ReelBob: An overview of the 88th Academy Award nominations
By Bob Bloom
The nominations for the 88th Academy Awards reads as if the Republican National Committee chose them, rather than an organization of performers, artists and artisans.
It is not so much who was nominated — Tom Hardy for supporting actor for “The Revenant,” really? — than who was excluded from the selections.
The nominees offer safe and comfortable selections for the voting members, instead of expanding their parameters or examining a new paradigm in the film industry.
Thus some of the best performances of the year were ignored or overlooked because they did not fit into a preconceived notion of what the members believe an Academy Award nominee should be.
It’s a shame that young Jacob Tremblay, the heart and soul of “Room,” was not recognized as either best actor or — in a stretch — supporting actor for his contribution to Lenny Abrahamson’s fine drama.
Bryan Cranston’s nomination for “Trumbo,” a solid performance in which he spewed platitudes and slogans as dialogue, is simply a matter of popularity. He’s a veteran performer; fellow actors like him and they wanted to honor him.
But by doing so, they ignored a couple of performances — Tremblay’s and Jason Segel for “The End of the Tour” — that actually merited recognition.
Yes, Leonardo DiCaprio gave a brave and excruciatingly painful physical performance in “The Revenant,” but was it Oscar worthy? Definitely not, especially when put against some of those who were snubbed.
The same can be said for the best actress nominations in which Jennifer Lawrence, another hot, popular performer, was cited for “Joy,” while Charlize Theron’s turn in “Mad Max: Fury Road” seems to have been forgotten.
Theron’s Furiosa was the foundation on which the movie was built. Tom Hardy’s Max took a back seat to Theron’s dynamic character.
Speaking of Hardy, it is ironic that he gets a nomination for his weakest performance of 2015. He was more memorable in “Mad Max: Fury Road” and in his dual role as Ronnie and Reggie Kray in “Legend.”
Even the musical categories played it safe. Thomas Newman’s score for “Bridge of Spies” was routine, while John Williams’ work for “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” seems mostly recycled from his other “Star Wars” movies.
Yet, these selections meant that, among others, the contribution of Junkie XL to “Mad Max: Fury Road” was left in the dust.
The 12 nominations for “The Revenant” are totally excessive. I agree that the nods in many of the technical categories — cinematography, sound mixing, sound editing, film editing and visual effects are deserved.
But the film itself, along with director Alejandro G. Inárritu, does not merit such recognition. “The Revenant” is an overblown and pretentious production in which the director, his cinematographer and cast wanted to prove that they could shoot a film under harsh conditions.
And while I can appreciate the sentimentality that led to Sylvester Stallone’s supporting actor nomination for “Creed,” it pains me that it came at the cost of possibly Idris Elba for “Beasts of No Nation” or Michael Shannon for “99 Homes.”
Other nitpicks: I am glad to see that Rooney Mara for nominated for “Carol.” But her performance is not a supporting role. She has more screen time and is actually an equal to Cate Blanchett’s character.
It disturbs me how the spineless Academy allows the studios and producers to dictate what category a performer can be slotted, instead of using common sense and vetoing some proposed nominations.
Oh well. We will see how all this plays out on Feb. 28, when ABC televises the 88th annual Academy Awards.
I will be sitting at home with a group of friends, watching, snickering and critiquing the show.
Look for my Oscar predictions to be posted a day or two before the event at ReelBob.com.
Bloom is a member of the Indiana Film Journalists Association. His reviews appear at ReelBob (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.