Everyone wants to talk about the snubs: “Selma,” the Roger Ebert documentary “Life Itself,” “The LEGO Movie” (okay, I’m really pissed about “The LEGO Movie” too you guys). But I like to find the facts you might not have considered or that I think are worth noting.
The Grand Budapest Hotel cashes in after being released 11 months ago
I am floored at how Fox Searchlight was able to get Wes Anderson’s film all the way from wide release last February to Oscar night this February, and with a lead-tying nine nominations to boot. We’ve seen films (like “Boyhood”) make it from Sundance all the way to the Oscars the next year, but this is really impressive. I have to say, the power of the Internet is challenging the very notion of Oscar films needing to be released in the last three months of the year.
This was the fewest Best Picture nominees since the category changed in 2010
After overhauling the Best Picture category in 2010 to include 10 and then realizing how ridiculous that was and revamping the process again so anywhere from 5-10 films could be nominated in 2012, this is the first time fewer than nine films received Best Picture nominations. To be nominated, a film needs to receive five percent of the first-place votes. So, was the cause more division, or more of a consensus? That’s hard to say given the next two facts:
None of the Best Picture nominees has grossed $100 million domestic yet
Thanks to Variety for pointing out that this is the weakest crop of Best Picture nominees from a box office perspective since 2007. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” has made the most so far – just $59.1 million. “American Sniper” is poised to make a big run at the box office between now and the Oscars, but it could be the lone film to break the $100-million mark of all eight. This makes a pretty big statement for the state of independent film today, though it could just be none of the major movies going for awards (e.g. “Unbroken”) were as good this year. In general, I’d expect in years to come that most nominees will be of the small-haul variety.
Selma received a Best Picture nod despite only one other nomination
Most critics and film fans would agree that “Selma” deserved a Best Picture nod, but if you’re a fan of the film who is also critical about diversity issues in the film industry, you almost wish it didn’t. How is it that a movie that only received a Best Original Song nomination gets nominated for Best Picture and nothing else?
The key here is “nothing else,” because it suggests that while five percent of voters thought it was the best film of the year, their votes for every other aspect of the film were essentially disregarded. I haven’t seen it yet, so I won’t weigh in, but something’s off. The only other time this happened in recent history was with “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” in 2012 and that was a much more divisive film than what I’ve heard about “Selma.”
Foxcatcher received nominations for two actors, Best Director and Best Writing but did not get nominated for Best Picture
Which is worse? What happened to “Selma” or “Foxcatcher?” I don’t know. It took me awhile to find a film that had four nominations like this that didn’t get a Best Picture nomination – “Leaving Las Vegas” in 1996. You even have to go back to 2008 to find a film that earned a Best Director nomination but not a Best Picture nod (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly”). But even those were the days of only five Best Picture nominees. It was way likelier to happen then. No one would’ve noticed if “Foxcatcher” snuck in as the ninth Best Picture nominee. That’s really strange, especially compared to “Selma.”
This is the first time since 1998 that all 20 acting nominees have been Caucasian
At least I’m pretty sure Marion Cotillard counts as Caucasian. Anyway, with a lot of people upset about “Selma” snubs, it looks really bad that the Academy has nominated its first all-white acting slate for the first time in 17 years (maybe 16, I’m not sure about Brazilian actress Fernanda Montenegro …)
Bradley Cooper is the first person in over a decade to earn acting nominations in three consecutive years
Renee Zellweger did it from 2001-2003 and Russell Crowe was the last actor (1999-2001) to accomplish the feat. If Cooper doesn’t win (as most expect), he would join Richard Burton and Gregory Peck as the only actors (male) to be nominated three straight times and come away empty-handed. Glenn Close (’82-’84) is the only person it has happened too since, though Al Pacino lost four straight times in the ‘70s before winning for “Scent of a Woman” in 1993.