Oscar Nominations: Some Surprises!

01/24/2012 10:37 AM |

Mass produced, like the movies they honor
  • Mass produced, like the movies they honor

A group of old people in California announced this morning the movies they think are good enough to win an award. By and large, the nominations were predictable: five for The Descendants, a front-runner; 10 for The Artist, another; four for The Help, six for Moneyball, six for War Horse, and so on. Hugo surprisingly lead the pack with 11 nominations. There were a few other surprises: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy got more nominations (three!) than I’m sure anyone expected, including one for Gary Oldman; A Separation, seemingly a lock for Best Foreign Film, snagged itself an extra nomination for Best Screenplay, which it totally deserves!! Woody Allen’s latest Midnight in Paris got three nominations, all big ones: Picture, Director, Screenplay. Tree of Life also got three nominations—amazing!—including one for Terence Malick and another for Best Picture (although Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain were nominated for other work); if this is why the Academy expanded the number of nominees for that category, I approve.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was shut out of the major categories except a Best Actress nomination for Rooney Mara; J. Edgar was shut out entirely. The Adventures of Tin Tin got shut out of the Animated Category, probably because those Academy jerks don’t really consider it animated. While the nominees for Best Picture were announced, the names of the movies appeared on a screen behind the presenters (poor Academy president Tom Sherak can’t pronounce foreign names), stacked in towers of four—but then at the last moment they announced Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close would join them, for a total of nine. It fit in the middle, psych! (The Academy announced this year it could nominate between five and ten movies for best picture.)

But the announcements that literally caused the crowd to gasp (oh brother) were Jonah Hill for Best Supporting Actor for Moneyball—as Dave Itzkoff cracked on Twitter, “For now and forever, it’s ‘Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill’ to you”—and Melissa McCarthy for Best Supporting Actress in Bridesmaids. (That comedy got another nomination for Best Screenplay, proving the Academy does like comedies… if they’re by women.) Michelle Williams got a nomination for Best Actress for My Week with Marilyn (and Kenneth Branagh got one for supporting actor), muscling Tilda Swinton out of the way. Meryl Streep took a nomination for The Iron Lady, which otherwise got ignored. Michael Fassbender got shut out of Best Actor so Demian Bichir could grab a nomination for A Better Life. Whatever.

The Golden Globes really spread its awards out this year, and with no discernible yet front-runner in the Oscar race, it could go the same way. I would expect The Descendants and The Artist to duke it out for the top prize, but wouldn’t be surprised to see the acting, writing and technical awards get shared among many films, which would at least reflect the fact that one movie is not usually better at everything than every other movie released that year.

Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart

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