N: Well, the Oscar nominations came out today, and as usual, there were enough egregious (EGREGIOUS!) snubs to infuriate everyone. Ben and I have a LOT of thoughts. A lot.
B: I’m gonna get into some serious talk near the end of this, but for now, my goodness, we’ve got quite a lot to talk about with this year’s nominations. It’s almost an endurance test as to how angry the Academy can make us. What’s grinding your gears the most this year, Nina?
N: I know you’re going to talk at length about Selma and DuVernay, which, yes, but I need a moment to ask a very simple question: What the fuck does David Fincher have to do to be recognized by the fucking Academy?!? Gone Girl was shut out of Best Picture, Best Director, and even Best Adapted Screenplay, which seemed like a surefire nod for author Gillian Flynn – its only (well-deserved) nomination was for Rosamund Pike, who won’t win but should. Maybe I’m biased, because I’m generally such a big Fincher fan, but this really was his best since The Social Network (which I’m still pretty salty about not winning Best Picture). Gone Girl was exquisitely directed and tightly written. This is nonsense.
B: Gone Girl is one of the many “victims” of this morning’s nominations, but before we delve into what went wrong (oh, so VERY wrong), let’s try and find the upside in some of these nominations. For example, of the 8 nominees for Best Picture, 5 of them are actually VERY GOOD MOVIES. And they’re pretty “out-there” films as well. Boyhood is a passion project by super-cool level-headed Richard Linklater, Birdman is a bonkers, stylishly-shot piece of film wonder, Whiplash is the strongest relationship film you’ll see this year (even if the relationship is barbaric and destructive), plus you have the epic (and epically snubbed) Selma sneaking in there, and Wes Anderson’s first EVER film to score a Best Picture nod, The Grand Budapest Hotel. All in all, not a horrific line-up.
N: True. But then you’ve got the remaining three, and I can only comment on The Theory of Everything, which I found to be an incredibly meh vehicle for two excellent actors (Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones were both nominated, in addition to winning individual awards for The Most British Names of All Time). I haven’t seen Imitation Game yet, which you hated. And I can already tell I’m going to despise American Sniper. I’m still in shock that Clint Eastwood thought, “hey, I should make that movie from Inglourious Basterds that Hitler was watching when the theater burned down!”, and then it was nominated for Best Picture instead of, like, anything else.
B: I enjoyed The Theory of Everything more than I thought I would. It’s an Oscar-Bait film elevated by great performances from Felicity Jones and Eddie Redmayne (if he wins an Oscar for this, I honestly won’t be mad. It’s a transformative performance that blew me away). But yes, Imitation Game is pure Oscar-Bait down to the last frame, with Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley doing what they can with poorly written material. I’ll be checking out American Sniper this weekend, so I don’t want to say too much before then. I’m curious to see what the mostly-white, mostly-male Academy saw in this film. As for other categories, there aren’t too many other surprises, with favorites J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette bound to win in the supporting categories, while Julianne Moore will get an award for Still Alice (I’ll be seeing that soon as well) in a category that includes much more interesting nominees like Reese Witherspoon (Wild), Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), and Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night).
N: Yeah, where did Marion Cotillard come from?! And Eddie Redmayne is basically a lock for Best Actor – which is also fine by me. Not many people can play full muscle degeneration. Anyway. Should we… talk about Best Animated Film…?
B: Make all the “Everything Is Not Awesome” jokes you want, world, because yes, the unforeseeable has occurred. The LEGO Movie was not nominated for Best Animated Feature. A film that was called one of the Best Movies of the Year. A critically-acclaimed, funny, heart-warming, and altogether emotional children’s comedy. A film that most people had assumed was going to be nominated, and most likely WIN. But it’s left off the ballot, leaving us with two foreign animated films (the critically acclaimed but not well known Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kayuga) plus other American fare, Big Hero 6, How to Train Your Dragon 2, and my new pick for this award, The BoxTrolls. How did the Academy get so out of touch?
N: Maybe the straight up weirdest part about The LEGO Movie’s insane snub is that “Everything Is Awesome” was, inexplicably, included in Best Original Song! Well, not inexplicably – that song is THE BEST – but I’m totally unclear on how they remembered how good that song is and then forgot about the movie it fucking came from. What. So… do you want to talk about Selma now? (I have not seen it yet, so this is all you.)
B: Look. Selma didn’t have the easiest journey to get to where it is now. From its December release to the fact that it couldn’t get proper screeners out to the other Guild Awards to them finishing the edit of the film the NIGHT before its premiere, to the very fact that it’s a film directed by a black woman entering into the ring of a highly phallocentric white system. But audiences and critics have been applauding this film for what it is; a beautifully made, perfectly acted film that mirrors what is happening in the world today. The Academy smashed that mirror by failing to nominate Ava DuVernay for Best Director, and David Oyelowo for Best Actor, among many other wonderful aspects of the film. Even giving it a Best Picture nomination sans any other major nominations (their only other nom is for Best Song) is the equivalent of someone saying “No, I’m not racist! I have PLENTY of black friends!” This may come off as harsh, but it’s just the latest indicator of the separation between the Academy and the general public. They need to get their fingers on the pulse, before we stop caring altogether.
N: Well said, sir. Well, the Oscars won’t actually air for another month plus, but we’ll be talking about them plenty before then! We’ll be covering each of the Best Picture nominees on their own, and possibly some other fun stuff if we have time. We’re very busy and important, you know.
B: Very busy. Very important. Stay tuned for Best Picture Profiles, Oscar Predictions, and our picks for how many outfits Neil Patrick Harris will wear at the ceremony this year. My vote is 17.
N: Let Oscar season begin! It’s the mooost… egregious tiiime… of the yeaaaar…