The 86th Academy Awards…. The Nominations


Well, I don’t know what it was about 2013 but it didn’t seem as great to me as 2012, so I can’t get as worked up about the Oscars as I did last year. I didn’t actually catch the announcement ceremony for the nominations (I was asleep, what can I say), and I’m putting this out a day late after everyone is already tired of hearing about how stupid the Academy is. Like most bloggers, I still feel obligated to offer my take on the nominations, even if right now I’m feeling like the whole thing is so ridiculous that I don’t want to dignify it with a response. (I can decide for myself what was good out of 2013, right….?)

First we have the biggest spot of the bunch, the nominations for Best Picture:


American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave
The Wolf of Wall Street

First of all, to note all of the films I’m now going to have to scramble to see because I didn’t see them before: Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Nebraska, and Philomena. Last year, out of the same number of nominations, I had seen all but two! Ah, well. The only ones I can truthfully say I am pleased to see are Her and The Wolf of Wall Street, two of my favorites from this past year. I can’t say I’m at all surprised that American Hustle made it in even though I was disappointed in it, and Gravity and 12 Years a Slave were both good movies even if they didn’t hit me personally. Going on general internet vibes/reviews that I’ve read, I’m surprised to see Dallas Buyers Club (I heard the performances were good but not so much the direction, correct me if I’m wrong), and Philomena (smaller picture).  VERY disappointed not to see Inside Llewyn Davis get nominated here; the Coen brothers seem to be favorites and it was really good!



David O. Russell for American Hustle
Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity
Alexander Payne for Nebraska
Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave
Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street

As I said above, still haven’t seen Nebraska but Payne’s inclusion here makes me more excited to see it. No other surprises really, not so happy with Russell but I can’t say I didn’t see it coming. I don’t have as strong opinions on this category, but I would have liked to see Jonze and the Coens in there, but as there was no best picture nomination for Llewyn Davis fat chance there. I’m of course going to be rooting for Marty here, but I doubt he’ll actually win unfortunately.

Best Actor:

Nebraska poster

Christian Bale in American Hustle
Bruce Dern in Nebraska
Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 12 Years a Slave
Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club 

Other than Leo actually getting nominated this year (yay!!!), I’m pretty disappointed in this category. All of these actors were talked about prior to actually being nominated so it’s not really a surprise at who got in, but rather who got left out. Industry giants Tom Hanks and Robert Redford for example. I haven’t seen either All is Lost or Captain Phillips, so I can’t say if I agree or disagree, but I was especially surprised about Hanks given that his film is nominated for best picture. While it seems silly to nominate Bale twice in one year, so I can’t really complain that it didn’t happen, I have to mention it because he’s just that good. I’m not sure which performance of his was better, American Hustle or Out of the Furnace, so I won’t say the Academy’s wrong, I’m just pointing out how awesome a year Bale had. Ejiofor is no surprise, and I’m still not entirely sure how I feel about that movie or his performance so I’m not going to say anything until I get a rewatch. Now for the disappointments: no Oscar Isaac and no Joaquin Phoenix. After going through the previous categories I’m not surprised about Isaac, even if it’s just as outrageous as Phoenix.

Best Supporting Actor:


Barkhad Abdi in Captain Phillips
Bradley Cooper in American Hustle
Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave
Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street
Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club 

I’m definitely rooting for Fassbender here, even if the internets seem to think Leto will get it. Still haven’t seen that or Phillips, so I can’t really comment. I don’t really see any glaring surprises or omissions here.

Best Actress:

Amy Adams in American Hustle
Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine
Sandra Bullock in Gravity
Judi Dench in Philomena
Meryl Streep in August: Osage County


Aww man I really want to see Cate Blanchett win this! I haven’t seen Blue Jasmine yet because I wasn’t too crazy about the trailer, but I was always planning on watching it for her. She’s one of the best around and I’m rooting for her on this one, sight unseen for now. Amy Adams was pretty good in American Hustle and her nomination continues the Academy’s worship of David O. Russell and everything he’s involved in. Adams and Bullock are the only ones I’ve seen here so far, and out of those I’d probably go with Bullock, but I’m not too sure. Judi Dench and Meryl Streep are always good and I’ll try to see those movies as soon as possible. The only actress that I may have included here but never in a million years expected the Academy to would be Mia Wasikowska who I thought was really good in Stoker, but yeah. No way that would actually happen (and since I’ve only seen two of these I can’t even really say it should have).

Best Supporting Actress:


Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine
Jennifer Lawrence in American Hustle
Lupita Nyong’o in 12 Years a Slave
Julia Roberts in August: Osage County
June Squibb in Nebraska

Again, I’ve only seen two here: Lawrence and Nyong’o. Let me just say, Nyong’o all the way. I’m suffering from Lawrence backlash, and correct me if I’m wrong, she basically plays herself in American Hustle. She was stuffed into that movie and granted, made it marginally more enjoyable, but didn’t make it more meaningful. She has so much momentum that she’d basically get nominated for anything now, and oh yeah, Russell’s directing so that makes it even more of a certainty. My shaky offer of an alternative would be Carey Mulligan in Inside Llewyn Davis, the film the Academy ignored. Might not be groundbreaking work, but she very convincingly and entertainingly played against type there unlike some people…

Best Adapted Screenplay:


Before Midnight 
Captain Phillips 
12 Years a Slave 
The Wolf of Wall Street

From what I’ve seen (only two once again), I’d go with The Wolf of Wall Street but probably would not be too surprised or saddened if 12 Years won. Haven’t seen the others and can’t think of any better choices the Academy could have gone with here.

Best Original Screenplay:

American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club


I’m so glad to see Her here! While I highly doubt it will win Best Picture, it probably has a great chance here, right? I’ve only seen two of the nominees once again, but the Academy should not have ignored Inside Llewyn Davis again, but whatever, I’m used to it by now. I really hope American Hustle doesn’t win (one problem with the Academy nominating it so many times is that I have to keep saying it over and over) as it is a complete mess and repeats things like “I had to con to survive!” over and over and over again. Her‘s screenplay also has the whole talking operating system thing going for it as well; it has to rely on Samantha’s lines are more important to her character than most are as she has no physical presence.

Best Animated Feature:

The Croods
Despicable Me 2
Ernest & Celestine
The Wind Rises

I haven’t seen any animated films this year (big surprise, I still haven’t seen any from 2012) but I’m noticing a conspicuous absence of Pixar here. Monsters University apparently couldn’t get it done. I’m thinking Frozen‘s got this in the bag.

Best Animated Short:

“Get a Horse!”
“Mr. Hublot”
“Possessions” Shuhei Morita
“Room on the Broom” Max Lang and Jan Lachauer

Haven’t seen any of these either, can’t even give any commentary.



The Grandmaster 
Inside Llewyn Davis

Finally, Inside Llewyn Davis gets something!!! Unfortunately, I’m going to have to go with Prisoners on this one, but I’m betting the Academy will follow its previous decisions of Hugo and Life of Pi and go with this year’s equivalent of those:  Gravity. They’re all beautiful films, but Prisoners had that epic car chase at the end, plus wouldn’t it be great to see two long time snubs DiCaprio and Deakins finally win in the same year! I’m surprised not to see 12 Years a Slave on here though, that had some landscape shots that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Malick movie, seriously. I hope Nebraska isn’t just on here because it’s in black and white.


American Hustle
The Grandmaster
The Great Gatsby
The Invisible Woman
12 Years a Slave


I honestly don’t know what I would do here. I guess I just don’t have strong opinions on costumes this year. I remember being struck by the costumes in Her, but I don’t know if that’s because I saw it so recently or because I don’t think people will wear pants that high-waisted in the future. I guess I would have to go with 12 Years a Slave….? They seemed a bit overdone in both American Hustle and The Great Gatsby.

Best Documentary Feature:

The Act of Killing
Cutie and the Boxer
Dirty Wars
The Square
20 Feet from Stardom

Haven’t seen any of them, or any others for that matter.

Best Documentary Short:

“Facing Fear”
“Karama Has No Walls”
“The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life”
“Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall”


Best Live Action Short:

Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me)”
“Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything)”
“Pitääkö Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?)”
“The Voorman Problem”

Haven’t seen any of these either!

Best Editing:


American Hustle
Captain Phillips
Dallas Buyers Club
12 Years a Slave

I would have to go with 12 Years a Slave with this one, because I liked how they didn’t cut the violence. So it’s like no editing rather than editing, and I’m not sure if this is a valid reason, but a key part of that movie’s power is that it shows all of that. Again, American Hustle is way too poorly paced to be on here. From what I’ve read, Dallas Buyers Club seems to be a baffling choice. Wish we could have seen The Wolf of Wall Street here, though it may have been a bit long, the pacing was perfect and I at least didn’t feel its length at all. And before Schoonmaker got to it it was over an hour longer than 3 hours. Think about that.

Best Foreign Language Film:

The Broken Circle Breakdown out of Belgium
The Great Beauty out of Italy
The Hunt out of Denmark
The Missing Picture out of Cambodia
Omar out of Palestine

I’ve actually seen one of these! The Hunt was a really good movie, mostly due to the ever amazing Mads Mikkelson, but it was a tough subject to tackle and The Hunt didn’t shy away from anything. I haven’t seen any of the others, and Blue is the Warmest Color wasn’t really snubbed as it was deemed ineligible but I’m still mad I missed that one!

Best Make-Up and Hair Styling:

Dallas Buyers Club
Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa
The Lone Ranger

What a strange group of films. I haven’t seen any of them, but what do you bet the Academy goes with Dallas Buyers Club? They’d be embarrassed to announce anything else I’d think.  No props to the dwarves beards this year 😦

Best Original Score:


John Williams for The Book Thief 
Steven Price for Gravity
William Butler and Owen Pallett for Her
Alexandre Desplat for Philomena
Thomas Newman for Saving Mr. Banks

Honestly, my favorite soundtrack from this year has got to be Star Trek Into Darkness, but I’m not surprised that’s not on here. John Williams is always a favorite, though I haven’t seen The Book Thief and am still kind of mad at him for skipping out on Harry Potter. Her’s score was definitely interesting and worked with the film, but I don’t see myself listening to it on its own, for whatever that’s worth. I’m also a fan of Desplat, so I’ll have to check Philomena out for his score as well.

Best Original Song:

“Alone Yet Not Alone” from Alone Yet Not Alone
“Happy” from Despicable Me 2
“Let It Go” from Frozen
“The Moon Song” from Her
“Ordinary Love” from Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom

I feel like “Let it Go” is almost a sure thing, though I remember “Ordinary Love” winning whatever award that was given out recently to general astonishment, so maybe it’s not a sure thing. I haven’t heard either of them or seen the films they’re from, but I have heard “The Moon Song” and it’s pretty adorable in the context of the film, I gotta say. Sad but definitely not even close to being surprised that Inside Llewyn Davis got left out again.

Best Production Design:

American Hustle
The Great Gatsby
12 Years a Slave

I’m definitely going with Her on this one! Such an interesting look for the future! Other than that I would again mention Stoker but not too confidently. Not feeling too strongly about the rest of these.

Sound Editing:


All Is Lost
Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Lone Survivor

I always have trouble with the sound categories. If I remember correctly from last year, sound editing is more sound effects, and I can’t really think of any amazing sound effects from 2013. I haven’t seen All is Lost, Captain Phillips, or Lone Survivor, but I suppose these are all good choices.

Sound Mixing:

Captain Phillips
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Inside Llewyn Davis
Lone Survivor

We have sort of a repeat of last year, where I’m going to go with the movie with live singing in it, and that would be Inside Llewyn Davis. Other than that, I haven’t got a clue.

Best Visual Effects:


The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Iron Man 3
The Lone Ranger
Star Trek Into Darkness

Yay! Star Trek is nominated for something! I don’t expect it to win though, and I don’t think it should. I would definitely give this one to Gravity, no contest (even though I haven’t seen The Lone Ranger). Gravity is just on a whole ‘nother level.

So there are the nominees, folks! I must admit I’m not as excited for the awards as I was last year unfortunately, but I still plan to study up and see at least the films nominated for Best Picture that I missed. After I’m done catching the last of what 2013 has to offer, I’ll put out my personal top ten for the year (finally), and as we get into February my Best Picture marathon will start up again. Somewhere in there I’ll have my official predictions (a lot can change between now and March 2nd; this time last year I was convinced Lincoln was going to win it all), and follow that up with a commentary on the winners. Then 2013 in films will officially be over! Despite my cynicism, I am pretty excited to see who wins. That’s the problem with the Oscars, I can say they’re wrong all I want, but the fact of the matter is they still carry a lot of weight, whether or not they should. Thanks for bearing with me, and I hope to see you back for the first of my catching up on 2013 reviews: Her.

8 responses to “The 86th Academy Awards…. The Nominations

  1. Good commentary. I agree with much of it.

    I will say you have pretty good odds at seeing Blanchett win. She’s certainly the front runner.

    I will also say: I think 2013 far superior to 2012 in film quality. 12 Years and Gravity are both likely to go down as modern classics, remembered for ages. Wadjda, in my opinion is a classic, too. Couple that with a slew of really good movies (basically everything nominated in one of the major categories) and you have, in my opinion, a pretty special year for film.

    • Thanks!

      I’m a big fan of Blanchett. Would love to see her win!

      Keep in mind I haven’t seen many of the films yet, so I could change my tune. I did want to see Wadjda but haven’t yet. I plan to watch 12 Years a Slave and Gravity again, but the first times I saw them I thought they were good, but not quite as good as everyone else was saying. Now that I know what to expect I’m sure I’ll like them a bit more.
      There was some mediocre stuff from 2012 too, I just remember being more excited for awards. Maybe because that was my first year blogging.

      • I was blown away by 12 Years and Gravity the first time. Have seen 12 Years once, but the second time I saw Gravity, I liked it far less. Dropped the grade from an A- to a B.

        Part of the problem with, really, every year is how releases are scheduled. Most of the good movies come out between November and January. The rest of the year sees mostly mediocre or bad films. There are a few exceptions every year (Mud, Fruitvale Station, The Conjuring, etc this year), but most of the best come out at the end of the year.

        I know why it happens, but as a cinephile who spends a lot of time at the theater, I wish it would be more balanced. 🙂

        • Yeah, I second that. It’s very annoying to have to try and fit everything in all at once. At least this year 12 Years a Slave and Gravity were in October.

          I’m worried about that with Gravity as well, mostly because next time I won’t be seeing it on the big screen. The effects are what it has going for it as far I can remember.

  2. Nice analysis. The snub for Davis is particularly upsetting and I think Joaquin was robbed as well. I loved Gravity when I saw it in theaters, but it hasn’t quite sat for me as well as I imagined.

    • I remember loving Gravity at the beginning as it was getting started but as I went through the plot just seemed pretty conventional to me and I thought it was going to be something more (for some reason). I may like it better when I watch it again because I’ll know what to expect, but we’ll see.

  3. “I would have to go with 12 Years a Slave with this one, because I liked how they didn’t cut the violence. So it’s like no editing rather than editing, and I’m not sure if this is a valid reason. . .” Oh, how that is completely a valid reason! I thought the exact same thing about it, and that’s why I voted for it for Best Editing. You’ve got a fantastic amount of commentary here, Hunter, and I really am in love with the fact that you and I agree that American Hustle/David O. Russell is a tad overblown at this point. I loved loved loved Silver Linings Playbook, but Hustle did not strike me nearly as much as I had hoped it would. All other choices we are in varying degrees of agreement. 🙂

    • That’s exactly how I felt about it! SLP was my favorite of 2012, and I loved basically everything about it so I was super excited for American Hustle but (and I’m pretty sure this was partially because I was so excited for it) it just didn’t deliver. Always great to have someone agree with me on that, as in general I feel like we’re in the minority 🙂
      Editing (and just technical categories in general) are usually harder for me to judge because they’re not what I pay attention to on the first viewing unless they’re really flashy. So good to know I’m on the right track on that one.

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