Oscars 2014: The Silver Linings


Image via Film School Rejects

Note: I wish I thought of this headline last year when “Silver Linings Playbook” was nominated. Better late than never?

On the morning that the Oscar nominations are announced, Hollywood must look a lot like the opening of “The Lion King.” The sun rises, and every animal out there (or in this case, actors, agents, managers, etc.) put aside their differences and march down to Pride Rock (or in this case, a stage) to hear who will could be crowned as the next rulers of Hollywood.

The circle of life is naturally repetitive, and every year consists of equal parts happiness and outrage over the nominations. For every nomination that voters get right, there’s about three they get wrong. For instance, I could write an entire article about the egregious snubbing of “Inside Llewyn Davis.” But I’ll save that for later, as it is worth staying positive and acknowledging when the establishment honors the right people and films. Credit where credit is due, here is where the Academy got it right this year:

Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity)

It’s about time that this visual mastermind got nominated for Best Director. His groundbreaking use of long takes in everything from “Y Tu Mama Tambien” to “Children of Men” were just a taste for the breathtaking scope of “Gravity.” It’s not often that a sci-fi blockbuster gets nominated for Best Picture. Under the care of Cuaron, “Gravity” showed the existential dread of the vast emptiness of space like few others before him ever had.

Annapurna Pictures/Megan Ellison

This year, Megan Ellison became only the fourth person in Oscar history to produce two films nominated for Best Picture in the same year. This year, she is up for both “American Hustle” and “Her.” Some of her past features include “Killing Them Softly,” “The Master,” and “Zero Dark Thirty.” Ellison’s success in the Oscars this year shows that her model of taking on risky projects that others won’t touch is really paying off. Good taste goes a long way.

The Hunt

Once it made it to American soil, “The Hunt” quietly came and went. Hopefully, this nomination will bring it back into the spotlight. Regardless, of whether or not it wins, “The Hunt” is something to be seen and remembered. It’s the kind of drama that would have trouble getting made in America, because it goes to every dark place you don’t want it to go to, and it is both enthralling and terrifying to watch. As Lucas, a man falsely accused of molesting a child, Mads Mikkelsen invites you to watch his life be completely destroyed with him. It was a performance that has sadly been snubbed all around. “The Hunt” is a painful experience, but no matter how unhappy it turns out to be, it feels like a reward to have made it out unscathed.

Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street)

When most comedic actors and actresses decide to take on a “serious” role, they usually pick a part that is the complete opposite of anything they have done in the past. However, Hill used all of the comedic strengths he displayed in “Knocked Up” and “Superbad” to fantastic effect in “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Hill seems to have a natural chemistry with just about everyone he is on screen with, and one of the many skills of a great actor is to make everyone they are working with look better. Jonah Hill is now a two time Oscar nominee, but let’s not forget where it all began:

Bruno Delbonnel (Inside Llewyn Davis)

Because my favorite film of the year was snubbed in every major category, it is best to appreciate what little was given to it. Bruno Delbonnel’s bleak, color-drained cinematography perfectly matched the film’s mood. The film looks and feels like seasonal depression. If you’ve never experienced a winter in the Northeast, you’ll feel like you have after watching “Inside Llewyn Davis.”