Oscars 2015: From the best snubbee to the most shameless campaign slogan

The road to tomorrow night’s Oscars has been as long and eventful as it ever is. Here are the high and low lights from the campaign trail

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The Independent Culture

The jockeying and tipping is nearly over for another year, as the annual awards race comes to a close tomorrow night at Hollywood’s Dolby Theatre. But before the little gold men are handed out, there’s just time to reflect on the highs and lows of the three-month campaign trail.

Here, for your consideration, are our awards season awards:

Best nominee: Patricia Arquette

Less in honour of her heart-breaking Boyhood performance than her inexhaustible charm in doing the awards rounds. She has embodied the down-to-earth spirit of Richard Linklater’s film. She has used interviews to offer right-on thoughts on everything from Hollywood’s treatment of older women to the speculation over Bruce Jenner’s gender status. And she name-checked John Boorman’s Excalibur in her Baftas speech. Now bring on the blue-chip film career she’s deserved since True Romance.

Best snubbee: David Oyelowo

What to do when you don’t receive that widely expected Oscar nomination? Meekly insist that “it’s all about the work anyway”? Hell no! “Yeah, it bothers me,” said the Selma actor when asked about his, and director Ava DuVernay’s, omissions. “It bothers me because it’s the best reviewed film of the year. It’s a film that doesn’t direct or act itself. It bothers me because it’s Dr King and I want him celebrated.” Less sore loser than straight shooter, in our book.

 

The ‘Norbit’ award for most damaging nominee performance: Eddie Redmayne

A prize so-named in reference to Eddie Murphy’s unfortunate 2007 awards run, when his Best Supporting Actor prospects for Dreamgirls were thought to have been irreparably damaged by his virtuosically awful three-character acting in family comedy Norbit. This year, two leading nominees were similarly unlucky to find themselves in prestige-hurting releases in the run up to final voting: Julianne Moore in long-on-the-shelf fantasy Seventh Son and Eddie Redmayne in the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending. Reviews suggest Moore at least gives good camp as a vengeful witch, so Redmayne edges it with a performance acclaimed as “profoundly terrible”.

Least original voting board: The Academy

Oh yes, this year’s Oscar noms have been as flavoursome as wallpaper paste. Dispiriting to varying degrees were the poor showings for Selma and Gone Girl; the absence of non-white actors, and women writers and directors; and the predictable Meryl Streep nomination in the unofficial “Best Meryl Streep performance” sub-category. And then Morten Tyldum over Ava DuVernay and David Fincher as Best Director for determinedly conventional, jumped-up telly biopic The Imitation Game? Safe choices have rarely been so sick and wrong.

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Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken

Worst fall at the first hurdle: ‘Unbroken’

Thanks to its director’s star power, the awards hype for Angelina Jolie’s Second World War epic cranked up sometime back during the Cold War. But when this long-fancied Best Picture contender was finally unveiled, it turned out to be too awards-baiting for actual awards – which is to say so lusting for acclaim in its stately self-importance that it would have been unseemly for voters to gratify it with an awards-gasm. Duly, it received no Golden Globe nominations and just three, technical Oscar nods:still, it made a lot of money and Ange can console herself about her place in the ranks of actor-filmmakers by watching Ryan Gosling’s Lost River .

Most unexpected surge: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

To say Wes Anderson is an acquired taste is an understatement. But even those who think him a hipster-twee-preppy-manic-dream-pixie-privileged-Wasp-charlatan (delete as appropriate) would find it difficult to begrudge the gathering awards momentum of a director and film so obviously idiosyncratic. Released way back in March 2014, it’s gone from peripheral contender to genuine frontrunner, with five Baftas and nine Oscar nominations to its name.

Lamest backlash: ‘Boyhood’

A critical backlash is mandatory for major contenders, but this year’s attempts to knock Boyhood were especially strained, including a recent New York Times piece that accused it of copying the timelapse format of Michael Apted’s Up documentary series; this despite the fact that (as backlashers to the backlash have already pointed out) Linklater.has acknowledged Apted as an inspiration for his work.

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Bob Hoskins died last year (Getty Images)

Worst omission: Bob Hoskins

Bad autocue reading, Stephen Hawking impressions, Cuba Gooding Jnr … this year’s Baftas had it all, though the greatest opprobrium was reserved for the exclusion of Hoskins from its “In Memoriam” roll call. The next day, Bafta explained that Hoskins had already been honoured at last year’s TV awards, but the omission still felt strange, given that Hoskins’ big-screen career was more celebrated than his small-screen one, and tactless, given, as David Baddiel tweeted, that it “seemed symbolic of the erasure in modern times of the working-class actor”.

Worst red carpet appearance: The Mani-Cam

The E channel’s infamous manicure camera, designed to reduce Hollywood’s leading ladies to mere fingernails, seemed more unwelcome than ever this year, as a succession of stars, including Julianne Moore, Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon, treated it with the contempt it deserved. Now how long before someone goes full-blown Mano-a-Mani?

Worst attempt at a black-tie twist: Serge Pizzorno from Kasabian

We feel for you, Serge: how many times have we gone to posh events wanting to escape the tyranny of the tuxedo? But turning up at the Baftas wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Black Tie” was less rock’n’roll subversion, more River Island sale.

Most sought-after ceremony footage: Kristin Scott Thomas watching Kasabian

Meanwhile inside reports suggest that KST’s face in response to the Leicester rockers’ performance was a highlight of the evening. Bafta, please provide visual corroboration immediately.

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Benedict Cumberbatch is Google's favourite of the Best Actor nominees

Most shameless campaign slogan: ‘The Imitation Game’

“Honor the Man, Honor the Film” was the campaign ads tagline chosen by Harvey Weinstein for his Alan Turing biopic: six words whose self-righteousness might have been less odious had the film itself honoured the man by not down-playing his sexuality.

Best one-liner: Chris Rock/Mike Leigh

We loved Mike Leigh’s deliciously unsentimental “May you all rot in hell!” sign-off to his Bafta fellowship speech, addressed to all those who had refused him funding. Equally masterful was Chris Rock’s comment, when picking up an award from the National Board of Review for new film Top Five, on his producer Scott Rudin’s notorious emails about President Barack Obama’s viewing habits, as revealed in the Sony hack leaks. “Scott Rudin is not a racist,” he said. “Scott Rudin hates everybody.”

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Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted the Golden Globes this year (Getty Images)

Special achievement: Tina Fey and Amy Poehler

Awards hosting is the most poisonous of chalices. So, it would be remiss not to pay tribute to the comedy duo’s triumphant three-year stint presenting the Golden Globes, which saw them bring just the right mix of warmth, bite and genuine funnies to the podium and so make the Globes memorable for more than its sometimes barmy nominations.

Most lasting memory: The ‘American Sniper’ juggernaut

Tomorrow night’s Best Picture battle may seem to have come down to Boyhood vs Birdman, but when those memories have faded, the 2015 awards race will instead go down as the one in which a simplistic tribute to American military accomplishment not only picked up six nominations but became one of the most commercially successful Oscar nominees of all time. On second thoughts, maybe let’s just focus on the fingernails after all tonight, hey?

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