Shortly after the nominees for the 84th Academy Awards were announced, there was wild backlash and shock shooting across the blogosphere, including from yours truly. What movie was nominated for Best Picture? Who didn’t earn a well-deserved acting nomination? My favorite movie was shut out?
After going through the lists over and over, I’ve gone through and chosen my 5 biggest snubs and 5 biggest surprises from all the nominations.
Snub #1: No Original Screenplay nomination for 50/50
It’s no secret that this was one of my favorite films of 2011. While it was clear that 50/50‘s Oscar chances were slim to none, many including myself felt that it had an excellent chance at earning a nod for Best Original Screenplay for Will Reiser’s funny, dramatic, and unabashedly real script. But the nominations were announced and 50/50 was left out in the cold like a cancer patie.. Eek, let me hold on to that remark. One of the smartest and most touching comedies of the year, 50/50 appears to have been replaced by Margin Call, which, well, surprised me a bit. I can’t help but think that 50/50 deserves more, but the Academy just doesn’t want to recognize it.
Surprise #1: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close nominated for Best Picture
Raise your hand if you saw this coming. … Exactly. While I had this film as high as #1 on my predictions list back in late September, it has been in free fall ever since. I dropped it from #1 to #6 to #9 to completely off my list of 15 in a matter of 2 and a 1/2 months due to its poor critical and audience reception. It seems that people either loved it or hated it, evidenced by its 48% Rotten Tomatoes score. That makes it the worst reviewed film to ever be nominated for Best Picture.
Snub #2: Dragon Tattoo was shut out in Directing, Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture…
Color me shocked. David Fincher was nominated for a DGA by the Directors Guild, Steve Zaillian condensed a 600-page novel into a 2.5-hr crime thriller, and the film picks up the much-needed Best Film Editing Oscar nomination to make it happen and… no Best Picture nomination. No Best Adapted Screenplay nomination. No Best Director nomination. In a year where so much was wide open, it pains me to see such an excellent movie not receive credit where credit is due.
Surprise #2: …but Rooney Mara picked up a nomination for Best Actress
Color me shocked, again. At least the Academy somewhat righted their earlier wrongs with this one, but it was quite the surprise. The Best Actress field seemed set with Streep, Williams, Davis, Close, and Swinton primed for nominations. But the Academy went instead with newcomer Mara, for her role as Lisbeth Salander, in place of Swinton. And you know what? I’m perfectly okay with that. It was a much-deserved nomination for a performance that shocked and won over many. Funny thing is, during the initial Oscar campaigns for Dragon Tattoo, Sony didn’t place a “For Your Consideration” ad for Rooney Mara. What now, Sony?
Snub #3: Drive earns just one nomination
Never mind that it didn’t get a Best Picture nomination, that was out of the question. But nothing for Best Film Editing? No Best Supporting Actor nomination for Albert Brooks’s turn as a soft-spoken villain opposite Ryan Gosling? While Drive did pick up a nomination for Best Sound Editing, that is hardly a compensation prize for a film that was lauded by critics and audiences alike. That just goes to prove that the Academy doesn’t buy in to popular opinion.
Surprise #3: The Tree of Life scores nominations for Best Picture and Best Director
I knew The Tree of Life would get a nomination for Best Cinematography. A Best Picture nomination seemed to be slipping out of its grasp in recent weeks, as the film was loved by critics but seemed to lack wide appeal due to director Terrence Malick’s ethereal vision. And that makes the Best Director nomination an even bigger surprise. I once thought that The Tree of Life was just too “Malick” to get much recognition, but it turns out it was just “Malick” enough.
Snub #4: Michael Fassbender passed over for his role in Shame
While I have yet to see Shame, I must say that I whole-heartedly expected Fassbender to receive a nomination for his role as a perverse, afflicted man struggling with sex addiction. It seemed like a role that the Academy would be just crazy enough to nominate, especially in a year when Fassbender also starred in the critically acclaimed X-Men: First Class and the period piece A Dangerous Method. But it looks like the NC-17 rated Shame was possibly just too much for the Academy to overlook.
Surprise #4: In Animation, Tintin and Cars 2 out… A Cat and Chico & Rita in?
The Adventures of Tintin won the Best Animated Film categories at the Golden Globes and the PGA Awards, and despite my prediction that Rango would still take home the trophy in February, I still expected Tintin to get a nomination. It looks like performance-capture animation just doesn’t go over well with Academy voters, as they instead selected A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita, two more traditionally drawn animated films. Also somewhat surprising is the exclusion of Cars 2, not because it was a great movie but because it is the first time in the history of the award that a Pixar film has been eligible and not received a nomination. Looks like Pixar will have to really up its game with 2012’s Brave.
Snub #5: No nominations for Winnie the Pooh in either Best Animated Film or Best Song
I loved Winnie the Pooh. I called it “the most satisfying, enjoyable, and nostalgic 63 minutes of film that you will see. … ever.” Which is why it pains me to see Pooh get overlooked. I thought it was easily the best animated film of 2011, and the many, many songs in it were great, so I had high hopes that it would earn a nomination for at least 1 of them. But no. The Academy nominated 2 songs for Best Original Song, and none of them were from Winnie the Pooh. Add to that Pooh‘s exclusion from the Best Animated Film category, and you have yourself one upset blogger.
Surprise #5: Jonah Hill, Oscar nominee
While I must say I really don’t find this nomination a surprise, I just think that it will be surprising to hear Jonah Hill be referred to from now on as “Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill.” Hard to imagine the kid from Superbad being lauded as an Oscar nominee, isn’t it? In all seriousness, this nomination is so rightly deserved. I just don’t know how long it will take for the new distinction to seem normal. “Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill.” Nope, it still hasn’t.
There are various other odds and ends worth mentioning, such as which three films are at the front of the pack for Best Picture (hint: they are The Artist, Hugo, and The Descendants). Melissa McCarthy’s nomination for Best Supporting Actress is certainly worth talking about, given the Academy’s track record for completely disregarding comedies, especially when it comes to raunchy, woman-s#!*ing-in-sink laden ones. And what about the Academy nominating Jessica Chastain for her role in The Help, but showing a picture of her from The Tree of Life during the nomination ceremony? Sort of dropped the ball on that one. Finally, congratulations to Moneyball, my top film of 2011, coming in strong with 6 total nominations, including Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Actor for my man Brad Pitt.
The 84th Academy Awards will take place on February 26th, with the final ballots scheduled to be sent in to the Academy by its voters no later than February 21st. Check back often over the next few weeks to gain some insight on the main categories and to see my official predictions.