Oscar review part one

By Jacob Pierce | @JacobPierce1_DE | Daily Egyptian

The Oscars are finally here. While the award show represents what many in the industry consider top tier filmmaking, people always criticize every pick the academy makes. The award show is known for being both a high mark in the industry and for being out of touch. Here is my review of the 2014 nominees.

Actor in a Leading Role: Bradley Cooper in “American Sniper,” Steve Carrell in “Foxcatcher,” Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Imitation Game,” Michael Keaton “Birdman,” Eddie Redmayne in “The Theory of Everything.”

The Actor in a Leading Role award has two glaring holes in its lineup. While both Cooper and Cumberbatch are phenomenal actors, Jake Gyllenhaal from “Nightcrawler” and David Oyelowo from “Selma” inhabit their roles at a deeper level. Cooper and Cumberbatch are the uncommon elements in the race for Actor in a Leading Role because their acting lacks the extreme believability present in the performances of their fellow nominees. Everyone from Carrell to Redmayne take eccentric and flawed characters, grab their skin and become them. On a more positive note, it is wonderful to see Keaton nominated for his almost biographical role, setting a career high.

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Actress in a Leading Role: Marion Cotillard in “Two Days, One Night,” Reese Witherspoon in “Wild,” Julianne Moore in “Still Alice,” Rosamund Pike in “Gone Girl,” Felicity Jones in “The Theory of Everything.”

The Actress in a Leading Role category is one of the strongest of 2014’s nominees. While some will argue Jennifer Aniston was robbed of an Oscar for a career high role in “Cake,” everyone here performed just as well. Witherspoon easily takes Aniston’s place, “Wild” being her Magnum Opus. Pike lands “Gone Girl,” its only Oscar nomination, which serves as a bittersweet victory for the film. Her portrayal of the ultimate sociopath, along with David Fincher’s directing and Gillian Flynn’s writing, gives the picture its uneasy tone.

Actor in a Supporting Role: J.K Simmons in “Whiplash,” Edward Norton in “Birdman,” Ethan Hawke in “Boyhood,” Robert Duvall in “The Judge,” Mark Ruffalo in “Foxcatcher.”

Another strong group of nominees, they may even have a better foundation than the category for Actress in a Leading Role. No one was forgotten. Acting students could take each of these actors’ performances and use it as a how-to guide for becoming a top-tier actor. A clear leader in the pack is hard to distinguish. Everyone involved, excluding Duvall, has never won an Oscar. And while Duvall is a former Oscar winner, his performance comes with an asterisk. “The Judge” is mediocre at best, which could overrule his heartbreaking performance.

Actress in a Supporting Role: Patricia Arquette in “Boyhood,” Emma Stone in “Birdman,” Merly Streep in “Into the Woods,” Keira Knightley in “The Imitation Game,” Laura Dern in “Wild.”

No one wants to anger the Meryl Streep fan club. The word legendary does not even start to describe her acting prowess. The nomination for her role as Witch in “Into the Woods,” is beyond ridiculous. The film is a decent movie and her performance was probably the best portion of it, but it was not Oscar worthy. It brings into question whether the academy nominated her for her performance or just for the sake of nominating her. Aside from the Streep problem, every actress brings their own piece to the puzzle. Another great selection.

Just looking at the performing side of the Oscars, the round up appears to be solid. Problems are quite evident throughout, many of the past year’s great actors, actresses or films going unnoticed. Stay tuned the next Oscar review, which will take a look at various nominations for technical film aspects.

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