The films that will battle out the 2014 Oscar ceremony convey a sense that the power brokers amongst Hollywood’s ivory towers are rewarding their own Generation X influences, ie money, fame and fantasy, with a thin coating of honourable indignation. David O’Russell’s wildly self-indulgent spin on self-indulgence, American Hustle, and Alfonso Cuaron’s existential sci-fi saga, Gravity (pictured, below) lead the nominations with 10 nods, followed by Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave with 9, in a field that showed scant regard for old-school, Oscar-friendly contenders.
American Hustle Charles Roven, Richard Suckle, Megan Ellison and Jonathan Gordon, Producers
Captain Phillips Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti and Michael De Luca, Producers
Dallas Buyers Club Robbie Brenner and Rachel Winter, Producers
Gravity Alfonso Cuarón and David Heyman, Producers
Her Megan Ellison, Spike Jonze and Vincent Landay, Producers
Nebraska Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa, Producers
Philomena Gabrielle Tana, Steve Coogan and Tracey Seaward, Producers
12 Years a Slave Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Steve McQueen and Anthony Katagas, Producers
The Wolf of Wall Street Nominees to be determined
But what about…?: Oscar voters displayed a sparrow’s attention span this year, with no film prior to the early October release date of Gravity earning a Picture nomination. Which meant no glory for Lee Daniel’s The Butler, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine, Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station or Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby. The Coen Brother’s long, happy history with the Academy was halted with the shut-out of Inside Llewyn Davis; Richard Linklater’s Before Midnight might’ve figured at one point. Unlike past years, no foreign language or animated feature stepped up.
BEST ACTOR IN A LEADING ROLE:
Christian Bale in American Hustle
Bruce Dern in Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club (pictured, below)
But what about…?: Bale and DiCaprio were no certainties and point to a younger influence amongst AMPAS members; even Bruce Dern, the one veteran amongst the group, is a counter-culture figure who has often been at odds with the studio system. The most glaring no-shows are Robert Redford (All is Lost) and Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips and Saving Mr Banks), though consider that Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom), Joaquin Phoenix (Her), Forrest Whittaker (Lee Daniel’s The Butler), Oscar Isaac (Inside Llewyn Davis), Mads Mikkelsen (The Hunt) and Hugh Jackman (Prisoners) also missed out.
BEST ACTRESS IN A LEADING ROLE:
Amy Adams in American Hustle
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine (pictured, below)
Sandra Bullock in Gravity
Judi Dench in Philomena
Meryl Streep in August: Osage County
But what about…?: The British. Sure, Judi Dench is deservedly present, but where are past Oscar favourites Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks) and Kate Winslet (Labor Day), both of whom deserved a nod over Ms Streep’s histrionics in August: Osage County. The presence of Dench and Aussie icon Cate Blanchett can’t hide the fact that international cinema was disgracefully ignored in this category, with Adele Exarchopoulos (Blue is the Warmest Colour), Berenice Bejo (The Past) and Zhang Ziyi (The Grandmaster) all missing out.
American Hustle David O. Russell
Gravity Alfonso Cuarón
Nebraska Alexander Payne
12 Years a Slave Steve McQueen
The Wolf of Wall Street Martin Scorsese (pictured, below, on-set)
But what about…?: Spike Jonze earned an Original Screenplay nomination for Her, but if the film was going to be a serious contender he needed to feature here. Hanks’ snubbing suggests Captain Phillips fell out of favour at some point, explaining Paul Greengrass’ omission. Perennials such as Allen and the Coen’s lost momentum; newcomers JC Chandor (All is Lost) and Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyer’s Club) have put the Academy on notice. A longshot was PeterBerg for his masculine handling of the action in Lone Survivor, but that didn’t pan out.
BEST ACTOR IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper in American Hustle (pictured, below)
Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club
But what about…?: Jonah Hill is the category bolter, having found no love from most of the award ceremonies to date. His inclusion probably bumped the late James Gandolfini (Enough Said), John Goodman (Inside Llewyn Davis) or possibly James Franco (Spring Breakers). Daniel Bruhl was unlucky, having been great in both Rush and The Fifth Estate, two box-office non-starters.
BEST ACTRESS IN A SUPPORTING ROLE:
Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts in August: Osage County
June Squibb in Nebraska
But what about…?: Oprah. Also Lea Seydoux (Blue is the Warmest Colour) and Margot Robbie (The Wolf of Wall Street), but it was Ms Winfrey who appeared podium-bound when The Butler became a breakout hit.
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
The Act of Killing Joshua Oppenheimer and Signe Byrge Sørensen (pictured, below)
Cutie and the Boxer Zachary Heinzerling and Lydia Dean Pilcher
Dirty Wars Richard Rowley and Jeremy Scahill
The Square Jehane Noujaim and Karim Amer
20 Feet from Stardom Nominees to be determined
But what about…?: The role that Gabriella Cowperthwaite’s stunning Blackfish has played in changing the way the public view sea mammals in captivity has been as profoundly impactful as the similarly-themed 2010 Oscar winner in this category, The Cove. Also notably absent is Sarah Polley’s vividly original Stories We Tell, which has won LA and NYC film critic honours and the National Board of Review Best Docomentary prize.
BEST ANIMATED FEATURE:
The Croods Chris Sanders, Kirk DeMicco and Kristine Belson
Despicable Me 2 Chris Renaud, Pierre Coffin and Chris Meledandri
Ernest & Celestine Benjamin Renner and Didier Brunner
Frozen Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Peter Del Vecho
The Wind Rises Hayao Miyazaki and Toshio Suzuki
But what about…?: Pixar. Planes was sub-par and never stood a chance, but surely Monster’s University had the edge on Despicable Me 2. It is only the second time Pixar have not featured in this category; the previous no-show was Cars 2.
BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM:
The Broken Circle Breakdown Belgium
The Great Beauty Italy (pictured, below)
The Hunt Denmark
The Missing Picture Cambodia
But what about…?: AMPAS really stuck it to their French colleagues, all but ignoring the eligible films that featured amongst the Cannes 2013 winner’s list (The Past; Ilo Ilo; Heli). Despite critical momentum, Australia’s The Rocket (utilizing the Lao dialect), Brazil’s Neighbouring Sounds, Hong Kong’s The Grandmaster and Saudi Arabia’s Wadjda were unrewarded.
For a full list of nominations for the 86th Academy Awards, click here.
The 86th Academy Awards will be held on March 2 at the Dolby Theatre, Los Angeles.