Well, the Oscar nominations are out. Fresh off lips both full (Chris Pine) and bumbling (Cheryl Boone Isaacs), the news is spreading throughout Hollywood as you read. Just one question: why did Boone Isaacs seem to get all the hard names and the lists of foreigners to say? Pine’s diction and execution were flawless and his voice resonant. Dick Poop, Cheryl? It ain’t Adele Dazeem - and at least she immediately corrected herself - but come on.
Speaking of poop, that’s what my guesses were. I fell headlong into the abyss-promise of a “Nightcrawler” surge. There was no such surge. The talk of the surge became the surge itself; it was all a house of cards. None of that film’s players was nominated for acting. 0/3, Ken.
All the shoo-ins shooed themselves into the final five without issue; it was always going to be the last slot or two per category that separated the men from the boys. Hanging my head at the kiddie table, I now must reflect:
My off-picks – Jake Gyllenhaal and David Oyelowo
Academy on-picks – Steve Carell and Bradley Cooper
Thoughts: This is the category where I feel the least shame. I’m glad Carell didn’t get lost in the voting chasm between Lead Actor and Supporting Actor. As for Cooper, the Academy loves Eastwood (and now, apparently, Cooper), and their film (it seems) truly is surging, so OK. The absence of Gyllenhaal is a surprise; the absence of Oyelowo shows how deeply the Academy does not love “Selma.” In recent weeks, even as director Ava DuVernay watched her stock plummet from shoo-in to possible to spoiler to doubtful, Oyelowo kept up his consistent placement in the anticipated Top 5. Not so.
My off-pick – Jennifer Aniston
Academy on-pick – Marion Cotillard
Thoughts: Without question, the biggest gasp of the morning. Nobody, especially not Aniston’s agent and publicist, wants to be Aniston’s agent and publicist today. As for Cotillard, she is great in the film, is a former winner, and deserves to be in the final circle. It’s just a surprise to find her here. This might be the result of a lingering perception that Aniston is a TV star or, at best, a movie star. Or it might be simply that enough people saw and appreciated Cotillard’s performance that she got the votes. Either way, it was the “Oh my God” moment the Academy nominations announcement always provides.
Best Supporting Actor
My off-pick – Riz Ahmed
Academy on-pick – Robert Duvall
Thoughts: Sometimes, the easy answer is the right answer. And, did I mention? There was no “Nightcrawler” surge.
Best Supporting Actress
My off-picks – Jessica Chastain, Rene Russo
Academy on-picks – Laura Dern, Meryl Streep
Thoughts: First off, I convinced myself of both a “Nightcrawler” surge and the presence of bizarre math and knocked Streep out of my final five. As a result, I am certain now that I will never meet Meryl Streep, for her people have certainly read this blog and will be running interference for some time to come. I am downtrodden by this reality. When I phoned my therapist immediately following the announcement, she suggested I see it as, “Meryl Streep will never get to meet you.” This has done little to bolster my wilted ego. I’m sorry, Meryl. You fully deserve to be here. Your performance in “Into the Woods” was more than makeup and costumes and hair and the pipes of God through which you sang. I just thought the Academy might go against you this time and I was trying to prepare you for... Oh, dear.
The second biggest surprise of the morning has to be the inclusion in this category of Laura Dern. Knocked off many top five lists weeks ago, she was no longer even in the discussion. Arquette, Knightley, Stone, and Streep were to be the four. The fifth slot belonged to either Chastain or Russo, with Russo gaining momentum. Even Naomi Watts and Tilda Swinton were getting speculative side-glances. Little did anyone realize that Dern had never given up her seat at the table. Well done, Laura.
Top 5 Hardest Phone Calls to Make This Morning
1. Jennifer Aniston
2. Jennifer Aniston
3. Jennifer Aniston
4. Jake Gyllenhaal
5. David Oyelowo
Top 5 Easiest Phone Calls to Make This Morning
1. Laura Dern
2. Marion Cotillard
3. Bradley Cooper
4. Steve Carell
5. Robert Duvall (*although I don’t picture calling Robert Duvall “easy” under any circumstances)
So there it is. My mea culpa. The fun is past now; as far as acting goes, we have to wait until February 22 to watch the anointing of Michael Keaton, Julianne Moore, J.K. Simmons, and Patricia Arquette. The speculation will shift to guessing Best Picture, for a change. Keep your eyes open for my upcoming column on how this year’s nominations change the landscape of the Overall Top 100 and the Decade Top 10 in my book And the Winner Really Is.
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