Monday, January 22, 2018
Movies

Gray and gold are the hot colors in this year's Oscar nominations

Everything old is gold again after Tuesday's announcement of Academy Awards nominations, with two movies set in cinema's silent era making the most noise.

Martin Scorsese's fanciful Hugo, with its third act focused upon film pioneer Georges Melies, led all films with 11 nominations including best picture and director. The Artist, an affectionate replica of black-and-white, wordless storytelling, was close behind with 10, fully half in major categories.

Makes you wonder if the academy might dump Billy Crystal as host if Charlie Chaplin were still alive.

Beyond those faux vintage frontrunners, nominations for the 84th annual back-patting extravaganza known as the Oscars showed a decidedly gray streak.

Take young buck Jonah Hill out of the supporting actor equation and the group's average age of nominees is 71. Best director and original screenplay nominee Woody Allen (76) remembers when creaky dramas like best picture nominees War Horse and The Help were cutting edge stuff, and The Tree of Life was released as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Some youth was served along the way, earning a measure of Hollywood Boulevard street cred. Hill's nomination for Moneyball may ensure that we'll never see that sequel to The Sitter that nobody asked for. Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) struck a blow for lowbrow comedy with a supporting actress nod. And Rooney Mara's best actress nomination for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo could make kinky piercings the trendy red carpet fashion accessory.

We'll find out Feb. 26 when the show is televised live from the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. For now, here are a few thoughts that popped into my head after Oscar nominations were announced:

SNUBS AND SUBS

The best actor race contains two notable surprises. Many observers predicted Leonardo DiCaprio's J. Edgar Hoover impersonation and current "it" guy Michael Fassbender's full frontal sex addict in Shame would make the list.

Instead, the academy nominated first-timer Demian Bichir (TV's Weeds) for his tenderly pensive portrayal of an undocumented immigrant in A Better Life. The fifth slot went to Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), who was snubbed by the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild. The race still looks like George Clooney's (The Descendants) to lose.

Breaks from conventional wisdom were relatively minor in other acting categories. Best actress nominee Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) likely nudged out Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), who has a Screen Actors Guild nomination for consolation.

Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) got the supporting actor nod that many expected to go to Albert Brooks (Drive) after a run of critics awards. Among supporting actresses, Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs) was a toss-up choice; Shailene Woodley (The Descendants) or Carey Mulligan (Shame) would fit as nicely.

NO MOUSE IN THE HOUSE

For the first time since the Oscar category for best animated feature film was created in 2001, neither Disney nor its subsidiary Pixar are included among the nominees. Academy voters were rightfully unimpressed with Cars 2 and Gnomeo & Juliet. Not even Elton John's Golden Globe finalist Hello, Hello from the latter film was nominated, while only two songs made the Oscar cut — a record low.

DreamWorks earns animation studio bragging rights this year with three feature nominees: Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Puss in Boots.

More surprising than Disney/Pixar's absence is the inclusion of two 'toons I've honestly never heard of.

A Cat in Paris is a French fantasy about a feline named Dino leading a double life. By day he's the pet of a police officer's daughter. By night he's literally a cat burglar stealing jewelry. Chico & Rita is a Spanish production set in 1948 Cuba, where a piano player and a singer fall in love to bolero rhythms.

Both nominees are handled by obscure distributors without Disney or DreamWorks' bankroll or connection with theaters. We'll let moviegoers know if and when Tampa Bay opening dates are set.

DOG EAT DOG

The most amusing tidbit from Tuesday morning's TV happy chat about the Oscars concerned a rivalry brewing between canine co-stars, stoked by an best supporting actor nominee.

At a recent Newsweek photo shoot, Christopher Plummer (Beginners) reportedly balked at posing with Uggie, a Jack Russell terrier and scene stealer from The Artist. Plummer had his own four-legged co-star in Beginners, a rescued Jack Russell named Cosmo who, unlike Uggie, conveys thoughts with subtitles.

"We had the better dog," Plummer reportedly sniffed. Uggie couldn't be reached for comment.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.

Comments
6 new rules aim to prevent another Oscar envelope flub

6 new rules aim to prevent another Oscar envelope flub

LOS ANGELES — After taking responsibility for the epic best picture flub at the Oscars last year, Tim Ryan of PwC got down to business. He grilled the partners who made the gaffe, then personally reached out to the dozens of people affected by it: Th...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Extraordinary heroism deserves a less ordinary movie than ‘12 Strong’

Extraordinary heroism deserves a less ordinary movie than ‘12 Strong’

After 16 years of combat and counting, the war in Afghanistan gets a happy movie ending in 12 Strong, a thick slice of patriot porn.Based on a true story, 12 Strong rightfully celebrates the first U.S. Special Forces unit battling Taliban forces shel...
Published: 01/18/18
Updated: 01/19/18
What’s in theaters this week: ‘Call Me by Your Name,’ ‘Phantom Thread,’ ‘12 Strong’

What’s in theaters this week: ‘Call Me by Your Name,’ ‘Phantom Thread,’ ‘12 Strong’

OPENING FRIDAY:CALL ME BY YOUR NAMEAnother young man’s summer he’ll never forget is the core of Call Me By Your Name, a movie to likewise treasure. Luca Guadagnino’s coming out-of-age drama is a rare exception to familiar romantic rules.This film’s s...
Published: 01/17/18
Why ‘Phantom Thread’ is a bad fit as Daniel Day-Lewis’ final movie

Why ‘Phantom Thread’ is a bad fit as Daniel Day-Lewis’ final movie

Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread is passionless window-shop cinema, each static tableau lovingly arranged for display and easy dusting. Its centerpiece is a mannequin, albeit played by Daniel Day-Lewis, whose gift for keeping anything interestin...
Published: 01/16/18
Updated: 01/17/18
Coming-of-age love story ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is a rare treasure

Coming-of-age love story ‘Call Me By Your Name’ is a rare treasure

Another young man’s summer he’ll never forget is the core of Call Me By Your Name, a movie to likewise treasure. Luca Guadagnino’s coming out-of-age drama is a rare exception to familiar romantic rules.This film’s same-sex summer fling shared by a te...
Published: 01/16/18
Liam Neeson’s ‘The Commuter’ is terribly pedestrian action

Liam Neeson’s ‘The Commuter’ is terribly pedestrian action

Liam Neeson’s transportation troubles continue in The Commuter, ironically one of his more pedestrian action efforts.This time Neeson’s misshapen nose for danger leads him onto a train, after Non-Stop air travel, Run(ning) All Night and automobiles (...
Published: 01/10/18
Updated: 01/12/18
‘The Post’ lacks urgency in favor of saintly typecasting for Streep and Hanks

‘The Post’ lacks urgency in favor of saintly typecasting for Streep and Hanks

Steven Spielberg’s The Post is a fake news movie, a true story told phony to further an agenda. Some viewers won’t notice since Spielberg’s agenda includes defending First Amendment rights, celebrating female empowerment and sticki...
Published: 01/08/18
Here’s what Oscar voters will be looking at after the Golden Globes

Here’s what Oscar voters will be looking at after the Golden Globes

A fashion blackout and stirring calls to end sexism made afterthoughts of Sunday night’s Golden Globe winners. Just when the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s choices mean more than they have in years.Timing is everything during movie awards seas...
Published: 01/08/18
What’s in theaters this week: ‘The Commuter,’ ‘Proud Mary,’ ‘Paddington 2,’ ‘The Post’

What’s in theaters this week: ‘The Commuter,’ ‘Proud Mary,’ ‘Paddington 2,’ ‘The Post’

OPENING FRIDAY:THE COMMUTERLiam Neeson has a particular set of MTA tickets in The Commuter (PG-13), tickets he acquired over a very long career selling insurance in New York. Tickets making rush hour a nightmare for people like him. This seat is Take...
Published: 01/03/18
Updated: 01/10/18
10 new movies to look forward to in 2018

10 new movies to look forward to in 2018

OPENING FRIDAY: INSIDIOUS: THE LAST KEY Don’t worry, the first wide release of 2018 isn’t a sign of things to come. It’s the horror sequel Insidious: The Last Key (PG-13), Chapter 4 in the paranormal activity franchise that went d...
Updated one month ago