Oscars Lighten Up With ‘Birdman’ and ‘Grand Budapest’

Source: Fox Searchlight
Source: Fox Searchlight

The nominations for this year’s Academy Awards have finally been announced, with the Academy taking an unusual approach and granting two comedic films the most nominations. Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman and Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel topped the nominations with nine a piece, including best picture and best director. Both films are much more comedic than the movies the Academy typically chooses to honor.

The Oscars have been criticized for years for ignoring comedy films as if being funny means a movie isn’t making serious achievements in cinema, but it seems that Anderson and Iñárritu’s movies have finally forced the Academy to reconsider that close-minded philosophy.

The films have received rave reviews since their releases and are already major award-winners. Both Birdman and The Grand Budapest Hotel took home Golden Globes in the Musical or Comedy category. Grand Budapest won best picture in that category while Birdman star Michael Keaton won best actor. Iñárritu also took home the trophy for best screenplay. The Globes are considered the awards ceremony where comedy films actually stand the chance of winning an award, as the separate categories for drama and comedy ensures that dramatic films aren’t given an advantage simply for being more serious.

This year’s Oscar ceremony stands to be different for granting so many nominations to these two comedies. Aside from the Best Picture and Best Director nominations, Birdman came away with several acting noms as well. Keaton was nominated for Best Actor, Edward Norton for Best Supporting Actor, and Emma Stone for Best Supporting Actress.

Grand Budapest picked up more nominations on the technical side, such as costume design, film editing, makeup, and production design, recognizing the talented team effort that goes into realizing Wes Anderson’s signature visual style. Both films were nominated for achievement in cinematography and best original screenplay as well.

While it was expected that both films would come away with some nods, as they were both considered by critics to be two of the best movies of last year, it’s surprising that two comedies were the most nominated movies. The comedies came out over more typical Oscar fare like the biopic The Imitation Game, which had eight nominations, the Clint Eastwood-directed Iraq War drama American Sniper, which had six nominations, and Richard Linklater’s 12-year-in-the-making coming-of-age story Boyhood, which also came away with six noms. Boyhood was also a strong performer at the Globes, taking home the award for best drama film and best director.

Of course it’s possible that despite all those nominations Birdman and Grand Budapest will walk away from the Oscars empty-handed if the Academy chooses to hand trophies to more typical Oscar material. But if either of them happens to win that Best Picture Oscar, it could signal that the Academy is becoming more open-minded to comedy films.

Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS

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