Thoughts On The 86th Academy Award Nominations

I had some fun going over the Oscar Nominations this morning.  Not because they were anything special, but because it is entertaining to point out my own (selfish) feelings about what is great to see and what is sad to notice in terms of these nominations.  As always, the films I liked most, let alone anyone who obsessively or casually watches movies, only received so much love, but I cannot deny that a good majority of the films nominated are ones that I praised a lot.  Sure films like Fruitvale Station or Short Term 12 were unlikely to get nominations, but even more acclaimed films like Inside Llewyn Davis seemed like they had a bigger shot at some major awards and received very little.  I am not a great Oscar Prognosticator (check out Mark Johnson and his buddies over at to get the real scoop on predictions), I simply had some thoughts I would like to share on the nominations.

The following is a list of thoughts I had in regards to the 86th Academy Award Nominations.  These are not predictions, just thoughts (and I didn't include the shorts, as I have not seen any of them besides the animated "Get A Horse" with Frozen, which was awesome):
  • Best Picture - Some good ones here, though I will forget Dallas Buyers Club and Philomena the quickest (good films though, but best picture?) All of this will likely come down to which way the Academy swings - technical accomplishment - Gravity, good times + good acting - American Hustle, or "importance" - 12 Years A Slave
  • Best Actor - Christian Bale's De Niro impression in American Hustle does not outweigh Tom Hanks or Joaquin Phoenix or Oscar Isaac.  I like Bale as an actor, but I would call him the weakest in American Hustle's ensemble, while these non-nominees are doing some of their best work as actors.
  • Best Actress - In case you didn't know, Meryl Streep is apparently a good actress and loved by the Academy.  That said, this is Cate Blanchett's to lose in my opinion, but these are solid nominees.  The lack of Thompson is a bit surprising, but Streep, Dench, or Thompson were all pretty interchangeable as far as solid performances go.
  • Best Supporting Actor - Jonah Hill does the same thing in The Wolf of Wall Street that he does in Judd Apatow movies, but with big white teeth. No Daniel Bruhl for Rush is a bit upsetting.  Glad to see Barkhad Abdi here, but despite having an underwritten character, Jared Leto seems to be gaining weight in Oscar win potential.
  • Best Supporting Actress - Solid list, can't complain. I would personally say Scarlett Johansson or Amy Adams in Her would have been a bit outside the box, but I like these nominees.
  • Best Director - Nebraska is in my top ten, but c'mon Spike Jonze or The Coen Brothers or Paul Greengrass did tremendous work to make their films really work.
  • Best Original Screenplay - Dallas Buyers Club's traditional true story blandness (still a movie I like though) over The Coen Brothers being completely original, again, let alone many of the films that accomplished something greater and more intriguing. Glad to see Her in here though.
  • Best Adapted Screenplay - Steve Coogan is now an Oscar Nominee - yay!  Before Midnight is weird to see here, though just like Before Sunset, I understand why.  I can't really see 12 Years A Slave losing this category, if the night is in that film's favor.
  • Best Animated Feature - Frozen and The Wind Rises!  In a perfect world people would see how Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs is the better madcap comedy, instead of Despicable Me 2, but since it will be all about either Disney or Miyazaki, it matters little.
  • Best Foreign Language Film - The Hunt!!!...will likely lose.  I don't know what went down to disqualify so many great foreign films, but The Great Beauty seems to have picked up a lot of steam.  Still, The Past and Blue is the Warmest Color are great films to seek out, regardless of nominations.
  • Best Cinematography - I don't even want Prisoners to win, but Roger Deakins did a great job, deserving of praise.  That said, great looking films all around in this category.  Surprised that 12 Years A Slave did not get a nomination here, The Grandmaster does look amazing.
  • Best Editing - No Wolf of Wall Street, which makes 3 hours feel like 2 or less, but Dallas Buyers Club?  Maybe the strangest snub in this whole thing.  This certainly narrows down the potential for Best Picture winners, as winning the editing category is usually pretty telling.
  • Best Production and Costume Design - Sure, that probably all makes sense. I am curious what criteria Gravity filled to be in production design.  Glad to see Her receive recognition for its fantastic world-building.
  • Best Makeup and Hairstyling - What, no love for Bradley Cooper's Perm and Christian Bale's Comb-over, you nominated them for everything else... Oh, by the way, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa now has more Oscar nominations than some of your favorite films from this year!
  • Best Original Score - Here's a wacky category (I guess the Oscars really do have "Philomania"), but hurray for more Her love.  John Williams = nomination still seems to be true and I guess All is Lost was lost in space, unlike Gravity.
  • Best Original Song - "Cold never bothered me anyway."  Happy to see Frozen on a path to a likely win, but dammit if U2 are now on the path to crush these girls.  Oh and the soundtrack to these Despicable Me films are the only things I like about them, so yay for that.
  • Best Sound Mixing/Best Sound Editing - It seems like Lone Survivor basically screwed Rush out of its only chances for nominations, making me dislike it even more.  All is Lost founds its only nomination here, so Robert Redford really did something to deserve to be stranded at sea, apparently.  I guess Hobbits and dwarfs running around for three hours made it good enough to get some technical noms.
  • Best Visual Effects - I mean...Pacific Rim's only chance was here, but Star Trek into Blandness and The Oh So Lone Ranger had ILM with them.  Way to make Gravity not sweat this at all though.
  • Best Documentary - Act of Killing is on Netflix instant! I can now finally check it out.
And that is all I got.  Overall, I see nothing really special about the nominees, as far as doing something really interesting with these awards is concerned.  A lot of these nominees are great films, but nothing really stands out as a truly out their pick.  It is a very conventional list of nominees, with a set of films that will likely receive more backlash than praise, when all is over and done with.  
There was plenty of potential to make some interesting choices, like acknowledging other black performances (Fruitvale Station and Lee Daniel's Lee Daniel's The Butler), beyond just the ones where black actors play slaves or give credit to a film like Blue is the Warmest Color for more than just being a Foreign Film (which it wasn't even nominated for).  Hell, we could have handed out acting nominations to plenty of foreign film performances, like Mads Mikkelsen in The Hunt
As far as "snubs" go, the Best Actor and Best Editing categories were the only ones that felt like shocks, although Original Screenplay's lack of Inside Llewyn Davis was kind of alarming as well.  This is also the kind of thing that makes me wonder what could have happened if The Place Beyond the Pines came out later in the year or what could have happened if The Spectacular Now or Short Term 12 had larger Oscar campaigns.  I don't even want to get into the original song thing and how Llewyn Davis is ineligible, but whatevs.
With all that said, I am always curious which way the wind will blow, when it comes time to hand out these awards and I can only hope it matches up to my eventual predictions.  Hopefully next year can can lead to more than just the main films released at the end of the year getting some support come awards season.
Last thing: The most important thing is that my opinions and praise towards my favorite films of the year has not changed, which is why I am plenty proud of my Top Ten List.

Here are all the nominations:

Best Picture American Hustle Captain Phillips Dallas Buyers Club Gravity Her Nebraska Philomena 12 Years a Slave The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Director
David O. Russell, American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón, Gravity
Alexander Payne, Nebraska
Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

Best Actress in a Leading Role
Amy Adams, American Hustle
Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock, Gravity
Judi Dench, Philomena
Meryl Streep, August: Osage County

Best Actor in a Leading Role
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

Best Actor in a Supporting Role
Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper, American Hustle
Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club

Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts, August: Osage County
June Squibb, Nebraska

Best Adapted Screenplay Before Midnight, written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, and Ethan Hawke Captain Phillips, screenplay by Billy Ray Philomena, screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope 12 Years a Slave, screenplay by John Ridley The Wolf of Wall Street, screenplay by Terence Winter

Best Original Screenplay American Hustle, written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell Blue Jasmine, written by Woody Allen Dallas Buyers Club, written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack Her, written by Spike Jonze Nebraska, written by Bob Nelson
Best Animated Feature Film The Croods Despicable Me 2 Ernest and Celestine Frozen The Wind Rises

Best Documentary Feature The Act of Killing Cutie and the Boxer Dirty Wars The Square 20 Feet From Stardom

Best Foreign Language Film The Broken Circle Breakdown (Belgium) The Great Beauty (Italy) The Hunt (Denmark) The Missing Picture (Cambodia) Omar (Palestine)

Best Cinematography The Grandmaster, Philippe Le Sourd Gravity, Emmanuel Lubezki Inside Llewyn Davis, Bruno Delbonnel Nebraska, Phedon Papamichael Prisoners, Roger A. Deakins

Best Costume Design American Hustle, Michael Wilkinson The Grandmaster, William Chang Suk Ping The Great Gatsby, Catherine Martin The Invisible Woman, Michael O’Connor 12 Years a Slave, Patricia Norris

Best Film Editing American Hustle, Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten Captain Phillips, Christopher Rouse Dallas Buyers Club, John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa Gravity, Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger 12 Years a Slave, Joe Walker

Best Sound Editing All Is Lost, Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns Captain Phillips, Oliver Tarney Gravity, Glenn Freemantle The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Brent Burge Lone Survivor, Wylie Stateman

Best Sound Mixing Captain Phillips, Chris Burdon, Mark Taylor, Mike Prestwood Smith and Chris Munro Gravity, Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Christopher Boyes, Michael Hedges, Michael Semanick and Tony Johnson Inside Llewyn Davis, Skip Lievsay, Greg Orloff and Peter F. Kurland Lone Survivor, Andy Koyama, Beau Borders and David Brownlow

Best Visual Effects Gravity, Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Joe Letteri, Eric Saindon, David Clayton and Eric Reynolds Iron Man 3, Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick The Lone Ranger, Tim Alexander, Gary Brozenich, Edson Williams and John Frazier Star Trek Into Darkness, Roger Guyett, Patrick Tubach, Ben Grossmann and Burt Dalton

Best Makeup and Hairstyling Dallas Buyers Club, Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa, Stephen Prouty The Lone Ranger, Joel Harlow and Gloria Pasqua-Casny

Best Original Score The Book Thief, John Williams Gravity, Steven Price Her, William Butler and Owen Pallett Philomena, Alexandre Desplat Saving Mr. Banks, Thomas Newman

Best Original Song
“Alone Yet Not Alone,” Alone Yet Not Alone, music by Bruce Broughton and lyric by Dennis Spiegel
“Happy,” Despicable Me 2, music and lyric by Pharrell Williams
“Let It Go,” Frozen, music and lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
“The Moon Song,” Her, music by Karen O; lyric by Karen O and Spike Jonze
“Ordinary Love,” Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, music by Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen and lyric by Paul Hewson

Best Production Design American Hustle, Judy Becker (Production Design) and Heather Loeffler (Set Decoration) Gravity, Andy Nicholson (Production Design) and Rosie Goodwin and Joanne Woollard (Set Decoration) The Great Gatsby, Catherine Martin (Production Design) and Beverley Dunn (Set Decoration) Her, K.K. Barrett (Production Design) and Gene Serdena (Set Decoration) 12 Years a Slave, Adam Stockhausen (Production Design) and Alice Baker (Set Decoration)

Best Animated Short Film Feral, Daniel Sousa and Dan Golden Get a Horse!, Lauren MacMullan and Dorothy McKim Mr. Hublot, Laurent Witz and Alexandre Espigares Possessions, Shuhei Morita Room on the Broom, Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

Best Live-Action Short Film Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me), Esteban Crespo Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just Before Losing Everything), Xavier Legrand and Alexandre Gavras Helium, Anders Walter and Kim Magnusson Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?), Selma Vilhunen and Kirsikka Saari The Voorman Problem, Mark Gill and Baldwin Li

Best Documentary Short Subject CaveDigger, Jeffrey Karoff Facing Fear, Jason Cohen Karama Has No Walls, Sara Ishaq The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life, Malcolm Clarke and Nicholas Reed Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall, Edgar Barens

Aaron is a writer/reviewer for  Follow him on Twitter @AaronsPS4.
He also co-hosts a podcast,
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