By SHARON HOFFMANN
The Kansas City Star
In a breakout year, only 12 Years a Slave got much of any recognition. Lee Daniels The Butler (Oprah!), Fruitvale Station (Octavia Spencer!) came up empty. Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom is up for original song, but thats more a nod to U2 than the film.
Saving Mr. Banks
This tale of the making of Mary Poppins seemed a good prospect for best picture after all, Hollywood loves a film about Hollywood (see The Artist). But it wasnt Oscars cup of tea. Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson & Co. came up empty. The only nomination was for original score.
Inside Llewyn Davis
And here we thought the academy loved the Coen brothers. Yet their downbeat folk music saga Inside Llewyn Davis, so well-crafted, was ignored in all but a couple of technical categories. Though Oscar Isaac was brilliant in the title role, maybe his character was just too unlikable.
The two-time Oscar winner had two more chances that got spurned: for his riveting performance as Captain Phillips and for channeling Walt Disney (and giving a heartfelt monologue about his Kansas City childhood) in Saving Mr. Banks. The last time Hanks was even nominated was for Cast Away in 2001.
In All Is Lost, the veteran actor delivered perhaps his greatest performance while barely uttering a word. Apparently, Bruce Dern got the one and only old-man slot. Redford will have to content himself with his only previous acting nomination, for 1973s The Sting.
Ron Howards thrilling Formula One ride was shut out. If Daniel Bruhl as racing ace Niki Lauda couldnt get a supporting actor nod, the movie at least deserved recognition for its visual spectacle.
Scarlett Johansson and Joaquin Phoenix
Her is basking in five nominations, including best picture, but none for acting. As lonely Theodore, Phoenix bares his soul. Johansson never appears, but through her voice alone, she creates an intimate, endearing character. Obviously the academy just cant bring itself to reward unconventional performances (see Andy Serkis in Planet of the Apes, The Lord of the Rings, anything).
It would have been sweet to honor the late, great actor for his play-against-type performance in the romance Enough Said. After all, the academy has bequeathed seven posthumous acting nominations and awarded two (Peter Finch for Network and Heath Ledger for The Dark Knight). Not this time.
How can this be? For years, Pixar has dominated the feature animation category, but it was shut out this year. Sulley and Mike, you deserve better!
August: Osage County
Well, of course, Meryl Streep was nominated, just as the sun rises each day. And Julia Roberts is in for supporting actress. Though critics were divided, this dysfunctional dramedy was on the short list for best picture and screenplay nominations, too. Nope.