The Oscar nominations are out, and in a new edition of this series, Indiewire
senior writer Peter Knegt and regular columnist Matthew Hammett Knott are totally prepared to bitch about them. Here’s the 10 things that collectively annoyed them the most about this morning’s announcement:
Knott: Yep, I’m completely serious about this. There have only ever been two black actresses over the age of 50 nominated for an Oscar, which is a travesty in itself. A female character of that age who actually expresses her sex drive is a pretty rare occurrence in Hollywood – in an African American context, it’s almost unprecedented. And despite its flaws, “The Butler” is a rare populist film that offers a defiantly black political viewpoint. But let’s not get too serious. Why am I really disappointed? Because Noprah! Can you imagine her inspirational words of advice to young actresses on the red carpet? Her photo-ops with Lupita? Her face during Lupita’s victory speech?! I’m gutted.
No Sarah Polley!
Knegt: Whatever, I find it pretty hard to feel sorry for Oprah even if I clearly agree with you re: this kind of character being pretty unprecedented. And frankly, I’m starting to get frightened Lupita won’t even have a victory speech. Which would be disappointing, but not as disappointed as I already am that Sarah Polley won’t be up on that stage accepting an Oscar for the truly brilliant “Stories We Tell” because she wasn’t even nominated. Call out my desperate Canadian need for international representation that isn’t Rob Ford, but she surely would have gone about how great Canada is after offering a remarkably touching ode to her family that she portrayed in “Stories.” I was already prepared to excuse myself to sing ‘Oh Canada’ while sobbing privately in the bathroom afterwards.
Knott: And before we get off the subject of female nominees who’ve been shut out, let me mention poor Emma Thompson. In a category that ignores Adele Exarchopoulos and Paulina Garcia, it’s not about who’s “deserving” and who isn’t. But no role challenged female stereotypes more than Thompson’s as P.L. Travers. As Meryl Streep recently pointed out (at a point when a nomination for Thompson still seemed a safe bet), how often does Hollywood make films about middle-aged women where they aren’t defined as wife, mother or even love interest? Almost never. And if that’s not a reason to want Thompson at the ceremony, you only have to watch a few YouTube videos to know how much her presence can liven up an awards show.
Knegt: Alright, so Emma trumps him, but do you know who else livens up awards shows? Her “Banks” co-star Tom Hanks. Honestly, they would make a Tina and Amy-level pair of co-hosts if the Oscars ever decided to be creative with who they choose (no, James and Anne don’t count). And while I’m fine with his snub for “Banks,” he gave his best performance in years (ever?) in “Captain Phillips” but the Academy decided Christian Bale and his comb-over was more worthy. And yeah, I know Hanks already has two Oscars and like Oprah, it’s hard to feel sorry for him. But this was the year he reminded us all he still had talent! He needed the Academy’s encouragement so he wouldn’t go make “Larry Crowne 2.”
Jennifer Lawrence and Julia Roberts make the cut
Knott: Now that we’ve stood up for those poor sods who didn’t make it, let me explain why I can’t get excited about the Oscar nominations for Jennifer Lawrence and Julia Roberts in Best Supporting Actress. These are two A-list stars playing parts for which I could think of a dozen better-suited actors, getting rewarded for it and solidifying their place in the Hollywood firmament. Julia Roberts fitted in around that Oklahoma dinner table even less than Benedict Cumberbatch did. And I’m not saying Jennifer Lawrence didn’t do an excellent job with her role as a jaded, faded, jilted wife in “American Hustle”. My problem is more with the continued evidence that a) Hollywood will stretch to allow hot young white actresses to play any role they can possibly squeeze into, while doing the exact opposite for anyone who doesn’t fit that model (i.e. black actors, who get nominated for playing slaves and pirates) and b) David O. Russell has little to offer in his cinematic vision of womanhood beyond the depressing trifecta of virgin / mother / whore.
The continuing David O. Russell + Academy = true love 4evr.
Knegt: Speaking of David O. Russell, when will he ever learn if the Academy doesn’t stop throwing buckets of Oscar nominations at him for every single thing he does? I found “American Hustle” to be an even bigger mess than “Silver Linings Playbook” and am still beside myself at how many people clearly don’t agree with me with regard to either film. I can’t wait for next year when Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence both win Oscars for David O. Russell’s “Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence Take a Shit.”
Too much “Nebraska“
Knott: Which will no doubt feature alongside whatever Alexander Payne turns out next. I’ve been told, as a non-American, that I just don’t get “Nebraska”. In which case, Americans, you’re welcome to it, and the career of Alexander Payne while you’re at it. I’m not going to snipe too hard about a film which a lot of people clearly love, although I have to say that the Cinematography nomination is, to my eye, totally baffling, and more informed by the prestige associations of black and white than any true assessment of the film’s visual qualities. Am I taking this too seriously again? Is it too mean-spirited to say that I thought June Squibb’s performance was better suited to a community theater stage than an Academy Award nomination? Then I’ll keep my mouth shut.
Too much “Dallas Buyers Club“
Knegt: Aw, I heart June Squibb. But I guess I’m somewhat more American than you. And as a resident of the almost-America country of Canada, one would think I would take pride that one of my fellow countrymen directed one of the year’s best picture nominees, “Dallas Buyers Club.” But as I’ve already made clear probably one or two too many times on this website, I am not a fan of that movie. Though I was totally prepared for it to get nominations for McConaughey, Leto and best picture. But best original screenplay!? And best film editing!? Both over “Inside Llewyn Davis,” my favorite film of the year? I should really quit this job and go join the merchant marines.
Not enough “Inside Llewyn Davis”
Knott: I’ll join you. Because the really galling thing about all those nominations for “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Nebraska” is that they knocked “Llewyn Davis” right out of contention in not just those categories but basically every single one. People have already quipped on Twitter that it is entirely fitting for a film about an unappreciated talent to go so unappreciated. And it’s not exactly less than I’d expect. I just think it would be nice if more people went to see my favourite film of last year. And if there’s anything a bunch of Oscar nominations is good for, it’s that.
Not enough “Inside Llewyn Davis,” seconded.
Knegt: You stole my number one, you bitch.
Peter Knegt is Indiewire’s Senior Writer and awards columnist. Follow him on Twitter.