The nominees have been announced (get the list here) and as everyone is sure to notice right off the bat (no pun intended) The Dark Knight missed out on nominations for Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Director while Heath Ledger earned a nomination for his performance as The Joker. But the absence of the box-office record breaker in other lead categories suddenly makes me think the assumed win for Ledger isn’t as much of a lock as it was only a few hours ago. Sure, I think he will still win, but — to quote Sister Aloysius — I have doubt.
Speaking of Supporting Actor, my one “gamble” prediction of Michael Shannon getting a nomination for his performance in Revolutionary Road came true (I still remember Mark’s comment saying he couldn’t take me seriously… Why so serious Mark?), but that serves as the film’s only major nomination as the Academy has nominated Kate Winslet as a Lead Actress for her performance in The Reader, now convincing me she will be taking home her first Oscar on February 22.
The Reader did quite well in the top tier categories earning nominations for Best Picture, Actress, Director and Screenplay. Doubt has also done extremely well in the acting categories with all four of its primary actors earning Oscar nominations with Meryl Streep in Best Actress, Amy Adams and Viola Davis for Supporting and Philip Seymour Hoffman for Supporting Actor. The film also earned an adapted screenplay nod.
The Best Actor category surprises a bit with both Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and Brad Pitt (Benjamin Button) earning nominations while Clint Eastwood’s performance in Gran Torino gets left out. I assumed Jenkins and Pitt were battling for that fifth spot on the list with Leonardo DiCaprio (Revolutionary Road) and thought Clint was a lock, but it seems either the Academy wasn’t as high on Gran Torino as many assumed or Eastwood’s end-of-year flick was just a bit too late this time around.
Speaking of Eastwood, Angelina Jolie earns her second Oscar nomination since her only nomination in 2000 for Girl, Interrupted with her performance in the Eastwood directed Changeling. There was some doubt as to whether or not Jolie would earn a nom here, but both she and Melissa Leo (Frozen River) work their way in as both Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) and Kristin Scott Thomas (I’ve Loved You So Long) regrettably miss the cut. I wonder, is the Academy making up for snubbing Jolie’s performance as Mariane Pearl in 2007’s A Mighty Heart? Me thinks so.
As for the directing category my predictions were off by one as Christopher Nolan’s work on The Dark Knight goes unrecognized — perhaps the Academy assumes what he did with that film was easy? — as Stephen Daldry works his way in for The Reader among frontrunners David Fincher, Ron Howard, Gus Van Sant and Danny Boyle.
The absence of The Dark Knight from the top ten categories is a surprise and there are a few others. The fact Bruce Springsteen’s “The Wrestler” from The Wrestler didn’t get nominated for original song is quite shocking after its Golden Globe win. In the original score category I do love the inclusion of James Newton Howard’s score for Defiance, but how the Academy doesn’t award The Dark Knight in this category is beyond me — the score was the best thing about the movie with Ledger’s performance a close second. WALL•E rightly gets noms in both sound categories and should win them both and quite frankly I think it should win score at this point as well — talk about a score that is perfect for a movie.
I am really upset at the Film Editing category and the fact Ballast did not make it as that is one of the better edited films I have seen and it goes to show if you aren’t spending dollars the Academy members probably aren’t paying your film any attention. Strangely enough you can typically look at the editing category and you will find your Best Picture winner. This doesn’t bode well for The Reader.
I hope The Class wins the Foreign Language category, but it is going to be tough going up against what I assume will be the favorite in Waltz with Bashir.
A couple of nice surprises in the top ten categories belong to Martin McDonagh whose script for In Bruges saw a worthy nomination for Original Screenplay and Robert Downey Jr. getting a nomination for his work in Tropic Thunder as the Academy isn’t traditionally known for supporting comedies. The Supporting Actor category not only sees a comedic performance, but a superhero performance as well (Ledger). Perhaps a small step in the right direction, but the overall snubbing of The Dark Knight makes it all rather inconsequential if you ask me as the general public favorite is left out in the cold.
The total nominations per film are as follows and you can get the list of nominees right here.