By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com January 16, 2014 at 11:07AM
One of the biggest shocks of the day came for Hanks’ “Saving Mr Banks” co-star Emma Thompson—even before the film started screening, people assumed that her performance as P.L. Travers would be a factor in the race, and she cropped up in most of the precursor awards. But the Academy clearly didn’t fall for the movie, and rather than the either/or Amy Adams/Meryl Streep scenario most were expecting, both made it in at the expense of Thompson.
Daniel Brühl & James Gandolfini
Supporting actor was a category more in flux than most, but with late-breaking contenders Jonah Hill and Bradley Cooper making the cut, it pushed out some of the early favorites, in the case of “Rush” star Daniel Brühl and the late James Gandolfini for “Enough Said.” The former had a lot of early buzz for playing racing driver Niki Lauda, flagged, then got a second wind with an SAG nomination, but ultimately failed to miss the cut here (indeed, the film picked up no nominations at all). Meanwhile, Gandolfini, also an SAG nominee, is a doubly sad absence—he only has one remaining performance in the can, for Michael Roskam’s thriller “The Drop” (formerly known as “Animal Rescue”). But posthumous nominations are rarer than you might think (Heath Ledger’s is very much the outlier), and sadly it didn’t materialize.
“12 Years A Slave” In Cinematography
Sean Bobbitt’s proven himself to be one of the best DoPs working for some time, but sadly, the Academy hasn’t worked that out yet. Despite his work on “12 Years a Slave” being pretty stunning, the film missed out on a cinematography nomination, the Academy apparently being more wowed by the ‘look, it’s in black-and-white!’ visuals of “Nebraska.” Bobbitt’ll surely get in for something else another year, but it’s a touch worrying for the movie: it got nine nominations, but missed out here and in the sound and music categories. Is that a sign that it doesn’t have the wide-ranging support to win Best Picture?
My big error in predictions this year was assuming that “The Wolf of Wall Street” would mostly be passed over, but Scorsese’s film had enough love from the Academy’s less shockable members that it picked up nods in Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, among a total of five. But more surprising was the omission of Scorsese’s longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker: for every Scorsese picture since the turn of the millennium, bar “Shutter Island,” she’s picked up an Oscar nod, and won twice for “The Departed” and “The Aviator.” This time, the Academy decided that “Dallas Buyers Club” was better put-together…
Given that it was a weak year for the category, we always figured that, despite lukewarm reception, Pixar’s “Monsters University” would make the cut, but it was pushed out by tiny French animation “Ernest & Celestine” and blockbuster sequel “Despicable Me 2” (which also outgrossed the Pixar effort by some margin). The studio once dominated the category—and in fairness, won last year for “Brave”—but having missed out on a nod for “Cars 2” two years ago as well, the omission here continues to add to the narrative that the animation titans are in something of a creative crisis.
“Stories We Tell” & “Blackfish”
The documentary category’s always a little unpredictable, and we already warned that one of the critical favorites risked missing out. It came to pass, as well—while “The Act Of Killing” made the cut, Sarah Polley’s lovely personal film “Stories We Tell” missed out. More unexpected was that “Blackfish,” one of the most successful non-fiction films of the year, also failed to pick up a nomination. But then, it’s not a very good film, so we’re not as upset about that one.
Hans Zimmer & Alex Ebert
At least the shocks in the score category were sort of egalitarian: first-time film composer Alex Ebert missed out for his work on “All Is Lost,” despite winning the Golden Globe this week, but veteran Hans Zimmer, probably the best-known composer in the world, also missed out, despite having a number of worthy possibilities, including “12 Years a Slave” (which most figured would be the one to make it), “Rush,” “The Lone Ranger” and “Man Of Steel.” In the former case, it’s likely that the work was too subtle, or that the branch didn’t see the movie, in the latter, his votes may have been split too far.