We knew Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons and Patricia Arquette were going to be getting congratulatory phone calls on Oscar nomination morning. It would have been a stunner if their names HADN’T been called.
But with all due respect to the legendary Meryl Streep, the talented Morten Tyldum, the wonderful Eddie Redmayne and lovely Rosamund Pike, I think their phones should have been silent once the nominations were announced.
Streep received an astonishing 19th nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her role as the singing witch in “Into the Woods.” I much preferred Jessica Chastain’s icy hot performance as a book-cooking wife who will do anything to protect her husband and their business in “A Most Violent Year.”
Morten Tyldum was a Best Director nominee for “The Imitation Game,” a fine film, but not in the same league as “Selma.” I would have given that nomination slot to Ava DuVernay, who did a beautiful job of capturing three key months in the civil rights movement in “Selma” — which deserved its nomination for Best Picture.
Amy Adams was brilliant in “Big Eyes.” She won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy or Musical but didn’t get an Oscar nomination. I know a lot of people loved Rosamund Pike’s work in “Gone Girl.” I liked it. It’s fine work. I just liked Adams’ performance better.
There was some buzz about Jennifer Aniston getting a Best Actress nomination for “Cake,” but I thought it was just another example of a pretty actress “boldly” tempering her looks to play an ordinary woman in extraordinary circumstances. It’s steady work in a two-and-a-half star film.
Tom Hardy, sensational in “Locke,” deserved the Best Actor nomination claimed by Eddie Redmayne, who played Stephen Hawking in the fairly ordinary biopic “The Theory of Everything.”
A few months ago, Angelina Jolie and “Unbroken” were considered Oscar nomination favorites, but as noble and well-intentioned as the movie was, Jolie spent too much time focusing on the imprisonment and torture of her main character, Louis Zamperini, in lieu of giving us more of a big picture of his incredible life journey. The film has done well at the box office but received only mixed reviews, and the awards buzz faded shortly after its release.
If you haven’t seen “The Lego Movie” because you think it’s just for kids, you should check it out. It’s a gorgeous, witty, rousing adventure, and I thought it should have won Best Animated Feature. Yet somehow it didn’t even get nominated.
The same goes for “Life Itself,” the Steve James documentary about my great friend Roger Ebert. Many analysts pegged the film as the front-runner, yet it wasn’t even nominated. (A lot of people think James’ “Hoop Dreams,” one of the seminal documentaries of the last half-century, won Best Documentary. Yet it too didn’t even receive a nomination.)
Other snubs: Christopher Nolan (“Interstellar”) for Best Director; Nick Hornby for his adaptation of “Wild”; Antonio Sanchez’s unforgettable score for “Birdman,” which was almost like a character in the film; Thomas Hardy’s understated but masterful work in “Locke.”
The 87th Annual Academy Awards are Feb. 22. I can guarantee one snub right now: a fast-paced night of entertainment. That baby has no chance.