12 Important Takeaways From This Morning’s Oscar Nominations

By  · Published on January 15th, 2015


If you happen to live anywhere near Los Angeles, the collective buzz and groan you probably heard this morning was undoubtedly the sound of scads of potential Oscar nominees, their publicists, their families, their dog walkers, their kids, their agents, and whoever else could possibly be invested in their maybe-nominations rousing themselves at the crack of dawn to watch the live telecast that revealed who made the cut for this year’s Academy Awards nominations. Everyone is very sleepy and very confused, but at least we’re all in this together.

As ever, this year’s nominations included, well, a lot of stuff, from snubs and surprises to shoo-ins and sure things, it’s a mostly good line-up with plenty to look forward to. (Did you miss the nomination list? We’ve got you.) But what did we learn from a twenty-or-so minute telecast? A whole lot!

Stop Making Everyone Get Up So Early

Has anyone ever issued well-reasoned argument for why the Oscar nominations are announced on a Thursday morning at 5:30 Pacific Time? (Yes, yes, it’s to meet newspaper and magazine deadlines.) Is anyone under the impression that, should the nods be announced a few hours later, that they wouldn’t still dominate the conversation? (Yes, we still know it has to do with deadlines.) Everyone looks so tired and confused, which is what leads to slips like the already-infamous “Dick Poop/Dick Pope” mix-up. (Try to defend that.)

On a related note, can we also stop allowing nominees to pretend that they were “still asleep!” when the nominations came through and that their “agent totally woke me up to tell me!” You’re up. You know it. We know it. It’s fine.

The Academy Needs to Remember That White Actors Are Not the Only Actors

The Oscars include twenty slots for acting accolades – five nominees each for Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Supporting Actor – but although such a comparatively large pool should encourage diversity, this year saw an all-white nomination list. In a year when Selma dominated so much of the – well-deserved – conversation, how is this possible?

Egregious Snubs Will Always Sting

Dividing the nomination list up amongst “snubs” or “surprises” might be a reductive way to do things, but it’s still an undeniably easy way to process a whole mess of information quickly. As ever, these nominations are filled with perceived snubs – and, no, Jennifer Aniston not getting a nod for her work in Cake is not a snub, because that movie is terrible, sorry – a number of which still sting. No Best Animated Feature nod for The LEGO Movie? No Best Actor nomination for Jake Gyllenhaal? No Best Director chance for Ava DuVernay? These hurt, and they should. The real snubs, the big ones, will never not sting. (And, if you happen to be a fan of Cake and are genuinely upset about Aniston losing out on a possible award, I may not agree with your opinion, but I respect it.) Here’s what’s important, though: remember the movies you love, and champion them whenever you can. The Oscars are not the end-all, be-all. Really.

Sometimes, Even a Golden Globe Means Nothing

Amy Adams may have won a Golden Globe for her turn in Big Eyes mere days ago, but she wasn’t even nominated for a Best Actress Oscar this morning. Woof.

And Even Big Love From Critics Groups Can Prove Fruitless…

Mr. Turner star Timothy Spall has picked up a wide selection of awards and accolades from a number of critics groups during this year’s protracted awards season, but he didn’t even garner a nod in the Best Actor category.

…Until It Does

But Marion Cotillard, who essentially had an awards campaign launched for her by admiring fans and critics, managed to surprisingly break into the Best Actress category for her work in Two Days, One Night.

Relentless Campaigning Works…

Foxcatcher star Steve Carell has never come out and directly announced, “hey, I want an Oscar and stuff,” but Sony Pictures Classics’ decision to run him as a lead actor when it comes to awards, along with his transformative performance and endless stumping for such a nomination, made it clear. Carell wanted an Oscar nomination. He got it.

…Until It Doesn’t

And, yes, Jennifer Aniston wanted a nomination, too. Aniston has been less transparent than Carell about her desire for the acknowledgment for her work in Cake – she even hired known Oscar PR strategist Lisa Taback to spearhead her campaign, per Gold Derby – but she similarly went the “transformative role, dramatic movie” route. It didn’t pay off in Oscar terms, but Aniston still landed a SAG nomination and the recognition that, yes, the former Friend could make a big splash in the big race. Aniston won’t win an Oscar this year, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to happen in the future. In fact, we’re willing to bet she’ll at least be nominated one day. (She just needs better material than Cake.)

Bold Performances Don’t Always Get Nominated, But They Still Matter

Aniston reinvented herself for this campaign, but that’s not the real story – the real story is, yes, Aniston wants to be a serious actress and, yes, she’s more than willing to put the work in. That’s a game-changer. Elsewhere, Nightcrawler star Jake Gyllenhaal similarly flexed his dramatic chops to make one hell of a performance. Both may not have been nominated, but both have immeasurably pushed forward their careers.

Making a Movie About Movies Doesn’t Guarantee a Nod

Life Itself was not nominated for Best Documentary. We don’t even know what to say.

The Academy Just Loves Bradley Cooper to Bits

Cooper picked up his third acting nomination in three years for his work in American Sniper. Did the fact that each of Cooper’s nominated roles – in Silver Linings Playbook, American Hustle, and now Sniper — show a pattern of diminishing quality effect the Academy’s picks? Apparently not!

Forget This Ten-Nominee Best Picture Business

Back in 2009, the Academy decided to expand the Best Picture nomination pool to include up to ten nominees a year. At the time, AMPAS President Sid Ganis attributed the move to a desire “to allow Academy voters to recognize and include some of the fantastic movies that often show up in the other Oscar categories but have been squeezed out of the race for the top prize,” which is wonderful in theory. In execution? Not so great, as this year’s field included only eight nominees, and only one of which – Whiplash — was a real surprise. Until the nomination field can include more truly unexpected picks, this is just lip service.

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The Academy Awards will air take place on Sunday, February 22.

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