Note: For a Full List of Nominees, scroll down to the bottom. This is also not my predictions for winners. That will come later.

The Oscar nominations have been announced. So what? You didn’t see any of the movies on this list.  What, did you seriously think Godzilla would end up here?  Well, if it had I would have been surprisingly pleased because it would have shown the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences (AMPAS) thinking out of the box, something they clearly weren’t doing when they selected the nominees from a year filled with ambitious, genre defying films.  Instead, they picked the most generic contenders that I guarantee are not the best films of 2014, but hell, what do I know; I’m not old, white, well I guess I am male, and I’ve only been studying film since I was 17.

I remember back in 2009 when Sid Ganis, president of AMPAS, announced that the number of 2010 best picture nominees will increase from 5 to 10.  “Having 10 Best Picture nominees is going to allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize,” he said.  And that year had some very unconventional movies nominated like Avatar, Up, Inglourious Basterds, District 9, and The Blind Side, along with typical choices like The Hurt Locker, Precious, Up in the Air, An Education, and A Serious Man.  It gave audiences the chance to root for films they’ve seen and other films to go out and see.  I suspect this was a direct response to the backlash that occurred when The Dark Knight, easily one of the very best films of the past decade, not to mention one of the highest grossing, was snubbed out of a Best Picture nomination the previous year.

But every year since then, AMPAS has managed to re-incorporate more “Oscar Bait,” those films that are strategically released in the last quarter of the year that get universally praised by critics but never seem to be able to surpass $70 million in box office.  I know that a movie’s profit margin does not measure its worth, but these “Oscar Bait” films tend to cause great disconnect between filmmakers and the general public.  Not to mention the nominee list has grown shorter over the years from 10 to 9 and now to 8.  Basically what I’m trying to say is that the Oscars are quickly going back to a show that is little more than an ego boost to a small handful of celebrities and power tripping producers advocating for faux quality.

The case in point is this year’s leading Oscar contender, Birdman.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent film both on a technical and an emotional level.  But if you’re a casual movie goer or have no interest in the goings on in the film industry, you probably won’t fully grasp at what that film is trying to convey.  I guarantee the general public’s response once they have seen it will be mixed because it’s a much more exclusive piece of work.  Another example is American Sniper, a war film celebrating an American hero that up to this point has been getting a rather mixed reception, with reactions like “cliché” and “missed opportunity” floating about amongst those who have seen it.  It was also completely excluded from the Golden Globes, yet now it’s nominated for 6 Academy Awards.  As Shakespeare would say, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” or as Ricky Gervais would say, “They also accepted bribes.”

Now I’m not bashing the quality of all these films.  All the ones I’ve seen are worth watching (and since I haven’t seen all of them, you can pretty much disregard my opinion at this point).  Boyhood and Whiplash are my two favourite films of 2014.  But I know that this list is not a good representation of the caliber of films that were released in 2014.  When a film like Nightcrawler is absent in almost every category, especially an actor award for Jake Gyllenhaal, you should raise an eyebrow.  As the Academy continues to deny that a motion capture performance is not true acting, despite Andy Serkis giving a better performance than he did for Gollum in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, you should not take their opinions of what makes great acting all too seriously.  Selma is a triumphant achievement and yet AMPAS decided to leave out its female African American director from a nomination despite the fact that her work is far more exceptional than what Bennett Miller, Wes Anderson, and Morten Tyldum accomplished.  In fact, Selma almost has no chance of any awards since it was nominated for only 2.  And what about Interstellar, left to grab a few technical awards as all science fiction films typically get tossed like a bone to a dog? (Gravity is not science fiction.)  And how does industry darling Paul Thomas Anderson, who’s Inherent Vice is one of the most sloppy, incoherent films I’ve seen all year, get a best screenplay nomination and Gillian Flynn gets no acknowledgement for adapting her own book?

Sure, I’m bitching.  And like I said in my Golden Globe article, it’s impossible to come up with a list that would please everybody since “Best” is synonymous with “Subjectivity.”  But these are my thoughts on a show that I generally see as a sham anyway.  When I heard that many of the voters don’t even watch the films they vote on or nominate, that only furthered my point that this show is less about championing quality and more about getting you to see films that the distributors are currently losing money on.

 

Films with the Highest Number of Nominations

Birdman – 9
The Grand Budapest Hotel – 9
The Imitation Game – 8
Boyhood – 6
American Sniper – 6
Whiplash – 5
Interstellar – 5
Foxcatcher – 5

 

Full List of Nominees

Best Picture

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

Best Actor

  • Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
  • Bradley Cooper, American Sniper
  • Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
  • Michael Keaton, Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress

  • Marion Cotillard, Two Days, One Night
  • Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore, Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actor

  • Robert Duvall, The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
  • Edward Norton, Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
  • J. K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

  • Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
  • Laura Dern, Wild
  • Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone, Birdman
  • Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Cinematography

  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Ida
  • Mr. Turner
  • Unbroken

Best Director

  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
  • Richard Linklater, Boyhood
  • Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
  • Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Morten Tyldum, The Imitation Game

Best Original Screenplay

  • Boyhood
  • Birdman
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Nightcrawler

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • American Sniper
  • The Imitation Game
  • Inherent Vice
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Ida, Poland
  • Leviathan, Russia
  • Tangerines, Estonia
  • Timbuktu, Mauritania
  • Wild Tales, Argentina

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Original Score

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Mr. Turner
  • The Theory of Everything

Best Costume Design

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Inherent Vice
  • Into the Woods
  • Maleficent
  • Mr. Turner

Best Documentary Feature

  • Citizenfour
  • Finding Vivian Maier
  • Last Days in Vietnam
  • Salt of the Earth
  • Virunga

Best Documentary Short

  • Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
  • Joanna
  • Our Curse
  • The Reaper
  • White Earth

Best Film Editing

  • American Sniper
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Whiplash

Best Animated Feature

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Best Original Song

  • “Lost Stars,” Begin Again
  • “Grateful,” Beyond the Lights
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,” Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
  • “Everything is Awesome,” The Lego Movie
  • “Glory,” Selma

Best Production Design

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods
  • Mr. Turner

Best Animated Short Film

  • The Bigger Picture
  • The Dam Keeper
  • Feast
  • Me and My Moulton
  • A Single Life

Best Live-Action Short Film

  • Aya
  • Boogaloo and Graham
  • Butter Lamp
  • Paraveneh
  • The Phone Call

Best Sound Editing

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken

Best Sound Mixing

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken
  • Whiplash

Best Visual Effects

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Interstellar
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past    

Written by Edward Boxler

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