Originally posted as part of Road to the Gold, an Oscar blog on LALoyolan.com. For original, please refer to: Oscar nominations yield surprises and disappointments – Los Angeles Loyolan.
Every year, Academy Award prognosticators (those who attempt to predict the awards) eagerly await the morning of the nominations and what surprises they might bring. For the past years, surprises have not come. All the dark horse candidates remain at the fringe, and the usual suspects are nominated.
This year’s nominations, announced Tuesday morning, brought something different to the table. There were shocks aplenty and snubs across the board, from the craft categories all the way to Best Picture. Some front-runners were shut out of their races. It was Christmas morning for wannabe Oscar psychics, but for some, all that awaited them was a lump of coal.
Despite the strength of silent French film “The Artist,” Martin Scorsese’s 3-D epic “Hugo” actually led the overall nomination count thanks to its high tallies in the technical and craft categories. “Hugo” was nominated for Best Picture and Scorsese for Best Director, but it was shut out of the acting categories. “The Artist,” however, saw nominations in both Best Picture and Best Director and also won plaudits for stars Jean Dujardin in Best Actor and Bérénice Bejo in Best Supporting Actress.
There was much speculation coming into this year’s announcement of how many films would be nominated for Best Picture thanks to a new rule that permits anywhere between five and 10 films to be nominated based on voting percentages. Most severely underestimated the range of the new rule – while some predicted somewhere between six and eight films to be nominated, there were nine titles read, including critical darlings like “The Tree of Life” and traditional tearjerkers “War Horse” and “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.”
The acting categories were not without shocks. While frontrunners Brad Pitt for “Moneyball,” George Clooney for “The Descendants” and “The Artist” star Dujardin were included in the Best Actor field, Leonardo DiCaprio was not shortlisted for his impressive work in an otherwise mediocre movie, “J. Edgar.” In Best Actress, voters preferred “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” star Rooney Mara to precursor award favorite Tilda Swinton from “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”
The Best Supporting Actor race, which many Oscar prognosticators saw as a two-man race between Christopher Plummer for “Beginners” and Albert Brooks for “Drive,” got a little bit smaller today as Brooks was left out of the nominations altogether. It was only Best Supporting Actress that went exactly as most predicted, though some might consider “Bridesmaids” star Melissa McCarthy managing a nomination for such a broad comedy a massive shock in and of itself.
Personally, I always see the Oscar nominations as something of a game rather than an actual honor. The Academy so regularly snubs the films most worthy of nominations (it was heartbreaking to see Michael Fassbender and his film “Shame” snubbed, as well as the lack of recognition for Charlize Theron’s “Young Adult” performance), so it’s not worth sweating over what does and doesn’t make it.
Think, instead, of the strategy behind it all. Who are the phantom members behind the Academy and why do they vote the way they do? Will they stand by the classic directors like Steven Spielberg for “War Horse,” or will they be ambitious and nominate an up-and-coming auteur Nicolas Winding Refn for “Drive”? Ultimately, the awards don’t matter – they’re just fun to think about and follow, kind of like sports for the arts and entertainment nerd inside everyone. The show itself is always a blast, too – even at its worst, it’s certainly not the worst way you can spend a Sunday night.
So follow along this Oscar season and hear everyone bicker over what film deserves what honor. Fight for “Moneyball” if the Brad Pitt-starring baseball drama captured your imagination. Argue that Octavia Spencer was vastly better than Jessica Chastain in “The Help.” When all is said and done, you still have the movies you love and the actors you appreciate. No Academy can take that away from you.
The Oscars will air on Feb. 26th at 4 PM ET.