Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The 84th Academy Awards Nominations Postmortem

Ahh the backlash. There is always backlash. Plenty was said by the Twitter folk last night - and as I was reading, re-reading, and processing the many puzzling selections made by the AMPAS in the early hours of this morning, I thought I would save my own thoughts on the matter until after a cool down period. Every year there are disappointments. Why wasn't this film nominated? Surely this performance was better than that? Last year the nominees were all pretty sound, but it was on the night when the big surprises came. This year the surprises came with the nominees, and hey, we all wanted surprises didn't we?

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. 

Hey, Cool! 

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.

Final Tally:
Hugo (11)
The Artist (10)
Moneyball (6)
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)
Bridesmaids (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?


  1. Surprises good and bad this year. Sadly, my theory re: Tilda v Rooney proved correct. I guess it's good that Oldman finally gets a nom but I'd have preferred to see Shannon there.

    And Demian Bichir? Whomever is working his campaign deserves a big fat raise! Is Australia ever going to get this film?

    Happy also for the Malick/TOL love.

    While we haven't seen the film, have to agree with the WTF? when it comes to ELAIC.

    With Hugo receiving the most noms, doesn't that make it the favourite? In which case, can we start hating on it the way people have been hating on The Artist? I'm (half) kidding.

    As you know, I'm Team The Artist all the way!

    1. You were correct indeed. It is bizarre how it works - well neither Close nor Rooney have much of a chance anyway. It will come down to the other three. I am pleased for Demian Bichir (though I would have liked to see Michael Shannon nominated). I believe his work is exemplary in A Better Life. Even though HUGO received the most noms, THE ARTIST is definitely the favourite - and after Monday I'll let you know if I have joined Team Artist. As of now, I'm Team Tree of Life, and more realistically, Team Moneyball. Haha.

  2. How could the Academy not have nominated Warhorse? It's a war movie by Spielberg. It was bound to at least get the nomination if not the actual award.

    1. It won't win - but I had convinced myself it was going to get overlooked. It's a sappy, corny, manipulative, overly-sentimental and episodic war drama with a couple of standout scenes, and a few heartbreaking moments, but far too fake and calculated to accept.

  3. A complete Shame snub?!?!?! I have lost faith in old Oscar.

    1. Fassbender and Mulligan (but really just Fassbender) were the only two with a shot for a nomination. Didn't happen. Fassbender is owed one now, so he'll probably be nominated a few years down the track for his work in something inferior (no doubt still good, but inferior to his work in Shame), likely taking the spot of someone who does deserve it.

    2. Yeah in that same vein, I'm thinking they'll end up giving it to Clooney for his work on Michael Clayton, since they had to give it to king ddl that year. The descendants was ok, and he has been getting a lot of love for it, but it has been majorly overblown.
      But c'mon! with Hunger and Shame combined, Fassbender deserves a mega oscar.

    3. It is very likely Clooney will win this year because he was nominated but unsuccessful for Michael Clayton and Up in the Air. I don' think The Descendants is the best film of the year, or as nearly as good as Sideways, but I still have a feeling it will will walk away with Adapted Screenplay and Clooney - but Dujardin or Pitt could spoil his party. Fassbender hasn't paid his dues yet. Three years isn't enough, and though he was good in Jane Eyre and X-Men, neither performance was Oscar-worthy. Shame was his magnum opus and it was a shame he missed out. But if he continues his string of strong performances, he'll find his time.

  4. I was one of the pro-Melissa McCarthy people, even though I ddn't particularly love Bridesmaids. But I wanted her over McTeer (she was good but awwwwful film) and not Woodley (who I loved).
    I'm happy about the Tree of Life nomination, and Farhadi getting the screenplay nomination. Super duper excited for Oldman and Mara. But then the Drive snub hurts a lot. I'm still all for Brooks.

    1. McTeer was the best part of Albert Nobbs (which was awful, yes) so I don't mind her nomination - but if it came down to her or Shailene Woodley, then obviously I would go the latter. I will never ever understand the love for Bridesmaids. I had accepted that Drive was going to miss out, but I was excited about the prospect of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo getting a Best Picture nomination (TTSS too) - and that disappointed me. But I love the inclusion of Mara, and Gary Oldman was great - and has deserved some Oscar love after all these years. I can't complain too much - and with The Tree of Life nominated, one of my favourite films is in with a fighting chance.

  5. Great work! I share a lot of the same disappointments, but after the initial shock, I really can't say that I'm surprised, and I should have seen a few more of them coming.

    1. Yeah, the shock has worn off. I have accepted what's happened - and will still tune in to see the results, as always.

  6. I've made an Oscar commentary post of my own where I speak a bit more at lenght about my reactions. But the quck version is: I'm disappointed at the lack of love for Fassbender, Melancholia, Drive, The Skin I Live In (Spain's at fault, I know). I'm happy to see MVS getting some love, not just because I'm Swedish, but because he's a wonderful actor. Not sure if this was the right movie to nominate him for (haven't watched it). And besides I'm also a fan of Plummer in Beginners.
    I was suprised at Tintin not getting a nomination, even though I personally wasn't a fan (too fond of the comic books I'm afraid.)

    1. Who knows, I may love THE ARTIST (seeing it next Monday) and be completely in favour of it winning everything - and suddenly the nominees don't matter. I got what I hoped for - some surprises, and it proves that the AMPAS have some balls (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close will be hard to live down, I imagine). Sucks about Fassbender - but I really didn't think Melancholia or Drive had much of a shot (a slim shot with the 5% rule). I think Plummer will win (which is great) and seeing him and MVS together on the night will be a privilege. Yeah, Tintin was a surprise omission, but I can live with that if it means that Rango (my personal fav. animated film) wins. I also hope that Moneyball takes out an award - it may be for Adapted Screenplay - but I loved that film.

  7. Shame not receiving any love from the AMPAS is no surprise, I heard from different sources that they hated the movie, but I thought they would, at least, appreciate Fassbender's performance, which was better then most of the acting nominees. Big upset for me here!
    I am happy to see Rooney Mara, Gary Oldman and Nick Nolte on the list, they all deserved it, and call me crazy, but it's nice to see Jonah Hill there, as well, even though he wasn't as good as the others- I think he has potential and for a comedy actor, he did a great job! P.s. I totally agree with your Albert Brooks opinion!
    Question, maybe you know the answer: why only 2 songs for best song? I don't get it, usually there are 5!
    Although most people think they know who will win, I know we will have some surprises- Pitt might steal Clooney's award, Viola Davis might beat Meryl Streep and so on.

    1. I'm not as disgruntled about Jonah Hill as most are. I liked Moneyball a lot, and it's probably my favourite of the nominees after Tree of Life and Midnight in Paris (still haven't seen The Artist)

      As for two songs, I am as puzzled as you are. No idea. I think Pitt and Dujardin (esp. the latter) have a shot at beating Clooney, and I think it will come down to Streep, Davis and Williams for Best Actress. Even Best Picture isn't certain. Plenty to look forward too in a months time.

  8. Aside from "A Separation", which I still haven't had a chance to see because it still hasn't been released here, that Original Screenplay catergory is a disgrace. No Mike Mills for "Beginners"? And as gutsy as people THINK the "Bridesmaids" script is, is really how gutsy the "Young Adult" script is. No Diablo Cody there is just a travesty. I guess people are tired of her.

    1. I lined up the Bridesmaids and the Young Adult screenplay when I was out walking - and I decided that Young Adult was a much superior film. None of the characters come close to Mavis - and I think the film is funnier in the first 30 mins than Bridesmaids is in total. Very disappointed to see Young Adult miss out. Loved the inclusion of A Separation (which should win that category) but it will likely be Midnight in Paris (or The Artist if it cleans up).

  9. Have you seen A Better Life? I think that was much like Javier Bardem getting a nomination for Biutiful. I'll have to reserve judgement though until I see the film. I'm a bit pissed about no Fassbender, even if I haven't seen Shame.

    I don't know how Bridesmaids got nominated in Best Original Screenplay, considering the large majority of that film was improvisation anyway. Ah well.

    At least we got some surprises - it is just a shame that they all had to go the wrong way.

    1. No I haven't seen the film but it was Colin from Pick N' Mix Flix's favourite performance of the year - and from my understanding it is incredibly moving. I hope I get the chance to see it soon. Fassbender and Shannon gave the best performances of their career in their films - and it is sad to see them left out, but I have no issues with those included. Pitt deserves his nom. As does Clooney. Yeah, don't get me started about Bridesmaids. I would have loved to have seen Win Win, Young Adult, Take Shelter or Beginners in there instead. I also felt like it was a pretty standard romcom in between the extended gag sequences. Oh well. Tree of Life was a pleasant surprise :-) And Rooney!