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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

A Few Thoughts on the Oscar Nominations

The nominees for the 84th Annual Academy awards were announced this morning. Check out the full list here, and some quick reactions from me below.

The Magic Number is Nine
The big question going into the morning was how many best picture nominees there would be. The new rules put into effect last year allow for a variable number of nominees, depending on how many receive at least 5% of first place votes. Most pundits had been predicting anywhere from five to seven, but we ended up with a surprising nine.

Also, Eleven
Which is the total number of Oscars Hugo is nominated for, including Best Picture and Best Director, making it the film with the most nominations, despite failing to receive any acting nominations. It is followed closely by The Artist, with ten, which puts Hugo back into the Best Picture discussion alongside the current front runners, The Artist and The Descendants

And Two
There are only two, literally two, nominees for Best Original Song, a sad commentary on the state of songs written for movies, which makes this category an Oscar pool gimme. The two nominated songs are "Real in Rio" from Rio and "Man or a Muppet", which was my favorite of several great songs from The Muppets.

Surprise!
The biggest surprise was the nomination of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a film which has thus far done poorly at the box office (even by Oscar standards) and was considered dead in the water by most Oscar pundits. Of the other eight nominees, none were terribly surprising, all having been in the discussion to some effect (it was always just a matter of how many would be nominated). Also, I expect this to be the film title that launches the most headlines/bon mots/Billy Crystal jokes.

More surprises in the Best Support Actor category, as Max Von Sydow rode a wave of apparent Academy support for Extremely Loud to a nomination, while Nick Nolte surprised some pundits and pleased others by scoring a nomination for Warriors, a film I've heard is much better than I'd ever have believed it to be (which was not very good at all). Take your pick as to which one edged out Albert Brooks' performance in Drive, which was on most pre-nomination lists, not that it matters, since this has been Christopher Plummer's award to lose for most of awards season.

David Fincher failed to score a nomination for directing The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, edged by Terence Malick, though Tattoo's Rooney Mara did nab a somewhat surprising Best Actress nomination, taking the spot of David Bowie lookalike Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Demi├ín Bichir received a Best Actor nomination for A Better Life, taking the spot most pundits had slated for Michael Fassbender in Shame. While it's unlikely Fassbender would have won, given the subject matter and the Academy's inherent stuffiness, the lack of a nomination is surprising. 

It's Funny Ha-Ha 
Comedy makes a rare appearance at this year's Oscars, as Melissa McCarthy continues her rock star year by receiving an expected but still surprising Best Supporting Actress nod for Bridesmaids, and the film's screenplay was nominated as well. The Oscars have recognized comedies before, but rarely a comedy this broad and raunchy (I mean, yeah, Annie Hall and Shakespeare in Love are technically comedies, but not comedies like that). That said, the lack of a Best Picture nomination is somewhat surprising, and a sign that the Academy isn't that ready to embrace broad, popular comedy quite yet.

Commissioner Gordon Gets His 
Gary Oldman received his first ever nomination, for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, though the best actor category is largely considered a shooting match between George Clooney and The Artist's Jean Dujardin.

Whew
Thankfully, the Academy declined to nominate Cars 2 for Best Animated Feature, a film I've heard no good things about which is a sequel to a film I couldn't stand in the first place. Oddly enough, considering it's Golden Globe win and Speilberg's involvement, The Adventures of Tintin failed to get nominated.

In Any Other Language
A Separation received a Best Original Screenplay nod, making it the first foreign film to receive a writing nomination since 2007's Diving Bell and the Butterfly.

Score!
Because I'm a film score nerd, I have to comment on the nominations for best original score. Perennial nominee John Williams received nods for both his Spielberg scores this year, Tintin and War Horse, while Lord of the Rings winner Howard Shore picked up a nod for Hugo. Alberto Iglesias, a name with which I'm not familiar, was nominated for Tinker Tailor Solider Spy, but the closest thing to a surprise in this category is the inclusion of Ludovic Bource's score for The Artist, which has been the subject of some controversy of late for referencing Bernard Hermann's score from Vertigo, leading some to speculate that the music body of the Academy would decline to nominate Bource (despite the Academy ruling earlier that the score was eligible for inclusion).

Snubs
In addition to the aforementioned Swinton, Brooks, Fassbender, Bridesmaids and Tintin snubs, Ryan Gosling, considered a lock to get nominated for something between Crazy Stupid Love, The Ides of March and Drive, came up empty, as did Spielberg in the Best Director category, Leonardo DiCaprio for Oscar-bait J. Edgar, and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, which did receive a handful of nominations in the technical awards but was considered in the running for a possible Best Picture nod in these post-Return of the King, more-than-five-Best-Picture-nominees times.

The winners will be announced Sunday, February 26th on ABC, in a ceremony marking Billy Crystal's triumphant defeat of Eddie Murphy and his return to the Kodak Stage as host.
What observations do you have? Which snubs or surprise inclusions fill you with rage/glee? What are your early picks for the winners?

7 comments:

  1. Don't have much to say. Haven't seen hardly any of these movies. Of the Best Pics nominees i've only seen Hugo and The Help. I naturally prefer Hugo because it's got a steampunky feel and was enjoyable.

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  2. @Sarah: Of the Best Pics nominees i've only seen Hugo and The Help.

    So far I've only seen The Descendants. Thankfully, four of the nine are on DVD, which will make catching them all by 2/26 a lot easier.

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  3. Yes, now I play the yearly quest of seeing all of the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars.
    Surprising Hugo wasn't nominated. Rango is my pick in that category though.
    Apes should run with Best Visual Effects.
    Shame Drive didn't receive more - or Super 8 any.

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  4. @Alex: Yes, now I play the yearly quest of seeing all of the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars.

    Me too, though since the expansion of the category, I usually end up skipping out on one, either due to a time or a serious lack of interest even a best picture nomination can't overcome (or sometimes both). This year's contender is War Horse. I don't like animal-in-peril movies, and I feel like I already know the entire story, no matter how well Spielberg may craft it.

    Shame Drive didn't receive more - or Super 8 any.

    I haven't seen Drive yet, but I want to. I'm bummed about Super 8 too. I'm not surprised, as it hasn't really been in the conversation, but it still would have been nice to get some recognition.

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  5. i need you to call your pics before the Oscar so i can use your choices to get in my work pool (if they do it again this year) and win big bucks!
    i'm counting on you!

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  6. Unlike last year, I've seen very few of the best picture nominees. But that won't stop me from defending my title with vigor. You better bring it.

    Also, I was shocked at the lack of best song nominees. No way The Muppets wont win. And I was very surprised at the Bridesmaids supporting actress nominee. I just keep thinking... if only Zach Galifianakis was an Academy Award winner.

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  7. @Anne: i need you to call your pics before the Oscar so i can use your choices to get in my work pool (if they do it again this year) and win big bucks!

    Let me know when you need to turn your pics in and I'll be sure to help you out, whether I get my post up by then or not.

    @Mr. Shabadoo: But that won't stop me from defending my title with vigor. You better bring it.

    Oh, it's been broughten.

    I just keep thinking... if only Zach Galifianakis was an Academy Award winner.

    Yeah, I think Melissa McCarthy definitely benefited from the Hangover Oscar rumblings a few years ago. First, the idea of nominating a raunchy, broad comedy was tossed around, then the next time a similar one came up, the ground had been laid for actual nominations.

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