No love for ‘Lego’ and other thoughts on the Oscar nominations

The Oscar nominations were announced this morning (see the full list here), provoking the following thoughts. Feel free to chime in with your own.

—I was glad to see “Last Days in Vietnam” make the Best Documentary cut. Gimmick free and avoiding agenda, it’s a riveting look at a logistics nightmare. The last three Best Doc winners have focused on entertainers (“Searching for Sugar Man,” “20 Feet from Stardom”) and athletes (“Undefeated”), so it’s interesting that neither the Roger Ebert doc “Life Itself” nor “I’ll Be Me,” about Glen Campbell, made the final five.

—The decision to only select eight nominations (the new rules allow for ten) means the unfortunate snubbing of “A Most Violent Year” and “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.” One may have been overlooked because it's hard to encapsulate in a sentence. The other because its a sequel featuring talking apes.

—With an all-white slate for all of the acting categories, diversity will certainly be a topic of Oscar blogs. I’m not a believer that this is any deliberate slight, but it is certainly uncomfortable and will give Neil Patrick Harris, the show's host, plenty of fodder for jokes. Add in the fact that male-focused movies took all of the Best Picture and Best Director slots, it’s difficult not to ask questions about the subconscious mindset in Hollywood and/or in audiences.

—"Selma" has been nominated for only Best Film and Best Song. Compare that to 1989's "Mississippi Burning"—a movie where white FBI agents were presented as civil rights movement heroes—which was nominated for Best Film, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Best Sound, and Best Film Editing.

 —The Indiana Film Journalists Association (of which I am a member) took some internet heat for categorizing the “Whiplash” screenplay as adapted rather than original. The Academy agreed with IFJA in its nomination. Why the disagreement in the film world? A section of “Whiplash” was previously made as a short film.

—No nomination of “The Lego Movie” for Best Animated Film? Not that the film is that great, but in an off year for animation, it seems an interesting omission. The door could be open for the lesser-known “Song of the Sea” or “The Tale of the Princess Kaguya.”

—Not a lot of Oscar love for “Into the Woods.” I’m actually more curious to see if the popular film will have an impact on the upcoming NYC revival of the stage production. And I have enormous respect for the film’s creative team for not tacking on a new Sondheim song just to get a nomination (one was written but ended up being cut).

—Perhaps Hans Zimmer’s “Interstellar” music should have been nominated for Best Original Score That Steps on Dialogue That Okay Maybe It’s Best That You Didn’t Hear.

—I’m predicting a massive, star-packed sing-along to “Everything is Awesome” as part of the Oscar program.

—Thanks to the song “Lost Stars” from “Begin Again,” Danielle Brisebois, the original Molly in Broadway’s “Annie” and, later, brought on to cute-up the waning days of “All in the Family,” is now an Oscar nominee. (She also co-write “Pocketful of Sunshine” for Natasha Bedingfield.)

—I’m looking forward to tweeting @ibjarts on Oscar night, Feb. 22. For my column on favorite films of 2014, click here. And watch for upcoming IBJ Night at the Movies ticket giveaways at www.ibj.com/arts.

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