Well the nominations for the 87th Annual Academy Awards were announced this morning. In case, somehow, you haven’t heard the grumblings, protestations, and sarcastic Tweets that went out even while the names were being read rapid fire, there are some pointed issues with this year’s crop of nominees.
All twenty of the acting nominations went to white actors. A perfect score if you’re someone who thought Selma was about LBJ. The last time this happened was in 1996. Notably, a 2012 LA Times article pointed out that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members who make up the voting pool are overwhelming white and male: almost 97% white and 77% male. This matters.
Selma, the well-received Martin Luther King biopic garnered only two nominations, for Best Picture and Best Original Song, and was left out of acting, writing, and directing categories. Ava Duvernay, the director of Selma, surely stood no chance this year, being both a woman and a Person of Color. She would have been the first African American woman nominated in the Best Director category.
And truly, women were nearly shut out of the Oscars all together. There was not a single female writer nominated in the adapted and original screenplay categories. Notably Gillian Flynn did not receive a nomination for the script of her novel Gone Girl, when her script was noted for its skillful writing. Nor was a woman nominated in the composing or cinematography categories. Beyond the nominations themselves, the Best Picture material nominated was exclusively about men. From American Sniper to Whiplash, all eight of the Best Picture nominees were about men, the lives of men, and the work of men. Still Alice, Wild, Gone Girl – these women-focused films received acting nominations, but nothing more. But when the voting pool is 77% male is it that much of a surprise that the Academy would award what it sees in the mirror?
On top of all this, the median age of voters is 62, in case you were really wondering why The Lego Movie only received one nomination (for Best Original Song).
It’s okay. Made my own! pic.twitter.com/kgyu1GRHGR
— philip lord (@philiplord) January 15, 2015
Other big snubs of the morning:
Nightcrawler was one of 2014’s most daring films, with Jake Gyllenhaal delivering a truly upsetting performance, unlike anything that we’ve seen from his prior body of work. It’s beyond award-worthy, as he completely disappears in his portrayal of the gaunt, sickly Lou Bloom. The character is truly inhuman and unfeeling with a focus and determination that’s both obsessive and diabolical. He’s a worm, slithering through the night and capturing the essence of pain, death, and misery. Nightcrawler was nominated for the film’s excellent screenplay, but many of the film’s elements deserved recognition, notably the director. Director Dan Gilroy creates a stylistic nightmare world, where death and disaster strike every corner and the living feed off the dead. It’s an unforgettable experience that sits with you long after you’ve stopped watching. The masterful ending car chase sequence alone showcases Gilroy’s skill as a director, as the technical precision lends to constant mouth-gaping moments of “How did they pull that off?” It’s such a unique film that so accurately puts a lens to the horrific state of modern news. It’s unbelievable that the Academy refused to recognize this film.
The Lego Movie
To say that The Lego Movie wasn’t the best animated film of the year is ridiculous. Sure, How To Train Your Dragon 2 was good and Big Hero 6 was fine, and I’m even a huge sucker for stop-motion and Laika, but The Lego Movie tops them all. The film simultaneously warns of the danger in capitalism, all the while being the biggest toy commercial of all time. The film is unabashedly fun and clever, evoking such a sense of play and creativity in the viewer. The film is so self-aware and the animation is beautiful and is so hyper-relaistic that you can often forget it isn’t stop-motion at all. It’s tender, heartwarming, hilarious, inspiring, and just plain fun all at once. I’m disappointed and shocked that the film was written off by the Academy as one of the bullshit animated kid’s trash that comes out every year. The Lego Movie is not just the best animated film of the year, but it also could be the best comedy.
Gone Girl didn’t get a Best Adapted Screenplay nomination. What? How the hell didn’t that happen? Gone Girl’s tense and thrilling script is the best part about the film. Gillian Flynn wrote the film and the novel that the film is adapted from. Flynn’s script is so visual, unpredictable, and immediately compelling. She crafts such a disturbing, yet understandable villain, the likes of which we haven’t seen since Anthony Perkins in Psycho. Gone Girl is like a Hitchcockian thriller, and quiet likely to be the best mystery/thriller in decades. Flynn’s exclusion by the Academy is just another unbelievable head-scratcher.
But then again, with the Academy breakdown being what it is, maybe it’s not that surprising after all.
EMILY SCHMITT and CLARK ALLEN