On Sunday, February 22, Hollywood will honor its own with awards, tributes, speeches, and performances at the Academy Awards. Often the awards go to movies and performances that are more particularly appreciated by Hollywood insiders than the masses. For instance, the top movie of 2014, judged by domestic grosses as of this writing, was The Hunger Games: Mockingjay—Part 1, but it didn’t get any nominations, not even for the popular soundtrack song, “Yellow Flicker Beat.”
As far as the Best Picture nominees go, American Sniper stands at #3, but you have to go all the way down to #44 to find the next Best Picture nod (The Imitation Game), and two of them (Whiplash, Boyhood) aren’t even in the top 100. These smaller scope works of art don’t find the broad audiences of a summer blockbuster. Interestingly, a couple of spiritually-themed movies made the top 50: Noah and Heaven Is for Real.
In spite of the divergence between what people are willing to pay to see and what actually gets nominated for Best Picture, I still find it an interesting race. Michael Keaton turned in the performance of his career in Birdman, as did J. K. Simmons in Whiplash, two films that are finely crafted but have bleak perspectives on humanity. The Grand Budapest Hotel is a masterpiece of design, but its quirky, dark humor isn’t for everyone. Patricia Arquette and the other stars of Boyhood brought honest realism to that unique filmed-over-12-years experience.
If it were left to me, I’d give the Best Picture award to Selma. Not because every single piece of the picture was perfect, but because the overall experience was the most powerful for me. No other movie this year inspired and challenged me quite the same way. Perhaps these criteria explain why I haven’t been invited into the Academy as of yet.
Lots of awards are handed out beyond Best Picture, however, and you might like to know a little more about those movies. Below you can find a list of Banner-reviewed movies that have been nominated for one award or another; each title is a link to the review.
Big Hero 6: Animated Feature Film
Boyhood: Actor in a Supporting Role, Actress in a Supporting Role, Best Picture, Directing, Film Editing, Writing (Original Screenplay)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Visual Effects
Guardians of the Galaxy: Makeup and Hairstyling, Visual Effects
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: Sound Editing
How to Train Your Dragon 2: Animated Feature Film
Ida: Cinematography, Foreign Language Film
Interstellar: Music (Original Score), Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects
Into the Woods: Actress in a Supporting Role, Costume Design, Production Design
The Lego Movie: Music (Original Song)
Malificent: Costume Design
Selma: Best Picture, Music (Original Song)
Unbroken: Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing
X-Men: Days of Future Past: Visual Effects