Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 Oscar Nominations (Reaction and Analysis)

Well, we have our 84th Annual Academy Award nominations as Academy President Tom Sherak and Oscar-nominated actress Jennifer Lawrence read them off early this morning (video above). And overall, I did pretty well with my predictions. Turns out I made the right call playing it safe, with only a few exceptions. You can read the entire list of nominees here. If one thing's for sure it's that I still have plenty of movies left to see and review. Here are some of the major talking points coming out of this morning's announcement:

-Obviously the huge shocker came last when the polarizing, 9/11 tearjerker "EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE" (sorry, that personal space invading title just begs to be written in all caps) was announced as the final Best Picture nominee. You could hear the gasps of shock and awe after it was read. And the funny thing is I had a strange feeling that could happen and wrestled with adjusting my predictions to include it, before wimping out. We all underestimated the Academy's penchant for embracing sentimentality. It knows no bounds. That combined with the movie peaking just as voters were filling out their ballots resulted caused this. While I haven't seen or reviewed it yet, I've heard it's also the kind of movie you love or hate. Apparently enough voters loved it and it even spread to the supporting Actor category with a surprise nod for Max Von Sydow.

-"War Horse" nominated for Best Picture. I'm glad I stuck with that prediction when everyone else seemed to abandon it. As usual, sentimentality and comfort rule the day for voters.

-Spielberg out for Best Director but Terrence Malick is in for "The Tree of Life", which also scored a surprise, but very welcome, Best Picture nomination. Didn't think voters would go for something this challenging but I'm glad they did. It was an achievement even they couldn't overlook. Justifiably praised to high heaven by critics, it's now officially gone the distance, picking up the two biggest nominations. Easily the best news of the morning.

-I knew David Fincher wouldn't be nominated for "Dragon Tattoo", nor would the actual picture. It's clear now they just don't like him. But I was wrong about Rooney Mara. Always on the radar but somewhat of a long shot, she made it in. Guess they wanted to reward the film somehow, so that makes sense.

-So, what was that I was saying yesterday about pronouncing Michel Hazanavicius? I wouldn't want to be in Tom Sherak's shoes reading some of those tongue-twisters. But on the other hand, he does get to present with Jennifer Lawrence, so there's that. And she was surprisingly skilled at pronouncing those names.   

-I guessed 7 Best Picture nominees. There were 9. And those extra two were shockers so I wasn't that far off the mark there.

-"Midnight in Paris": Best Picture nominee. Ugh.

-Woody Allen: Best Director: Ugh.

-"Bridemaids": Best Original Screenplay. Ugh.

-Surprise Best Actor nomination for Demian Bichir for "A Better Life." Who? What? We'll have to have a fight on Oscar night between him and "The Artist's" Jean Dujardin to determine who gets crowned this year's Roberto Benigni. I understand the desire to not only reward great work and bring attention to an actor and film no one's heard of, but I can't help but think nominations like the one for Bichir do more harm than good, causing people to not want to see the film and tune out of the Oscars altogether. While the performance may be deserving, I couldn't help but roll my eyes at the announcement, knowing fewer will care what happens in this category now.

-Two HUGE Supporting snubs: Albert Brooks in "Drive" and Shailene Woodley in "The Descendants." They were screwed big time. There's simply no other way to put it. Two of the best performances of the year don't get in. And now we can officially say it: The Academy hates "Drive." As for Woodley, they probably thought it was "too soon" or she "has time" because of her age so they just didn't vote for her.

-None of my "wish" nominations came to pass. Admittedly, all except a couple were the longest of long shots.

-I'm glad Nick Nolte got in for "Warrior." Same for Jonah Hill for "Moneyball." It's well deserved, even if it doesn't quite take the sting out of Brooks being overlooked.

-Only two Original Song nominees? Why even have the category? If "Man or Muppet" loses with one other nominee we should all riot.

-Thrilled to see J.C. Chandor's original script for "Margin Call" nominated.

-Overall, they could have done much worse. And as tough a time as I'm giving "Midnight in Paris," it is at least a good film. As much as we sometimes complain, the Academy rarely nominates anything of poor quality for Best Picture and this year seems to be no exception. Predictions coming before the big show on February 26th.

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