Commentary on Oscar Nominations for 2015

With a few exceptions, I thought the Oscar nominations largely captured the best films and performances in an otherwise weak year. While I will see American Sniper today, I largely embraced all of the other nominees for Best Picture. While it is too early to pick a projected winner, I still think it comes down to Birdman, Boyhood and The Imitation Game. Furthermore, Whiplash could sneak up and challenge.

My biggest problem concerns the nominees for Actor in a Leading Role. How you could have nominated Steve Carell’s performance in Foxcatcher and ignore David Oyelowo’s tremendous turn as Martin Luther King in Selma is beyond me. How odd that he should be ignored while playing a man leading a cause concerning African-Americans being ignored.

Again, I really can’t pick a winner here either, although I do think it comes down to Michael Keaton for Birdman and Benedict Cumberbatch for The Imitation Game. Yet there is Bradley Cooper, so who knows at this point.

The five nominees for actresses in a leading role all gave worthy performances with the exception of Reese Witherspoon in Wild. Furthermore, I am absolutely delighted that Felicity Jones earned deserved recognition for her role as Stephen Hawking’s devoted wife in The Theory of Everything. Still, this looks like Julianne Moore’s award to lose for Still Alice.

As to actors and actresses in a supporting role, let me just say that J.K. Simmons is a deserved shoo-in for his incredible performance in Whiplash. As for the actresses, it remains unfortunate that Minnie Driver wasn’t acknowledged for her powerful role as Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s mother in Beyond the Lights. Regardless, I think the best performance this year came from Emma Stone in Birdman, although everyone seems to be putting their money on Patricia Arquette for Boyhood.

Let me close with a few other observations. To begin with Citizenfour, the spectacular documentary about Edward Snowden, should be a certainty in that category. As for animated feature, it will come down to Big Hero 6 and How to Train Your Dragon 2, particularly since The Lego Movie wasn’t nominated for unexplained reasons.

As for Best Director, how could they possibly nominate Bennett Miller for the positively dull Foxcatcher and ignore Ava DuVernay for Selma? That is a tragedy, given that Ms. DuVernay would have been the first black woman to be nominated in that category. Do you think George Wallace and J. Edgar Hoover found a way to strike back from the grave?

More later.

Full List of the Oscar Nominations 2015