The Oscar nominations were announced this morning. “La La Land” led all films. That wasn’t a surprise, though the number of nods it earned probably was: 14, tying it with “All About Eve” (an actors’ showcase) and “Titanic” (a massive blockbuster) for the most nominations by any film in history.
I found this out the way most everybody else did — online, at home.
This is the first time in 16 years I haven’t been at CNN Center to actually watch the announcement. When I was there, the day (and day before) had a rhythm: put together a list of possibilities, write an advance story about the possibilities, wake up early on Tuesday morning (though not as early as the folks in Los Angeles, where the major nominations were announced at 5:38 a.m.), get ready, and then write as fast as I could.
I had two goals — to get it right and to beat The Associated Press. If my first story was out before 9 a.m. ET — which, dammit, it was — I felt pretty good … though I usually spent the rest of the morning updating it a couple times to add comments from nominees, notations on surprises and whatever colorful trivia I could shoehorn in there.
This year, away from CNN, I didn’t have to wake up early, nor did I have to handicap everything beforehand (with tons of help from Tom O’Neil’s terrific Goldderby.com site). Still, it felt weird.
Anyway, the show must go on. This morning, my able friend Lisa France handled the honors for CNN — from Los Angeles, no less. (I never got to go to Los Angeles for the nominations!) Ironically, this year the Academy switched tacks and announced everything online starting at 5:18 a.m. local time, instead of airing the usual live televised scrum.
As for the nominations, it’s an interesting year. Of the best picture nominees, none have cracked $100 million domestically, though “Arrival,” “La La Land” and “Hidden Figures” (and maybe “Hacksaw Ridge”) will probably get there. The lack of highly praised blockbusters has been an ongoing debate for the Oscars ever since “The Dark Knight” missed the cut and the Academy expanded the list to a possible 10 nominees … and even then, such films as “The Force Awakens” didn’t get in, either.
(Keep in mind, the original “Star Wars” did, as did “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Jaws” and “The Towering Inferno.” Of course, those were the days when a film like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” could be a huge box-office hit. These days, former box-office king “The Godfather” — three hours! lots of unknown actors! period piece! dim lighting! released in March! — would be lucky to keep up with a special-effects extravaganza at the box office. Hell, it would probably be a Netflix limited series.)
I’m disappointed Hugh Grant didn’t get a nomination for his work in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” but glad that Ruth Negga earned a spot for “Loving.” It’s also nice that “The Lobster” got a screenplay nomination, and I really have to catch up with “Moonlight.” (Yes, I don’t get out much.)
I’m sure ABC is wondering how the ratings will be. This year’s broadcast appears to lack a horse race — “La La Land” is the odds-on favorite to win many of its categories — or a blockbuster for casual fans to cheer for. And Jimmy Kimmel is hosting. He’s already promised the lowest-rated Oscars in history.
That may be true. But I’m still a fan. Even when I’m not waking up early on Oscar nomination morning.