Oscar season has officially begun. In a presentation hosted by actress Jennifer Lawrence and Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak, the 2012 Academy Award nominations were announced this morning. While most of the nominees fell right in line with previous speculation and expectations, a few surprises managed to sneak in.
Martin Scorsese’s ‘Hugo’ leads the pack with eleven nominations in all, but is likely to win only in some of the technical categories. ‘The Artist’ trails closely behind with ten nominations and a lot more buzz. In a reflection of the Academy’s new rule change, nine movies were nominated for Best Picture. Starting this year, that category may have anywhere from five to ten nominees. The exact number will depend on what percentage of the voting each film received.
Let’s take a look at the nominees in some of the major categories. Keep in mind that I am terrible at predicting winners. Of course, that won’t stop me from speculating anyway.
- ‘The Artist’
- ‘The Descendants’
- ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’
- ‘The Help’
- ‘Midnight in Paris’
- ‘The Tree of Life’
- ‘War Horse’
Surprises: Until it actually happened, ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’ seemed very unlikely to make this cut. The film received mostly mixed reviews without a great deal of enthusiasm. Although I wouldn’t say that a nomination for ‘The Tree of Life’ was unexpected, I also wouldn’t have been surprised had it not appeared here. That movie has proven incredibly divisive among both critics and fans. Those who love it absolutely adore it, but it seems like pretty much everyone else walked out in the middle of it.
Josh’s Prediction: I would guess that this race comes down to ‘The Artist’ and ‘The Descendants’, with ‘The Artist’ more likely to pull ahead. However, its chances may be hindered by poor box office performance (though that didn’t stop ‘The Hurt Locker’ from winning) and reports of viewers demanding refunds from theaters once they realized that it was a silent film. It’s also very possible that these two movies could split the vote between each other, which might lead the Oscar-friendly, audience-pandering ‘The Help’ to swoop in and claim victory.
- Woody Allen, ‘Midnight in Paris’
- Michel Hazanavicius, ‘The Artist’
- Terrence Malick, ‘The Tree of Life’
- Alexander Payne, ‘The Descendants’
- Martin Scorsese, ‘Hugo’
Surprises: Much to the disgust of his fans, David Fincher failed to score a nomination for directing ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’. Personally, I have to question how much of an achievement it really is to throw together a practically scene-for-scene remake of a movie that just came out a year ago.
Josh’s Prediction: I’m calling this one for Michel Hazanavicius, for the audacity of making a black & white silent film in 2011, if nothing else. I happen to love the film and feel that it’s much more than a simple gimmick. I believe that Hazanavicius genuinely deserves the award. However, this particular category has traditionally been closely tied to the Best Picture prize. If ‘The Descendants’ picks up steam for Best Picture, Alexander Payne could ride that to a directing trophy as well.
- Demián Bichir, ‘A Better Life’
- George Clooney, ‘The Descendants’
- Jean Dujardin, ‘The Artist’
- Gary Oldman, ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’
- Brad Pitt, ‘Moneyball’
Surprises: Who is the heck is Demián Bichir? I had to look up ‘A Better Life’ to remind myself what it even is. Chris Weitz’s illegal-immigrant drama vanished from theaters in a blip last year, and received mostly negative reviews. This is an extremely out-of-left-field nomination. Meanwhile, Michael Fassbender and Michael Shannon were both snubbed for their acclaimed performances in ‘Shame’ and ‘Take Shelter’ respectively.
Josh’s Prediction: Jean Dujardin is amazing in ‘The Artist’. He will almost certainly win this, though Clooney has gotten a lot of love for his performance in ‘The Descendants’ as well, and could sneak ahead. I expect that the fact that Clooney already has an Oscar will work against him.
- Glenn Close, ‘Albert Nobbs’
- Viola Davis, ‘The Help’
- Rooney Mara, ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’
- Meryl Streep, ‘The Iron Lady’
- Michelle Williams, ‘My Week with Marilyn’
Surprises: Despite good notices for her role in ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’, Rooney Mara wasn’t expected to get a nomination in this category. No matter how good she is in the film, her performance will always be overshadowed by Noomi Rapace in the original Swedish movie. Many pundits are saying that Mara’s nomination knocked Tilda Swinton out of the running for ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’.
Josh’s Prediction: Did you realize that Glenn Close doesn’t have an Oscar yet? She’s been nominated five times previously but never won. That kind of track record could make her a sentimental favorite for a career-achievement consolation prize. However, I think it’s more likely that Meryl Streep will pick up a third trophy. The Academy loves her, and they love it when actors put on a lot of makeup and mimic famous people.
Best Supporting Actor
- Kenneth Branagh, ‘My Week with Marilyn’
- Jonah Hill, ‘Moneyball’
- Nick Nolte, ‘Warrior’
- Christopher Plummer, ‘Beginners’
- Max von Sydow, ‘Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close’
Surprises: Jonah Hill has an Oscar nomination? For the rest of his life, he’ll be able to refer to himself as “Oscar Nominee Jonah Hill”? Wow. Who ever saw that coming? Meanwhile, Albert Brooks was not only expected to get a nomination here, but to be the likely winner as well. I can’t say that I’m disappointed by his omission, given how much I hated the film, but it’s a shock nonetheless. I’m also surprised that Nick Nolte landed a nomination for ‘Warrior’. I’ve heard good things about the movie and about his performance, but the film’s terrible box office performance seemed to doom it to being completely forgotten.
Josh’s Prediction: Christopher Plummer will walk home with this one. There’s no question about that. In his entire career, Plummer has only been nominated for an Oscar once before (for ‘The Station Agent’). Everyone loves him and everyone loved his performance in this movie.
Best Supporting Actress
- Bérénice Bejo, ‘The Artist’
- Jessica Chastain, ‘The Help’
- Melissa McCarthy, ‘Bridesmaids’
- Janet McTeer, ‘Albert Nobbs’
- Octavia Spencer, ‘The Help’
Surprises: Supporting Actress is typically the category where the Academy likes to toss a curve ball or two. In that respect, I don’t find Melissa McCarthy’s nomination for ‘Bridemaids’ to be a surprise at all.
Josh’s Prediction: Mrs. Z insists that Octavia Spencer is a 100% lock for this prize, and I have no reason to doubt her. Hollywood’s new “It Girl” Jessica Chastain will almost certainly have more nominations in her future.
‘Cars 2’ failed to grab even a nomination for Best Animated Feature this year. While the sequel took a great deal of criticism and is clearly Pixar’s weakest effort to date, is this a first for the studio?
Steven Spielberg’s ‘The Adventures of Tintin’ was also overlooked in the Animated Feature category. Poor Spielberg didn’t fare too well in general this year. Although his ‘War Horse’ somehow landed a Best Picture nomination, he didn’t make the cut for Best Director.
Despite a groundswell of support recently, the Academy refused to consider Andy Serkis’ motion-capture performance in ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ for the Best Supporting Actor category. The film will have to settle for a Best Visual Effects nomination (and probably a win there too).
No Supporting Actor nomination for Uggie from ‘The Artist’? For shame, Academy!
The Academy had no love for Ryan Gosling in any of his three feature film roles this year either.
The year’s biggest box office hit, ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2’, only scored nominations in the technical categories of Art Direction, Makeup and Visual Effects, of which it seems unlikely to win any. Although the film had only an outside chance of a Best Picture nomination, there was some possibility that the Academy might reward it there as a franchise summation, much as it previously lavished victory on ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’.
A couple of the year’s most acclaimed documentaries, ‘Project Nim’ and ‘Into the Abyss’, were ignored completely in the Best Documentary Feature category. That’s pretty typical for the Oscars, though. Documentaries that people have actually heard of and might have had a chance to see are almost never acknowledged by the Academy. The highest-profile title in the nominated batch is ‘Pina’, Wim Wenders’ 3D dance documentary that played on a grand total of ten screens in its widest release.
You can find the full list of nominees at Oscar.com.
Jonah Hill is indeed a surprise! “Superbad” is great, but I never would have guessed its lead actor would ever become a Academy Award nominee.
“Cars 2” does indeed mark the first snub for Pixar.
In a chauvinistic move, I have to mention Belgium’s foreign language nomination for “Rundskop” (Bullhead). Only six Belgian movies have ever been nominated, of which only three in the Dutch language. As you can guess, our national press is having a field day.
‘Cars 2’ is not a snub at all! Are you seriously suggesting that it actually should have been nominated for Best Animated film?
“Snub” may not be the right word. Regardless, this has got to be a huge disappointment for Pixar. It’s the first time one of the studio’s films hasn’t gotten an Oscar nomination.
Julian, have you seen Bullhead? Is it any good?
Too bad Tintin didn’t get a nomination. 🙂
Tintin got a nomination for best original score. It makes me wish John Williams composed for more than Spielberg films.
It did get snubbed in the animated film category.
John Williams composes for more than Spielberg films, there are plenty of examples of it.
The Fury – Depalma
First 3 Harry Potter films
JFK – Oliver Stone
The Eiger Sanction
This is a short list, but I have one more
SUPERMAN THE MOVIE!!!!!! This one needs to be stressed as it’s likely the best superhero theme ever created for film. PERIOD!
The man is a machine, and has been nominated for Oscars 47 times during his career. He’s been doing this since 1956. I would bow down and kiss this man’s feet but I’m probably not worthy.
The man has never made a bad score for a film, and has made some of the most iconic music ever in cinema. Please don’t limit him JW will not be limited, :P.
That is all.
How strange not to mention the Star Wars hexalogy, even in a short list…perhaps even unconscionable.
I love John Williams, and, yes, I am familiar with his filmography beyond Spielberg. But the last non-Spielberg film he composed for was Memoirs of a Geisha in 2005, more than half a decade ago.
John Williams is washed up.
I’ll concede that his career is impressive, but there’s no denying that he has robbed some very capable composers of opportunities that they so richly deserved.
Just imagine entirely different film scores in films where Williams stuck in one of his generic ones.
‘Bullhead’ is very, very good (and I’m not just saying that because the movie’s nominated). It’s quite a hard and dark film (thanks to the subject matter, illegal hormones and its consequences on a cattle farmer), with a mesmerizing performance by Matthias Schoenaerts (who will star in the upcoming “The Loft” with Karl Urban and James Marsden & is currently filming a flick with Marion Cotillard).
I do hope the nomination will pave the way for a Stateside Blu-ray release, so you can check it out for yourself. If I’m not mistaken, the Belgian Blu-ray is region free and includes English subtitles for a mere $10. I can arrange shipment of a copy.
I would characterize Cars 2 as a snub from Pixar.
Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue can win anyone an Oscar nod.
Hell, I’m surprised they didn’t give one to Bobby Kotick.
What a bunch of motherfucking horse-shit!
This batch of nominations has to be amongst the worst and most laughable in history!
The Academy should be embarrassed!
‘Extremely Loud and Inredibly Close’ … Really? A film that got middling reviews, at best, and is certified rotten on Rotten Tomatoes was one of the best films of the entire year?
Just the fact that it wasn’t nominated for any other award whatsoever should have probably made the Academy realize how big of a joke it was to nominate it for the top prize.
This is the Oscars. You have to put on your grandma hat.
70% of the voters are actresses, who haven’t worked in decades.
The contemporary writers and directors, who have the ability to recognize the various nuances of craftsmanship, tend to be fractured over the good stuff, which allows the old lady crap to float to the top.
They don’t realize they’ve made the awards a joke, because they never leave their homes, except to have coffee with other greyhairs.
This bodes well for ‘The Artist’!
Thank you, Jane.
I’ve placed my grandma hat firmly on top of my head, and I actually do see all of the nominations in an entirely new light.
I even decided to discuss it with my mother-in-law, because my own mother is, firstly, woefully unqualified to discuss film with, and secondly, far too young to fit your description of the median academy voter.
My mother-in-law is about 10 years older, I believe she’s 61, so I believe she qualifies. With the exception of the nominations for ‘Bridemaids’ (She’s highly conservative, and uber religious), she seemed to love most of the nominations.
She was quite fond of the nominations for ‘War Horse’, ‘Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’ (Now I know for certain I don’t ever want to see that one), ‘The Help’, and ‘The Descendants’ (You know how I feel about that one).
Essentially, your comments explain it all.
Where do you get all of these interesting details, figures, and statistics about the academy voting body?
Is there any hope that it won’t be this way one day?
The academy will probably always skew towards being fat with actors.
And actors tend to be the least educated of the filmmaking professionals.
I would trust the opinion of a grip, before a talking meat puppet.
Of course, not even the guild awards are free of internal politics.
You should probably just do what I do. Declare yourself Supreme Commander Of Cinematic Artistry, and, every year, give out your own awards.
Rather than an Oscars party this year, I will hold my own awards ceremony.
The winners will be kept secret right up until the last second!
What kind of hat do you wear for that?
You have to make your own hat.
I knit, but any sort of craftiness will do.
‘The Help’, ‘War Horse’. Seriously?!
If the academy just went back to honoring 5 films with best picture nominations, we wouldn’t have to deal with such preposterous bullshit.
Why couldn’t the best picture nominees just consist of ‘The Artist’, ‘Hugo’, ‘Midnight in Paris’, ‘Moneyball’, and ‘The Tree of Life’?
Fuck, I know I’m in the minority on ‘The Descendants’, so take ‘TTOL’ out and put that in.
With those five films, the entire list sure would look a hell of a lot better. Three of those films turn The Oscars into an utter laughingstock!
What was so great about the ‘Bridesmaids’ screenplay? They took a formulaic idea typically reserved for men, and placed women characters in it. That’s enough to secure an Oscar nomination?
Shitting in a sink will also score you a nod?
I’ll admit, I’m a youngster.
I’d like to ask if it has always been this way.
If you shat in a sink in the ’70s did you get a nomination?
If you took a formulaic idea generally used predominantly for one gender, and shoe-horned characters from the opposite gender into it, did this automatically get you a nomination in the ’60s?
Do remember that according to Arthur Quiller-Couch, there only seven basic plots that exist in all of literature (and, by extension, film). Reusing an old idea does not immediately disqualify a work of art from having value, particularly as a new artist puts his/her own style, spin, and talent into it.
Moneyball is based on a true story. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and War Horse are both book adaptations. Social Network, 127 Hours, The Fighter, and The King’s Speech last year were the same thing. True Grit was a flat-out remake of an older movie. Every year we have true stories, remakes, book adaptations, self-aware homages, none of which are original stories and all of which have value. Even some of the greatest films of all time, “The Godfather”, “Citizen Kane”, “Gone With The Wind”, “Star Wars”, are not original ideas.
The value is in how the films are created and executed, not in whether or not they are wholly originally ideas.
Full Disclosure: I laughed my butt off at Bridesmaids, which to me is the only true criterion for whether or not a comedy is worth watching. I’m thrilled to see the Academy toss a nomination to a clever, genuinely funny comedy.
You missed my point. I wasn’t debating whether or not certain screenplays have value or not, or whether a non-original idea is as valuable as an original one.
Regardless, your examples don’t have a leg to stand on, because they were all adapted screenplays. That’s why there is a dedicated adapted screenplay award.
I agree with everything you say. We’re on the same page. Adaptations are a vital piece of cinema.
I’m merely asking what makes the ‘Bridesmaids’ screenplay worthy. The screenplay for ‘Bridesmaids’ is equal to that of any run of the mill raunchy toilet humor comedy. There’s nothing that sets it apart.
You stated earlier that your young, because your posts have “old man” written all over them. It’s a comedy and all it’s going to do is get Nominated. It has 0 chance of winning best picture.
In the past it wouldn’t have even been nominated. Adding the extra films to be nominated is a gimmick to simply help the sagging theater sales.
Now Bridesmaids can be put back in the theater or sold on demand with the tag “Oscar Nominated” on it.
Nobody, and I’m sorry, but NOBODY believes that Brides Maids was deserving of an Oscar Nomination seriously. The problem is that the movie industry is so self feeding that many actors these days are also producers so they get to vote for their own dogfood.
So don’t get all worked up, it’s all about the money.
“You stated earlier that your young, because your posts have “old man” written all over them. It’s a comedy and all it’s going to do is get Nominated. It has 0 chance of winning best picture.”
I stated earlier that my young? What? How can I state that my young?
I would certainly hope that it has zero chance of winning best picture, you know, since it’s not even nominated for best picture.
Stop trolling. I’m not getting all worked up at all. I’m only trying to point out the absurdity of it all.
I think that there were more deserving screenplays that should have been nominated over ‘Bridesmaids’.
Sorry to offend your delicate sensibilites by saying as much.
I thought we were supposed to comment about what nominations were the most outlandish and/or deserving.
I thought this was a forum.
> “They took a formulaic idea typically reserved for men, and placed women characters in it. That’s enough to secure an Oscar nomination?”
That’s how Thelma & Louise won its Best Original Screenplay Oscar. 🙂
Haha! Too True!
Okay. Well, I guess I have my answer. 😉
I’m pleased about one thing this year: that Bret McKenzie of Flight of the Conchords got nominated for “Man or Muppet” for best original song. That ensures I will be watching, especially since he’s got a 50/50 chance of winning.
Oooh,I didn’t see that! I care about the Oscars now 😀
Another year of nominees of movies I haven’t seen (although, and this is a change, I have at least HEARD of every single one). I also plan to make it to The Artist sometime this week
I missed one – I DID see A Better Life. Good movie.
I’m kind-of excited about The Artist’s Best Picture and numerous other nominations. Not that I give a hoot about the Academy Awards—but I figure the attention bolsters the chances that The Artist will finally play locally.
Josh, it says a lot about you that you posted the supporting actor noms and ignored the screenplays.
What it says about me is that I was pressed for time and wasn’t able to write about all of the categories.
I also don’t see any major surprises in either of the Screenplay sections, except perhaps Bridemaids.
Tell me you don’t seriously believe that BridesMaids is going to have a snowballs chance in hell of winning Best Picture?
I like comedies and I love Kristin Wigg and most of the other actresses in that movie, but if it wins Best Picture then it will only prove that the Academy is useless at picking the best picture of the year.
If it wins that means something like “The Hangover” could and I’m sorry but that makes me sad.
Tim, kind of hard for Bridesmaids to win Best Picture when it wasn’t nominated for Best Picture. 🙂
It was nominated for screenplay and supporting actress.
So ‘A Separation,’ ‘Margin Call,’ and ‘Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’ are not worthy to be talked about?
‘Shame’ and ‘A Dangerous Method’ and ‘We Bought a Zoo’ and ‘Coriolanus’ and ‘Carnage’ didn’t get snubbed?
What about ‘The Best Fucking Exotic Marigold Hotel’?!?
Instead, you mock Jonah Hill (righty so) without pointing out that Philip Seymour Hoffman was the brilliance that made ‘Moneyball’ work.
And if anyone deserves a supporting actor win it’s Nick Nolte. He emoted his goddamn ass off, drowning in bullshit hackjob dialogue. The unintended comedy of which was genius on a level I haven’t seen performed since Eugene Levy’s hallway scene in ‘A Mighty Wind.’
“No matter how good she is in the film, her performance will always be overshadowed by Noomi Rapace in the original Swedish movie.”
Only for Swedes bitter about the fact that Hollywood pounced on the property so soon after the 2009 film. Mara’s performance was one of the many elements that catapulted Fincher’s Dragon Tattoo over the Swedish one.
“Although the film had only an outside chance of a Best Picture nomination, there was some possibility that the Academy might reward it there as a franchise summation, much as it previously lavished victory on ‘The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King’.”
Ok, but the difference is that The Return of the King was absolutely one of the best movies released in 2003, and that just isn’t even close to being the case with Harry Potter in 2011.
The one thing that really made me sour was not so much that Dragon Tattoo didn’t get a Best Picture nom, but rather that Dragon Tattoo didn’t get a Best Picture nom while Extremely Loud did. Brain-meltingly stupid.
It doesn’t matter in the end though, because the best picture of the year is actually going to win the Best Picture of the year award: what an incredible film The Artist is. Honestly, it deserves to sweep. Unfortunately, it seems that Bérénice Bejo has no shot for Best Supporting Actress. Oh well.
They gave the oscar to Return of the King, because they had NO CHOICE! They should have nominated and given the best picture to all three of those movies and they damned well know it, but the fact is they bet on the fact that the last one would be at least as good as the first so they just plain wussed out. Yet another reason the Academy is out of touch.
How could you nominate an actor for a “Motion Capture” performance when anything he does can be tweaked to the pixel in post-production? Would you nominate an “Auto-tuned” singer for “Best Vocal Performance”?
Um you do it because the performance of the original actor comes through if it’s done right. Andy Serkis has deserved an oscar on several occasions, and damned well deserved to be at least Nominated as best supporting actor. What he does is the very definition of acting, just because you never actually see him doesn’t diminish what he does.
In fact is only highlights what he does since he’s able to take something that doesn’t exist in nature and “humanize” it as much as he does.
If they can nominate BridesMaids they can sure as hell nominate Andy Serkis.
Has there ever been a nomination for an actor whose performance was all rotoscoped?
How about for one who was completely hidden by the costume (à la David Prowse as Darth Vader)?
VIOZ, these days, even live action performances can be tweaked to the pixel in post-production. In the commentary for ‘Contact’, Robert Zemeckis talks about digitally adjusting the position to Jodie Foster’s eyebrows to change her facial expression – and that was back in 1997!
The Star Wars prequels are filled with countless shots where an actor’s performances from two or more different takes are morphed together to form a single unbroken take. That’s now common practice on many big budget movies.
Seriously, Kung Fu Panda 2 and Rango for best animated feature films? Was last year really that bad?
The art direction category is a hard one. Those are 5 very different films, and I could see any of those winning.
Silly question, but why is there only three nominees in Makeup when all the other categories have five? Well, wait, there is only two nominations in the music category. That just seems weird. I am wondering if this list is complete.
Look Josh, Real Steel got a nomination. :-p Granted it was for Visual Effects. I must admit, they were pretty good. I am just hoping Harry Potter picks up something for one of the categories it was nominated in.
Disappointed that Super 8 didn’t get a nomination in any category.
William, the Academy has weird rules regarding how the nominations in some of the minor categories work. It has to do with what percentage of the nomination votes each film gets. In 1991, Total Recall ran unopposed in the Visual Effects category.
Oh, okay. I just thought there was supposed to be 5 movies in each category. I guess this makes more sense
While I loved Super 8, I didn’t expect to see it nominated in any of the “major” categories. Still, I thought it might pick up some nominations somewhere—the original score was quite nice, for instance.
Even though it’s being passed up for the regular categories, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were handed a statuette for Special Achievement in Lens Flares. 😀
is it just me or doesn’t hollywood love kissing George Clooney’s ass.. the Descendants, for best picture?! yea, clooney as a family man.. what a joke..
Isn’t this kind of like complaining that Gary Oldman isn’t really a spy and Brad Pitt has never managed a professional baseball team? I mean, these people are actors, after all.
The academy isn’t kissing George Clooney’s ass, it’s collectively licking Alexander Payne’s balls.
More like licking his asshole!
I’m in shock that almost everything Payne does is met with such praise!
He’s the most overrated filmmaker in the last two decades, at least.
Alexander Papadopoulos from Omaha, Nebraska does not deserve to receive deviant sex acts from elderly women!
His contributions to world cinema include:
Meet The Parents
Jurassic Park III
I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
Kathy Bates naked in a hot tub can not be unseen!
I demand restitution!
You’re right. He doesn’t.
So why do these elderly women perform deviant sex acts on him every time he is involved with a film?
Let’s not forget his contribution to the world of cinema that included Sandra Oh getting pile-drived on the corner of a bed.
Perhaps the elderly quasi-Asian women are rewarding him for that one.
Diminished mental capacity.
Modern medicine has kept oscar voters alive longer than the academy originally intended.
My grandma suffered three years of dementia before she died last year. She didn’t know our names, but her oscar predictions were spot-on.
“Three of those films turn The Oscars into an utter laughingstock!”
How long have you been paying attention to them? Because the Oscars have been a laughingstock for quite a while