What I’d like to see from tomorrow’s Academy Award nominations

With the Academy Award nominations due to be announced tomorrow morning, most movie blogs and websites are busy trying to predict what names will be called before dawn. I don’t have the expertise to join them, nor have I seen enough films to really get a sense of how things will shake out. However, despite my feeling that 2014 was a bit of a dud at the movies, I still have some nominations I’d like to see in the morning. I’ve broken them down below into three general categories based on their likelihood, with some seemingly locks for a nomination, others possible but less likely, and others that will never happen no matter how much I want them to.

Sure Things:

Lots of BirdmanBirdman is in a position to lead the pack with the most Oscar nominations this year, and that would make me extremely happy.  Some of the nominations that are predicted for it include Best Picture, Best Actor (Michael Keaton), Best Supporting Actor (Edward Norton), Director and Screenplay for Iñárritu.  It’s almost certain to get nominations for editing and cinematography, which it definitely earned by creating the illusion that it was filmed entirely in one take.  There are some other nominations from it I’d like to see, but they fall into the other categories.

Big Hero 6Big Hero 6 was thought to be the frontrunner for the Best Animated Film Oscar before How to Train Your Dragon 2 won the Golden Globe this past weekend.  Still, it’s almost certain to get a nomination (well deserved) along with HTTYD2 and The Lego Movie.

Feast – The Best Animated Short Film category is always impossible to predict, because so few people see very many short films.  Still, I think Feast will get the slot that usually goes to a more familiar film, usually attached to one of the Best Animated Feature Film nominees.  Feast was adorable and creative, and I’d like to see Disney continue its streak with its third nomination in a row in this category.

Possible:

More Birdman – I thought Emma Stone was fantastic in Birdman, making a big impact in a few scenes, and I’d love her to find a spot in the Best Supporting Actress category.  (She could take Meryl Streep’s spot for Into the Woods.)  I’d also like to see the film get a nomination for Best Costume Design for the look of the Birdman suit, which managed to be both a parody of superhero outfits and to look believably like something that we might see onscreen teaming up with the DC comics characters.

The Boxtrolls – I would love to assume that The Boxtrolls will get a nomination for Best Animated Feature, but the category is just unpredictable enough that I wouldn’t call it a sure thing.  Some years there have only been three nominees for some reason, which could happen with the three I mentioned above.  But The Boxtrolls was clever and creative, and I love to see stop-motion animation rewarded for the hard work that goes into it, so I hope it will find a slot tomorrow.

Maleficent – One of the most impressive aspects of Maleficent was the look of Angelina Jolie as the titular character.  The costuming and the makeup design had quite the challenge trying to both replicate the look of the evil animated fairy as well as crafting something that would translate to live action and still look menacing, mysterious, and believable.  I think their work on that character alone deserves nominations in Best Costume Design and Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

Emily BluntInto the Woods will most likely be shut out of any major nominations, but Emily Blunt is still a possibility in the Best Supporting Actress category.  She carried chunks of the film, showing a great ability to find the truth of the story within the songs, not to mention a surprisingly great singing voice.  Her final scene was the sort of thing that looks great on a highlight reel, and I’d much rather see her recognized than Meryl Streep.

Shailene WoodleyThe Fault in Our Stars would have been a financial success with any actress in the lead role, simply because of the built in fan base for the book, but it was an artistic success because of Shailene Woodley.  When the film first came out she received a great deal of critical attention with many predicting a Best Actress nomination at year’s end.  Since then, however, she’s disappeared from the conversation.  The only reason I put this in the “possible” category instead of the “no way” is that sometimes the Academy tries to make up for past perceived snubs, and many (including myself) felt that she deserved a nomination for The Descendants three years ago.  Add in the fact that she has a somewhat Jennifer Lawrence-esque trajectory to her career (starring in a dystopian franchise based on “young adult” books while simultaneously doing grounded dramas), and I think there’s a chance her name is called in the morning.

Muppets Most Wanted – Three years ago, The Muppets won the Best Original Song Oscar for “Man or Muppet,” and I’d love to see the sequel get another nomination in the same category.  But the Best Original Song category is often the most bizarre and unpredictable (“Man or Muppet” only had one other nominee to compete against).  If I had to pick just one song for the nomination, it’d probably be “We’re Doing a Sequel,” which was probably the catchiest song from the film, but “The Big House” would be a great choice if they could get Tina Fey to sing it at the ceremony (not that that should be a part of the decision making process for picking nominees).

Guardians of the Galaxy – I expect that Guardians will get a nomination in Best Visual Effects, as it should, and perhaps even in Best Production Design.  But what I really want to see is a nomination for James Gunn’s screenplay.  There wasn’t a more offbeat, unexpected, funnier film I saw this year, and it’s all owed to Gunn’s writing.  He took a standard sci-fi/superhero setup and gave us dance-offs, Kevin Bacon, Drax taking everything literally, all while finding the heart and emotion of the story.  It was a brilliant bit of screenwriting craftsmanship, and I know I’m not alone in hoping it gets awarded for its creativity.

Never Happen:

Anything for The Hunger Games – Mockingjay: Part 1 – Ok, that’s not entirely true, because Lorde will probably get a nomination for the film’s closing song “Yellow Flicker Beat,” but I’m talking about anything else.  At the top of my list is Philip Seymour Hoffman’s performance, which was the highlight of the film for me and a nomination would be a good way to honor the late actor’s work.  I thought plenty of other aspects of the production were also award worthy, including Jennifer Lawrence’s performance and the film’s production design, but the Academy has some well recognized prejudices, and the fact that the Hunger Games series is based on a “young adult” book automatically sentences it to being ignored by the Oscars.  Lorde’s song will probably be the exception, as Lorde is too popular for the Academy to ignore, and having her perform on the show will help boost ratings.  I’m not particularly big into Oscar conspiracies and manipulation, but there are certain trends that are impossible to ignore.

One more for BirdmanBirdman may get many nominations, but one that it most certainly won’t get is Best Original Score, despite being the year’s most electric and creative score.  Antonio Sánchez crafted an improvised, percussion-driven score that gave the film a restless energy while also having to synchronize to an onscreen drummer at times.  But his brilliant score was ruled ineligible by the Academy because it used too much excerpts of classical music throughout the film.  It’s really a shame, and their rulings when it comes to this sort of issue are so inconsistent and arbitrary.  I understand the need to not allow films to compete when they’re comprised of mostly reused music, but a slight usage of classical music to highlight moments in a film shouldn’t be prohibited.

Anna Kendrick – In addition to Emily Blunt, I’d love to see Anna Kendrick nominated for Into the Woods.  She’s a previous nominee (for Up in the Air), so she’s obviously on the Academy’s radar, but Into the Woods hasn’t gotten enough positive press for it to get more than one acting nomination, and there’s no way it’ll go to Kendrick over Blunt or Streep.  Still, she was immensely charming in Into the Woods, and her performance of “On the Steps of the Palace” was my favorite moment in the film.

The Philosophers – My favorite film of the year stands no chance of any nominations, and I’m not even sure whether it got the correct sort of release to make it eligible.  (It premiered at a film festival in 2013, and may have made a limited US run in 2014, but I was only able to see it by paying to watch it on TV.)  Still, in a just world it would get a slew of nominations, including Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for John Huddles, Best Actress for Sophie Lowe and Best Actor for James D’Arcy, Best Cinematography, and Best Production Design.  It’s such a gorgeous, lush, deep, interesting film, but I’m afraid it’s destined to be forgotten by the masses.  Still, I won’t forget it, and I’m going to keep doing my best to recommend it to everyone I know.

What do you want to see from the nominations tomorrow?  Is there anything you don’t want to see (perhaps you have a grudge against a particular actor or film and want to see them shut out)?  What movie will get the most nominations?  Who will be snubbed?  What category are you most interested in?  Let me know in the comments!

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