Thursday 16 January 2014

Oscar Nominations Are In! Here's What's Competing This Year.

The Oscar nominations for the 86th annual Academy Awards are in! There's a lot of deserving films nominated; American Hustle and Gravity are leading the pack with 10 nominations each, with hotly-tipped 12 Years a Slave racking up 9. But there are some strange choices in the categories that concern animation...

Here are the nominations for the four categories in which animated films/special visual effects are celebrated

Best Animated Feature:
  • The Croods
  • Despicable Me 2
  • Ernest and Celestine
  • Frozen
  • The Wind Rises

Best Animated Short:
  • Feral
  • Get a Horse!
  • Mr. Hublot
  • Possessions
  • Room on the Broom
Best Original Song:
  • "Alone Yet Not Alone" from Alone Yet Not Alone
  • "Happy" from Despicable Me 2
  • "Let it Go" from Frozen
  • "The Moon Song" from Her
  • "Ordinary Love" from Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom
Best Visual Effects:
  • Gravity
  • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
  • Iron Man 3
  • The Lone Ranger
  • Star Trek Into Darkness

Disney's Frozen bagged two nominations, with Walt Disney Animation Studios bagging three in total (the third for the superb Mickey Mouse short Get a Horse!). This could be a landmark Oscar year for WDAS: their second consecutive Short Film Oscar after not winning one in over four decades, and their first Feature Animation award since the award's inception in 2001. And one would assume that "Let it Go" is a lock for Best Original Song (AMPAS aren't as easily swayed by celebrities as the HFPA).

Illumination Entertainment also snagged two nods: Best Animated Feature for Despicable Me 2 and Best Original Song for Pharrell Williams's "Happy."

While it's good to see Miyazaki's The Wind Rises pop up in the nominees, and Ernest and Celestine too, the Academy partook in the same baffling snub as the Golden Globes: not nominating Pixar's Monsters University. Sure, MU wasn't Pixar's best film, but it was a multi-faceted, thoroughly enjoyable film - and definitely of stronger stuff than The Croods or Despicable Me 2. Commiserations to the hard-working team at Pixar, but congrats to the rest of the nominees!

One could certainly make an argument that Neill Blomkamp's Elysium deserved a nomination for Best Visual Effects, but a film that was definitely robbed in that category is del Toro's Pacific Rim. The film is basically a sizzle reel for some of ILM's most impressive work, so the fact that it didn't even snag a nomination is baffling. That said, Gravity surely has that one in the bag.

Walt Disney won 26 Oscars in his lifetime. Saving Mr. Banks is nominated for
only 1.

Another film notable by its near-absence is Saving Mr. Banks, the Disney film that tells the kinda-sorta true story about the making of Mary Poppins, which only managed 1 nomination, Best Original Score for Thomas Newman. The film was once thought to be a contender for Best Picture (and is worthy of it, for my money); but, regardless of what you thought of the quality of the film, it's fairly inarguable that Emma Thompson was fantastic in it, so it's utterly bizarre to see her absent from the Best Actress nominees.

So, some strange choices, some good choices... But, hey, that's the Oscars. Congrats to all the nominees! This year's Academy Awards will be presented on 2nd March at an event hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

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