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The Oscars Always Offer a Surprise or Two

The Oscars Always Offer a Surprise or Two

         I studiously avoid the word “shoo-in” when asked to predict
the nominees, although I might have caved this year when it came to Leonardo
DiCaprio. (I started hearing that he was “a lock” for Best Actor back in June.
Is that just aggressive p.r. or did someone on high determine that “this was
his year?”)

          But I never
dreamt that after the success and rightful acclaim heaped upon The Martian Ridley Scott wouldn’t be one
of the Best Director nominees. I’m happy for relative newcomer Lenny
Abrahamson, who did such a fine job with Room,
but I wish they both could have been recognized.

    With its weighted, preferential voting system, the Academy
only filled eight of its potential ten slots for Best Picture. That meant there
was room for Straight Outta Compton,
but it was not to be… yet its Best Original Screenplay nod is impressive
recognition from one of the tougher branches of the Academy…the same folks who
overlooked Aaron Sorkin and recognized the exceptional screenplay of Pixar’s Inside Out. (Just a reminder: only
writers nominate writers, only art directors nominate art directors, etc.)

                As for Sylvester
Stallone, I resist calling him a sentimental favorite because he’s so damn good
in that movie. Naturally we respond not only to his performance but to the
forty-year accumulation of movie history it represents. Nevertheless, he earned
that nomination by doing a terrific job.

         So while the
complainers get busy griping and grousing, I salute the Academy for being so
welcoming to newcomers like Abrahamson, not to mention actresses Brie Larson
and Alicia Vikander. Any award roster that covers a spectrum from Lady Gaga to
82-year-old animator Richard Williams can’t be all bad. 



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