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

28 January 2015

Oscar Nominees 2015: Part 3 of 12

Part 1.
Part 2.
Part 3 of 12:

5 Nominations
  • Original Score: Hans Zimmer (Inception, Sherlock Holmes, Gladiator, The Thin Red Line, The Prince of Egypt, As Good as It Gets, The Preacher's Wife, The Lion King, Rain Man)
  • Production Design: Nathan Crowley (The Dark Knight, The Prestige) & Gary Fettis (Changeling, The Godfather: Part III)
  • Visual Effects
  • Sound Mixing
  • Sound Editing
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Jessica Chastain, Anne Hathaway, John Lithgow, Mackenzie Foy, Michael Caine, David Gyasi, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, Matt Damon, Ellen Burstyn

Ok, so I wasn't the biggest fan of this when I first saw it. (It's a time-travel movie, but it swears it's all about love.) But it's grown on me since then, and I keep ranking other things below it, because Interstellar was pretty to look at, even if so much of it was silly and half baked. Hans Zimmer's score, it should also be noted, is my favorite of this year's nominees. It won't win, but I find myself listening to it at work. It's very, very good; one of my favorite Zimmer scores in recent years, and one of this year's best. The effects, too, are top notch, and I expect them to go home with the Oscar.
Will Win: Visual Effects
Could Win: Sound Mixing, Sound Editing
My Rating: #47 out of 74

Mr. Turner
4 Nominations
  • Cinematography: Dick Pope (The Illusionist)
  • Original Score: Gary Yershon
  • Production Design: Suzie Davies & Charlotte Watts
  • Costume Design: Jacqueline Durran (Anna Karenina, Atonement, Pride & Prejudice)
Director: Mike Leigh
Cast: Timothy Spall, Marion Bailey, Paul Jesson, Dorothy Atkinson, Joshua McGuire, Karl Johnson, Lesley Manville, Martin Savage, Jamie Thomas King, Karina Fernandez

#dickpoop started trending on Twitter after Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs mispronounced his name on nomination morning. Oops. Honestly, I loved Mr. Turner and it's in my top ten, but four nominations is a lot for a film that is as difficult to love as this one is. I am surprised it did so well with the Academy. I find Gary Yershon's nomination to be especially surprising, given his score's simplicity and the relative lack of publicity that this film got. But unlike films that were latecomers to the game this year (Selma, Cake, A Most Violent Year), Mike Leigh's movie played at Telluride and had lots and lots of time to sink in with voters, steadily gaining positive buzz from critics throughout the fall. Mr. Turner probably won't take home any statues, but I am delighted that a movie I loved this much got so many nominations.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: Costume Design
My Rating: #10 out of 74

Into the Woods
3 Nominations
  • Supporting Actress: Meryl Streep (August: Osage County, The Iron Lady, Julie & Julia, Doubt, The Devil Wears Prada, Adaptation., Music of the Heart, One True Thing, The Bridges of Madison County, Postcards from the Edge, A Cry in the Dark, Ironweed, Out of Africa, Silkwood, Sophie's Choice, The French Lieutenant's Woman, Kramer vs. Kramer, The Deer Hunter)
  • Production Design: Dennis Gassner (The Golden Compass, Road to Perdition, Bugsy, Barton Fink) & Anna Pinnock (The Grand Budapest Hotel, Life of Pi, The Golden Compass, Gosford Park)
  • Costume Design: Colleen Atwood (Snow White and the Huntsman, Alice in Wonderland, Nine, Sweeney Todd: the Demon Barber of Fleet Street, Memoirs of a Geisha, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Chicago, Sleepy Hollow, Beloved, Little Women)
Director: Rob Marshall
Cast: Emily Blunt, James Corden, Meryl Streep, Anna Kendrick, Daniel Huttlestone, Chris Pine, Lilla Crawford, Christine Baranski, Tracey Ullman, Johnny Depp, Billy Magnussen

When you look above at this list of nominations, you'll see that each of Into the Woods's four nominees has already been nominated multiple times. This is a big studio picture, and the studio paid a lot of money to hire all the best people. They did, and four of those people wound up with Oscar nominations because they are all excellent, well-known artists. But Into the Woods is a phone-in job for all four of them, as well as for most of the rest of the team on this movie. It's a lazy, boring, joyless adaptation of the stage show that is, in fact, never more than a filmed stage version of the show itself. In writing this post, I kept trying to find an image from the film that wasn't the same tired sound stage that served as the backdrop for most of this movie's scenes; they just aren't out there, though. Most of this film took place in what is, for all intents and purposes, the exact same location. As for Meryl Streep, she basically acts as though she is in a completely different movie than the rest of the cast of Into the Woods; the whole performance feels a little off kilter. I know the Academy loves her, but she doesn't need to get nominated every single year, does she?
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #68 out of 74

3 Nominations
  • Cinematography: Roger Deakins (Prisoners, Skyfall, True Grit, The Reader, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, No Country for Old Men, The Man Who Wasn't There, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Kundun, Fargo, The Shawshank Redemption)
  • Sound Mixing
  • Sound Editing
Director: Angelina Jolie
Cast: Jack O'Connell, Ishihara Takamasa, Garrett Hedlund, Domhnall Gleeson, Finn Wittrock, Jai Courtney, C.J. Valleroy, Alex Russell, Maddalena Ischiale, Vincenzo Amato

Honestly, it is time for Roger Deakins finally to win an Oscar. Look at that list up there! He has shot some gorgeous, gorgeous films and never won. He ain't gonna win this year, either. Jolie's film was not widely loved by the Academy, and it is a little bit of a mystery to me as to why this was so. Was it too obviously Oscar-bait for them? Did it not make them feel good enough about themselves? Was it too ethnic (Italian)? Was it that it was a WWII movie about the Pacific theatre instead of the European theatre? Who knows. In any case, the Academy just didn't go for it, and they aren't going to go for it on the big night either. I should also note my own frustration, here, that this year's very, very good war movie – Fury, which boasted excellent performances, great art direction, awesome sound mixing and editing, a great script, and realistic violence – is nowhere to be found among the nominees despite its being far superior to any of the other war movies this year.
Will Win: N/A
Could Win: N/A
My Rating: #54 out of 74