Best Picture - Okay, so I was immediately on a downer when War Horse was called out first, but was given a bit of pep when The Tree of Life was also mentioned. The rest of the usual suspects appeared (The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo, The Help, Midnight in Paris and Moneyball) and we all expected there to be eight nominees. Then comes the announcement of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. What the hell? Stephen Daldry has directed another Best Picture nominated film. The film has received mixed reviews, but predominantly negative ones, making this inclusion inexplicable and suspicious. Considering the films that were left out and received more nominations (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo), there is almost no way to justify this selection. It received more than 5% of #1 votes. This is why I thought The Tree of Life would make it in, and why I thought that films like Drive and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy had a chance to be nominated - and that for sure War Horse would miss out. Anyway, it doesn't really matter, because The Artist is going to win. Although Hugo led the way with 11 nominations. Who knows?
Best Director - Apart from Malick, who was vying with Steven Spielberg and David Fincher for the fifth slot, there are no real surprises here. I was sure he would get nominated if The Tree of Life was nominated for Best Picture. I'm still not convinced that Woody (or Scorsese, really) deserve to be here, but it is what it is. I am happy to see Malick, and this is one of the few categories I am content with.
Best Actor in A Leading Role - Congratulations to Gary Oldman, finally an Oscar nominee for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. Congratulations also to Demian Bichir, who I believe is excellent in A Better Life. The SAG nominee follows it up with a surprise nomination again. But as always, that leaves some worthy candidates looking in. This will come down to Clooney and Dujardin (who were locked in before the nominations) but Michael Fassbender for Shame and Michael Shannon for Take Shelter both should be very disappointed.
Best Actress in A Leading Role - Realistically, Meryl Streep, Michelle Williams, Viola Davis and yes, Glenn Close, were all locked in. That meant that the fifth spot was open between Tilda Swinton, Rooney Mara and Charlize Theron. They went with Rooney (who I expected to take the spot if The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo got a mention in the big awards). It didn't. I secretly hoped that Close would miss out completely for her underwhelming work in Albert Nobbs. Few would agree that her work is better than Tilda's or Charlize's, and though I am far from content, I remain happy because Rooney made it.
Best Actress in A Supporting Role - I am not a fan of Bridesmaids. I didn't think it was that funny. Melissa McCarthy did provide the most laughs though - and stole scenes from her talented cohorts. But, it is not an Oscar calibre performance. Shailene Woodley's nuanced, and genuine portrayal of a confused and angry teen was as close to perfection as you can get, while Carey Mulligan is super impressive in Shame. Maybe if one of them had been more obsessed with hiding guns up their ass cracks or pooped in a sink. I love that Jessica Chastain was nominated (though when her picture came up it was for her work in The Tree of Life) and Janet McTeer was the best thing about Albert Nobbs (yes, better than Glenn Close). But the inclusion of McCarthy over Woodley makes zero sense - especially considering The Descendants is such a player. I mean, it was nominated for Best Editing (?) and not for one of the best performances in arguably the year's best ensemble.
Best Actor in A Supporting Role - Everyone is up-in-arms about Albert Brooks' snub. Yes, it was a great performance, but was it Oscar-worthy? Not really. I was in support because I thought it would be the only Oscar love Drive would get. Turns out I was wrong (Sound Editing). I haven't seen Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close so I can't comment on Max Von Sydow's work (though I am sure it is good), but I am thrilled to see Nick Nolte. Christopher Plummer has this in the bag, though.
Best Original Screenplay - A Separation was nominated. Excellent news. Bridesmaids also got nominated. Terrible news. No Young Adult. No Win Win. No Take Shelter. I guess I should see Margin Call.
Best Adapted Screenplay - The Descendants, Moneyball and Hugo were going to receive a nomination in this category, but the other spots were wide open. I thought Zaillian might received a second nomination for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and despite being the weakest feature of The Help, I was sure Tate Taylor would be nominated (though I didn't predict it). I am glad The Help got squeezed out, and just as happy to see The Ides of March, and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy take a spot. Oddly, neither War Horse nor Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close were ever in the running for Best Screenplay, yet they are both nominated for Best Picture. Only five of the nominees received Screenplay nominations.
Best Animated Feature - I thought that one of either Chico and Rita or A Cat in Paris would make it in, but I never considered both. Along with Kung-Fu Panda 2, I'll take that. Rango was a lock, but the biggest surprise was the snubbing of The Adventures of Tintin. No, Puss in Boots is not a better film.
Best Documentary and Foreign Language Film - From the shortlists, I had only seen Project Nim, Bill Cunningham New York (Doc.) and A Separation (Foreign). The latter, as expected was nominated in its category, while Project Nim missed out. Such a shame. Incredible film.
Best Cinematography, Editing, Score, Art Direction - Hard to argue with too many of these - but the absence of Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy in the cinematography and art direction categories is disappointing, but it was great to see Midnight in Paris nominated in the latter category. The biggest qualm - two too many John Williams scores. I loathed his score in War Horse. It was intrusive, manipulative and distracting. Tintin's was actually quite good work, but I would have rather seen Reznor/Ross return for their work in Dragon Tattoo and Desplat recognised for The Ides of March, or The Chemical Brothers for Hanna.
The Tree of Life nominated for Best Picture
Terrence Malick nominated for Best Director for The Tree of Life
Gary Oldman nominated for Best Actor for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Rooney Mara nominated for Best Actress for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Nick Nolte nominated for Best Supporting Actor for Warrior
Asghar Farhadi nominated for Best Original Screenplay for A Separation
Kung Fu Panda 2 nominated for Best Animated Feature
Alberto Iglesias nominated for Best Original Score for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
The screenwriters for The Ides of March and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay, knocking out The Help
Plenty of love for Moneyball - one of my personal favourites.
What the Hell?
War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close nominated for Best Picture. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and The Ides of March miss out.
Michael Fassbender misses out on a Best Actor nomination for Shame. There had to be a disappointment in this category. Demian Bichir was a surprise, but I am really happy to see him nominated.
Glenn Close nominated for Best Actress for Albert Nobbs. Not a surprise, but when you consider that Tilda Swinton misses out for We Need to Talk About Kevin, it is a shame.
Melissa McCarthy nominated for Bridesmaids. Shailene Woodley misses out for The Descendants.
Max Von Sydow being the only other nominee for Extremely Loud and Incredible Close. I think MVS is a great actor, and due some recognition, but knocking out Albert Brooks for Drive?
Kristen Wiig, Annie Mumolo nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Bridesmaids. No Young Adult, Win Win?
The Adventures of Tintin misses out on a nomination for Best Animated Feature. Yes, you're not alone, it was better than Puss in Boots.
Project Nim fails to get a nomination for Best Documentary Feature. Sure, I haven't seen any of the nominees, but they had better be amazing.
John Williams nominated TWICE for Best Original Score. For War Horse and for Tintin. The latter score I liked a lot, the former was intrusive and annoying. No Reznor/Ross for The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, or Desplat for The Ides of March to name just two of about a dozen better scores.
No Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy nomination for Art Direction. Ridiculous.
Bizarrely, just two nominees for Best Original Song. At least one was for The Muppets.
The Artist (10)
War Horse (6)
The Descendants (5)
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (5)
The Help (4)
Midnight in Paris (4)
The Tree of Life (3)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (3)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (3)
Transformers: Dark of the Moon (3)
Albert Nobbs (3)
A Separation (2)
The Iron Lady (2)
My Week With Marilyn (2)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2)
Tell me what you think. What are your biggest surprises and disappointments? How many of its 10 nominations won't The Artist win?