A Lego Movie-less Reaction to the 2015 Oscar Nominations

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For a full list of nominees, go here.

Alex: No “Lego Movie”? I mean, seriously Academy. No “Lego Movie”?

It was the snub of the morning we certainly didn’t see coming. Sure, things like “Nightcrawler’s” Jake Gyllenhaal getting the boot in favor of “American Sniper’s” Bradley Cooper were a surprise. We’re used to late-in-the-year flicks coming in and snatching of nominations from early releases, though.

The absence of “Lego Movie” was just a way of the Academy saying, “We still like what we like.” Ditto to “Selma’s” absence from most categories outside of Best Picture. I warned the Academy may not be into the historical drama like critics were, and I was right. Did both “Selma” and “Interstellar” (which didn’t even get top nominations) suffer from theme fatigue after “12 Years a Slave” and “Gravity” dominated last year and were genre-close? Possibly.

How’s this for strange: Clint Eastwood wasn’t in Best Director. Despite landing a DGA nomination earlier in the week, one of the Academy’s all-time favorites didn’t make it onto the final list. It was even stranger considering how well “American Sniper” did otherwise, scoring multiple nominations including Picture, Actor and Screenplay.

The Academy sure showed some love to “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” It was well-deserved love, too. It feels like this is the Wes Anderson film that finally struck true accord with the Academy’s taste. Is it the potential spoiler to gaining a bunch of wins Oscar night? Maybe. The Academy rarely goes for comedies, but nine nominations means it made a real impression with voters.

“Boyhood” is undeniably the frontrunner and secured its status this morning. With multiple acting nominations, the critical darling seems poised to sweep the season. Sure, “Birdman” and “The Imitation Game” look strong, too. Those films have yet to produce any significant awards, though. They just feel like they’re “there” at this point.

And again, seriously, no “Lego Movie”? I mean, what was the rationale behind that snub. I enjoyed “Big Hero 6,” but “Lego Movie” was far and away the best animated feature of the year. Hell, it was one of the best films of the year. No love shown towards it was definitely cause for weeping on an otherwise so-so Oscar nomination morning.

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Joseph: For movie buffs, the best thing outside of gracing the doors to a theater to see a movie is Oscar nominations morning, where sleepy Los Angeles announces the nominees for a variety of categories early enough to make it reasonable on the east coast. People are elated and surprised and angry at snubs for their favorite movies, actors, actresses, directors, and historical causes.

There are 8 Best Picture nominees. While I wanted Interstellar to sneak in with a surprise, the film continued to get awards love in only the technical categories. I had legitimate hope, though, for Gone Girl. But outside of a very deserving nomination for Rosamund Pike, there would be no extra love for that darkly twisted film from David Fincher. I didn’t expect it to win much, but wanted to see it get a little more love.

I couldn’t be happier that American Sniper got so much love from the Academy after being completely shunned by the Golden Globes. It’s my most anticipated film because so many of my friends who have already seen it, including those in the armed forces, have raved about how honest it is in its portrayal of war and its effect on men and their families. There’s something special about old man Eastwood providing a real-life tale of war without any agenda whatsoever, providing a tale that makes some argue it’s pro-war propaganda and others claim it’s anti-war. That generally means it’s just well done, making all of its recognition well deserved.

Similarly, Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel was a pleasant surprise with its nine nominations. Birdman was expected to do well, and it did. After Michael Keaton’s show-stealing Golden Globes acceptance speech, I trust and hope he’s a Best Actor front-runner, with Bradley Cooper as a possible winner, with his third nomination in three years. However, this Best Acting category is one in which I’m the most angry at a clear omission.

As I wrote in my Selma review, “David Oyelowo provide[d] a performance that rivals Daniel Day-Lewis in Lincoln, leaving me so transfixed that I often assumed I was watching footage of Dr. King himself.” While many will argue that Selma deserved more recognition beyond a Best Picture nomination, I think the one inarguably absurd snub is David Oyelowo.

The other snub I’m most passionate about is no Best Animated Feature nomination for The Lego Movie. Although “Everything is Awesome” appears in Best Song, everything is not so awesome given the Academy’s refusal to recognize one of the most captivating, innovative, and poignant films of the year. There are no words, except for perhaps the director’s excellent tweet.

I think the storyline on Oscar night will be the brilliance of Boyhood. I expect it to take home Best Picture, Linklater to win Best Director, and Arquette to take home the prize for Best Supporting Actress. I expect the screenplay categories to be the most unpredictable and ultimately think the Oscar nominations reveal a year in film better than many of us have thought it was as the year went on.

It was a year for experimentation in film, whether it was Boyhood’s 12-year saga or Birdman’s unique storytelling and filming/editing. It was a year with traditional period pieces from the 20th century like Selma and The Imitation Game, with more gripping modern history like American Sniper.  We had powerful female performances about single moms trying to make it work, women persevering through obstacles, and then Gone Girl, which really can’t be described in a way that does justice to Gillian Flynn’s tale or Rosamund Pike’s performance.

People will be upset about Oscar nominations every year. That’s the fun of it all. But like Ben Affleck’s Best Director snub with Argo a couple years ago, that can often have the effect of raising a movie’s profile with voters and moviegoers. As Americans, we’re lucky to have the entertainment we have that pushes our minds and hearts in numerous directions. We can disagree about value and choices, but as recent events in France have taught us, the appreciation of art is not a science. And thank goodness it’s not. It makes all of this so much more fun.

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Posted on by Alex Beene in Awards Addict, Entertainment, Featured, Movies

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