Three black actors are in the Oscar race -- two for 12 Years a Slave and one for Captain Phillips. Three black people up for Academy Awards. That's three more black people than I saw in place as guest entertainment contributors discussing the nominations this morning on Today, CBS This Morning and Good Morning America. With all the talk of 12 Years a Slave and The Butler, not one African-American movie journalist/film critic was present to talk about two top films focused on the African-American experience. It was like a repeat of last year when two top Oscar contenders were Beasts of the Southern Wild and Django Unchained. No nominations for The Butler. Ten nominations for American Hustle. Nine Oscar nominations for Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave.
In my August 2013 blog piece, "Bobby Cannavale in BLUE JASMINE," I wrote that I felt Sally Hawkins was ripe for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination as Jasmine's sister. I am thrilled the Academy felt the same way.
Ironically, an actress who has given several excellent performances in Woody Allen classics has never been nominated at all in her long movie career. Mia Farrow was never nominated for her shining and versatile work in The Purple Rose of Cairo, Radio Days, Alice, Broadway Danny Rose or Hannah and Her Sisters. I would've mentioned that if I was on one of today's network morning shows. Look at Farrow's stunning dramatic work in Roman Polanski's 1968 modern-day horror story, Rosemary's Baby. Follow that with her Judy Holliday-ish comedy turn as the dumb blonde in Radio Days.
On ABC, CBS and NBC, the entertainment contributors talked about today's Oscar "snubs." Oprah Winfrey and Forest Whitaker didn't get nominated. Tom Hanks didn't get nominated. Robert Reford didn't get nominated. That's true. But... at least each one got nominated in the past. Oprah was nominated for The Color Purple. Forest won Best Actor for The Last King of Scotland. Tom Hanks won a historic two consecutive Oscars for Best Actor. Robert Reford won Best Director for Ordinary People, Best Picture of 1980. Oprah Winfrey was bestowed an honorary Oscar for her humanitarian work.
As I've blogged before... Edward G. Robinson, Joel McCrea, Donald Sutherland, Richard Gere, Dennis Quaid, France's Jean-Louis Trintignant (A Man and A Woman, Z, The Conformist, Amour) actress/director/screenwriter Ida Lupino and Mia Farrow do not have one single Oscar nomination to their credits after decades of solid work. The fact that Andy Griffith never got a nomination, especially in the Best Actor category for A Face in the Crowd, leaves me mystified. He gave one of the most blistering, most memorable performances in a 1950s American film. He burned up the screen as the power hungry, influential, two-faced national TV star in that classic drama years before he gained great fame as a beloved TV sitcom character. If you've never seen that 1957 movie, rent the DVD as soon as you can. Andy Griffith was one talented Broadway, film and TV actor.
Here's a question: Through the 1930s up to 1945, there were 10 nominees for Best Picture. Then it went down to 5. A few years ago, it went back up to 10. However, now that we can have 10 nominees, we've been getting 9. We got 9 today. Why aren't we getting a movie like The Butler, Fruitvale Station or All Is Lost as the 10th nominated film? Many entertainment reporters this morning were surprised that Robert Redford did not get a Best Actor Oscar nomination for All Is Lost. That movie got terrific reviews. Redford hit the high seas in All Is Lost. Hanks did the same as Captain Phillips. Neither got nominated. Just like in some lovemaking, "the little man in the boat" was overlooked.
If you want some laughs this weekend, I've got a DVD double feature tip for you. Steve Coogan got two Oscar nominations today. His production, Philomena, is up for Best Picture. He's up for Best Adapted Screenplay. He wrote Judi Dench to a Best Actress Oscar nomination as Philomena. See Coogan as the clueless 1980s actor whose Hollywood career went only as far as the lead role in a national commercial for a herpes medication. This loser is now teaching high school drama in Arizona. He writes and directs plays that get panned by the school newspaper's teen drama critic. Even the teacher's wife thinks he's a loser. The students think he's a dork.
Amy Poehler, Catherine Keener and a very funny Elisabeth Shue co-star. Shue plays herself as an actress whose career fell so flat after her Oscar nomination that she had to take a job as a nurse in Arizona. Shue was a Best Actress nominee for 1995's Leaving Las Vegas. I've been a fan of British comic actor Steve Coogan for quite some time. 2008's Hamlet 2 shows him at his quirky, irreverent best.
Kinky Boots, a fun British comedy, was turned into one of the biggest musical comedy hits now playing on Broadway. It was a top Tony winner. Did you know that Best Actor nominee, Chiwetel Ejiofor, originated the role of the wise drag queen performer who helps a poor town get back on its feet financially ... with the help of high heels?
In closing, here's how unpredictable Oscar nominations are. Bad Grandpa, from the people who gave us MTV's Jackass, got one Oscar nomination. The Butler got nothing.
That's Hollywood. The Oscars are handed out Sunday, March 2nd, on ABC.