What’s Up with This Year’s Oscars

Early Thursday morning, as the Oscar nominations were being announced by Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone, the New University’s resident Oscar gurus, Tyler Christian and Jun Im, were wondering if their preferred choices were to be slotted in as nominations. They met later to discuss their reactions to the nominees, particularly the surprises, snubs and milestones.

Jun Im:As expected, “Lincoln” was one of the predicted favorites to land the most nominations, and so it did. It leads with 12 nominations, with “Life of Pi” coming in at a close second with 11. Now I have to watch “Life of Pi.”

Courtesy of Touchstone Pictures

Tyler Christian: I also need to watch that. I wasn’t surprised with the amount of nominations that “Lincoln” received because it is that quintessential biographical period piece that the Academy professes their love for every year. While I thought that it was a pretty good film, I feel that the only Oscar it really deserves is for Daniel Day-Lewis’ brilliant performance as Abraham Lincoln. But then again, he faces stiff competition from Joaquin Phoenix for “The Master.”

JI: Yeah, Best Actor is a very tight race from the way I look at it. If I was an Academy voter, I’d be torn between Day-Lewis and Phoenix. Denzel Washington, Bradley Cooper and Hugh Jackman should just be happy they’re nominated, because there’s no chance they’re going to win. Sorry, boys. By the way, I was surprised and quite pleased to see that “The Master” actually got more than one nomination.

TC: Yeah, I’m glad that it got the three acting nominations, but simultaneously dismayed that it was snubbed for Best Cinematography, Best Original Score and Best Director.

JI:I agree, the Cinematography and Director snubs were a shame. But then again, “The Master” seemed like a rather divisive film for the Academy, and will probably be in much better standing over time. Speaking of which, I was ecstatic to see that “Skyfall” got the Cinematography nod. I’ve got my fingers desperately crossed for Roger Deakins’ first Oscar. And by the way, the Director nominations seemed to have come way out of left field. People were left with their jaws open when the nominations for that category were announced.

Courtesy of the Weinstein Company

TC: This category is one that I highly contest every year because of who’s snubbed. For this year, the unfortunate souls were Ben Affleck for “Argo” and Kathryn Bigelow for “Zero Dark Thirty.” From what I can grasp from this predicament is that Affleck’s good ol’ friend Matt Damon bribed the Academy voters to shun him out of a potentially great feat. As for Bigelow, it appears that you must be a man to be nominated twice, from the Academy’s standards.

JI: At least Tom Hooper for “Les Misérables” wasn’t nominated, ha! And to make things even better, it missed out on Best Film Editing and Cinematography, ho ho! But yeah, I was shocked to see that Affleck and Bigelow were absent from the nominees, even though both of them just directed their best movies to date.

TC: As an aspiring screenwriter, I care a lot more about the Best Original Screenplay category than most others do, and I was very pleased to see that “Django Unchained,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Zero Dark Thirty” all made the cut. However, the Academy seemed to be ignorant to two cult classics in the making, which were left in the dust: “The Cabin in the Woods” and “Seven Psychopaths.”

JI: I feel that with those two films, they weren’t really marketed as awards contenders, even though a lot of moviegoers believe that they are award worthy. Some of the nomination hopefuls that I was pushing for were Michael Fassbender for Best Supporting Actor and Best Production Design, both of which were for “Prometheus.” The lack of marketing could explain why other films such as “Looper” were shut out. It’s very much a disgrace, because movies that are deserving of particular, if not multiple, nominations don’t receive them due to that lack of promotion that they desperately need. For instance, look at Ann Dowd, who was trying to get a nomination for her performance in “Compliance” — she ended up scraping around $13,000 from friends and her bank account to promote the film after the studio informed her that they didn’t have the budget to lobby the Academy. In the end, she didn’t get the nomination.

TC: And the main reason behind those marketing decisions is that not everyone is or can be Harvey Weinstein. On the bright side though, this year’s nominations achieved a feat that doesn’t come very often: several milestones in the acting categories.

JI: Certainly. Look at “Silver Linings Playbook,” for instance. It’s the first film since 1981’s “Reds” to land nominations in all four acting categories, and that could be an extra push for the film’s chances to win Picture. In fact, I have a feeling that it’s going to be a three-way Picture race between that, “Life of Pi” and “Lincoln.”

TC: Another key milestone that came from this year’s nominees is the fact that all five Supporting Actor nominees are previous Oscar winners. If I were to push for any of them for the award, I would pick Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Master,” though on the other hand, I was disappointed to see that Leonardo DiCaprio wasn’t nominated for “Django Unchained.”

JI: Personally, I think that out of all the actors in “Django Unchained,” Samuel L. Jackson should have been nominated. That man was just sweet perfection. And finally, there’s the Best Actress category, where two of the nominees were the oldest and youngest who have ever been nominated for the Oscars — Emmanuelle Riva for “Amour” and Quvenzhane Wallis for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Speaking of which, I need to watch both of those movies.

TC: The Oscars ceremony is in just over a month, so we have time to catch the nominated films that we haven’t watched yet. Based on what I’ve seen from the nominations, this year’s batch was better than last year’s, but still predictable on most levels, both for the films that were nominated and those that were snubbed.