Solo in a movie that already has two or three Han Solos), and Lee Pace’s villainous Ronan (who somehow manages to emote under five layers of mascara and a complete lack of character motivation). Vin Diesel, voicing the walking arboretum Groot, gets more laughs out of repetition than I would’ve thought possible, but the standout, shockingly, might be WWE wrestler-turned-actor Dave Batista as the hulking, brooding Drax: Batista’s comic timing is unexpectedly excellent, and he might be the only member of the cast actively resisting the instinct to wink at the audience every five minutes.

This latter trend is indicative of my biggest problem with “Guardians:” Gunn and company want to have their cake and eat it too, enlivening a touching story of friendship with wit and sarcasm. That is the Joss Whedon formula, and the Marvel template since “The Avengers.” But Gunn is not Whedon (few people are) and what ends up happening in “Guardians” is that any moment of emotional development is almost immediately undercut with irony, fan-service, and hilariously impermanent death, lest we be troubled for even a minute that we might lose a beloved character.

“Guardians of the Galaxy” desperately wants to be a “Star Wars” for a new generation, but it’s missing the sincere story-telling that was always at the heart of George Lucas’ series. It’s a well-constructed film – even the typical VFX-riddled third act does a better job than, say, “The Winter Soldier” of keeping sight of its characters among the explosions – but it’s cloy. The two best Marvel films – for my money, “Iron Man” and “The Avengers” – succeed because they don’t feel like they’re holding back for something EVEN BIGGER on the horizon. “Guardians of the Galaxy” is a solid introduction to an intriguing world, but I’d rather see it treated as self-contained than teased as just a piece of a puzzle.

Verdict: 2 1/2 out of 4 stars

Do You Hear What I Hear?

And so here we are, on the morning after – well, not quite. It was only earlier (much, much earlier, if you live on the West Coast) today that the Oscar nominations were announced, although the current state of entertainment news and blogging means that by now you’ve probably read at least a minimum of five lists of the biggest “snubs” and two lengthy analyses of why, exactly, the Academy Awards don’t really matter. Or do. Or are racist. A combination of all of the above, most likely.

As someone who generally views awards-watching as an outlet, more akin to a crossword puzzle hobby than a platform for analyzing cultural trends, I find myself increasingly less interested in the latter. The Oscars are what they are, a reflection of the industry rather than the heart of it. Change Hollywood and you’ll change the awards, not the other way around. In the meantime, let’s have some fun scratching our heads over this altogether peculiar group and their choices for the best of the past year in film.

And really, what a maddeningly unpredictable slate when you get right down to it. Chalk it up, perhaps, to the pure number of contenders this time around; while there was very little revealed this morning that was shocking, there were any number of small surprises, both good and bad, depending on your point of view. Despite agonizing for many hours (and making some last-minute changes that I quite regret in hindsight), I couldn’t do much better in my predictions than three or four out of five in each category; Best Adapted Screenplay was the only one I nailed outright, although I’m rather pleased with going eight for nine in Best Picture.

My only mistake in that category was in my choice of which middlebrow piece would find the hearts of (most likely older) voters. While the Academy turned out to want none of the sentimentalized inside baseball of “Saving Mr. Banks” – rejecting not only the film itself but even, surprisingly, Emma Thompson’s acclaimed lead performance as “Mary Poppins” author P.L. Travers – they embraced Stephen Frears’ “Philomena,” giving it not only a Best Picture slot but a Screenplay nod for star Steve Coogan and co-writer Jeff Pope as well. I’m kicking myself, first because I had a hunch about the film for most of the season and only recently wavered, and second because I actually rather enjoyed the movie myself and it’s not the kind of film that usually ends up in my wheelhouse; a sure sign it would definitely register with the eager British bloc, then.

A greater personal disappointment was that my last-minute sinking feeling that “Inside Llewyn Davis,” which got mostly shut out on the guild circuit, wasn’t going to register was indeed borne out, in fairly brutal fashion. I prepared myself for the eventuality that passion votes for “Her” might take away some crucial support for the Coens’ latest in Best Picture, but not even a consolatory screenplay nomination? That hurts, and I think the Oscars will end up on the wrong side of history with that one. The other really stinging snub was of Sarah Polley’s remarkable “Stories We Tell” in Best Documentary Feature; granted, I haven’t seen all of the nominees in that category, but I have a hard time imagining Polley’s devastatingly personal film not beating out any of them. We’ll always have the EMOs, Sarah.

In terms of personal (or is it pyrrhic?) victories, though, there were certainly some. The Best Picture recognition for “Her” is richly deserved, and I had hoped/thought that Spike Jonze could even garner enough support for his unique, subtle work to slide into the Best Director slate. As it happened, that spot went instead to Alexander Payne, whose “Nebraska” I also greatly admired (more thoughts on several of these films coming soon, but I thought Payne’s work here far superior and more coherent than the inconsistent “The Descendants”). Payne also edged out Paul Greengrass, whose work on “Captain Phillips” earned a Director’s Guild nomination, but always seemed more respected than adored this season.

That attitude extended for “Phillips” through the rest of the nominations as well. While newcomer Barkhad Abdi pulled out a Best Supporting Actor nod for his wiry, intense performance as a Somali pirate captain, Tom Hanks unexpectedly missed in the lead category. Considering he at one point seemed destined for a double nomination, a goose egg for Hanks has got to be a disappointing end to the season. The severely over-crowded Best Actor race was always going to be the place to look for surprises, and indeed there were a couple. Late-season-bloomers Leonardo DiCaprio and Christian Bale both crashed the party, pushing vets Hanks and Redford out of the picture. DiCaprio’s all-in performance is assuredly one of my favorites of the year, so his presence was another bright spot for me – in what suddenly seems a wide-open race, he might even have a shot at the win (McConaughey didn’t overly impress with his cut-off Golden Globes speech).

Bale’s nomination, along with Amy Adams pushing out Thompson in Best Actress, meant that the predictably popular “American Hustle” moves on with a nomination in all four acting categories – an astounding feat when you consider that makes two years in a row that David O. Russell has accomplished that for his cast (before “Silver Linings Playbook,” no one had done it for about 40 years). Once a highly unpopular director due to on-set fights with the likes of George Clooney and Lily Tomlin, Russell’s going to have actors beating down his door now.

Riding that love from the actor’s branch, “Hustle” tied for the field lead with “Gravity” at ten total nominations; “12 Years a Slave” right behind with nine. Those are your three contenders for the moment, and it’s really anybody’s game that I can see. Keep an eye out on the guild awards for the next month, and pay attention to the craft category victors early on Oscar night for signs of where we’ll be headed at the big finish.

A few final, random thoughts:

  • The most surprising snub of the day may have Sean Bobbitt’s exquisite cinematography for “12 Years a Slave.” Philippe Le Sourd and Phedon Papamichael both did great work as well on “The Grandmaster” and “Nebraska,” respectively, but that’s a wallop to Fox Searchlight’s campaign for McQueen’s film.
  • The masterful Roger Deakins, meanwhile, will get to lose that category yet again as the sole nominee for Denis Villeneuve”s thriller “Prisoners” (Deakins is 0 for 10 lifetime at the Oscars).
  • Deakins’ peer in futility, composer Thomas Newman (0 for 11 so far), also managed to be his film’s only nominee, for the original score of “Saving Mr. Banks.”
  • Indie animation distributor GKIDS worked its magic again to bring French charmer “Ernest and Celestine” into the fold. Particularly impressive considering it appears to have pushed out Pixar’s rote “Monsters University” (now only the studio’s second film, after “Cars 2,” to miss a nomination in Animated Feature).
  • Sally Hawkins earned her first-ever Oscar nod for her supporting turn in “Blue Jasmine.” Nice try, Academy, but it still doesn’t make up for ignoring her in “Happy-Go-Lucky.”
  • Jonah Hill is now a two-time Oscar nominee, and it’s not even really egregious. Try to figure that one out.
  • The “Jackass” franchise is now Oscar-nominated, and it also kind of makes sense. What is happening?
  • John Williams earned his 49th nomination for Original Score, because John Williams wrote something this year. Did anyone even SEE “The Book Thief?”
  • Speaking of not seeing things, this year’s winner for Best Original Song Nominee That Sends Everyone Scrambling to IMDB to Find a Movie You’re Pretty Sure Chris Hemsworth Just Made Up is “Alone Yet Not Alone” from “Alone Yet Not Alone” (no I still don’t know what it is, don’t ask me).
  • Megan Ellison of Annapurna Pictures became only the fourth producer ever to earn double nod in the same year, for “American Hustle” and “Her.” In the past two years, she’s carried five films to a total of twenty-four total nominations. Watch out, Hollywood.