You're a rascal, Oscar. And you lived up to that reputation Thursday when the 86th Academy Awards nominations were announced.
As usual there were a few surprises and head-scratchers on the list. Here are some jaw-droppers:
- Strong support for “The Wolf of Wall Street”: Martin Scorsese's divisive, rude drama about the excesses of Wall Street copped a surprising number of top-shelf nominations, including best picture, actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), director and, in the biggest shocker, supporting actor (Jonah Hill). There's been a huge backlash to the raunchy, expletitive-laden rebel-rouser, and that's unfortunate but understandable. Certainly, it's DiCaprio's finest hour, and the film boasts one blistering-hot screenplay (also nominated). So let's give huge props to the Academy for recognizing what, in my opinion, is one of the best and most raucous films of 2013. Wouldn't it be a corker if it actually won?
- “Monsters University”: Poor Pixar. The Emeryville-based animated titan failed to shoot to the top of the animated class this year, not clinching a nom. in a category they so often dominate. Instead, another big box-office draw “Despicable Me 2”³ demonstrated how it appeals to minions.
- “Philomena”: The absorbing fact-based drama about a woman (Judi Dench) collaborating with a journalist (Steve Coogan) to find a son she was forced to give away is an audience favorite. And justly so. It's a very, very good film, but it seemed like a best-picture long shot.
- “Dallas Buyers Club”: When you hear someone discuss this based-on-a-true-story drama about an HIV-positive man's renegade prescription drug operation, the attention focuses mostly on the stunning performances and weight loss of stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto, both of whom rightfully landed Oscar nominations. The superlatives aren't nearly as loud for the movie itself. I recently saw “Dallas” again, and think it's deserving.
- Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper: “American Hustle's” main guys with kooky hair faced stiff competition in their categories: actor and supporting actor, respectively. And while the women in the cast — Amy Adams and Jennifer Lawrence (both nominees) — upstaged the boys, Bale and Cooper were awfully good, and are surfing the “Hustle” wave. Sorry, Jeremy Renner. You were impressive in a smaller role, but will be sitting this one out.
Who will win? What film will take home the big prize? Find out Sunday, March 2.