A Further Perspective

The Oscar Game

Oprah gets snubbed, and Jackass wins a nomination.

By 1.16.14

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Celebrity behavior may be rather unpredictable — who knew a weakling like Justin Bieber could do $20,000 in damage throwing eggs at a Calabasas mansion — but celebrity awards programs, generally, are not. The 2013 Oscar nominations announced today, however, feature a number of surprises. Oprah will have no excuse to snub Academy Awards red carpet reporters, as she was snubbed by the Academy itself. Chris Martin will not be looking dejectedly at the camera as Bono picks up a shiny new toy for his mantle. Tom Hanks does not even need to show up. And the producers of Jackass can now put the words “Academy Award nominated” in front of Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa.

For Best Actor in a Leading Role, the Academy gave nods to Christian Bale (American Hustle), Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) and, for some reason, insisted on repeating the Golden Globe’s mistake of nominating Leonardo DiCaprio for his role in The Wolf of Wall Street, which, while his most animated role to date, seems like more of a “body of work” award — or worse, a “we’ve given Kate Winslet a few of these and feel sorry for you” award — than an acknowledgement that DiCaprio has done much in the way of acting at any time in the last decade. After all, the man played Jay Gatsby with less animation and intelligence than that time Adrian Grenier played Vincent Chase playing Jay Gatsby in Entourage. Joaquin Phoenix was left out of the race for his role as a man who falls in love with his smartphone in Her, and despite having starred in two films last year — which is all that is normally required to earn Tom Hanks a nomination — Tom Hanks was passed over, which means he won’t be able to even out his mantle display. The Academy also did not nominate Idris Elba, who was the emotional favorite for his performance as Nelson Mandela in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.

There were no surprises in the Lead Actress or Supporting Actress categories, though critical and political darling Blue is the Warmest Color clearly failed to even register on the Academy’s radar, even for Best Foreign Language film, making way for the Academy’s requisite nod to an anti-Israel film, Omar. Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lawrence will both get the chance to add to their collection of awards, Lupita Nyong’o will get a second chance to look incredible in a color no one else can wear, and June Squibb, who plays a hilarious Midwestern stalwart in Nebraska, will get to attend the Oscars as the most normal person to ever cross into the Kodak theater.

Best Director, however, was where the real shocks came. Despite being the darling of the Golden Globes (and winning Best Screenplay for Her), Spike Jonze was snubbed by the Academy, putting him in league with Woody Allen, who might have snagged a lifetime achievement award, but who won’t be taking home an Oscar for Blue Jasmine. And while Martin Scorsese will get his millionth shot at making an acceptance speech, the Coen Brothers, who penned and directed the indie-folk faux-biography Inside Llewyn Davis, were left off the list. Coincidentally, so was the orange tabby cat that formed the basis for the entire movie and, yet again, brought more feeling to his performance than Leonardo DiCaprio has since What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. David O. Russell (American Hustle), Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) and Alexander Payne (Nebraska) round out the nominees.

The Academy had the opportunity to nominate 10 movies for Best Picture, but this year chose to only nominate nine apparently because they couldn’t manage to find one last item that fit their strenuous criteria. Nods went to American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, 12 Years a Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street and not to Inside Llewyn Davis or Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine. Skipped over was Oprah Winfrey’s baby, Lee Daniels: The Butler. But hey, Oprah got to spend her Christmas vacation with Michelle Obama, and you can’t have everything.

In case you were wondering if any movie that real Americans managed to enjoy actually made it into list of nominees, you’re in luck. Frozen and Despicable Me 2 were both nominated for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song categories (though they’ll go up against Bono’s song for Mandela); The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug managed to eke out a couple of nods in the nerdier categories, like Best Sound Editing; Lone Survivor got a nomination for Best Sound Mixing; Star Trek: Into Darkness will go up against The Lone Ranger and Iron Man 3 for Best Visual Effects; and, yes, Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa will face off against Dallas Buyers Club for best makeup and hairstyling. So while you may not have suffered through one man’s depressing journey to collect on a fake lottery ticket (Nebraska), followed the depressing two-week career arc of an early-1960s folk singer (Inside Llewyn Davis) or watched Joaquin Phoenix whisper sweet nothings to Siri’s half-sister (Her), you can at least be proud to say you’ve seen a few Oscar-nominated flicks as you watch the awards — if you watch them — on March 2nd.

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About the Author
Emily Zanotti is a frequent contributor to The American Spectator.