The Oscar nominations are out and the snubs and surprises have already been discussed at length. But now that the dust has settled on who will be duking it out in all categories, let’s take a second to recognize some of the lessons that this morning’s nominations bring us.
The Academy loves David O. Russell
Cinema fans are divided on David O. Russell and his recent efforts; some believe that he is one of the top directors working right now, others think he is mediocre at best. Well, if there was any question on how the Academy felt they answered that by planting their flag firmly in the former camp. “American Hustle” ties for the most nominations with ten, for the second straight year in a row Russell’s film received a nomination in all four acting categories, and his last three films have received a total of twenty-five nominations (three wins to date). Very few filmmakers have had that kind of streak with the Academy. Russell is still looking for his own Oscar win, but if the trend continues it’s only a matter of time (maybe only a matter of months).
They don't love Tom Hanks as much as we thought
You only have to go back to November to see that many pundits thought it was extremely possible that Tom Hanks would wind up being a double nominee for his performances in “Captain Phillips” and “Saving Mr. Banks.” It made perfect sense, Hanks is Hollywood’s golden boy and both were prestige pics. Well, apparently the Academy felt differently. While his “Saving Mr. Banks” performance lost momentum a while back, Hanks’ snub for “Captain Phillips” was one of the more surprising. Hanks hasn’t received an acting nomination from the Academy since “Cast Away” in 2001.
Pixar is on a downward trend
The gold standard that was Pixar animated films is eroding. The studio, which has won seven of the first twelve years of the category, has now missed getting a nomination altogether for the second time in three. They did win last year for “Brave,” but that was one of the most criticized awards from last year’s ceremony as it beat out favorite “Wreck-it Ralph.” Outside of “Toy Story 3” Pixar has won all its Oscars for original material, and the two recent misses were for sequels. 2014 will see no Pixar release. For the studio that many believed could do no wrong in the beginning is starting to have to convince people that they are still the premiere house for animated films.
It's a three worse race
We pretty much knew this before the nominations, but now that “Gravity,” “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” topped the nominated films the three horse race is on between them. While “Dallas Buyers Club” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” had strong showings, they needed to top one those three to truly edge themselves in to the conversation. “Gravity” and “Hustle” tied with ten noms, and “12 Years” is right behind them with nine. For now, despite coming in second in nominations, the edge still has to be given to “12 Years,” but by the slimmest of hairs.
The Academy always keeps us interested
Last year brought us a completely unexpected slate of directing nominees and the soon to be disproven belief that “Argo” was all but done for best pictre. This year, the best actor category makes two late swaps for supposed locks and raises the question whether or not “12 Years a Slave” should be the front-runner. Whether you tend to agree with the Academy’s decisions or not, you have to give it to them to continually get people riled up with their nominations and keep things interesting for at least a little while longer.