It was a big day for projects with Texas connections at the announcement of the nominations for the 87th Academy Award nominations Thursday.
The Grand Budapest Hotel, the latest from Houston-born University of Texas Austin alum Wes Anderson, scored nine nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Anderson first earned attention with Bottle Rocket in 1996, shot in North Texas. Also feeling the love: Boyhood, Austin director Richard Linklater’s coming-of-age story that took 12 years to finish, and American Sniper, the biopic about slain Navy SEAL and Texas resident Chris Kyle, both of which earned six nods each, including Best Picture.
The Grand Budapest Hotel, the quirky caper and period piece, is tied for most nominations this year with another Best Picture nominee Birdman, Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu’s dark comedy about a once-successful actor, played by Michael Keaton, trying to stage a comeback.
At last weekend’s Golden Globe Awards, Boyhood took home the trophy for Best Drama while The Grand Budapest Hotel won for Best Musical or Comedy.
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Also nominated for Best Picture are The Imitation Game, Whiplash, The Theory of Everything, and Selma. Voting members of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences can nominate as many as 10 films in this category but this year chose to nominate eight.
In the directing category, the nominees are Linklater, Anderson, Iñárritu, Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher), and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game).
For Best Actor, the contenders are Keaton, Bradley Cooper (American Sniper), Steve Carrell (Foxcatcher), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything), and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game). Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl), Reese Witherspoon (Wild), Felicity Jones (The Theory of Everything), Julianne Moore (Still Alice), and Marion Cotillard (Two Days, One Night) are competing for Best Actress.
What has people talking, though, is what got snubbed. At the top of the list is Selma, director Ava DuVernay’s sweeping look at the months leading up to Martin Luther King Jr.’s march in Selma, Ala. in 1965. Though included in the Best Picture running, it was overlooked in all of the other major categories, meaning no recognition for DuVernay or actor David Oyelowo who plays King. DuVernay would have been the first African-American woman to be up for a Best Director Oscar. It’s probably going to be hotly debated whether the controversy surrounding Selma over its portrayal of president Lyndon Johnson hurt the film with voters.
Similarly, while American Sniper is up for Best Picture, its director (Clint Eastwood) is nowhere to be found.
Unbroken, Angelina Jolie’s telling of the true story of Olympics athlete and WWII POW Louis Zamperini, was considered a shoo-in for Oscar attention before it was released in December. It seemed like just the kind of movie that would appeal to Oscar voters — epic, sprawling, and with a noteworthy centerpiece performance from rising star Jack O’Connell — but it was ignored except in cinematography (Roger Deakins).
And the nomination of Pike aside, Gone Girl was mostly gone from the nominations.
In the acting categories, The Grand Budapest Hotel’s coattails didn’t stretch long enough to include star Ralph Fiennes, and while buzz had been building for Jake Gyllenhaal as the creepy videographer in Nightcrawler, he didn’t make the cut. (Nightcrawler did get a nomination for Original Screenplay.) The same with Amy Adams for Big Eyes in the actress sweepstakes.
Jennifer Aniston had been waging a campaign in Hollywood to get a Best Actress nomination for the film Cake, but to no avail.
One of the biggest surprises came in the Best Supporting Actress category, where Laura Dern slipped in with her performance as Witherspoon’s mom in Wild. She’s up against Patricia Arquette (Boyhood), Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game), Emma Stone (Birdman), and Meryl Streep (Into the Woods).
It’s good to see Mark Ruffalo, good for many years in a variety of films, squeak into the Best Supporting Actor nominees for his role in Foxcatcher. He’s in the running with Robert Duvall (The Judge), Ethan Hawke (Boyhood), Edward Norton (Birdman), and J.K. Simmons (Whiplash), who is the one to beat here.
Perhaps the biggest tragedy of the day was that there was no honor for the critically admired The Lego Movie, which couldn’t even score a nomination in the Best Animated Film list against Big Hero 6, The Boxtrolls, How to Train Your Dragon 2, Song of the Sea, and The Tale of Princess Kaguya.
In the Foreign-Language contest, the nominees are Ida (Poland), Leviathan (Russia), Wild Tales (Argentina), Timbuktu (Mauritania), and Tangerines (Estonia).
The Oscars will be telecast live from Los Angeles on Feb. 22 on ABC. Neil Patrick Harris will host.
For a complete list of nominations, go to oscar.go.com.
Cary Darling, 817 390-7571