Entertainment » Movies

Oscar Snubs & Surprises

by Robert Nesti
EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
Thursday Jan 16, 2014
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"Lee Daniels’ The Butler"
"Lee Daniels’ The Butler"  

She smoked cigarettes and got down with Terrence Howard, but Oprah didn’t make the cut this morning at the Oscars.

Nor did Tom Hanks - up in two acting categories; or Emma Thompson, long-considered a contender, or the pic in which they co-starred, "Saving Mr. Banks."

And where was Robert Redford? His solo turn in "All Is Lost" was considered a front-runner until this morning when his name wasn’t spoken at the early morning ceremony in Los Angeles, hosted by Chris Hemsworth and Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the organization’s president. For Hemsworth, it must have been a bit of an early morning buzz-kill since "Rush," the film in which he co-starred with Austrian actor Daniel Brühl, received no nominations. Brühl was often short-listed for supporting actor and the Ron Howard’s racing car drama seemed a shoe-in for editing.


"Saving Mr. Banks"  

What may be the biggest oversight surprise is "Lee Daniels’ The Butler," a big box-office and critical hit that was heavily campaigned but came up short with no nominations, not even for production design, costumes or make-up and hairstyling.

What was expected is the strong showing of "Gravity," "American Hustle" and "12 Years a Slave." The first two garnered 10 nominations each, while "12 Years a Slave" received 9. "Hustle" has the distinction of being one of the few films in Oscar history to get nominations for its four leads in the acting categories: Amy Adams (Actress), Christian Bale (Actor), Jennifer Lawrence (Supporting Actress), and Bradley Cooper (Supporting Actor). For the much-permed Cooper, those three hours of daily hairstyling paid off, though the movie didn’t get a nod for makeup and hairstyle.

Having recently crossed the $100 million mark at the box office, "American Hustle" may be the surprise winner on March 3, when the winners will be announced. It also may bring director David O. Russell his first Oscar in his third try since 2010.


"Wolf of Wall Street"  

His biggest competition is Alfonso Cuaron, whose imaginative technical feat in bringing the outer space drama "Gravity" to the screen has put him on the top of the list of Oscar soothsayers for the past few months.

But "12 Years a Slave" could make Oscar history for being the first pic to win Best Director with a black director, nominated Steve McQueen, at its helm.

There were some surprises in the 9 choices for Best Picture: "Her," Spike Jonze’s evocative futuristic romance (really, the film of the Zeitgeist), was picked (though Jonze and star Joaquin Phoenix were not); "Dallas Buyers Club," long-thought to only get nods for actors Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, made the cut; "Philomena," a prestige, art-house hit; and the divisive "Wolf of Wall Street."

There has been momentum in the past few weeks for Leonardo DiCaprio’s brilliant comic turn in "Wolf of Wall Street," which may be why he pushed out such likely contenders as Hanks, Redford and Whitaker. But it still looks to be an award for McConaughey to lose.


"Her"  

Ditto for Amy Adams - an also-ran for best actress a few weeks ago, she pushed out Thompson for the wild-card slot this morning. Will that be enough to put her past Cate Blanchett, long the favorite for "Blue Jasmine," for Best Actress?

There was no great love, though, for Joel and Ethan Coen, who were passed over for Best Picture, Director and Original Screenplay for "Inside Llewyn Davis." Nor did the gifted Oscar Isaac in the title role get a nom.

Also, off the short list is the well-regarded indie "Fruitvale Station." When it opened last summer, it was short-listed for actor (Michael B. Jordan), supporting actress (Octavia Spencer), director (Ryan Coogler) and Picture. It received no nominations. It was another slight for Forest Whitaker, who was one of its producers.

Oscar voters also passed over Scarlett Johansson as the voice of Samantha in "Her." It was only a voice-over role, but one so perfectly rendered that it is hard to imagine the film without her. And it would have been history for an actor to be nominated for a performance in which the actor is never seen on screen.


Robert Nesti can be reached at rnesti@edgemedianetwork.com.

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