- Ready to collect dust on mantles throughout Hollywood
A bunch of old people who live in California announced today their favorite movies, actors, directors and writers of last year—what is otherwise known as the "Academy Award nominations
." And they were largely predictable: as expected, Lincoln
, Zero Dark Thirty
, Les Miserables
all received copious nods. The surprises are in the details: the people and movies who probably won't win, but who mix-up the race in interesting ways. Here are some of the biggest.
Few Oscar-watchers predicted that Michael Haneke's latest would receive so much attention: the film got a Best Picture nomination, an unusual honor for a foreign-language film, as well as Best Director and Best Writer nods. Emanuelle Riva's Best Actress nomination was more expected; I expect that Academy voters watched the movie because of the buzz surrounding her performance and discovered they actually liked it quite a bit, because it's about old people and Academy voters tend to be old.
Joaquin Pheonix was an acknowledged wild card in the Best Actor race for his part in The Master
(which also earned Supporting Actor/Actress nominations for Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams), but by snagging a nomination he essentially took one away from John Hawkes for his celebrated performance in The Sessions
Best Picture awards tend to go to the film that won Best Director, because people always assume the best-directed movie was the one they liked the best. (Which, not always...) By not nominating several of the directors of the leading contenders for Best Picture—Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper—the Academy all but assures a win for Steven Spielberg, and thus probably Lincoln
Under new-ish rules, the Academy can nominate 10 films or fewer for Best Picture, and this year they went with nine. The conspicuously absent tenth is Moonrise Kingdom
, which got a Best Screenplay nod but was otherwise ignored. Ai Wei Who?
The well-received documentary Ai Wei Wei: Never Sorry
, about the dissident Chinese artist, didn't get an expected nomination in the Best Documentary category, disappointing fans of the film and of the artist, who can use all the international exposure and support he can get. The Academy did do well, though, to nominate early-days-of-AIDS doc How to Survive a Plague
Follow Henry Stewart on Twitter @henrycstewart