Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Thoughts on Oscar Nominations

It has been more than 12 hours since the Academy Award nominations were announced and just like every year, there are a few snubs, some pleasant surprises, and basically the same films and performances everyone has been predicting since this past fall. Before I talk about each category, just a few numbers. Out of the 46 films nominated (excluding the shorts categories), I've seen exactly half at 23 films. Out of the 104 total nominations (again excluding shorts), I've only seen 71 (68%), which is worse than last year's. Finally, I correctly predicted 33 of the 44 nominees from the top 8 categories, which isn't half bad.

And now for the nominations (I bolded those I've seen):

  • The Artist (10 nominations)
  • The Descendants (5 nominations)
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2 nominations)
  • The Help (4 nominations)
  • Hugo (11 nominations)
  • Midnight in Paris (4 nominations)
  • Moneyball (6 nominations)
  • The Tree of Life (3 nominations)
  • War Horse (6 nominations)

It was no surprise to see Hugo and The Artist leading the nomination tallies setting up a curious two-horse race between a Hollywood film set in France and a French film set in Hollywood. The other films were mostly expected with the key exception of the critically lambasted Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close which was also most ignored in the precursors. Tree of Life was similarly ignored by the precursors, but its much highly regarded and did well to get its three nominations. For the first time in history, we have 9 films nominated and it'll forever be debated which film would've been the tenth. The most likely candidate would probably be The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo with its 5 nominations.

  • Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
  • Alexander Payne, The Descendants
  • Martin Scorsese, Hugo
  • Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
  • Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

This was the same as the DGA nominations only with David Fincher being replaced by Terrence Malick. I predicted Fincher would get replaced also, but I thought they would go for Steven Spielberg. I definitely was rooting for Nicholas W. Refn to surprise here, but his film didn't resonate at all with the Academy it seems. The race here is between Martin Scorsese (the legendary frontrunner) and Michel Hazanavicius (the hot newcomer). Finally, it's important to note that Stephen Daldry's streak of being nominated for his films was broken today.

  • Demián Bichir, A Better Life
  • George Clooney, The Descendants
  • Jean Dujardin, The Artist
  • Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  • Brad Pitt, Moneyball

The great news, of course, is that Gary Oldman finally, finally has his first Oscar nomination. The fact that he has waited so long is frankly ludicrous. Demián Bichir's nomination may surprise many, but he was shortlisted by the SAG showing us great support. Of course Leonardo DiCaprio couldn't join his fellow SAG nominees, but maybe his time will come someday. And finally, even with 100 or so films between the two of them this year, Michael Fassbender and Ryan Gosling couldn't get nominated for any of their critically-lauded roles. Watch Clooney win here, but perhaps Pitt or even Oldman can surprise.

  • Viola Davis, The Help
  • Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
  • Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
  • Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

It's pretty shocking to see Tilda Swinton not nominated especially since she pretty much hit every precursor including a win from the National Board of Review. Rooney Mara supposedly replaced her, which is too bad only because it'd be a great list if both of them made it on. With that said I'm of course on Team Williams and happy that she has garnered her 3rd nomination in five years. Then again that's nothing to Streep who gets her record 17th nomination. At this point, I can actually see every single woman here win though if I was a betting man it'll probably go to Davis... or Streep... or possibly Williams.

  • Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
  • Jonah Hill, Moneyball
  • Nick Nolte, Warrior
  • Christopher Plummer, Beginners
  • Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The lack of Drive love was most evident in this category where critical favorite Albert Brooks was completely snubbed just as he was at the SAG. Of course this makes the road for frontrunner Christopher Plummer's first Oscar win a bit easier. Then again maybe not since there's another former Oscar nominee octogenarian on the list in the form of Max Von Sydow whose film is nominated for Best Picture. Finally, I'm not against Hill's nomination, but I was hoping for perhaps Andy Serkis or Patton Oswalt.

  • Bérénice Bejo, The Artist
  • Jessica Chastain, The Help
  • Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
  • Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
  • Octavia Spencer, The Help

Melissa McCarthy is having quite an awesome year doesn't she? Not only did she star in one of the biggest movies of last year, but she is also on a hit TV show, both of which garnered her an Emmy win and now an Oscar nomination. Just... wow. Of course the other breakthrough actresses made it here in the form of The Help's Jessica Chastain (who appeared in all the other films Fassbender and Gosling couldn't be in) and Octavia Spencer. I'm thinking the winner will be between these two and it's going to go down the wire. Shailene Woodley's non-nomination could mean nothing or something.

  • The Artist
  • Bridesmaids
  • Margin Call
  • Midnight in Paris
  • A Separation

With the benefit of hindsight, these nominations seems so obvious. Of course The Artist and Midnight in Paris would fight it out for the win. Of course, Margin Call and A Separation would be nominated due to their quality. Of course they'd find a way to reward the success of Bridesmaids (sidenote: who thought Kristin Wiig would garner an Oscar nod before Tina Fey?). The losers here are a pair of WGA-nominated indie films, 50/50 and Win Win.

  • The Descendants
  • Hugo
  • The Ides of March
  • Moneyball
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

This nearly matched the WGA nominations with The Ides of March and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy replacing The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Help. I was hoping for Drive to sneak in here, but again no love lost for that film. But it doesn't really matter since the race is and has always been between The Descendants and Moneyball. I like the latter better, but Jim Rash (Community) co-wrote the former. I don't know who to root for!

  • Bullhead, Belgium
  • Monsieur Lazhar, Canada
  • A Separation, Iran
  • Footnote, Israel
  • In Darkness, Poland

A Separation is the overwhelming favorite here winning almost all precursors including a pleasant surprise win at the Golden Globes against Angelina Jolie-helmed In the Land of Blood and Honey. From what I hear it's biggest competition will be In Darkness since the Polish film's topic is very Academy friendly i.e. Nazis!

  • A Cat in Paris
  • Chico and Rita
  • Kung Fu Panda 2
  • Puss in Boots
  • Rango

The big shock here is the absence of the Golden Globe winning The Adventures of Tintin which probably shouldn't have been that big of a surprise since the Academy is so unsure of what to do with mo-cap technology. With that film gone, Rango should be declared the winner here and now especially with Pixar for the first time ever not making the shortlist.

  • The Artist
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  • Hugo
  • Midnight in Paris
  • War Horse

The final Harry Potter film finally pops up here and it has two more nominations in the tech categories. I personally think it deserves a bit more love, but it was just never meant to be. It'll come down to Hugo and The Artist here, like most of the tech nominations below... or at least that's what I'm telling myself.

  • The Artist
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Hugo
  • The Tree of Life
  • War Horse

Tree of Life's Emmanuel Lubezki has dominated the precursors and he should win his first Academy Award. I would have been more wary if he was his film's only nomination, but the Picture/Directing nods only solidifies his front-runner status. Drive really should've been nominated here.

  • Anonymous
  • The Artist
  • Hugo
  • Jane Eyre
  • W.E.

Nothing too weird, though I supposed I expected to see My Week with Marilyn, The Help, or The Iron Lady to show up here. I'm guessing Anonymous or Jane Eyre are the front-runners since ZOMG FLUFFY OLD TIMEY DRESSES!

  • The Artist
  • The Descendants
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Hugo
  • Moneyball

As always, this is an important category and the winner is usually the Best Picture champion which just goes to show you again how odd it is that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo didn't make that shortlist. In the same vein, if something else wins Best Picture outside of the four Best Picture nominees here, it'll surely be a big surprise.

  • The Adventures of Tintin
  • The Artist
  • Hugo
  • Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
  • War Horse

This is one of my favorite categories, but I'm not really feeling it this year. Perhaps because, with the exception of The Artist, I can't really remember any of the other scores. Must do research.

  • "Man or Muppet," The Muppets
  • "Real in Rio," Rio

I'm so upset that the Academy only deemed two songs worthy out of the 37 songs they had to pick from. At the very least, they could've nominated more than one song from The Muppets. I really expected "Life's A Happy Song" to make it in or my favorite "Pictures in My Head." And where Captain America's little ditty? Too on-the-nose for them? I'm one of the few who actually LOVE the inclusion of this category, but they need to severely overhaul their selection process ASAP.

  • Drive
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Hugo
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • War Horse

Oh look it's Drive! For its one nomination! But then again here's Transformers yet again. I'm sure it's well-deserved, but there's just something to this series getting these nominations while other films don't get any.

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Hugo
  • Moneyball
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • War Horse

Take out Drive. Put in Moneyball. Rinse. Repeat. There was one time I knew the difference between Sound Editing and Sound Mixing.

  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  • Hugo
  • Real Steel
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Real Steel's inclusion is probably the only one that causes one's eyebrow to raise a little. The five films that were in consideration that didn't make the shortlist include Captain America, Mission Impossible 4, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Tree of Life, and X-Men: First Class. I personally would've been a-ok to have seen either Marvel films or even Mission Impossible or Tree of Life. But oh well.

  • Albert Nobbs
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
  • The Iron Lady

This was what everyone predicted and so here they are. I'm thinking a non-Harry Potter film will win this one.

  • Hell and Back Again
  • If a Tree Falls: The Story of the Earth Liberation Front
  • Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
  • Pina
  • Undefeated

I unfortunately haven't seen any of these, but there's no time like the present. I don't even know what half of them is about. Anyone have any recommendations and/or any insight which film is the likely winner?

  • The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
  • God is the Bigger Elvis
  • Incident in New Baghdad
  • Saving Face
  • The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Of course I need to do more research on all of the short films nominated, but I do like my initial ignorance when trying to predict which one I think would win. I usually pick the film with the quirkiest title which would be God is the Bigger Elvis, but for some reason I'm leaning towards The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom for the win.

  • Dimanche/Sunday
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
  • La Luna
  • A Morning Stroll
  • Wild Life

Even though Pixar failed to get nominated in Animated Feature, they still have a horse in the race with La Luna. They might even win though with the title alone, I want to desperately see The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.

  • Pentecost
  • Raju
  • The Shore
  • Time Freak
  • Tuba Atlantic

And finally... the quirkiest title award is between Time Freak and Tuba Atlantic.

So those were the nominations. I do remember this morning I felt quite zen about the whole thing. Perhaps it's because I've been paying attention to the Oscar race for a few years now and have gotten just a bit jaded or perhaps it's because I got a total of 2 hours of sleep the night before. Either way, let's bring on the final phase of campaigning. It'll probably be just a bit less bloody and ridiculous than the presidential campaign in the coming months.

1 comment:

  1. Obviously, I'm over the moon that the word "Muppets" is on the list. Woo!

    That stated, dang. You are waaaay ahead of me.

    (It's Meltha, btw, as it still won't let me log in)


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