Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Preliminary Oscar Nomination Reactions

I got up at 5:30AM today just to listen to Mo'Nique and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) president Tom Sherak announce the nominations for nine of the big categories. Yes, I am a film nerd! Yet at this point I've still only seen six of the Best Picture nominations and one of the frontrunners that didn't make the list, so the following analysis is based on all the gossip and politicking and conjecture that's been going on - pretty much the same as everyone else this morning. The list of all the nominees, which I will not reproduce here, can be found by clicking on this link that leads directly to the AMPAS website. Now let's get down to business.

Best Picture - There are no big surprises in this category. Most of the list was hashed out ages ago, with only the last three slots in any real doubt. "Winter's Bone" edged out "The Town" and "Blue Valentine," and also picked up nominations for Actor, Actress, and Writing. If the votes had come due a few weeks later, however, I think "Blue Valentine" would have had a good shot because I've been hearing much more chatter about it. "The Town" was an early favorite that lost a lot of steam over past few months - I found it solid but unspectacular next to "Winter's Bone." And I guess those concerns about "127 Hours" being too visceral for Academy voters to handle wasn't the case - it landed six nominations today.

Best Director - Cue the fanboy wails and lamentations. Where is Christopher Nolan for "Inception"? He picked up an Original Screenplay nod, and the picture netted eight nominations, mostly in technical categories. But no Best Director nod, which means the film's chances at a Best Picture statue have taken a dive. In years past, the directing nominees nearly always mirrored the Best Picture nods, so Nolan's absence suggests that "Inception" might not have gotten a Best Picture nomination if the category was still only limited to five films. Instead, the fifth director slot went to Joel and Ethan Coen for "True Grit," one of the day's big winners with ten nominations.

Best Actor - Probably the biggest surprise of the morning was Javier Bardem's nomination in this category, beating out Robert Duvall for "Get Low" and Ryan Gosling for "Blue Valentine." The Alejando Gonzarez Innaritu film also made an appearance in the Best Foreign Language film category. However, Colin Firth is pretty much a sure thing at this point, having swept nearly every other acting award this year so far for playing King George VI in "The King's Speech." Firth's nomination is one of twelve for "The King's Speech," the biggest haul for any film this year. This is one of my favorites of 2010, so I can vouch that it deserves every last one of them.

Best Actress - There was some suspense over whether Hailee Steinfeld and Lesley Manville would be counted as a lead or supporting actresses, which made this one of the harder categories to predict. Steinfield wound up in the Supporting Actress race, and I suspect Manville would have too if she'd gotten a nomination. This made room for Michelle Williams for "Blue Valentine" and Jennifer Lawrence for "Winter's Bone." The other favorite who didn't make the cut was Julianne Moore for "The Kids are All Right. This is good news for her co-star, Annette Bening, who doesn't have to worry about a potential vote split now, though Natalie Portman is still the one to beat.

Best Actor in a Supporting Role - The Screen Actors Guild nominations turned out to be prescient. John Hawkes, a character actor with a long career of small roles, landed a nomination for "Winter's Bone," squeezing out Andrew Garfield for "The Social Network." This puts their films at four and eight nominations apiece, and might signal that "The Social Network" isn't a sure thing for the major awards. Also making an appearance in this category is Jeremy Renner for "The Town," the only nomination the film wound up with.

Best Actress in a Supporting Roles - I just watched "Animal Kingdom" last night, and Jacki Weaver is right where she should be. Hailee Steinfeld being categorized as a Best Supporting Actress means that there wasn't room for Mila Kunis and Barbara Hershey for "The Black Swan." Melissa Leo and Amy Adams of "The Fighter" are the most prominent contenders here. All these acting nods pushed "The Fighter" to seven nominations, putting it right in the middle of the pack among the Best Picture hopefuls.

Best Writing - "Another Year" only managed one nomination, for Best Original Screenplay. The picture's fortunes have faded since it made the AFI list earlier in the season. Otherwise, the Original and Adapted Screenplay nominations match the Best Picture nominations. The odd one out is "The Black Swan," possibly a sign that the film's chances at a statuette aren't so good. It stacked up five nominations, including a Best Director nod for Darren Aronofsky, though, so I wouldn't count it out of the running yet.

And the Rest - I am stunned that "TRON: Legacy" failed to score a nomination for Best Visual Effects, even with the unconvincing Jeff Bridges stand-in. And the snub of the Daft Punk score is just criminal. The only nomination "TRON" ended up with was for Sound Editing. On the other hand, I'm tickled that "Dogtooth" got a nod for Best Foreign Language film, relieved that "The Illusionist" pulled through in Best Animated Feature, and kind of boggled that "Unstoppable" got a nomination - also for Sound Editing.

Notable shut-outs and near shut-outs include "Never Let Me Go," "Somewhere," "The Way Back," "Hereafter," "Shutter Island," "The Ghost Writer," "I Love You Phillip Morris," "Four Lions," "Made in Dagenham," "Fair Game," "Conviction," and "I Am Love."

Whew. Okay, that does it for the the preliminary reactions. More in-depth meta ramblings tomorrow.

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