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.