Snub: Jessica ChastainThe two-time Oscar nominee was considered a good bet to claim a Best Supporting Actress berth for A Most Violent Year. Golden Globe and Critics Choice nods, as well as a National Board of Review win, seemed to be in her favor. Alas, her scene-stealing performance was overlooked.
Oddly enough, this was the second year in a row where the Academy overlooked an acclaimed performance in a J.C. Chandor film, after Robert Redford’s snub for All is Lost.
Surprise: Bradley CooperPer usual, the Best Actor slate was packed with worthwhile contenders, many of whom got buzz for biopics. However, from a crowded slate, the Academy picked Cooper for his powerful portrayal of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in American Sniper.
The targets downed by “Legend”? Jake Gyllenhaal, David Oyelowo and Timothy Spall, among others. This marks Cooper’s third straight year for Oscar contention, after nods for Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, making him a clear favorite with the Academy.
Surprise: Marion CotillardAlthough We Got This Covered predicted a nomination for the French actor back in November, we took her off our list this week for two reasons.
Foremost, Jennifer Aniston’s campaign for Cake was red-hot. Meanwhile, Two Days, One Night did not make the foreign film shortlist. However, the actors’ branch could not resist her superb, emotionally devastating turn in the newest film from the Dardenne brothers.
A strong turn in another 2014 drama, The Immigrant, likely aided Cotillard’s chances.
Snub/Surprise: FoxcatcherFor the first time since Vera Drake in 2005, a film has earned directing, acting and screenwriting nominations but lost out on a Best Picture berth. It is hard to argue with Bennett Miller’s absorbing direction or the bravura performances, all of which were well deserved. But this grim true-life drama may have been too sordid for Academy voters.
Snub: Gone GirlIt is rare to see a Best Picture race without a single $100 million grosser. But despite a worthy nomination for Rosamund Pike’s cunning performance, box office hit Gone Girl received no love.
Most surprisingly, scribe Gillian Flynn lost out on an Adapted Screenplay berth, despite being a sure thing since the film opened. Even more shocking is that Gone Girl also failed to earn a place in the editing and original score categories.
Surprise: Interstellar's sound nominationsUsually, technical categories do not award the film with the best costumes, sets or effects, but the most costumes, sets or effects. However, given the controversy surrounding Interstellar’s inconsistent poor sound mix, where the music and effects often overwhelmed the dialogue, Nolan’s sci-fi drama didn’t seem to have any chance.
However, much to our surprise, the Academy responded with berths for both sound mixing and editing.
We can hear their love for the film quite loudly.
Snub: The LEGO MovieYes, the film’s ultra-catchy “Everything is Awesome” got a well-deserved nod in the Best Song category. However, despite being a major frontrunner for the Animated Feature category, The LEGO Movie could not trade its audience and critical love for Academy adoration. Perhaps this was like the scenario when Ben Affleck lost a directing berth for Argo, as many voters probably thought the film was a shoo-in and voted for another, lesser known title.
On the bright side, its absence allowed little-seen gems Song of the Sea and The Tale of the Princess Kaguya to earn nominations.
Snub: Life ItselfWell, it is now 0 for 3 for American documentary filmmaker Steve James. After getting snubbed for beloved non-fiction titles Hoop Dreams and The Interrupters in previous years, James seemed like an obvious bet for the documentary category for his moving portrait of famed film columnist Roger Ebert. However, even with the subject matter and recent broadcasts of the film on CNN, Life Itself found itself out of the race.
Thumbs down to this decision.
Snub: NightcrawlerThe L.A.-set noir seemed to have gained some momentum heading into the New Year, with building buzz for Jake Gyllenhaal’s blistering performance, as well as Rene Russo.
Regardless, it’s a shame that neither of those actors nor Robert Elswit’s haunting cinematography are up for gold. Nevertheless, the thriller managed to eke out one nomination, although a worthwhile, one, for Dan Gilroy’s superb original screenplay.
Snub: SelmaAs a result, this is a year without nominations for any non-White actors, or female directors and screenwriters. Diversity was, simply, not on the Academy’s mind in 2014.
Surprise: Wild TalesThe Cannes and Toronto festival favorite marked Argentina’s first nomination in the foreign language category since winning for The Secret in Their Eyes in 2010. Other voting bodies, such as the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, had ignored the dark comedy. Nevertheless, Damián Szifron’s collection of revenge-related shorts got a big boost from the Academy.
It opens in limited release on Feb. 20, and we highly suggest you check it out.