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And So It Begins – 2011 Oscar Nominations

The 2011 Oscar Nominations were announced this morning. Follow after the break for a look at which movies the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences believes were last year’s best. We’d also like to use this opportunity to make our own announcement: February will be Oscars Month here at The Bonus View. We have some plans in mind that we think you’re going to like. (Hint: Free stuff for our readers!)

The Academy Awards will air Sunday, February 27th on ABC. In the lead-up to that, most of our polls and Roundtables for the month will feature an Oscar theme. We’ll also be doing an Oscars Live-Blog during the show. We had such a good time with our Golden Globes Live-Blog that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to do it again. And this time, I’m giving everyone fair notice.

Better yet, we’re upping the ante this time. Not only will we be live-blogging the event, there will be CONTESTS DURING THE LIVE-BLOG! We’re already starting to collect discs to give away. If you read along with the live-blog, we’ll have multiple contests throughout the course of the show in which you can win FREE BLU-RAY DISCS! How cool is that?

Even people who’ve won previous contests here will be eligible to win. Are you excited yet? We are!

OK, with that out of the way, let’s take a look at this year’s nominations. The full list of nominees can be found on the official Oscars web site. Drew will also be posting soon with his own more detailed analysis of the Academy’s choices. For now, here are my quick thoughts on the Best Picture category.

As you know, the Academy expanded the competition for Best Picture to ten movies last year. They may be regretting it this year. The downturn in quality of movies in 2010 must have made picking ten nominees difficult. Before the announcements were made, Mrs. Z and I came up with the following ten predictions: ‘Black Swan’, ‘The Fighter’, ‘Inception’, ‘The Kids Are All Right’, ‘The King’s Speech’, ‘Rabbit Hole’, ‘The Social Network’, ‘The Town’, ‘True Grit’, and ‘Winter’s Bone’. We were reminded at the last minute of ’127 Hours’ and debated whether to swap that one out with ‘Winter’s Bone’, but Mrs. Z was insistent on the latter.

Here’s what actually made the cut:

  • ’127 Hours’
  • ‘Black Swan’
  • ‘The Fighter’
  • ‘Inception’
  • ‘The Kids Are All Right’
  • ‘The King’s Speech’
  • ‘The Social Network’
  • ‘Toy Story 3′
  • ‘True Grit’
  • ‘Winter’s Bone’

It looks like Mrs. Z was right about ‘Winter’s Bone’, but I was also right about ’127 Hours’. We both overestimated ‘Rabbit Hole’ (though Nicole Kidman did score an acting nomination). We’re both actually relieved that ‘The Town’ didn’t make the short-list as was widely predicted, because it honestly doesn’t deserve to be in this competition. In its place is another mainstream hit, ‘Toy Story 3′. While it’s nice to see some recognition that an animated film could be the best picture of the year, that one’s very unlikely to win. Just like Pixar’s ‘Up’ before it, ‘Toy Story 3′ will no doubt win the Best Animated Feature award and be passed over for the more prestigious prize.

Otherwise, we were pretty much on the money. The rest of the nominations fell right in line with expectations. Again, I think this speaks toward the poor quality of movies in general in 2010.

Clearly, the front runners are ‘The Social Network’ and ‘The King’s Speech’. Which gets the most votes will likely come down to a generational divide within the Academy. Younger voting members will gravitate toward the hipper, more of-the-moment and culturally relevant ‘Social Network’, while older voters will side with the stately and traditional ‘King’s Speech’. I expect that ‘Social Network’ will win in the end, but it would be dangerous to forget how many Academy members fall into the older age bracket. (I also have to admit that I’m terrible at making Oscar predictions.) We’ll find out which way it really goes on February 27th. Be sure to join us for the live-blog. It’ll be a lot of fun!

13 comments

  1. Jane Morgan

    This year is the best Oscar lineup of the last five years.

    2011 had 7 good movies.

    >Black Swan
    >The Fighter
    >Inception
    The Kids Are All Right
    The King’s Speech
    >127 Hours
    >The Social Network
    Toy Story 3
    >True Grit
    >Winter’s Bone

    2010 had 4 good movies.

    Avatar
    The Blind Side
    >District 9
    An Education
    >The Hurt Locker
    >Inglourious Basterds
    Precious
    A Serious Man
    >Up
    Up in the Air

    2009 had 1 good movie.

    The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
    >Frost/Nixon
    Milk
    The Reader
    Slumdog Millionaire

    2008 had 3 good movies.

    Atonement
    Juno
    >Michael Clayton
    >No Country for Old Men
    >There Will Be Blood

    2007 had 1 good movie.

    Babel
    >The Departed
    Letters From Iwo Jima
    Little Miss Sunshine
    The Queen

    • Josh Zyber
      Author

      Jane, have you actually seen all of the movies that you’re knocking out as “not good”? An Education, A Serious Man, Letters from Iwo Jima, and The Queen are all good movies without much opposition or backlash against them.

      • Jane Morgan

        The Oscars are a marketing tool and a political rally and a celebrity party and rarely an accurate judgement of anything.

        I root for ‘The Social Network’ like I root for the Packers. I have an Aaron Sorkin fetish and snappy screenwriters are my home team.

        I have seen all of the movies I listed as “not my cup of tea.” The four you named, I found particularly unimpressive. Keep in mind I come from the Mamet School of Acting, Directing & Writing. And the only time I have ever enjoyed Sean Penn was in ‘Team America World Police.’

        With Netflix, I watch 250 movies per year. I buy 15 blu-rays per year of movies with killer video transfers that I intend to rewatch 10x+. I only get out to the multiplex a few times per year, when I can find someone to watch the kids. I consume all the money makers and all the award winners and random foreign experiences. I give them all craft analysis and put that knowledge in my pocket. It’s 25% of my work process.

        I didn’t type that list to counter-argue anything. Just to point out something I found unusual. This year the Oscars have a solid lineup.

  2. Ian Whitcombe

    I don’t think Jane was implying that the movies she didn’t signal were in any way bad, it’s just that they might not be as memorable or important as the other ones.

    Maybe “notable” would’ve been a better choice of words?

  3. vihdeeohfieuhl

    Ian, Agreed. She was just giving her opinion. Obviously, for a lot of us, An Education is a lot more notable than Up, for instance. Jane was just giving her opinion on which ones she enjoyed the most, or had the most respect for. She wasn’t saying that the other films were bad at all. She was pointing out which past nominees were highly regarded to her. While I don’t agree with all of her choices, I do agree that this is easily the best Academy Award lineup in at least 5 years.

    Josh’s original column — or at least his primary point of view that this was a weak nominee lineup — didn’t make too much sense, because this years best picture nominees easily top last years group. And I believe that even he would admit that. I think he meant to say that 2009 was a weaker year overall, and I’m sure we can all agree on that. However, when it comes to the best of the best, this year was far superior to last. At least we had an eclectic, and from a creativity standpoint, wide ranging bunch of nominees this year. Last years Best Picture Nominees pale in comparison. This years winner — whether that ends up being The Kings Speech, or The Social Network — will also be better than last years winner.

    • Ian Whitcombe

      It’s a very good list of nominees, but I believe what Josh was getting as was that the weakness of the year in general meant that the approval and predictability of these films came from the fact there were hardly any films (of American origin at least) in 11-20 slots that might have snatched upset nods.

      Even last year with the ten nods I could have easily have chosen an alternate list of 5-10 films (and viable films at that) that could’ve been nominated instead, and for that matter may be better than anything on their list. This year….The Ghost Writer…Easy A…and in terms of quality they would have a hard time bumping off even some of the weaker films of this years list.

      • vihdeeohfieuhl

        That is very true. Practically every high quality film that was worthy of a nomination, came out recently, and got nominated. There wasn’t much guess work to be done. Last year, there were many films that weren’t nominated that were excellent, and it was much more difficult to narrow it down and predict which ones would actually score nods.

      • Josh Zyber
        Author

        Ian, that’s exactly what I was getting at. This was a good list of 10 nominees. I don’t have any serious objections to any of them. (Note that I haven’t seen them all, though.)

        However, beyond these 10, what else was there that might be awards-worthy from 2010? I would have liked to see Let Me In nominated, but I knew that wouldn’t happen. Other than that, what was there? Rabbit Hole, I guess. Maybe Blue Valentine. Harry Potter 7/1 as a populist pick.

        It wouldn’t have shocked me to see The Town nominated, because there’s generally at least one really mediocre and undeserving movie mixed in with the Best Picture nominees.

        Beyond that, I honestly can’t think of anything else the Academy might have nominated.

        In years past, I haven’t always agreed with the movies that the Academy nominated, but I’ve almost always felt that the year in question had a bunch of worthy movies that got snubbed. This year, not so much.

  4. besch64

    Hey, how about you just give me a few free blu rays right now so I don’t have to have my computer on my lap during the show.

  5. I’ll throw some fuel on the fire. Truthfully, I am not a big fan of the Oscars – its basically industry insiders patting each other on the back. The only thing I ever get out of the Oscars is when they give some nods to films I may not have heard of, and then I go searching them out.

    In my opinion, the People’s Choice Awards / Kid’s Choice Awards / MTV Awards are really what matter. If your movie, acting, special effects, or whatever, are enough to impress the general population, than that means that you are likely to get future jobs at higher pay.

    I am just thinking of the number of people who have gotten best actor / actress in People Choice Awards / Kid’s Choice Awards / MTV Awards, sometimes more than once, but have never even been nominated for an Oscar. Dakota Fanning is a great example, http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0266824/awards . Abigail Breslin got nominated for her role in Little Miss Sunshine, but has never won an Oscar – http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1113550/awards Those were just the two that came to mind.

    Plus, the Kid’s Choice Awards slime people!