The Drunk Monkeys Film Department Oscar Nominations 2015

Gabriel Ricard, Film Editor: It’s not perfect, and it probably never will be, but I don’t think I’ve ever been this pleased overall with the Oscar nominees. I’m tempted to focus on things like Selma being almost completely shut out, Lego Movie being ignored for Best Animated Feature, or the fact that certain great performances were completely ignored (Renee Russo making a huge comeback in Nightcrawler, or John Goodman making it look easy in The Gambler).

And those things shouldn’t be ignored. Especially when you consider things like the fact that every single acting nominee is white, or that the Academy had the opportunity to finally acknowledge black female filmmakers (Ava DuVernay for Selma) but chose not to. But in the end, I can’t completely focus on those things. Not when 2014 was such a great year for film, and how that is reflected better-than-it-usually-is by the Academy.

The movies I was hoping to see make it largely have, with a handful of exceptions. The actors and actresses I was hoping to see nominated, again, largely made the official ballot. Then you have the usual array of “Were they even watching the same fucking movie?” surprises, coupled with a few choices that are certain to pick up the kind of controversy that the Oscar people hope will lead to big ratings on the big night (nah, probably not, guys).

I guess I like the fact that I’m already making predictions, but really can’t say for sure who or what is going to win. The Best Acting field alone is pretty exciting, criticisms regarding lack of diversity aside. I’ve been a Michael Keaton fan for a really, really long time, and all this Birdman stuff is kind of like Christmas for me. I want him to win. I think he’s got a shot. But I still can’t say for sure. I can apply that thought to several other categories.

What do you guys think of the 2015 Oscar nominees?

Matthew Guerruckey, Editor-in-ChiefI can’t speak directly to the Selma snubs, because I haven’t seen that one yet, but it’s a glaring oversight. What I can say is that I did see Foxcatcher, and I thought the direction was mannered and stale. So, sight unseen, I’d place DuVernay in there over Bennett Miller. This was a chance to make history, even if she didn’t win—it’s a tremendous blown opportunity.

But I’m even more shocked that Damien Chazelle isn’t in that list of nominees for Whiplash. Every element in that film works perfectly, and that’s a testament to his direction. I’m very glad to see that Tom Cross was nominated for Best Editing, but it wasn’t editing alone or acting alone that made the film so entertaining, or those final moments so suspenseful, but how they melded together into complete musical sync. And that’s Chazelle’s doing.

Damien Chazelle, director of Whiplash

Damien Chazelle, director of Whiplash

I also thought that Miles Teller deserved a nomination. J.K. Simmons was brilliant, but he wasn’t up there by himself.  Teller gave him so much to work with. It was a real star-making performance, and it was a shame that he wasn’t recognized for it. Certainly, he brought more life to his performance than Steve Carrell, whose soulful performance as John DuPont was lost to layers of unnecessary prosthetics, making it feel more like a gimmick than a story (hey guys, I didn’t like Foxcatcher very much, can you tell?).

I’m also sad that Life Itself didn’t get a nomination. I thought it was one of the most moving film experiences of last year. I can’t get worked up about The Lego Movie getting passed over, because I thought that movie, fun as it was, was overhyped. And let’s be honest—when you think about that movie, what do you remember? That damn catchy, amazing song, and it got nominated, and it willwin. This now turns Andy Samberg into a legitimate EGOT threat.

The most disappointing list of nominees has to be Best Supporting Actress. It’s just such a bland, basic list of nominees. I think there should be a five-year moratorium on Meryl Streep nominations. She’s brilliant every time out, but so are dozens of other actors who aren’t guaranteed a nomination each year, and having her constantly in the field makes it easier for the Academy to overlook more worthy performances from lesser names. Also in this group I found Patricia Arquette to be the most boring part of Boyhood, but this nomination gives the Academy a chance to reward the film without actually picking it for Best Picture.

And when it comes to Best Picture, I honestly think that the slowness of Boyhood and the fucking weirdness of Birdman make them unlikely to appeal to the oldsters in the Academy.  There’s a very real chance that something inoffensive like The Imitation Game or The Theory of Everything could take the big award. If there’s one thing that the recent victories of Argo, The Artist, and The King’s Speechhave proven, it’s that high-gloss mediocrity can get you pretty far on Oscar night.

Ryan Roach, Staff WriterThere’s a “lack of diversity” discussion to be had, but I don’t think it can be directed at the Academy, this time. There just simply weren’t that many great roles for black actors this year. There was nothing for the Academy to even consider other than Selma. And having seen all the movies nominated other than The Theory of Everything, (which feels like the most homework-y movie ever fucking made), I honestly can’t find a spot for lead actor David Oyelowo in there.  Jake Gyllenhaal getting ignored for NIghtcrawler is a much bigger snub for me. And while I agree with Matthew that Teller was great…there is just no room at the inn this year, not at all. Especially for a young newbie.

As for Ava DuVernay, I guess I’ll listen to an argument that she did a better job directing than Morten Tyldum (and clearly Selma was a far better movie than Imitation Game) but I don’t feel like “it would’ve been nice for a black female to be acknowledged” is enough of a reason. It would be nice, yes. But let’s blame this year on the movie studios, not the Academy. They’ve certainly shown in recent years a willingness to honor black actors and films with predominately black casts. The line “well what do you expect, they’re a bunch of old white people” doesn’t really track. The same old white people voted for 12 Years a Slave last year, which was a much better movie.  I don’t think it’s fair to say some sort of racism played a part in snubbing DuVernay. I do find it really odd that Bennett Miller was nominated for Best Director, but the movie Foxcatcher wasn’tHas that ever even happened before?

Other snubs you guys have mentioned: Life Itself and The Lego Movie. Both are genuine head-scratchers. I’ll also throw in Scarlet Johansson for Under the Skin and Tilda Swinton for Snowpiercer. 
I’m normally all onboard with Meryl, but this year it feels like the Academy just voted for her because they feel like they’re supposed to.

So that’s the bad stuff.

Good stuff: Everything else. This was an excellent year for movies, so as a consequence, it’s an excellent year for the Academy. They mostly got it right. I refuse to even entertain the notion that “high-gloss mediocrity” will win the day, not when such films as Birdman and Boyhood are in the mix. This isn’t a Pulp Fiction vs Forrest Gump type scenario, or Brokeback Mountain vs Crash. Boyhood andBirdman are artistic, innovative and Oscar friendly. Neither have rated R violence or gay sexy times. One of those two will win, mark it down. This will be a good show, guys. Lucy will let me kick the football this time, I just know it.
Scott Waldyn, Film ScholarI was enjoying a fine Mint Julip the morning the Academy announced the Oscar nominees. It was the 15th of January. The sun was shining. Snow was melting. And my urine was flowing with healthy regularity.  The sandwich resting upon my writing desk contained equal parts romaine lettuce, Muenster cheese, “sandwich” pepperoni, and Genoa salami with a sprinkling of olive oil, black pepper, peperoncini, and sliced black olives.  It was quite delectable, if I do say so myself, even if it contained nitrates.

When news of the Oscar nominees flooded my news feed, I shrugged as a lackadaisical man self-absorbed in his own midday meal would shrug. There’s no use getting worked up over the nominations. I’ve got a good sandwich here. I’ve got a delicious drink. Who cares what a few old people who consider themselves arbiters of taste think, anyhow?

If they really were just a few old people.

Recent research into the Academy has led me to believe that this goes deeper than anyone could have ever realized. Even though the Academy’s snubs sometimes come off as racist or sexist, and even though their picks oftentimes feel like the Academy is slipping in its old age, enduring too many years of imbibing fluoridated water, this is not the case. They don’t drink the water. And Theymay not even be human.

If you want to see how far down the rabbit hole this global conspiracy (and it is global) goes, please leave a self-addressed, stamped envelope at the Olgilvie Transportation Center in Chicago, Illinois. Storage locker B117.


Taras David Butrej, Staff WriterI’ll try to keep this short and sweet.  I don’t know what the hell everyone else is talking about when they say this was a ‘good year for movies.’  Maybe it’s my self-imposed exile into seeing all the mainstream films this year but I feel like 2013 was a great year for film whereas 2014 was mostly meh.  That being said, those films I believed were quality all seem to have been snubbed.  Jake Gyllenhaal was amazing in Nightcrawler and as said before, The Lego Movie was fan-freaking-tastic.  Is the Oscar committee unable to remember what the hell they watched way back in February?  How the hell does a ‘decent’ sequel get nominated over a cultural phenomenon?  *Glares at How to Train Your Dragon 2.*

The Lego Movie (Image © Warner Bros.)

The Lego Movie (Image © Warner Bros.)

Speaking of snubs, why is the academy so afraid to nominate fresh, new faces in the actress categories?  Scarlett Johansson was reportedly amazing in Under the Skin and I agree that Rene Russo should have been nominated based on how amazing Nightcrawler was.  As possibly the only person here who saw Big Eyes I can confidently state that Amy Adams was actually pretty damn good (although she’s no stranger to Oscar nods), doing far more acting than Meryl Streep did in Into the Woods.

I understand that the Oscars nomination process is flawed, but it doesn’t have to be this deeply flawed.  Pay attention to buzz and comments.  Maybe see what society as a whole is saying about the movies you’re in charge of nominating.  There’s no excuse not to pay a little bit of attention to the world outside and use that to offset personal bias.  Because that’s what’s going on here, in essence.  The Academy voters are biased whether they think it or not.  It’s human nature.  So read the damn trades and admit that your opinions are just that, opinions.

Sorry, I’m just ticked because I found out that, yet again, I’m not invited.  It’s my face, isn’t it?  It’s totally my face.  I just don’t have that Hollywood smile.

Donald McCarthy, Features EditorI saw the upset on Twitter over the Selma snub and the lack of diversity (the latter of which I place more blame on Hollywood in general than the Academy Awards specifically, but the Academy’s history in regards to diversity isn’t much to write home about) before I even saw who and what was nominated. What surprised me in regard to the Selmafrustration was how many people were saying, “This was a film that should be right up the Academy’s alley.” That may be true, I haven’t seen it, but I found this to be a very worrying statement. Not because I think Selma is going to be unworthy of praise, I have high hopes for it, but because there shouldn’t be a certain type of film that is Academy friendly.

Now, on an individual level, I don’t find it a problem that some films suffer or succeed based on taste. I’m sure Matt Zoller Seitz’s or Scott Tobias’ or Tasha Robinson’s reviews are affected by their tastes. But the Academy is a body of people. There shouldn’t be “Oscar friendly movies” and the type of films that are Oscar friendly certainly shouldn’t be as narrow as it is. Sure, there are times the Oscars branch out, Boyhood and, to a lesser extent, Whiplash, are such examples this time around. But I remember when Nightcrawler came out and it was praised yet folks were saying it was “too dark” to be nominated for an Oscar and therefore such thoughts shouldn’t even be considered. I thought Under the Skin was a masterpiece and even if the film wasn’t to one’s taste the cinematography by Daniel Landin was exceptional and Scarlett Johnasson gave a really brave performance. However, since the film is very experimental, it never had a shot. That’s ridiculous and it’s unsettling that more in the industry don’t see this as an issue.

The narrow view the Oscar’s have when it comes to film hurts the industry in general because it encourages filmmakers not to take chances, to color within the lines, to be good, but not too good, to try to fit in. Art is not about fitting in; it’s about taking risks and breaking new ground. The Oscars aren’t fond of this approach, though, and that makes the reverence they’re treated with incredibly frustrating. Instead of viewing Oscar awards as some sort of divine blessing, they should be treated as nothing more than a pat on the back. The Oscars are a dull, overblown, out of touch joke. Burn it down and start something new, something that isn’t all about keeping the status quo.

Gabriel Ricard: It’s a testament to the influence of the Oscars that the industry still revolves around it to such an alarming degree. Even as the ratings dip, even as people become increasingly annoyed with the politics of it all, and even with so many other awards shows that are seemingly less encumbered by these politics and this history, the Oscars endure. It’s a little disheartening. It kind of makes me want to watch For Your Consideration, which might be one of the best movies about the film industry ever made.

I like the idea of burning it down, but it’s probably never going to happen. And I just decided at some point in my adult life to be fine with that. Creativity endures. All the aggressive social media marketing in the world, and people are still finding gems that don’t have the cash to play in that kind of psychotically aggressive, self-fellating arena.

And comparing 12 Years a Slave to Selma in any capacity is unfair to both movies. And just because the Academy votes in 12 Years a Slave, that doesn’t really change some of the unfortunate indicators that sexism and racism are still pretty rampant in the industry, and therefore, within the Academy. The fact that Selma has been as critically successful as anything else that is up for Best Picture, and considering that there is only one other movie lacking both a Best Picture/Best Director nominee, at least suggests to me that the Academy’s attitude is one of “Well, we did the black people movie last year.”

In the end, it doesn’t matter all that much. We’re pretending the Oscars indicate quality for our amusement. That’s what most people are doing. I don’t think there are very many people outside of the industry who truly believe that a movie’s worthiness and significance is defined by how many awards it wins.

It’s kind of like pro wrestling. It is fun to pretend it is real, if that makes any sense.

Rene Russo (Image © Open Road Films)

Rene Russo (Image © Open Road Films)

Renee Russo’s snub is bothering me more and more. Same with Life Itself. No one championed the film medium and industry more than Roger Ebert did. And the documentary, directed by the guy responsible for films like Hoop Dreams, is a beautiful, well-made tribute to that fact. I agree with Matthew that Lego Movie is over-hyped, but so what? Every movie that scored a major nomination is going to become overhyped. Lego Movie transformed movie theaters full of cynics into fans. It emphasized my personal belief that the true creativity and originality of cinema is not found in the broad terms of the story, but in the details as constructed by the collective vision of the cast and crew. Lego Movie did that, and made it seem as though it just happened to get in a message about its product by complete accident. I totally understand why people are pissed.

And let’s be careful about what we say about Miss Streep. I love her work to death, but her cult will kill and eat anyone who even suggests that maybe, just maybe she doesn’t need to be nominated for virtually every single thing she touches. She was fine in Into the Woods. She was also fine in Stuck on You, and I’m pretty sure she didn’t get a fucking Oscar nomination for that.


2015 Academy Award Nominations

Best Picture

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Selma
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

Best Actor

  • Steve Carell,Foxcatcher
  • Bradley Cooper,American Sniper
  • Benedict Cumberbatch,The Imitation Game
  • Michael Keaton,Birdman
  • Eddie Redmayne,The Theory of Everything

Best Actress

  • Marion Cotillard,Two Days, One Night
  • Felicity Jones,The Theory of Everything
  • Julianne Moore,Still Alice
  • Rosamund Pike,Gone Girl
  • Reese Witherspoon,Wild

Best Supporting Actor

  • Robert Duvall,The Judge
  • Ethan Hawke,Boyhood
  • Edward Norton,Birdman
  • Mark Ruffalo,Foxcatcher
  • K. Simmons,Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress

  • Patricia Arquette,Boyhood
  • Laura Dern,Wild
  • Keira Knightley,The Imitation Game
  • Emma Stone,Birdman
  • Meryl Streep,Into the Woods

Best Cinematography

  • Birdman
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Ida
  • Turner
  • Unbroken

Best Director

  • Alejandro G. Iñárritu,Birdman
  • Richard Linklater,Boyhood
  • Bennett Miller,Foxcatcher
  • Wes Anderson,The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Morten Tyldum,The Imitation Game

Best Original Screenplay

  • Boyhood
  • Birdman
  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Nightcrawler

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • American Sniper
  • The Imitation Game
  • Inherent Vice
  • The Theory of Everything
  • Whiplash

Best Foreign Language Film

  • Ida, Poland
  • Leviathan, Russia
  • Tangerines, Estonia
  • Timbuktu, Mauritania
  • Wild Tales, Argentina

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

  • Foxcatcher
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Guardians of the Galaxy

Best Original Score

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Turner
  • The Theory of Everything

Best Costume Design

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • Inherent Vice
  • Into the Woods
  • Maleficent
  • Turner

Best Documentary Feature

  • Citizenfour
  • Finding Vivian Maier
  • Last Days in Vietnam
  • Salt of the Earth
  • Virunga

Best Documentary Short

  • Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1
  • Joanna
  • Our Curse
  • The Reaper
  • White Earth

Best Film Editing

  • American Sniper
  • Boyhood
  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Whiplash

Best Animated Feature

  • Big Hero 6
  • The Boxtrolls
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • Song of the Sea
  • The Tale of Princess Kaguya

Best Original Song

  • “Lost Stars,”Begin Again
  • “Grateful,”Beyond the Lights
  • “I’m Not Gonna Miss You,”Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me
  • “Everything is Awesome,”The Lego Movie
  • “Glory,”Selma

Best Production Design

  • The Grand Budapest Hotel
  • The Imitation Game
  • Interstellar
  • Into the Woods
  • Turner

Best Animated Short Film

  • The Bigger Picture
  • The Dam Keeper
  • Feast
  • Me and My Moulton
  • A Single Life

Best Live-Action Short Film

  • Aya
  • Boogaloo and Graham
  • Butter Lamp
  • Paraveneh
  • The Phone Call

Best Sound Editing

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken

Best Sound Mixing

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken
  • Whiplash

Best Visual Effects

  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier
  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • Interstellar
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past