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Friday, January 23, 2009

A Few Thoughts on the Oscar Nominees

The Little Independent That Could
Slumdog Millionaire (or "Slumdog", as the kids say) received 10 nominations, second only to Benjamin Button's thirteen, which suggests, along with its Golden Globe wins, that this the current best picture favorite. Of course, sometimes the film with the earliest best picture buzz fades in the time between the nominations and the ceremony, but for now, it seems that "Slumdog" has the best shot yet in recent years to become the first token "plucky indy" best picture nom to actually win.

A Dark Day
I'm bummed Dark Knight didn't get the fifth "up for grabs" Best Picture nomination (it went to The Reader instead). After winning a handful of guild nominations recently (including the Producer, Writer and Director Guilds), I thought it had a good shot at a best picture nom (it did get nominated for eight Oscars in all, but aside from Heath Ledger's nod, they're all technical awards).

Not that I necessarily think it deserves to win (I honestly haven't given it much thought) but a nomination for the highest grossing film of the year would have ensured that a greater number of people would have tuned in to watch the ceremony, and there would be less grousing from people about how "out of touch" the Academy is with the average moviegoer. It's rare enough that the film the "average moviegoer" likes (ie the movie that makes the most money) is good enough for consideration at the Oscars; when those two stars align, I think the Academy should make the most of it.

Not that I'd want them nominating it JUST for those reasons, but in this case, I think the movie is definitely worthy of nomination regardless of its commerical success.

No Doubt About It
I think its cool that all four of Doubt's main actors received acting nominations: Meryl Streep, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis.


A number of surprise nominations in the acting categories (and by "surprise," I mean nominations for actors that I hadn't heard much about it in the "likely nominee" discussions): Richard Jenkins's best actor nod for The Visitor and Melissa Leo's best actress nod for Frozen River (two films I've never heard of), Robert Downey Jr.'s best supporting actor nod for Tropic Thunder (a critical acclaimed performance, for sure, but it's rare for the Academy to recognize the work of a summer comedy) and Michael Shannon's nomination for Revolutionary Road (when both his leading costars were shut out).

Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?
Of course, for every surprise inclusion, there's the surprise exclusion, the biggest, perhaps, being Clint Eastwood not getting nominated for Gran Torino (in fact, the film received zero nominations). The Academy loves Clint, so I'm surprised he or his film didn't get a nod SOMEWHERE. Similarly, Kate Winslet, who won two Golden Globes, received only one Oscar nomination, Best Actress, and it was for the role for which she won the SUPPORTING actress Globe (in The Reader). Both hers and Leonardo DiCaprio's work in Revolutionary Road went unrecognized by the Academy.

Second Time's the Charm
In the crap-shoot of a Supporting Actress category, I think a win for Marisa Tomei could be a slight repudiation of the wrong-but-still-persistent urban legend that her win in the same category for My Cousin Vinny years ago was simply because Jack Palance read the wrong name.

This Is The Last Song
Only three Best Song nominees this year, one from Wall-E and two from Slumdog Millionaire. That category sure isn't what it used to be.

Battle Royale
The nominations of Frank Langella, Mickey Rourke, Robert Downey Jr. and Heath Ledger means that in a ceremony presided over by Wolverine, Skeletor, Marv from Sin City, Iron Man and the Joker will be battling it out for Oscar gold.


  1. How would have Jack Palance read the wrong name? And what would happen if someone did say the wrong name for the winner?

  2. Yeah this is the first I have heard of this as well. I can see where the academy would find it a little awkward after the mistake and rather than back pedal just go with it. Where did this urban legend start? Was it just because there were much better nominees than her that should have won? Or did it have something to do with the way that Jack Palance read the winner?

    Slightly more on topic. I really need to get out and see Slumdog Millionaire and Benjamin Button. Both look really good from what I have seen and heard. The other nominees I'm not that thrilled about.

  3. The story basically goes that Palance was too old or drunk to read the correct name, or that the type was too small so he read the last nominee's name, or something.

    Basically, people just find it hard to believe that she won, because it was a relatively slight role in a comedic film (My Cousin Vinny) that won her the award, compared to the more seasoned actresses in more prestigious films that were competing against her. I guess, for some, it was more believable that crazy old Jack Palance read the wrong name, and that the Academy rolled with it, for some reason.

    You can read about the "urban legend" here

    As for what would happen if someone did legitimately read the wrong name, there are representatives from the accounting firm that count the votes standing backstage throughout the ceremony; they know who all the winners are, so if something did get screwed up, they'd step out immediately and correct it.

  4. Yeah, but how weird would it be? And how devistated would the person who thought they won be?


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