Another year, another set of Academy Award nominations, and while it’s great that well-deserved films such as Boyhood and The Grand Budapest Hotel are getting recognition, as usual we seem to spend more time talking about what isn’t on the list than what is. Here is the rundown of the most eyebrow-raising omissions this year.
The Lego Movie
After Transformers no one could have predicted that a film based on a toy could become one of the most extraordinary films of the year. The Lego Movie came out of nowhere and delivered way more than was expected of it in terms of laughs, characters and emotion. Its omission from the nominations for Best Animated Feature is criminal on the Academy’s behalf; their only saving grace is that the irresistibly catchy Everything is Awesome theme is a candidate for Best Original Song.
Having played a sadistic Nazi, a psychotic serial killer and an evil wizard, Ralph Fiennes comedic turn as M. Gustave in The Grand Budapest Hotel took us all by surprise. But this is Fiennes at his most impressive; energetic, elegant and with perfect comic timing. When a comedy actor goes dark and serious the Academy lap it up (here’s looking at you Steve Carell), but a dramatic actor changing lanes and doing a comedy is not looked at in the same way. It’s a shame the Academy ignore comedy because Fiennes’s performance here is truly remarkable.
At its heart, David Fincher’s black-as-night thriller is a popcorn movie, playing audiences like a grand piano. But Fincher’s artistry, Gillian Flynn’s expert adaptation of her novel, Jeff Cronenweth’s sterile yet beautiful cinematography and Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor’s chilling score were all worthy candidates for their respective categories but, like Amy Dunne, seem to be missing. If they can recognise the greatness in Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of Amy Dunne, then why not the rest of the cast and crew?
Since Donnie Darko Gyllenhaal has always been a great screen presence, but it’s only in the past year he has become something more. He was the best thing about Prisoners and is impressing audiences playing identical twins in Enemy, but Nightcrawler is the height of his career. He is creepy, unnerving and incredibly unlikeable but you can’t keep your eyes off him. Well, unless you’re the Academy of course.
Under the Skin
2014’s most inventive and daring film has received a total of zero Golden Globe, BAFTA and Oscar nominations. A never-better Scarlett Johansson is hauntingly mesmerising in Jonathan Glazer’s return to filmmaking. But no Best Actress nomination and no Best Director recognition is another example of the Academy ignoring independent art-house cinema in favour of big-budget studio films.
The passing of legendary film critic Roger Ebert shook the film world, but it did lead to this beautifully heartfelt documentary by Steve James. Given Ebert’s involvement with the Academy (he presented a pre-awards show for over a decade) it seems strange for this love letter to a champion of cinema to be completely snubbed for Best Documentary.
Although it has been given a Best Picture nomination, it is a surprise that this focussed Martin Luther King drama has been generally left alone. David Oyelowo seemed like a sure thing for a Best Actor nomination and Ava DuVernay would have made history by being the first black woman to be nominated for Best Director. But history was not in Selma’s favour this year. It’s also worth noting that, for the first time since 2000, there are no nominated black performers in any acting category.
Although Interstellar proved divisive for some, there’s no doubting Nolan’s talent behind the camera. This is a blockbuster with a brain, made by a director with an even bigger one. The themes explored here are (like the name of the films black hole) gargantuan and the visuals are breathtakingly glorious. But just with Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy, Nolan’s reputation as a director of blockbusters prevents him from being justly rewarded with a Best Director nomination.
This years’ nominations for Best Foreign Language Film boast the remarkable Ida and Leviathan, but the Academy have unfairly forgotten Swedish drama Force Majeure. Ruben Ostlund’s Bergmanesque psychoanalytical look at the family dynamic was given a Golden Globe nomination and the ‘Un Certain Regard’ award at Cannes, but sadly has no Oscar love.