Love and scandal are the best sweeteners of tea. —Henry Fielding

26 January 2015

Oscar Nominees 2015: Part 2 of 12

Part 1.
Part 2 of 12:

American Sniper
6 Nominations
  • Picture
  • Actor: Bradley Cooper (American Hustle, Silver Linings Playbook)
  • Adapted Screenplay: Jason Hall
  • Film Editing: Joel Cox (Million Dollar Baby, Unforgiven) & Gary D. Roach
  • Sound Mixing
  • Sound Editing
Director: Clint Eastwood
Cast: Cooper, Sienna Miller, Sammy Sheik, Luke Grimes, Navid Negahban, Jake McDorman, Keir O'Donnell, Eric Close, Cory Hardrict, Eric Ladin

This movie is awful. I am not sure that it is a huge surprise that a genre-picture directed by Clint Eastwood has made such a huge splash with the Academy, but it is certainly strange that a movie no smarter than, say, Predator or Rambo, a movie that is way less intelligent than a movie like Three Kings or Jarhead or this year's superb Fury should be nominated over any other film. But here we are and this movie is selling tickets like nobody's business. People seem to love this film's combination of gun-violence, anti-Arab sentiment, and video-game aesthetics. I found this combination irresponsible and deeply troubling. It's also basically little more than a shoot-em-up picture with some excellent acting. That said, Bradley Cooper really is great in the movie, and in a crowded category, he deserves his nomination as much as anyone else does. The nomination for Screenplay, however, is a bit of an absurdity; the characters speak in clichés and the script consists mostly of obvious, thudding symbols like bibles and rifles falling in the dust. This is making millions right now at the box office, though, and it should win plenty of statuettes come Oscar night. One more thing: this movie showed up very, very late to the party, and still managed to pull off six nominations, something other latecomers (Selma, Cake, A Most Violent Year) were not able to do. That it did this is mostly due to Eastwood's popularity among the Academy, but its tardiness still hurt it, otherwise we'd have seen nominations for Sienna Miller, here, and for Eastwood himself.
Will Win: Adapted Screenplay, Film Editing, Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
Could Win: Picture
My Rating: #65 out of 73


The Theory of Everything
5 Nominations
  • Picture
  • Actor: Eddie Redmayne
  • Actress: Felicity Jones
  • Adapted Screenplay: Anthony McCarten
  • Original Score: Jóhann Jóhannsson
Director: James Marsh
Cast: Redmayne, Jones, Charlie Cox, Harry Lloyd, David Thewlis, Emily Watson, Simon McBurney, Alice Orr-Ewing

Well, I loved Harry Lloyd in this, and Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones are both good (I loved Jones in last year's The Invisible Woman). This movie, though, is just so similar to The Imitation Game, and that is decidedly not a good thing. Still, it seems to have staying power. Redmayne won the Screen Actors Guild Award, and he may take the Oscar, too, although I don't think he will: Oscar tends to like its lead actors older. But it is definitely possible. All of this is a snoozefest. I don't want to keep complaining about this year's season, but most of the big films bored me to tears. The Theory of Everything, does have more redeeming qualities than Imitation, and it also has a weird love triangle that is at least intriguing.
Will Win: Score
Could Win: Actor
My Rating: #56 out of 73


Whiplash
5 Nominations
  • Picture
  • Adapted Screenplay: Damien Chazelle
  • Supporting Actor: JK Simmons
  • Film Editing: Tom Cross
  • Sound Mixing
Director: Damien Chazelle
Cast: Miles Teller, Simmons, Paul Reiser, Melissa Benoist, Nate Lang, Austin Stowell

Well this is an excellent film. This is one of the best of the Best Picture nominees and one of my favorite films of the year. It's riveting filmmaking and the fact that it did as well as it did with the Academy is a shock and a delight to me. I was especially pleased to see this film's editor, Tom Cross, get a nomination. He deserves it. The editing is perhaps the most exciting thing in the movie, and this in a film that is a white-knuckled ride; I left the movie raving about Tom Cross, as well as Miles Teller and JK Simmons. Everything about this movie is just great.
Will Win: Supporting Actor
Could Win: Adapted Screenplay
My Rating: #9 out of 73



Foxcatcher
5 Nominations
  • Director: Bennett Miller (Capote)
  • Actor: Steve Carell
  • Original Screenplay: E. Max Frye & Dan Futterman (Capote)
  • Supporting Actor: Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right) 
  • Makeup
Director: Miller
Cast: Channing Tatum, Carell, Ruffalo, Sienna Miller, Vanessa Redgrave

This is very good, but its nominations are a little odd here – note that there is a Best Director nomination, but not a Best Picture nomination. This is an indication of respect for the movie but not affection. (My own review reflected this feeling when I saw it, as well.) Steve Carell's nomination here is unfortunate, because it could so easily have gone to David Oyelowo for Selma. Still, it's not undeserved; just unnecessary. I don't think it can realistically hope to win any Oscars on February 22, either. It's a very, very good movie, but I don't think anyone really loves it that fiercely.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Makeup
My Rating: #14 out of 73