The Washington Post’s film critic, Ann Hornaday, answered readers’ questions in an online chat Monday afternoon. Most of Sunday’s Academy Award winners were predictable, but lots of people wanted to talk about the films and actors that came up empty.
[Read the full chat.]
Q:Why didn’t a movie so wonderful as “Philomena” not win anything? I am guessing you will say it is because there were so many great ones this year. I just thought the story in the movie was one that has never been told before. I heard a good interview with the real Philomena, and she is thrilled to give voice to all the women who had this horrific thing happen to them so long ago.
Ann Hornaday: I agree with you, I would have loved to see “Philomena” win something — I would have given it the adapted-screenplay award, just to spread the love around. You’re correct that I think there were lots of great movies in 2013 — but it would have been nice to have seen more of them recognized last night.
Q:“American Hustle” was, I guess, the big loser. I thought it would pull in at least a couple of Oscars. It doesn’t make the movie worse, but I’m sure it’s a disappointment for everyone involved with it.
Ann Hornaday: Undoubtedly painful, especially since “American Hustle” was up for 10 Oscars, tying “Gravity” for most nominations. Both “Hustle” and “The Wolf of Wall Street” were completely shut out. Ouch. Like last year, director David O. Russell guided his actors to nominations in all four categories; for better or worse, it just wasn’t his year this year.
He can be comforted by having a really big hit on his hands with “Hustle” — his best-performing film yet! That means a lot, and I know he’ll be back swinging in no time. His career resurgence has been a thrill to observe, almost of McConaissance proportions! Good on him.
Q:Which nominee would you have dropped to include Robert Redford for best actor? Leo? I watched “All Is Lost” instead of the Oscars last night. I imagine what he pulled off in that movie was much more difficult than he made it appear. Just wish the final scene had been a little less cheesy.
Ann Hornaday: Man, that’s a toughie — someone was observing recently that we easily could have populated a whole additional five-man best-actor race from last year, with Redford, Oscar Isaac, Michael B. Jordan, Forest Whitaker and Joaquin Phoenix.
That said, I’d probably switch out Christian Bale. I’m not a huge fan of “Wolf of Wall Street,” but I appreciate the total commitment of DiCaprio’s performance. Bale has lots of great performances in his future; I’m not sure the one in “Hustle” was one for the ages.
I’m glad you found as much to value in “All Is Lost” and Robert Redford’s performance as I did. Breathtaking.
Q:There’s something wrong with the format when “Inside Llewyn Davis” is shut out of the Oscars and gets only two nominations. I know the Coens [appeal to] a niche audience, but quality is quality.
Ann Hornaday: My poor, poor, forgotten “Llewyn Davis.” God, I loved that movie. But you know what? For every person like you and me, I’ve met — and even know and love! — someone who absolutely hates the movie. I know it’s difficult to believe, but a lot of people were put off by Llewyn’s character; the Coens’ absurdist, nonlinear story; and how many liberties they took with Greenwich Village in the 1960s.
By my lights, the movie is perfect in every way, and I can’t wait to see it again. And hear it again.
Q:Are there any Oscar categories that don’t exist but you think should?
Ann Hornaday: Well, the HBO documentary I saw recently called “Casting By” convinced me that casting directors probably deserve an Oscar all their own, and I’ve never understood why stuntmen and -women don’t get their due on the big night — they put life and limb at risk for the art form!
I’m of two minds on comedy. On the one hand, having a comedy category like the Golden Globes does might help bring visibility to an oft-dismissed genre . . . but that kind of stigmatizes it as well. So I’ll abstain on that for the moment.
Q:Does DiCaprio just not have a lot of friends and allies in Hollywood? He should have won for “The Aviator,” not for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” but still, he’s a stellar actor, one of the best of his generation, and you would have thought that he’d have won an Oscar by now.
Ann Hornaday:He does seem to be a perennial also-ran, doesn’t he? But the fact that he’s been nominated so many times indicates he does enjoy the respect of his peers. It’s probably just a function of the particular year and his competition at the time.
I was not as taken with “The Aviator” as you were — I found the movie kind of leaden and inert, and I never quite bought him as Hughes. . . . But I agree with you that he’s a superb actor. I really liked him in “The Great Gatsby” last year! The perfect melding of star persona and character!
Q:“Fruitvale Station” — how did this movie not get a best-picture nod?
Ann Hornaday: I so wish the Academy had seen fit to give “Fruitvale Station” that 10th best-picture nomination. I totally agree that it was worthy. And what a great way to give filmmaker Ryan Coogler the encouragement he so richly deserves.
Anecdotally, I have heard that he really wowed the industry when he was on the smaller awards circuit last fall. So he did get recognition; it just would have been nice to see the film honored in a bigger way.
Q:I absolutely love Amy Adams (“Enchanted” is one of my very favorite movies), and I feel bad that she has been nominated five times and has yet to win. What does she need to do to get an Oscar besides have a great film in a year Cate Blanchett doesn’t?
Ann Hornaday: I loved “Enchanted,” too, and thought it deserved a nomination back when it came out! Don’t worry about Amy Adams — she’s in it for the long haul and has deep respect in the industry. She just needs that perfect script, perfectly timed release and a clear field! I’m sure it’ll happen.