On Thursday morning, as I gazed over the Oscar nominations on my laptop screen, I searched the page about three or five times for a certain name, thinking that the Academy had posted a mistake on their website. But soon I realized my worst fears were concerned: Inside Llewyn Davis received only two nominations.
Just digest this: Davis is one of the most acclaimed movies of the year and I myself think it’s arguably 2013’s best. Yet Davis received nothing for Joel and Ethan Coen’s impeccable direction or writing or Oscar Isaac’s incredible performance, or even the song “Please Mr. Kennedy.” In fact, the only credit the movie got was for Cinematography and Sound Mixing. Such snubbing is unacceptable for such a dynamic picture. Even American Hustle, a film I really do like, is nowhere near the same league as Inside Llewyn Davis.
That’s not to say the other nominees were undeserved. I was pleased to see 12 Years A Slave and The Wolf of Wall Street all receive some well-earned attention. But that doesn’t underscore the problems of the Oscars. Her, which is the other contender for being my favorite movie of the year, was snubbed for Best Director (Spike Jonze), Actor (Joaquin Phoenix), and Supporting Actress (Scarlett Johansson, even though it was a voiceover it was still one of the best performances of 2013) though it obtained nominations for Picture and Screenplay, as well as Before Midnight, which only got a nod for its script. Is it fair that these movies have all been ignored?
It’s also easy to highlight other issues. The guidelines for Foreign Film axed out big contenders like Blue is the Warmest Color and The Past, two pictures that are staples among many top 10 lists. And I think Meryl Streep was nominated more or less for being Meryl Streep and less about August: Osage County for being August: Osage County, which has received not exactly positive reviews (the same could be said about co-star Julia Roberts).
Still, I have to pay the Oscars a few compliments. Kudos for nominations for Michael Fassbender and Matthew McConaughey, two actors who have proven themselves to be exceptional in recent years as well as love for Steve McQueen, Martin Scorsese, Christian Bale, Leonardo DiCaprio, and the cast of 12 Years A Slave. But it’s hard to discern the pros from the cons of the nominations and the snubs this year are particularly egregious.
Update: As it turns out, “Please Mr. Kennedy” was ruled ineligible by the Academy for its similarity to a few other songs. Thanks to Mark Hobin for spotting that error.