When last year’s nominations were announced, there were very few surprises. The general consensus was that things went as expected. This year, however, the Academy spiced things up with a bunch of snubs and surprises.
Michael Fassbender (Shame), Leonardo DiCaprio (J Edgar), and Ryan Gosling (Drive and The Ides of March) are all missing from the Best Actor category. I did not expect all three to make the cut, but I did expect at least one of them to get a nod. It seems the Academy decided to snub the 30-somethings in favor of the old guys this year.
The Adventures of Tintin didn’t land a Best Animated Feature nomination. This just goes to show how different the Oscars are from the Golden Globes. Just nine days after Steven Spielberg’s animated film beat out its competitors at the Globes, it only manages to nab a Best Original Score nomination from the Academy.
Albert Brooks (Drive) is absent from the Best Supporting Actor race. I’m actually quite happy with the five nominees in this category, but Brooks is a well-respected actor who has a heavy force earlier on this awards season. That kind of formula often equates to an Oscar nod, but it looks like his momentum died out too early.
One of the strangest snubs is in the Original Song category. For some reason, the members of the Academy only felt two songs from the entire year were worth nominating. Don’t get me wrong, I’m enormously happy that Bret McKenzie is getting some love from his work on The Muppets, but historically, there have never been less than three nominated songs, and prior to 1946 there were often ten. Was 2011 such an awful year for music in the movies? I doubt it. The list of songs that could have been added to the mix is a long one, including any one of the five that were nominated at the Golden Globes, or even a handful of other songs from The Muppets.
Nothing at all for 50/50. Nobody could have been expecting much, but there are many who thought that a Best Original Screenplay nod was coming.
Tilda Swinton was left off the ballot for her performance in We Need to Talk About Kevin. It would have been much more shocking if Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) or Viola Davis (The Help) had been snubbed, but ripples of outrage at Swinton’s absence have emerged and are mostly directed at the inclusion of Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) in her place. Mara’s presence shouldn’t be such a surprise, however, considering her performance in Fincher’s blockbuster has been universally praised, and she’s been nominated for several other awards, including the Golden Globe.
Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Demián Bichir (A Better Life) fill in the Best Actor slots. A lot of people will be praising the cinematic gods for the fact that Oldman, who has long been considered one of the most underrated actors around, has finally snagged his first Oscar nomination. He garnered some significant buzz early on, but much of that faded until last week’s BAFTA nominations were announced. It’s not a huge surprise, but it is a pleasant one. Bichir’s presence in the category has some folks scratching their heads, not because of his performance, but because they have no idea who he is. Bichir is well-known actor in Mexico, but has only recently received much exposure elsewhere, largely due to his role on TV’s Weeds. He has shown up from time to time in other awards this year (he’s nominated for a SAG award and Independent Spirit Award), so his nomination isn’t entirely out of the blue. But it is a surprise, considering other actors, such as the aforementioned Fassbender and DiCaprio, had much more buzz surrounding them.
Bridesmaids gets some love. Not only did Melissa McCarthy nab a Best Supporting Actor nod, which isn’t a surprise so much as a relief, but Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo have found themselves matched up against the likes of Woody Allen and Michel Hazanavicius in the Best Original Screenplay competition.
Hugo gets eleven nominations–more than any other film this year. It looks like Scorsese’s family flick is steadily gaining momentum as the Oscars near. Each individual nomination isn’t surprising, but the grand total is somewhat staggering. The general expectation was that The Artist would lead the nominations. Michel Hazanavicius’ silent film is still the Best Picture front runner, but Hugo is making a strong play for the big prize through the sheer number of nominations, and due to the fact that Martin Scorsese has been a long-time Oscar darling, even if it took the Academy so long to finally give him a directing trophy.
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close gets a Best Picture nod. All right, with ten potential Best Picture slots, it’s hard to say that anything is really a surprise, but this movie hasn’t had a particularly strong showing this awards season, and its critical reception has been hit-and-miss at best. It currently sits at 48% on Rotten Tomatoes, which isn’t the ultimate authority on Oscar-worthy film making, but certainly indicates that the movie isn’t winning over its audiences.
Speaking of the Best Picture category, nine out of a possible ten films made the cut. What movie do you think should have filled in that gap? Who else do you think was snubbed? Sound off in the comments below.
The 84th Academy Awards ceremony airs on Sunday, February 26th. You can see the full list of nominations here.