For the most part, Oscars got it right
So, the Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning.
As usual, some films and performers were excluded from the table. The two most notable snubs it seems are David Oyelowo in the best actor category for his portrayal of Martin Luther King in “Selma” and “The LEGO Movie” in the animated feature mix.
Also ignored was the touching and vulnerable performance by Jenny Slate in the indie film, “Obvious Child,” which has received several Independent Spirit Award nominations.
An interesting aspect of the nominations is the preponderance of small and independent films as best picture contenders. “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance),” “Boyhood,” and “Whiplash” are not what you would consider mainstream studio releases.
Even “The Imitation Game,” “The Theory of Everything” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” can be classified as nontraditional Hollywood fare.
One of the strongest categories is the best actor field where not only Oyelowo, but also Ralph Fiennes, who was so marvelous in “Grand Budapest Hotel,” Jake Gyllenhaal’s perfectly creepy turn in “Nightcrawler” and Chadwick Boseman’s dynamic performance as James Brown in “Get On Up,” were overlooked.
The inclusion of Bradley Cooper for his portrayal of Chris Kyle in “American Sniper” is well deserved. Steve Carell’s nomination for “Foxcatcher” continues the tradition of recognizing a comedic talent who takes a leap into drama (think Robin Williams in “Good Will Hunting.”)
The inclusion of Robert Duvall for his role in “The Judge” in the supporting actor category is a disappointment. The movie was routine and Duvall’s performance was one he could have done in his sleep.
He did not bring anything special or memorable to the film.
Thus, some very fine supporting turns, such as Nelson Ellis’ Bobby Byrd in “Get On Up” and James Gandolfini’s role as a bar owner in “The Drop” were omitted.
The exclusion of “The LEGO Movie” from the animated feature category is inexplicable. It was the most delightful animated film of the year. The movie was original, funny and solidly entertaining.
I’m guessing that Academy voters just saw it as one long commercial for LEGOS. If that were the case, voters were very myopic.
Once again, the voters recognize a director but ignore the film for which he is nominated. Bennett Miller received a nod for “Foxcatcher,” yet the film was not among the eight best picture nominees.
So, four of the directors for best film nominees — Clint Eastwood (“American Sniper”), Ava DuVernay (“Selma”), James Marsh (“The Theory of Everything”) and Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”) are left at the altar.
I am thoroughly disgusted that the Roger Ebert documentary, “Life Itself,” was excluded. This was one of the best movies of the year — a heartfelt and touching look at one of the most influential critics in history.
The movie displayed the courage and fortitude Ebert faced and the obstacles he overcame to live his life on his own terms. The feature was not a portrait of a movie critic but a paean to an artist whose words served as his brush.
On Feb. 22, we will see who takes home the awards. I will post my choices a few days prior to the big event, so stayed tuned.
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at Reel Bob (reelbob.com) and The Film Yap (filmyap.com). He also reviews Blu-rays and DVDs. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ReelBobBloom. Other reviews by Bloom can be found at Rottentomatoes: www.rottentomatoes.com.