The 86th Annual Academy Awards nominations were announced Thursday morning, and it was a fairly brief and unsurprising affair. The end results looked like the majority of 2013's 'Best Of Movie' lists, with the same handful of titles being mentioned over and over again. But there were a few loopy choices thrown into the mix that made us cock our head. Who thought Disney's mega-bomb The Lone Ranger or the outsider punk rock aesthetic of Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa would capture the attention of Oscar's antiquated ballot pushers? Those weren't the only surprising inclusions. Let's look at the 9 Movies We Can't Believe Were Just Nominated for an Oscar...
Category: Best Visual Effects/Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Will It Win?: Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Disney's mega-bomb is now packed with a bit of prestige as it takes home an Oscar nomination. It doesn't need to win. The mere mention of its name as the awards nominations were announced is enough. And now it can forever repackage itself as the Oscar-nominated The Lone Ranger. Its all about that train sequence, isn't it kids? Its one heck of a thrilling ride, for sure, but does not a great movie make. Overall, there is fun to be had here if you look hard enough. The fact that its now both one of Quentin Tarantino's favorite movies of 2013 and an Oscar nominee makes everything worthwhile for the Studio. Maybe this will put more eyes on it? Maybe it will move more Blu-ray copies and up those digital sales? That's the hope, anyway. Gravity, which has redefined what the movie going experience can be, is the undisputed winner in the VFX category. And Dallas Buyers Club, with its amazing transformations for both Oscar-favorite Jared Leto and co-star Matthew McConaughey, is the clear winner when it comes to hair and makeup.
Category: Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Will It Win?: We wish! While we love to see Bad Grandpa as an Oscar nominee, and believe that Stephen Prouty fully deserves the win for transforming Johnny Knoxville into a completely believable 86-year-old man that fooled people up close and personal...As mentioned above, Adruitha Lee and Robin Mathews have this category locked up. Jared Leto is moving into the Oscar telecast as the edgy favorite, and people want to spit-shine his performance anyway they can. While its almost too bad, Dallas Buyers Club will take home the statue here.
Category: Best Cinematography/Best Costume Design. Will It Win?: Hell no! Philippe LeSourd did an astounding job of bringing the story of IP man to life, and every frame is captivating. But its up against Emmanuel Lubezki's work in Gravity, which pushed IMAX and 3D to a whole new level. Hollywood is looking for any reason to get assess off the couch and into theaters, and Emmanuel Lubezki gave them that, paving the way towards the future. He'll win this first category for sure. No one saw The Grandmaster except a handful of Academy members, who obviously want to push an Asian film for support. Good on them. The movie is decent (not spectacular by any means). But its lack of registering with the American movie-going public is what shocks us most about its inclusion here. No one thought The Grandmaster would walk away with one, let alone two, nominations. Good for it! Too bad its up against American Hustle for Best Costume Design. So what if that film wins an Oscar for what any homegrown mom was doing after a coke binge on the weekends in the 70s to allow herself a little free time? Recapturing that honed-in magic takes a certain skill. But more than anything, it's the movie itself that is attractive to voters. Its homogenized entertainment, and it will more than likely take home the statue, especially over an oddball kung fu drama barely anyone saw.
Category: Best Animated Feature. Will It Win?: Uh-uh...How many animated features can be nominated for this award? And do Nicolas Cage and Emma Stone have a lot of friends on the voting committee? While The Croods is serviceable family entertainment, its no masterpiece. It didn't really register with audiences. Its not that great, especially in an era rife with astounding leaps forward in what can be done with animation, the family genre, and the technology itself. Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie is a far better animated movie in the same caveman genre. This is a Flintstones' knock-off that pales in comparison. Pixar was left out in the dust, although Monsters University is a more enjoyable, and technically proficient outing. Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is way funnier. Heck, even Turbo outshined The Croods. Why is it here? It probably has more to do with the DreamWorks banner it comes attached with than the actual movie itself. Look for The Wind Rises to take home the win in honor of Hayao Miyazaki's retirement and his lifetime's body of work. Though, everyone loves Disney's Frozen. That could be the upset.
Category: Best Visual Effects/Best Sound Mixing. Will It Win?: Nope. It's sad, really. The Lord of The Rings: The Return of The King took home the Best Picture Oscar back in 2004, and deservingly so. But now, we're left with these over-long films that feel like more of an obligation than anything else. It was once a fantasy franchise worthy of award esteem and privilege. Now, it just plays like a cheap video game. Its sort of remarkable how bad this movie actually looks, to tell you the truth, and it might be the most shocking inclusion in all of the award nominations announced. Nearly every single movie released nowadays uses CGI and Visual Effects to some degree. Shouldn't the less obvious, unnoticeable entries be included here? Where is Elysium? That's the clear winner in the category, and its not even NOMINATED!!! The win here will go to Tim Webber, Chris Lawrence, Dave Shirk and Neil Corbould for their work on Gravity. Skip Lievsay, Niv Adiri, Christopher Benstead and Chris Munro will likely take home the sound mixing award for that movie, too, though this is one category were The Hobbit feels justified in being included. It sounded pretty good to us.
6 Alone Yet Not Alone
Category: Best Original Song. Will It Win?: Hmm? What the heck is this? We don't even know. Nor have we heard the song 'Alone Yet Not Alone'. Is it good, bad, mediocre? "Let It Go" from Frozen is the sure winner in this category, but maybe the Academy's music branch wanted to clue us all into this Little House on the Prairie-like inspiring true tale of faith and survival that follows the terrifying events Barbara and Regina Leininger, 12 and 9, experienced in 1755 after their family fled a tumultuous Germany to start a new life in Pennsylvania. With Music by Bruce Broughton and lyrics by Dennis Spiegel, we can't even begin to hint at what this is. Maybe it's truly awesome. Maybe it will win? Know Yet Don't Know. Care Yet Don't Care.
Category: Best Visual Effects. Will It Win?: Get real. Star Trek Into Darkness has been voted one of the worst franchise sequels of all time. And its visual effects work is nothing special. We've seen better this past year, for sure. The Best Visual Effects category has given quite a few odd men out on the 2013 cinematic spectrum a chance to tout themselves as an Oscar nominated movie. Does it hold water? Not really. Either you were entertained or disappointed. No amount of putty can fix the hole in this sinking Starship. As we've already mentioned, Gravity, a far superior film in every way, is the sheer lock for a win here.
Category: Best Visual Effects. Will It Win?: Nada. The Marvel Phase Two adventure is a grand piece of pop entertainment, but not necessarily a movie we expect to hear is 'Oscar-nominated'. The work here by Christopher Townsend, Guy Williams, Erik Nash and Dan Sudick is fine, but its no better or worse than what we saw in Man of Steel, which was snubbed, or Pacific Rim, which also failed to garner any attention. This category feels like a real give or take grab bag of garbage, and there's no way Gravity doesn't take home the award. There's just no way. On the bright side, the whole ceremony will be devoted to superheroes like Tony Stark and his Iron Man persona. So he'll still get some love. Don't you fanboys worry!
Category: Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Jonah Hill. Will He Win?: Sorry, Jonah Hill, but you're on your way to what could be a record number of losses. The surprise here isn't the movie, as The Wolf of Wall Street has quickly earned its status as a neo-classic, one that has evenly divided critics and audiences alike. The old men that run the Academy aren't going to vote for the movie simply because they are outraged by its content. Look for Jared Leto to walk home with this trophy for Dallas Buyers Club, as everyone seems smitten with the 30 Seconds to Mars singer, a man who was once ostracized for being a clone of Brad Pitt. He's suddenly come into his own, and people are loving it. He's this year's Jennifer Lawrence. Look for Captain Phillips' Barkhad Abdi to be the upset. While Jonah Hill delivers a fine performance, its not a career best, his work in This Is the End was better...But hey, he was playing himself, and there's no way he'd get nominated for demon sodomy. What's surprising here is that there are at least two dozen other actors the Academy could have chose from the past year, that seem more deserving of this honor. Moneyball set Jonah Hill as an Oscar favorite, and it's clear he's slowly becoming a sort-of mascot for Oscar Ballot pushers who want to seem hip and edgy. Maybe he'll get nominated in the years to come, but we sense that he'll be one of those guys who, in his Sixties, is recognized with an honorary Oscar after losing who knows how many times throughout his career. Its going to take more than fake teeth to win this guy an award. But in all seriousness, Jonah Hill, we're rooting for you. We like you, and we love you. Don't take our shock personally.
Were you surprised to see any of the other films nominated? Aside from these nine, it seemed like a pretty cut and dry assignment for Academy voters this year.