Oscar Nominations, Selma Controversy, and more

134-Films-Officially-Enter-the-87th-Academy-Awards-Documentary-Feature-Category-Race

The nominations were announced for the 2015 Academy Awards, and shockingly there are some upset people.  First, here are the nominees for the major awards:

BEST PICTURE

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

BEST DIRECTOR

  • Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman)
  • Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  • Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game)
  • Wes Anderson (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher)

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)
  • J.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)

ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

  • Jason Dean Hall (American Sniper)
  • Graham Moore (The Imitation Game)
  • Paul Thomas Anderson (Inherent Vice)
  • Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything)
  • Damien Chazelle (Whiplash)

ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

  • Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo (Birdman)
  • Richard Linklater (Boyhood)
  • E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman (Foxcatcher)
  • Wes Anderson, Hugo Guinness (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Dan Gilroy (Nightcrawler)

Most of these were predicted, though some of the push behind American Sniper has been a recent development (and surely the PR people at Warner Bros. are getting a pat on the back today). The major omission, according to people who know everything and are in charge of letting everyone know it, is the exclusion of Selma director Ava DuVernay and its star David Oyelowo. Naturally, as every year, the discussion surrounding DuVernay’s snub has been focused on gender inequality in Hollywood and especially in the Academy. The issue started earlier in the week when DuVernay was left off the ballot of the Director’s Guild Awards in favor of old, white, Republican Clint Eastwood. Go figure, the know-it-all’s attacked the Eastwood nomination immediately. Now with her exclusion from the Oscar ballot as well as Oyelowo’s, the conversation has turned to race. Hasn’t it?

Sadly, no. The sole conversation has been to focus on the indignity all women have suffered by DuVernay not being nominated. Melissa Silverstein, a women’s advocate for “gender equity in Hollywood” (Seriously, look it up. It says that in her Twitter bio), has even asked for women to boycott the Oscars this year. In this article she argues that Selma is a powerful and resonant enough film for our society that DuVernay should be recognized. The film is nominated in the Best Picture category, though it was shut-out of the other awards except for Song.

This is the argument I have a hard time with:

Selma is that powerful. And yet, its director was overlooked. This snub feels like a kick in the teeth to women directors everywhere. She ticked all the boxes. Made a movie about a historical figure whom people know. Made a movie about a man. Great reviews. Great lead performance. I don’t know what else Ava DuVernay could have done.

So, apparently Ava DuVernay followed an Oscar template that was supposed to get her a nomination. The argument should be, why should anyone have to follow a template to be recognized? Is that actually in the best interest of the art form? Did BoyhoodThe Grand Budapest Hotel, or Birdman follow a template? No, because the singular voices behind each film are unique and that was apparent in each of these films.

Another argument she makes is that the Reese Witherspoon film, Wild, was not nominated for any major awards because, well….read for yourself:

I am convinced that it is because it is a movie about a complicated, strong woman that was feminine and feminist — even though it was directed by a man. It feels like the Academy folks are afraid of movies where the leads are people with vaginas.

That’s it, people. The “snub” has nothing to do with the quality of the film, but rather because it was about a strong woman.

She goes on to cite several statistics in her article about how few women get nominated. Is this really the best way to go about asking for equality? She has noted in her Twitter feed that only 4 women have ever been nominated for Best Director. So, according to Melissa Silverstein the path to equality is through Oscar recognition. However, I think we’re looking at the effect of the problem instead of the cause. Is it more important that we single out one woman, or that we call for there to be a larger pool of female voices behind the camera? I say the latter.

The argument for Duvernay’s snub is a subjective one. From the list of directors nominated, I’d like to ask, who do you remove in her favor? That’s simply a matter of taste. Is it fair to Bennet Miller to be removed because DuVernay is a woman and it’s more important for her to be recognized despite the fact that Miller also made a quality film that critics praised? It’s no secret that people went bananas about Eastwood getting the DGA nomination because he’s a known Republican and Hollywood is dominated by Liberals, so I chalked that argument up to biases and political nonsense that has no business in the realm of art.

Are we saying that, despite artistic merit, Duvernay should be nominated because it’s good for women? I have a problem with this.  If the number of films directed by women, particularly with the major studios, were to steadily increase because of one nomination, then I’m all for it. Though, I think it’s fair to point out the number has not increased in the few years following Katherine Bigelow’s historic win.

So, what’s the solution? The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is over 90% White and over 75% male. In 2014, of all the films released by the 5 major studios, 3 were directed by women. So, where is the problem? That one woman got snubbed, or that hundreds or thousands of women and minorities still don’t have a voice? The argument should center around the inclusion of more women and minorities in the AMPAS as well as more films ABOUT women and minorities. Perhaps it’s regrettable that Ava DuVernay will not get to hear her name called during the Oscars next month, but the solution isn’t to sulk about one women, it’s to push 10 more women to do something unique that the Academy cannot recognize by checking off boxes and therefore has to recognize it for it’s originality.

I’m not arguing against Silverstein, as I am on her side about female representation in Hollywood and in film. I just feel her argument is counterproductive to the change that really needs to occur.

Anywho, here are the rest of the nominees:

ANIMATED FEATURE FILM

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

DOCUMENTARY (FEATURE)

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

FILM EDITING

  • Joel Cox and Gary D. Roach (American Sniper)
  • Sandra Adair (Boyhood)
  • Barney Pilling (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • William Goldenberg (The Imitation Game)
  • Tom Cross (Whiplash)

CINEMATOGRAPHY

  • Emmanuel Lubezki (Birdman)
  • Robert D. Yeoman (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Ryszard Lenczewski and Lukasz Zal (Ida)
  • Dick Pope (Mr. Turner)
  • Roger Deakins (Unbroken)

ORIGINAL SCORE

  • Alexandre Desplat (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Alexandre Desplat (The Imitation Game)
  • Hans Zimmer (Interstellar)
  • Johann Johannsson (The Theory of Everything)
  • Gary Yershon (Mr. Turner)

ORIGINAL SONG

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

SOUND MIXING

  • American Sniper
  • Birdman
  • Interstellar
  • Unbroken
  • Whiplash

SOUND EDITING

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

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

COSTUME DESIGN

  • Milena Canonero (The Grand Budapest Hotel)
  • Mark Bridges (Inherent Vice)
  • Colleen Atwood (Into the Woods)
  • Anna B. Sheppard (Maleficent)
  • Jacqueline Durran (Mr. Turner)

PRODUCTION DESIGN

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

MAKEUP & HAIRSTYLING

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

FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

  • Tangerines
  • Ida
  • Leviathan
  • Timbuktu
  • Wild Tales

ANIMATED SHORT FILM

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

LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM

  • Aya
  • Boogaloo and Graham
  • Butterfly Lamp (La Lampe au Beurre de Yak)
  • Parvaneh
  • The Phone Call

DOCUMENTARY SHORT SUBJECT

  • Crisis Veterans Hotline: Press 1
  • Joanna
  • Our Curse
  • The Reaper (La Parka)
  • White Earth

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