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The 22 Oscar Nominations We'd Most Like To See Tomorrow (But Probably Won't)

Awards
by Oliver Lyttelton
January 15, 2014 2:08 PM
31 Comments
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Best Actress - Adèle Exarchopolous - "Blue Is the Warmest Color"
It would be so easy for "Blue Is the Warmest Color" to be overshadowed by the endless chatter around it—the Steven Spielberg-endorsed Palme d'Or win, the explicit sex scenes, the feuding between its directors and stars. That it can stand away from those elements is a testament to the extraordinary performances from its two leads, and in particular from newcomer Adèle Exarchopolous as protagonist Adèle. Exarchopolous was only 18 when the film shot, with only a handful of performances behind her, so it's not surprising that she's enormously convincing as the younger version of Adèle: hungry for life and love, searching out her place in the world, so full of longing that she might burst. Her chemistry with Léa Seydoux's Emma is immediate and palpable, to the extent that you wouldn't dream of questioning the loss she feels later when the relationship is done. It's in that latter section of the film that Exarchopolous really shines, though: skipping ahead several years to find the pair happy, settled but a little bored, the teenage actress is never less than entirely convincing as a twenty-something schoolteacher, the fulfillment of the promise that she held. Who she's grown up to be is very impressive, but you can see why she starts to stray. And when she does and it all falls apart, she pulls off one of the most painfully recognizable pictures of heartbreak we've seen in a long time, just about holding it together at work before collapsing when left on her own. Is it any wonder that Spielberg's jury elected to give her and Seydoux their very own Palme d'Ors to go alongside the film's?

Best Actress - Julie Delpy - "Before Midnight"
It's almost impossible to pick a favorite from Richard Linklater's 'Before' trilogy as the films are so tied in with each other, each one growing in stature because of what came before, and retroactively, what comes after. But it's probably fair to say that the performances have only grown in power, with "Before Midnight" seeing both leads deliver iterations of Jesse and Celine that are richer and more complex than those that came before. Ethan Hawke is wonderful, of course, and Julie Delpy is delivering work that's as good, if not better than her on-screen partner. Now over 40, Celine isn't quite living the fairy tale: she has her daughters with Jesse (Hawke), but he's still torn over being separated from his son by a previous marriage, and may have cheated on her. Furthermore, she's on the brink of betraying her ideals to take a job with the French government. Since "Before Sunset," Delpy made two couple-centered travelogues of her own, "2 Days In Paris" and "2 Days In New York," and though those films are quite different, comedies owing more to Woody Allen than to Linklater, you can feel their influence in Delpy's performance—there's a certain neuroticism to Celine that's set in with middle age that we haven't seen from her before, as well as a savage, sharp wit that's capable of truly wounding Jesse when she turns on him. Every time we see these characters, they become more and more fascinating—do the Academy really want to wait another nine years to honor Delpy? Though she’s at least likely to be nominated, alongside Hawke and Linklater, for writing the screenplay to the film (but even that isn’t a certainty).

Best Actress: Scarlett Johansson - “Her”
Yes, we’ve practically got the whole cast for “Her” in this piece, deal with it. Look, we think a lot of people are very worthy in Spike Jonze’s movie, but if we had to pick one and only one it would be the unsung heart and soul of the picture: Scarlett Johansson. Spike Jonze’s ambitious “Her” is a love story about a lonely man going through a divorce and his computer, or rather his iPhone, or rather the artificial intelligence Operating System of his futuristic personal device (like a 5.0 of Siri of the future). So the usually brooding Joaquin Phoenix pulls off one of the most charming performances of his career, genuinely likeable and optimistic, especially for a man that is heartbroken (nice to see a non-sad sack) and Johansson, well she’s not even on screen. In fact, she wasn’t even the original actress to voice the O.S. (that was Samantha Morton). Through trial and error and acute refining, Jonze had to recast the O.S. with Scarlett Johansson and reverse engineer the picture, recording new voice work to fit the already-shot performance by the lead male (Phoenix). That in and of itself is an extremely daring and tricky task, but not only does Johannson’s breathy performance work, it's actually a huge part of why the movie works and emotionally connects like it does. “Her” is a love story between two people, both discovering new things about themselves and in the case of Johansson, waking up to the fundamental discoveries of joy, wonder, sadness, and all spectrums of the emotional color rainbow. Her character is essentially like an infant joining the world, but with a hyper-intelligent synaptic engine to orient her immediately to all these new found revelations. And of course, we all glean this with Johansson never appearing onscreen, but just due to the nuanced inflections and emotions conveyed through her voice. It’s quite startling when you think about it. The Academy is likely not going to give her a nomination here, it’s too game changing and it’s likely something they cannot wrap their heads around. But chances are if you love Spike Jonze’s “Her” an integral reason why is Scarlett Johansson. 

Best Actor - Robert Redford - “All Is Lost”
For a moment there, it appeared as if Robert Redford, along with old timer Bruce Dern were going to be the lock of all solid locks for this year’s Best Actor category, but a few things happened in this very tight race. 1. Redford barely campaigned. 2. Dern campaigned like there was no tomorrow. 3. Leonardo DiCaprio entered the race with his wicked “The Wolf of Wall Street” performance 4. Everyone underestimated the Academy’s love for “Dallas Buyers Club” and Matthew McConaughey’s excellent performance. That coupled with the fact that the studio Roadside Attractions has far less money to campaign against vs. Paramount, Focus Features, Fox Searchlight, and Sony Pictures and you have one rather amazing performance by one Robert Redford looking like it’s on the outside. Let’s not forget: Redford barely utters a word within the movie, aside from some cuss-word freak-outs and a spare line of voiceover at the beginning, but expresses everything about what the character is going through: suffering, regret, existential ruminations of his life and impending death and resignation without speaking any dialogue. It’s an impressive, incredible feat of understated acting and it very much looks like it’s going to go unrewarded tomorrow which is a huge shame.

Best Actor - Oscar Isaac - "Inside Llewyn Davis"
It's almost absurd that Oscar Isaac is on this list. In any other year, the actor would surely be a shoe-in for a nomination, but with the competition so stiff, and the star still a relative unknown, he's sadly likely to be frozen out. We won't stop crossing our fingers until it's all done, though, because almost no one is more deserving than Isaac. The film is the Coens' most focused character study since "Barton Fink," and it needed an actor of immense talent to hold the screen throughout. Fortunately, they found one in the shape of Isaac. In his hands, Llewyn Davis is an infuriating, arrogant, impossible figure, but also a deeply sympathetic one. The performer's careful to show Llewyn's talents, even if they're limited, and for all his more asshole-ish qualities, it's always clear how deeply wounded he is by his lack of success, by the suicide of his musical partner, by the fact that he's in love with someone who mostly has only contempt for him. It's a fully realized character at every level, and Isaac makes unexpected and inspired choices at every opportunity. He might not end up with a nomination, but he'll be remembered decades from now for this one.

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31 Comments

  • Marlene Waller | March 1, 2014 10:54 PMReply

    I really enjoyed Prisoners and Her, although I didn't see all the movies. Hollywood is clearly deliberately ignoring the talent of Joaquim Phoenix. Don't understand the hype over Wall Street which was way over the top, a caricature except for the performance of the federal agent, as you stated. The choices as always are primarily politically driven.

  • Bartleby | January 26, 2014 3:27 PMReply

    Isn't it the case that Scarlett Johannson is ineligible for an acting award because she does not appear on screen? Isn't that why Andy Serkis was never nominated for Lord of the Rings or Rise of the Planet of the Apes? Or, perhaps reaching a bit, James Earl Jones for Darth Vader?

    I know I was really frustrated a few years ago when what I would argue was the best score of the 2000s decade--There Will Be Blood--was cut out because it sampled some music.

    The Academy only recently added Best Animated Feature, they need to continue to move into the 21st Century by recognizing such performances.

  • FP | January 18, 2014 2:10 PMReply

    Oliver, as always, you prove out why this is my favorite place on IndieWire. An excellent and thorough accounting of the films and performances that will stay with us long past March 3rd.

  • FP | January 18, 2014 2:02 PMReply

    Are we talking about the same MUD? Did this morph into a conversation about Misty Day and the swamp in AMERICAN HORROR STORY: COVEN? Because if you meant the MUD where Reese Witherspoon swans around in short shorts with nothing to do except look like a trailer trashy Helen of Troy as a grown man sends boys out to do his bidding, I think I recoil in horror at the idea that this is a better film than 12 YEARS A SLAVE, WINTER'S BONE, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, THERE WILL BE BLOOD, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, MEMENTO, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, THE INSIDER, etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. etc. The idea conveyed in MUD is, women make you do stupid sh!t. Pity that women think so highly of it.

  • suzaman | January 17, 2014 1:48 PMReply

    I called the Academy about Mud it wasnt just the best picture of the year but the past 15 years

  • Debbie | January 17, 2014 12:03 AMReply

    Prisoners had some great acting! And what about "Mud"??????? I loved that movie. And thought those young boys were awesome in it.

  • Me | January 16, 2014 1:32 AMReply

    Joaquin Phoenix? Her was a back step for him, there were moments when i thought i was watching his Jimmy Emmett character.

  • Tom | January 16, 2014 1:19 AMReply

    Upstream Color in all categories, but editing especially

  • buddy | January 15, 2014 9:54 PMReply

    The title of Joaquin's documentary was 'I'm Still Here', not 'I'm Not There' which was of course the Dylan biopic.

  • buddy | January 17, 2014 5:26 PM

    ..and they corrected it. You're welcome!

  • tracy | January 15, 2014 8:14 PMReply

    And where are the noms for the BEAUTIFULLY shot, edited, cast, written, directed acted, and soundtrack of "42" !!!!!!( Sure it's a terrible title) - but Harrison Ford deserves a best supporting nomination, Don Burgess should be a shoe in for best cinematography, and though it's been a stellar year for African American leading actors - Chadwick Boseman is incredible as Jackie Robinson! Brian Helgeland's script and direction are fabulous! ( and I HATE baseball)
    I can't stand it when films that are released early in the year are COMPLETELY ignored come awards time!
    42 - BEST PICTURE OF THE YEAR!!!!!

  • keifer | January 15, 2014 8:06 PMReply

    I'm hoping:

    Toni Sorvillo will get a Best Actor nomination for "The Great Beauty".

    Kristin Scott Thomas will get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for "Only God Forgives".

    Joel Edgarton will get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for "The Great Gatsby".

  • Gerard Kennelly | January 16, 2014 8:18 AM

    the Frost Nixon style war of words between him and dicaprio was easily one of the best scenes of 2013

    your friend marty chase isn't too proud to come in on that though is he ?

    ha ha ha

  • Patrick | January 15, 2014 7:53 PMReply

    BEST ORIGINAL SONG - Keith Stanfield's raw freestyle in SHORT TERM 12

  • Joseph K. | January 15, 2014 7:18 PMReply

    I would love to see Danai Gurira nominated for Mother of George.

  • Xavier | January 15, 2014 7:07 PMReply

    Only God Forgives and Stoker for cinematography

  • Glass | January 15, 2014 6:19 PMReply

    I'm listening to the Prisoners score right now and it's one of my faves from last year.

    Jennifer Lame (Frances Ha) should WIN best editing - that's the coolest cutting I've seen in a movie in so long.

  • Gerard Kennelly | January 15, 2014 5:26 PMReply

    best actor Dennis Quaid AT ANY PRICE
    best supp actor Chris Evans THE ICEMAN
    best actress Brie Larson SHORT TERM 12
    best supp actress Julianne Nicholson AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY

  • Jamie | January 15, 2014 4:28 PMReply

    My biggest disappointment this year has been Prisoners fading in the race for gold. It is still being discussed at our house and has been watched three times and will probably be watched again. Most of the films nominated tomorrow will get a once over and then consigned to history. Yes the film was flawed, but it proved what a great ensemble and director can do with less than spectacular material simply by conveying twisted lives dealing with unspeakable horror.

  • cirkusfolk | January 15, 2014 4:19 PMReply

    You forgot Dennis Quaid for Best Actor in At Any Price.

  • Gerard Kennelly | January 16, 2014 8:20 AM

    sweet music to my ears :)

  • NewYorker | January 15, 2014 4:05 PMReply

    my 22 stuff i love to see get nominated but probley won't are
    1-Best Supporting Actor-James Franco
    2-Best Actor-Michael B. Jordan
    3-Best Picture-Spring Breakers.
    4-Best Supporting Actor Jon Bernthal-Wolf Of Wall Street
    5-Best Supporting Actress Jennifer Hudson-Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete
    6-Best Actor Jason Bateman-Disconnect
    7-Best Cinemtaography-Disconnect
    8-Best Picture-Disconnect(was hopin for the film to maybe be the next Crash)
    9-Best Original Song-the song sang in Filly Brown
    10-Best Costume Design-Oz: Great and Powerful
    11-Best Actor-Mark Wahlberg-Lone Survivor
    12-Best Actor-Miles Teller-Spectacular Now
    13-Best Actress-Emma Watson-The Bling Ring
    14-Best Picture-Fruitvale Station
    15-Best Actress-Jane Levy for Evil Dead
    16-Best Actor-Chadwick Boseman for 42
    17-Best Supporting Actor-Bobby Cannavale for Blue jasmine
    18-best supporting actress Julianne Moore for either Don Jon or Carrie
    19-Best Costume Design Romeo & Juliet
    20-Best Actor Robert Redford for not All Is Lost but for The Company You Keep
    21-Best Makeeup-Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom & Oz: Great and Powerful
    22-Best Actor-Idris Elba

  • daniel | January 15, 2014 4:02 PMReply

    I hope Amy Adams gets a nomination full stop because shes adorable and a masterful actress. I'd also love to see Oscar Isaac get recognized, I love that performance. Julie Delpy would be wonderful but isn't going to happen. Also ones that are not going to happen which is a travesty are Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux who are so stunning in Blue that its almost unbelievable their lack of recognition (even at the Baftas!).

    Anyway the film I'm most annoyed about not getting any love is MUD, which is such a terrific film and I just wonder if it had come out November/December would it be getting more love? McConaughey is great, the kids are great and in my perfect world Jeff Nichols would get an best director nomination along with McQueen, the Coens, Cuaron and Linklater. HER and WOLF aren't out in the UK yet...

  • Suzaman | January 17, 2014 1:51 PM

    Mud was the best picture of 2013. Everyone who saw it knows.

  • Oscar the grouch | January 15, 2014 3:47 PMReply

    I know I'm in the minority, especially with the staff on this site, but Her and Frances Ha are easily the two most overrated films of the year. neither is terrible but they're not worth celebrating in my opinion. I personally miss pre - wild things Jonze. I guess I'm more of a Kaufman fan.

  • Kari | January 15, 2014 6:11 PM

    I agree the Her script is its weakest link (the idea is excellent but Jonze was not that great developing it).

    Joaquin on the other hand is excellent and so charismatic!

  • JZ | January 15, 2014 2:56 PMReply

    It wouldn't be a surprise if Llewyn Davis was nominated for Best Picture.
    A Serious Man was nominated, and it wasn't exactly a typical oscar bait. Neither were No Country For Old Men or True Grit and those were nominated too. The academy has started to love the Coens, and that's good. They are in a position where they can pretty much make any film they want.

  • Kari | January 15, 2014 2:37 PMReply

    I hope Joaquin still gets a nom tomorrow and I think Amy Adam's performance in it is a way better than in Amercian Hustle.

    Also, I am still shocked with the fact Llewyn Davis is not getting the recognition it deserves. Oscar Isaac is fenomenal in it.

    Oh well...

  • HONEST MAN | January 15, 2014 5:29 PM

    American hustle is painfully overrated imo

  • Dave's Deluxe | January 15, 2014 2:21 PMReply

    What you probably mean is "The 22 Oscar Nominations I'D Most Like To See Tomorrow (But Probably Won't)".

    Also, you don't need the word "Most" in that sentence.

  • Liz | January 15, 2014 7:19 PM

    "Most" is perfectly fine in the headline. It's indicating that there are more than 22 things he'd like to see tomorrow, but these are his top 22 choices. It's similar to an intensifier.

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