January 16, 2014
(clockwise from top: AP, AP, Paramount Pictures)
(clockwise from top: Associated Press, Associated Press, Paramount Pictures)

Thursday morning, in a swift yet tasteful ceremony that bore no resemblance to the way the Oscars actually are going to go, the Academy announced its nominees. Michael Fassbender even got one this time, for keeping his pants on.

What do our Best Picture nominees say about us?

“American Hustle”: This film, which, fun fact, is David O. Russell’s name in Cockney Rhyming Slang, has a lot of Acting in it. And Wigs. Mainly wigs. Your friend either liked this or he liked “Wolf of Wall Street,” depending on whether he believes women should get to say words and have agency.

“Captain Phillips”: What, you thought we would nominate “Saving Mr. Banks”? That mustache made Tom Hanks look less like Disney than an off-brand John Waters, and I’m glad we realized that. When it comes to a fight between Piracy and Movie Magic, pirates always win, if I’ve learned anything from those pre-movie anti-download PSAs.

“Dallas Buyers Club”: Matthew McConaughey really can act, as long as at least one part of him is touching the strength-giving soil of his native Texas.

“Gravity”: We are actually kind of relieved not to have a space program any more, because space is DANG scary.

“her”: The least SEO-optimized movie of all time! Just try to Google “her.” See how far you get. It also got nominated for best screenplay, even though Spike Jonze’s vision of the future insists that in the future, instead of watching online pornography, people will sit there rapt for hours listening to computers talk about their feelings.

“Nebraska”: This is the closest most members of the Academy will ever get to visiting actual Nebraska, which some of them still think is just a big metaphor with corn in it.

“Philomena”: British people continue to be “in” this year, although audiences agree this movie would have been “like, 1,000 times better” if someone had to give a big speech and was nervous about it.

“12 Years A Slave”: “A classic,” Mark Twain said, “is a book men praise and don’t read.” Everyone who has seen this loves it. The trick is just getting them into the theater. (“I want to see a movie this weekend. What are my options?” “There is ‘White People Who Want To Obtain More Money 1′ by David O. Russell or ‘White People Who Want To Obtain More Money 2′ by Martin Scorcese. Or there is ’12 Years A Slave,’ which everyone says is a realistic and brutal, if ultimately uplifting, portrayal of actual slavery.” (Long, awkward silence.) “Well, I do love movies about white people who want to obtain money, and I would probably feel more comfortable eating popcorn during that.”) The other trick is preventing the people who have seen it from writing think-pieces afterwards.

“The Wolf of Wall Street”: If 2013 has proved anything in movies, it is that we like to go see movies about Leonardo Dicaprio pretending to be younger and attending fun parties.

Notable snubs:

“Lee Daniels Presents: The Butler”: “The Butler” was nominated but it said it couldn’t accept the nod if “Lee Daniels Presents” wasn’t included, displaying a kind of loyalty rarely seen in Hollywood.

“Spring Breakers”: You guys, this was by far the greatest film of 2013 if not ALL TIME, and I don’t understand how this happened.

“Saving Mr. Banks”: I assumed from the title and the poster that this movie was a “Hangover 2″-style sequel to “Saving Private Ryan” but now Captain Miller has a weird mustache and goes by a different name, and instead of war he’s being attacked by Creative Differences, so its lack of nominations feels right somehow.

“Inside Llewyn Davis”: This movie’s trailer makes it look as though it is about a guy who can’t achieve mainstream success as a folk musician because he won’t stop holding a cat. I have no idea how it didn’t get nominated because this seems like the sort of thing I usually am forced to go watch during Oscar season.

 

Gallery: 2014 Academy Award nominations

Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog, offering a lighter take on the news and opinions of the day.