thoughts//SNUBS AND SURPRISES FROM THE ACADEMY AWARDS NOMINATIONS

AWARDS COVERAGE

Oscar nominations were announced this morning and there were a lot of interesting additions and omissions. This is a rundown of who was left off (the Oprah Effect was not in play), what was added (Her, Dallas Buyers Club, and Nebraska got a push), and where Alone Yet Not Alone came from (also known as the movie to blame for killing Lana Del Rey's Oscar chances).

Oprah loses steam



Back when Oprah Winfrey had a book club it was an honor to have your book promoted by her. Not only an honor, but a life-changing moment. To the tune of millions. It may have helped Lee Daniels' The Butler gain a huge box office last summer, but it didn't translate into awards love. She was expected to be a big player in the Best Supporting Actress category but missed out at the SAG and Globe awards. So, I guess it's not too big of a surprise that she missed out here, but the Academy loves Oprah (they gave her an honorary Oscar last year). And, even though I wasn't the biggest fan of The Butler, she did knock her performance out of the park. Sally Hawkins ended up taking the spot for her work in Blue Jasmine. Oprah wasn't the only thing missing from The Butler. The film ended up being skipped over completely, not earning a single nomination. Along with Hawkins is current frontrunner Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave) and June Sqibb (Nebraska).

Tom Hanks also sinks



One of Hollywood's legends Tom Hanks was expected to pull at least one nomination, if not two, for his critically raved performances in Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks. While the former nabbed a Best Picture nod, among other nominations, Hanks was left off of the ballot in the Best Actor race. It was already a tight race (and Hanks was joined by another legend, Robert Redford, on the cutting floor) and in the end Bruce Dern (Nebraska), Chiwetel Ejiofer (12 Years a Slave), Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street), Christian Bale (American Hustle) and Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) made the ballot. Even more surprising wasn't necessarily his omission from being nominated for Saving Mr. Banks as it was that the Disney film was all but left out completely, with even Emma Thompson failing to score a nod. Instead the Academy went for Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine), Meryl Streep (August: Osage County), Judi Dench (Philomena), and Amy Adams (American Hustle), which leads us to....

They love 'American Hustle'



Matching Gravity with 10 for the most nominations this year, American Hustle pushed itself to the possible frontrunner spot as the movie to beat. Even more noteworthy is that the David O. Russell film is the second film in a row to earn nominations in each acting category after last year's Silver Linings Playbook (also by Russell). It was expected for 12 Years a Slave to be the overly-loved film, but American Hustle seems to have left it in the dust. 12 Years wasn't left completely out, earning a respectable 9 noms.

And they love Jonah Hill



Who would've ever thought that the fat kid from Superbad would now be part of the elite Multiple Oscar Nominations Club? After his nod for Moneyball, the actor didn't really spend his time doing deep dramas or any other type of Oscar bait (despite a bit part in Django Unchained...in a comedic role). His performance in The Wolf of Wall Street is one of the highlights of the film, so it's no surprise that he would get some support, but it's a comedic role and the Academy isn't famous for doting on comedies. His second nomination is also surprising after he missed out on SAG and Globes attention. Comedy showed up in force this year, though, with American Hustle, as stated earlier, and quirky black comedies like Her and Nebraska getting a place in the big awards.  

The little films that could



Harvey Weinstein was expected to have a pretty bad day as none of his company's films were in any type of frontrunner position, but then came Philomena and its incredible turn of a Best Picture nod, skipping over Inside Llewyn Davis and Saving Mr. Banks. It wasn't the only small film to make a big impact as Dallas Buyers Club also scored a Best Pic hit as did Her. The Spike Jonze romance scored a few resounding cheers after it garnered multiple nominations, including 4 for Jonze (Picture, Director, Screenplay, and Song). Dallas made an impact in more places than expected, including in the Makeup/Hairstyling category, meaning American Hustle missed that spot. It would be a welcome surprise to see any of these films beat the juggernauts that are Gravity and American Hustle on the night of the awards.

Speaking of little films...



The biggest surprise of the morning wasn't the failed nominations for Blackfish or Stories We Tell in the Documentary category, or the previously stated lack of support for Saving Mr. Banks, it was in the out-of-left-field nomination for "Alone Yet Not Alone" in the Best Original Song category. Its inclusion meant that favored songs like Lana Del Rey's "Young and Beautiful" will have to wait and fight for a Grammy. "Alone" is the main theme song from the (never heard of) Alone Yet Not Alone, a Christian, faith-driven film about a family kidnapped by Native Americans in the 1700s. The film's trailer (which most people hadn't seen until they Googled it today) isn't horrible, but also isn't anything you'd think would get the pleasure of being called an Oscar contender. The song is a slow ballad sung by paraplegic evangelist Joni Eareckson Tada, written by Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel. Broughton is a former Oscar nominee from the 1980s and is, apparently, a member of the Academy's board of governors. Understanding that makes it a little easier to understand that the song must've had some sort of grassroots campaign. I think Frozen's "Let It Go" is still the frontrunner hear, but good for a basically unheard of film to receive a little press. 

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