News

Who Are the (Potential) Art Winners Among the 2015 Oscar Nominees?

Timothy Spall as J. M. W. Turner in 'Mr. Turner' (2014), nominated for four Academy Awards (courtesy Sony Classics)
Timothy Spall as J.M.W. Turner in ‘Mr. Turner’ (2014), nominated for four Academy Awards (courtesy Sony Classics)

The nominees for the 2015 Academy Awards are out today, and from Mr. Turner to Finding Vivian Maier, there’s a fair chance of some visual art films taking home gold-plated statuettes and adding Oscar medallions to their DVD cases.

Boy with Apple in The Grand Budapest Hotel is a 21st-century, made-for-film creation (via Guardian)
“Boy with Apple” in The Grand Budapest Hotel (image via the Guardian)

Neither of those films, however, is a big player in the nominees. That would be Wes Anderson’s visual epic The Grand Budapest Hotel, with nine nominations. The film, whose co-screenwriter is artist Hugo Guinness, centers on the theft of a painting called “Boy with Apple,” a fictional Renaissance work referencing temptation, which in a bit of art history in-joking is substituted in the film with a very real and scandalous Egon Schiele watercolor of lesbian lovers, which an outraged Adrian Brody smashes in rage.

The 12-year journey of Boyhood (reviewed for Hyperallergic by Jeremy Polacek) got six nominations, including best picture, director, and actor and actress for Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette (no nomination for the boy himself, Ellar Coltrane).

Still from the making of 'The Bigger Picture' (courtesy the Bigger Picture)
Still from the making of ‘The Bigger Picture,’ nominated for best animated short film (courtesy the Bigger Picture) (click to enlarge)

What is startling, especially considering that this is the year of the powerful Selma (reviewed by Chloë Bass for Hyperallergic), is that only white actors are among the nominees (the first time, The Atlantic notes, that’s happened since 1995, the year of Babe and Braveheart). Even though it gained a best picture nomination, Selma’s only other mention is for its original song, “Glory.” Snubbed are its director Ava DuVernay (who could have been the first black woman ever nominated in that category), David Oyelowo as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the startling cinematography of the “Bloody Sunday” scene.

Another curious case is Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner, a biopic on the English painter J.M.W. Turner. The film did get nominations in cinematography, costume design, music, and production design, but jingoistic fare like American Sniper edged it out in best picture, and Timothy Spall gets no love for his gruff portrayal of the artist.

Tim Burton’s Big Eyes (reviewed by Benjamin Sutton for Hyperallergic), on the Keane kitsch painting fraud, got no nominations at all despite its clear hopes and Amy Adams winning Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy at the Golden Globe Awards this month for her portrayal of Margaret Keane.

Meanwhile, in documentaries, Finding Vivian Maier, about the nanny photographer who’s gained incredible posthumous fame for her unseen work (reviewed by Jillian Steinhauer for Hyperallergic), gets a nomination, as does the Wim Wenders film The Salt of the Earth, on Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado’s journey to the margins of the world. Citizenfour, Laura Poitras’s documentary about Edward Snowden (reviewed by Julia Friedman for Hyperallergic), is also included. Notably missing is Art and Craft by Sam Cullman and Jennifer Grausman, a deft portrait of eccentric art forger Mark Landis (reviewed by me for Hyperallergic).

And in the shorts, the live action film La Lampe Au Beurre De Yak / Butter Lamp, about a young wandering photographer and his assistant visiting Tibetan nomadic families, along with the animated The Bigger Picture by Daisy Jacobs and Christopher Hees, which beautifully incorporates painting on the walls of a real home, both get attention for their visually arresting work. Next month at the February 22 extravaganza, we’ll find out which films get to take home the golden statuettes.

View all the nominees for the 87th Academy Awards on the Oscars website.

comments (0)