The Oscar nominations are out, which means itâ€™s time to start complaining about the Oscar nominations.
First, best picture: There are nine nominees, one short of the 10 slots available. So there was definitely room for â€śFruitvale Station,â€ť which got exactly zero nominations.
Based on the true story of Oscar Grant, who was killed by a transit police officer in Oakland, Calif., on New Yearâ€™s Day 2009, the film was an astounding debut for director Ryan Coogler. He imbued â€śFruitvaleâ€ť with emotion, yet kept it from being maudlin or manipulative (except for a scene with a dying dog).
â€śFruitvaleâ€ť deserved a nod, as did Octavia Spencer for her role as Grantâ€™s mother, a performance that was at least three times better than her winning part in 2011â€™s â€śThe Help.â€ť
I have no real argument against the nominees for best actor. I wouldnâ€™t have minded seeing Joaquin Phoenix on the list for â€śHer,â€ť but I wouldnâ€™t trade any of the other nominees for him.
I feel the same about best actress. I would have liked Emma Thompson to be recognized for making the weightless, slightly corny â€śSaving Mr. Banksâ€ť much better than it deserved to be. But Iâ€™m fine with the Academyâ€™s picks.
For best supporting actor, Iâ€™d replace â€śThe Wolf of Wall Streetâ€™sâ€ť Jonah Hill with â€śAmerican Hustleâ€™sâ€ť Jeremy Renner. He was the moral center of that film, a genuinely good guy who reminded us that every other character in the film was out for themselves.
For best supporting actress, Iâ€™d lose both Jennifer Lawrence and Julia Roberts; both performances were largely due to good writing, not great acting. Switch them out for Spencer and for Sarah Paulson, who played a hated and hateful mistress in â€ś12 Years a Slave.â€ť
Iâ€™m genuinely glad to see the kung-fu film â€śThe Grandmasterâ€ť nominated for best cinematography; Iâ€™m a little bummed that â€śHerâ€ť didnâ€™t make the list, particularly given how important the look of the film was to the meaning of the film.
Honestly, my major quarrels lie with two â€śminorâ€ť categories: best documentary feature and best foreign language film. In the first category, â€śThe Act of Killingâ€ť was nominated â€” and should win â€” but the failure to tap â€śStories We Tell,â€ť â€śWe Steal Secretsâ€ť and â€śBlackfishâ€ť was exactly that: a failure.
For foreign language film, â€śWadjdaâ€ť (Saudi Arabiaâ€™s first entry ever since it was the countryâ€™s first feature EVER) should have been battling it out with Iranâ€™s â€śThe Past.â€ť Neither are nominated.
The nomination that made me happiest was Steve Boeddeker and Richard Hymns. They were the sound editors for the utterly gripping Robert-Redford-is-stuck-on-a-boat â€śAll Is Lost.â€ť In a movie where no one speaks, they used the creak of a boat and the slap of the waves to create a terrifying, suspense-filled world. It should be used in film classes forever to illustrate the power of sound.
This year, thereâ€™s nothing to be utterly thrilled about and nothing much to rage against. There will be plenty of time for that when the winners are announced, after all.