My oh my, where do we begin? I have to admit, I never expected to have this many surprises and perhaps what is most surprising is the kind of support some films received in certain areas while very little in others. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s break this down on a category-by-category basis and see where it gets us and we’ll begin with the obvious… Best Picture.
NOTE: If you haven’t yet looked at the full list of Oscar nominees you can browse them in a new window right here.
I predicted eight Best Picture nominees and we ended up with nine. The only one of my picks not to be nominated was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which throws up immediate flags considering it was replaced by Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and/or The Tree of Life. Now I’m not saying Extremely Loud and Tree of Life didn’t deserve it, in fact I love Extremely Loud and love the nomination, but how do these two films, which received two and three nominations each, find their way into the Best Picture list ahead of a Dragon Tattoo, which not only received five nominations, but one of them was for Best Film Editing? Sure, Malick got a nom for Best Director, but Scott Rudin must have really worked the circuit to get a Picture nom for Extremely Loud.
Moving to Best Actor I don’t think anyone that’s been paying attention so far is too surprised by the nomination for Demian Bichir (A Better Life). but with his nomination as well as Gary Oldman (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy) receiving his first ever Oscar nomination it means both Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar) and Michael Fassbender (Shame) find themselves on the outside looking in. For that matter both J. Edgar and Shame went home without any nominations, which is understandable for the former, but a *cough* shame for the latter.
The Best Actress category offers a welcome surprise in a nomination for Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), but to see Glenn Close nominated for Albert Nobbs over Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk about Kevin) is a travesty. In fact, add We Need to Talk about Kevin to the Shame pile of films that were entirely ignored by the Academy and wrongly so.
Best Supporting Actress ended up being the only acting category where I got all five predictions correct as I moved Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids) in at the last minute and it would appear I replaced the wrong actor in Best Supporting Actor category when I moved Jonah Hill (Moneyball) in for Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close). Von Sydow earned the only other nomination for Extremely Loud as Albert Brooks (Drive) was the odd man out in that category despite previous nominations from the Critics Choice Awards, Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards. I guess we should have paid close attention when he was snubbed by the Screen Actors Guild.
Best Director offered only one “surprise” and in that it’s nothing anyone is necessarily surprised about as Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life) became the fifth nominee as Steven Spielberg (War Horse) and David Fincher (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), whom I predicted, were left off the list.
The Screenplay categories offer some interesting inclusions beginning in adapted where The Ides of March gets its only nomination, but it’s in the Original category that I think most will be surprised as J.C. Chandor‘s screenplay for Margin Call gets a nom and Asghar Farhadi‘s Best Foreign Language-nominated A Separation gets a nom. The A Separation nom only irks me because I was predicting it would get nominated up until the last minute when I bumped it out of my predictions. Oh well, it’s a worthy nom and glad I was wrong on that one.
Next we move to Animated feature where the Animated Branch goes with only one film I will call a major surprise, which is Kung Fu Panda 2. As I mentioned in my prediction piece, I just recently watched Wrinkles and it was easily one of the best, if not the best, animated film I saw from 2011. I didn’t see A Cat in Paris or Chico & Rita, so I’m not surprised there, but to overlook Wrinkles for a simple-minded film such as Kung Fu Panda 2 is sort of pathetic. Oh, and look, another strike for performance capture as The Adventures of Tintin didn’t make the cut.
In the Best Foreign Language category I have to say I surprised even myself by getting all five correct and I am particularly happy to see Belgium’s Bullhead get a nomination. I wasn’t so lucky in the Best Documentary category where my #1 pick, Project Nim, didn’t even make the final cut, though I am very happy to see Undefeated did.
As far as the technical categories are concerned I’ll only touch on a few things so as not to bore you, but I found it interesting to see The Descendants get a Film Editing nomination, which is big for its Best Picture chances and look at John Williams getting two nominations for Best Original Score for The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse. It sort of amazes me to see the music branch go with Williams in both instances when there were so many more interesting scores out there.
And finally, only two nominations for Best Song is a bit interesting as I now presume “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets has it in the bag. I guess the bright side here is we won’t have to endure some lengthy interpretive dance sequence on Oscar night as they try to quickly dispatch with performing all five nominees.
And so here we are. Of the nine films nominated for Best Picture, The Artist remains the front-runner, but I’m not counting out The Descendants or Hugo as this could very easily become another Brokeback Mountain vs. Crash kind of year. All three of these films received Best Director, Screenplay and Editing nominations and while The Artist would appear to have the momentum, The Descendants has Alexander Payne and George Clooney and Hugo has Martin Scorsese. While I would lean more toward it being a fight between The Descendants and The Artist, the fact Hugo received the largest number of nominations (11) tells me not to count it out.
Now it’s your turn. What surprised you? Who is your favorite to win? What snubs irked you the most?
Also, here’s a little poll to see what your overall impression of the nominations was:
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