Oscar Nominations 2014 : Snubs and Suprises

by Catherine Arjet
Assistant Arts & Life Editor

The Oscar nominations for 2014 are out! Birdman or (the Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) and The Grand Budapest Hotel lead with nine nominations each, and in all the right categories. Both films have received nominations for best picture, cinematography, director and original screenplay. Birdman also picked up best leading and supporting actor, best actress, best sound mixing and sound editing. The Grand Budapest Hotel was nominated for best editing, costume design, make-up and hair, music, and production design. While most of the other best picture nominees picked up a respectable number of other nominations—The Imitation Game totaled eight; Boyhood seven; and Whiplash, The Theory of Everything, and American Sniper all received six—Selma earning a disappointing two in what some critics are calling an outrageous snub.

Interestingly, most of the films nominated for best actress weren’t nominated in other notable categories, with Reese Witherspoon, Felicity Jones, Rosamund Pike, Julianne Moore, and Marion Cotillard earning nods for Wild, The Theory of Everything, Gone Girl, Still Alice, and Two Days, One Night. With the exception of The Theory of Everything, none of these movies were nominated for any of the other “big five” categories – best director, picture, actor, or screenplay. However, the films nominated for best actor –Foxcatcher, The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, American Sniper, and Birdman fared much better. Each picked up at least two other big five nominations.

As always, Disney has received nominations in both the best animated picture and short categories with Big Hero Six and the short that accompanied it, Feast. However, smaller studio Laika (which produced both Coraline and Paranorman) also earned a nomination for its movie Boxtrolls. So far, all of Laika’s features films have received Academy Award nominations, but none have actually taken home the prize. Dreamworks and Studio Ghibli also picked up a nomination in the feature film category with How to Train Your Dragon 2 and The Tale of Princess Kaguya respectively. The smaller indie animated film Song of the Sea was also nominated.

Many critics have been quick to point out a lack of diversity in this years’ Academy Awards nominations. In fact, this is the first time since 1995 that all 20 nominees in the best actor and actress categories have been white, and the first time since 1999 that the Academy has only given out best director and best screenwriter nominations to men. Many see Selma’s snub as racially motivated: David Sims of The Atlantic writes, “That a stirring biopic about one of the most famous Americans in history … couldn’t get more Oscar attention feels more than surprising—it feels insulting.” Had Selma’s director Ava DurVernay been nominated for best director, she would have been the fifth woman and the first African-American woman in the award show’s 87-year history to receive this honor.