Zachary Marsh’s Thoughts On The Academy Award Nominations
Well, it’s been a week since the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced their nominees for the 87th Academy Awards. There has been some approval from people, but more so there has been a lot of shock and surprise coming from the public. Before we get into the obvious elephants in the room, let me tell you what I think of the nominees in general:
Personally speaking, I think this is one of the strongest years, if not THE strongest, year of film in the 2010s thus far. Every single Best Picture nominee (though I cannot speak yet for American Sniper as I haven’t seen it at the time of this article’s publication) deserves to be there, as all of them showcase how great of a year 2014 has been. Of course, there could have been other films that could have taken the potential 9 and 10 spots in the BP noms, including “Foxcatcher” and “Nightcrawler” to name a couple, but that’s beside the point. Several of the nominations are actually some of my favorite films of 2014, so that’s a plus in my book. The same goes for the directing, screenplay, and acting nominations as well, as I felt each person nominated symbolized a piece of what made going to the movies in 2014 so damn great in the first place. Getting that off the table, let’s talk about the “snubs” that people are complaining so much about.
Let’s begin by talking about “Selma.” Now, before I say my thoughts on the matter, I have to point out that I found the film itself to be absolutely brilliant, and an example on how historical dramas can also be just as entertaining and engrossing as many of the summer blockbusters to have come out. In regards to the “snubs” for director Ava DuVernay and actor David Oyelowo, I can understand the frustration that people are having. The film WAS brilliantly directed, and Oyelowo’s portrayal of Dr. King WAS fantastic. What makes me frustrated isn’t the lack of nominations the film got, its only two being for Best Picture and Best Original Song, but how people responded to the lack of noms. I seriously doubt that it was a race thing that drove the Oscar voters away from these two talented people. If any, I personally believe that it’s the people who blame race on these snubs themselves that, in a way, are racist. Why do we always have to see black and white when at the end of the day we are all just people? Do I believe “Selma” deserved to be nominated for more awards? Absolutely, but as you can see, I’m not complaining or even that upset about it all.
Another film that was arguably snubbed this year was Dan Gilroy’s “Nightcrawler.” My love for this film can be considered to be biased by some, as at my screening I had the opportunity of meeting/taking pictures with Gilroy himself, as well as the film’s star, Jake Gyllenhaal. Honestly, that probably added to my love for the movie at first. However looking back on the film by itself and not the entire experience I had, I can say that this movie is still one of my favorites of last year. It was brilliantly structured, tightly paced, well written and directed, and featured a career-best performance from Mr. Gyllenhaal.
As much as I believe that Gyllenhaal deserved to get nominated for his performance as Lou Bloom, I also happen to understand how packed this year has been. Even with the five nominees right now, if you took out one of them the most likely person to be the replacement would have most likely been Oyelowo. And of course, with there being ten potential spots for Best Picture nominations, there could have been room for “Nightcrawler” to get in there. There could have also been room for Bennett Miller’s “Foxcatcher,” but I’m just happy that Steve Carell is now an Academy Award nominee. All in all, I am sad that “Nightcrawler” didn’t get as much love as I believe it deserved, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that I loved the movie and believe it will stand the test of time, one day becoming a classic amongst others of this decade.
Now, we have reached the biggest elephant in the room, and the one that so many people cried and ranted over. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re about to find out: “The LEGO Movie” wasn’t nominated for Best Animated Feature. Already I can here the cries and chants of mobs all over America over this “snub,” and now I will soon here mobs outside my house when I say possibly the most controversial thing I could possibly say in this situation: I’m happy that the film wasn’t nominated. Now, before all of you raid my living facilities and crucify my friends and family, let me explain myself.
I, along with everyone and their mothers, enjoyed “The LEGO Movie.” The first time I saw the film, I really enjoyed it. I thought it was smart, funny, and just plain awesome. Of course I had some nitpicks, but that’s just what I do when it comes to films that are either universally lauded or hyped as s**t by people who I know. Fast forward to around July or August, when the film was released on DVD. I figured I’d give it a re-watch to see if it added anything for me overall. Rather than doing just that, I actually began to like the movie less. Sure it was still funny and smart, but the thing I have to question is its originality or not.
I am a huge fan of Phil Lord and Chris Miller and, in my honest opinion, I think they could have had a shot at winning Best Animated Feature back in 2009 for “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs” had “Up” not been released that year. I even really enjoyed their directing style and fast-paced humor in the “21 Jump Street” movies. Of course I would love to see them with an Oscar, but I’m pretty glad that it’s not gonna be for this film. When I watched the film the second time, I found some of the characters to be rather annoying, as well as some of the jokes to either be forced or just not as funny to me as the first time. In terms of the film’s originality, I question that since, at the end of the day, we’ve seen this story before. Sure, it might not have been with Lego figurines in a Lego world, and it might not have *SPOILERS* had a twist revealing that it was a live action human boy, the son of an adult Will Ferrell *END OF SPOILERS* before, but at the end of the day, this was a standard piece of animation. Plus also, to me, this film didn’t really give me anything that would leave a lasting impact as I believe films should. “How To Train Your Dragon 2” and “Big Hero 6,” on the other hand, DID leave that lasting impact on me.
Were “Dragon 2” and “Big Hero 6” original films? Well, they were based on already existing material before, so that answers the question there. Were they predictable and sometimes formulaic? Absolutely. However, what made me love these films more than “LEGO” and leave a lasting impact on me was its authentic emotional core. Both of those films, which happen to be in my top 10 of 2014 at the time of this posting, gave me just as much laughs and awesome visuals as it did emotion and heart. The chemistry between Hiccup and Toothless, as well as Hiro and Baymax, were some of the most authentic portrayals of friendship and love that I’ve seen all year. “LEGO” left me wanting that at the end of the day, so I guess you can call that personal taste. Look, “LEGO” was indeed a good film, but as someone who sees films a bit differently from everyone else, it just didn’t resonate with me the way it clearly has for others. All I know is this: The Academy will most likely pull an “Argo” with “LEGO” most likely since its only nomination was for the extremely annoying and overall meh song (again, personal taste here) “Everything is Awesome.” But hey, if that song wins, then that means that The Lonely Island are Oscar winners, which indeed IS an awesome thought to think about.
So there you have it, my thoughts on the nominations for the 87th Academy Awards. I know that there will be people out there who read this and only want to say bad things about me, the site, and other things of that sort, but you have to remember that this is all merely just an opinion at the end of the day. I hope I got my reasoning out clearly, and if I didn’t, I apologize for that. But hey, if you disagree with everything I said in this article, as I expect the majority of you all to, then that’s perfectly ok. The beauty of being a human being is that we can have different tastes and opinions in everything out there. If we all loved “The LEGO Movie,” then we would all practically be the robots programmed by Lord Business to carry out Taco Tuesday. So if you want to call me a “cumskin,” “dickweed,” or anything of that sort, then please go ahead and do that. If that makes you feel better about yourself, that’s awesome. Me? I don’t care what negativity you guys might say. My opinion isn’t gonna change because someone on the internet wants it to. So once again, thank you very much for taking the time to read this article. I’m Zach Marsh, and I as always live film!