As you may have noticed if you’ve gone online or been anywhere near a TV today, the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards were announced this morning. Along with that always comes the scrambling to contact those nominated to get their reaction to the honor. Usually what they have to say is pretty boring, but hey, it’s a tradition. And it’s one that Variety has been hard at work keeping all day long. As a service to the world, I’ve compiled some of the more high profile reactions they’ve received here in one place.
If you’re talking Oscars, you’ve got to talk Best Picture, and Variety managed to get some quotes from a couple directors who have horses in that race. Martin Scorsese, whose Hugo got nominated for a whole host of awards, said, “I have two older daughters, but the younger one was the one that recommended this book. To be honest, I thought it was a film for everybody, not just family audiences. After all the screenings, we found that children really enjoyed it and the adults reacted really well too.” You know who else reacted well? The Academy. Good job, buddy! The Descendants director, Alexander Payne, was significantly less self-congratulatory. According to him, “The quantity (of kudos) can grow taxing, but I remain grateful through all of it.” Now that’s how you play it aloof.
The Artist director, Michel Hazanavicius, took a different approach. He gushed that, “You can dream of the Cesar, and you if you’re crazy, you can dream of an Oscar for foreign language movies, but you never dare to consider the major Academy Awards categories.”
The nominees for Best Actress mostly remained humble and talked about how important the work part of being an actress is. Veteran Glenn Close spit out this bit of wisdom: “If you do stuff for any other reason than believing in the work you do, you can so fast get away from who you really are.” Alright, so if she wins the Oscar I’ll be happy to put it on my mantle. She’s got her work.
Rooney Mara and Viola Davis used the opportunity to talk about other people. Mara referenced the Swedish Girl With the Dragon Tattoo when she said, “I think if (Rapace’s) performance had been 15 years ago there would still be that pressure (because) it’s such an iconic performance and loved by so many people. I had my own idea of what I wanted the role to be. In the end I was able to make it my own and I think (director) David (Fincher) had a lot to do with that.” Davis turned the praise on her co-stars by saying, “The key to a great performance is surrounding yourself with talent and getting over your ego. One thing everybody gave up was their egos when they got on the set, and I think that showed in the final product.” That’s an amazing accomplishment, I hear that rotten Emma Stone can be a real diva (call me, Emma!).
There was a bit of a generation gap when it came to reactions from the Best Supporting Actor Nominees. Jonah Hill’s reaction was full of youthful enthusiasm. He said, “Getting into a Bennett Miller film written by Aaron Sorkin and starring Brad Pitt — to me that was me winning the lottery, and the nomination is just a nice touch. It is so tough as a comedic actor for anybody to see you as anything else but that. I really want to be perceived as a drama actor as well. I hope this film and nomination helps that in the future.”
Christopher Plummer and Kenneth Branagh have been around the block more than a few times, however, and their reactions came from a completely different place. Branagh still seems pretty amused by the whole thing. He said, “I’m sort of speechless, it’s really rare and amazing; even though you are in the business to get an Oscar nominations, in each of those cases it felt like a once-in-a-lifetime moment each time I was nominated.” Plummer, though, sounds quite like a man in his 80s. “It has been a long ride,” he said. “It’s a shame the film didn’t open closer to the event, but it has seen great resurgence and great interest in it with all the nominations.” Gotta love that way grandparents always have to slip a little negativity into everything. That’s grit, I’ll tell ya.
The Best Actor nominees seemed more focused on the business side of things, giving reactions that spoke to the money aspects of making movies. Pitt said of his nomination for Moneyball, “This one was a little more special because of the uphill battle to get Moneyball made. In the past people would have run for the hills when things went wrong but (Sony Pictures chief) Amy Pascal really doubled down and made sure this film happened. So I think this nomination for me carries a little more (significance) than previous ones.”
Gary Oldman gave a pretty lengthy response to the L.A. Times, and among other things he opined that he was, “very proud of the film. And really it’s been quite a ride. We had a huge success in the U.K., and we opened in America to incredible reviews and amazing box office. It continues to make money. I’m proud of my work in it and the film and everyone involved. So, to be nominated is one thing but to be nominated particularly for this film and this role, it’s a nice feeling.” And isn’t that what the Oscars are all about, giving good movies a second chance to get attention and make money? Good work should be rewarded, and despite the quibbles we all might have with who got nominated and who didn’t, I hope everybody keeps going out to the theaters and catching more and more of these nominated films over the next few weeks. It’s either that or we just start handing gold statues to the films that break box office records and leave it at that.