Everything was NOT awesome for "The Lego Movie" at this morning's announcement of nominations for the 87th annual Academy Awards. The critical and audience favorite was not among the five nominees for Best Animated Feature.
It was just one of several surprising omissions from this year's list of Oscar nominees.
With the Academy's preferential scoring system in the Best Picture category, several impressive films failed to achieve the necessary five percent of ballots listing it in the No. 1 position to make the top tier, including "Foxcatcher" (whose director, Bennett Miller, managed to nab a Best Director nomination).
Other movies that missed out: the charming musical "Begin Again"; Tim Burton's biopic "Big Eyes"; the revenge thriller "Blue Ruin"; "Gone Girl"; Christopher Nolan's "Interstellar"; Bong Joon-ho's dystopian thriller, "Snowpiercer"; Angelina Jolie's World War II epic "Unbroken"; Jonathan Glazer's Kubrickian sci-fi drama, "Under the Skin"; "Wild"; and the biggest box-office hit of the year, "Guardians of the Galaxy."
Missing from the Best Directors circle are the filmmakers behind four of this year's Best Picture nominees: Directors Guild nominee Clint Eastwood for "American Sniper"; Ava DuVernay for "Selma"; James Marsh for "The Theory of Everything"; and Damien Chazelle for "Whiplash."
Also missing: David Fincher for "Gone Girl"; Christopher Nolan for "Interstellar"; Rob Marshall, "Into the Woods"; J.C. Chandor for "A Most Violent Year"; Mike Leigh for "Mr. Turner"; Angelina Jolie for "Unbroken"; and Jean-Marc Vallée for "Wild."
And the list of Best Foreign Language film nominees is strangely missing one of the most talked-about films of the year: Swedish director Ruben Östlund's "Force Majeure," about a vacationing family whose comfortable existence is torn apart by an avalanche in the French Alps.
The list of those missing from the Best Actor category include Ralph Fiennes from "The Grand Budapest Hotel" (which tied with "Birdman" for most nominations of the day); Jake Gyllenhall's creepy newshound in "Nightcrawler"; Tom Hardy in a virtual solo performance in "Locke"; Philip Seymour Hoffman in his last leading role, in the John le Carre thriller, "A Most Wanted Man"; Oscar Isaac's gripping portrayal of a businessman trying to stay honest in "A Most Violent Year"; David Oyelowo's performance as Martin Luther King Jr. in "Selma"; Joaquin Phoenix's shaggy-dog private eye in the picaresque "Inherent Vice"; and Timothy Spall, winner of several critics' awards for his portrayal of painter J.M.W. Turner in "Mr. Turner."
Amy Adams, who won the Golden Globe for her performance as painter Margaret Keane in "Big Eyes," did not get a Best Actress Oscar nod, nor did Jennifer Aniston for "Cake"; Jessica Chastain for "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby"; Scarlett Johansson for "Under the Skin"; and Gugu Mbatha-Raw for "Beyond the Lights."
Chastain's name was also missing from the ranks of Supporting Actress nominees for her work in "A Most Violent Year" and "Interstellar." But the most glaring omissions were former Oscar-winner Tilda Swinton for "Snowpiercer," and Rene Russo as a TV news exec who lives by the adage, "If it bleeds, it leads," in "Nightcrawler."
The Best Supporting Actor category played out as anticipated, which meant there was no room for Josh Brolin as a hard-headed police officer in "Inherent Vice"; Miyavi as the prisoner of war camp commander in "Unbroken"; Robert Pattinson for the Australian futuristic thriller, "The Rover"; Andy Serkis for his performance-capture portrayal of Caesar in "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes"; and Tom Wilkinson as LBJ in "Selma."
The strong contenders in the Best Adapted Screenplay category squeezed out Gillian Flynn, who wrote the film version of her bestselling novel, "Gone Girl." The Original Screenplay category, over-stuffed with contenders, meant such strong and innovative scripts as "Blue Ruin," "The Immigrant," "Interstellar," "The Lego Movie," "Obvious Child," "Selma," "A Most Violent Year," "Mr. Turner" and "Under the Skin" were left on the sidelines.
Below the Line
While "Edge of Tomorrow" did not entirely escape the perils of unbelievability (we are dealing with time travel paradoxes, mind you), its film editing was superb - deftly balancing its "Groundhog Day"-like premise with humor and pungency - and should have been in the mix.
The cinematographers' branch chose to ignore the work of Jeff Cronenweth ("Gone Girl"), Robert Elswit ("Inherent Vice"), Hoyte Van Hoytema ("Interstellar"), Dion Beebe ("Into the Woods"), Robert Elswit ("Nightcrawler"), or Bradford Young ("Selma"). But it's hard to begrudge their inclusion of the haunting black-and-white photography of the Polish entry, "Ida."
Nothing wrong with this year's nominees for Best Documentary, but two surprising omissions are both excellent AND oriented towards the film world: "Life Itself," about the late critic Roger Ebert; and "Jodorowsky's Dune," a mesmerizing tale about one of the most unique sci-fi films never made.
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