Reactionary Tale: Oscar Nominations 2012

Well, well, well. Looks like we’ve got ourselves a horse race now. Nine nominees hit that five percent threshold. Nobody, and I mean nobody, was predicting this. The closest anyone got was Roger Ebert, who guessed there would still be ten. (And everyone laughed, probably because he predicted Take Shelter and Rise of the Planet of the Apes to make the cut.) So we’re in interesting territory here, though you should still be looking at four frontrunners: The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo and Moneyball. All four are nominated for Best Film Editing, and no movie has won without that key nomination since Ordinary People (1980). I’ll still never know how Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close made it in to the fold, but I’m cold-hearted so that may have something to do with my reaction. Full list of nominations here.

Biggest Snubs (in order from most to least egregious):
1. Albert Brooks – Best Supporting Actor for Drive
How does he lose out to Kenneth Branagh’s hamming in My Week with Marilyn. How?

2. Michael Fassbender – Best Actor for Shame
The man acted circles around the other nominees. It’s the bravest performance any actor has given in years. Shameful, indeed.

3. Will Reiser – Best Original Screenplay for 50/50
The Academy usually loves scripts that have a basis in personal history from the writer (see previous winners the Hurt Locker and Milk), but no love for this comedy, one of the year’s very best.

4. Diablo Cody – Best Original Screenplay for Young Adult
Yeah yeah yeah. The Artist is great and all that. But how do you nominate its screenplay? There’s virtually no dialogue and the story has been done a million times. Give me a break. Diablo Cody’s script is sharp, dark and witty. The Academy is too busy looking into the past when it should be looking at the present.

5. Tom McCarthy – Best Original Screenplay for Win Win
See above.

6. Any below-the-line nominations for Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol
The movie was the year’s best visual spectacle. But nothing? No sound editing? No visual effects? Boo.

7. Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography and Best Costume Design for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
All standouts, and I’d take Tinker Tailor in the first two categories over War Horse any day. And the latter? Infinitely cooler than Madonna’s W.E.

8. Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – Best Original Score for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Yeah, it’s reminiscent of last year’s Oscar winning score for the Social Network, but the dudes made more music than there was film to put it in. And take a look at those nominees. Are any of them that memorable?

9. Any below-the-line nominations for Super 8
Definitely should have gotten Sound Editing and Sound Mixing nods, and probably some VFX love just for that train wreck scene alone.

10. Any below-the-line nominations for Captain America: The First Avenger
So the special effects in Benjamin Button get nominated, but when they’re employed here even more incredibly–among other fantastic effects–this flick gets nothing? What about that incredible make-up on the Red Skull? You think that fake schnoz in Albert Nobbs looks better?

Pleasant Surprises (in no particular order):
1. Time Freak nominated for Best Short Film (Live Action)
I saw this that weekend I was a juror for the USA Film Festival. It’s a really clever, funny twist on the time travel genre.

2. Cars 2 not nominated for Best Animated Feature
Kudos to the Academy for not rewarding Pixar just for showing up.

3. Drive nominated for Best Sound Editing
I’ll take what I can get, honestly.

4. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 nominated for Best Visual Effects despite their presentation snafu
So if you haven’t heard by now, during last weekend’s VFX presentations – where the shortlisted nominees show highlights from the film to showcase their coolest special effects – someone at Warner Bros. dropped the ball and brought the make-up reel. But the film still made it in both categories. Phew. Now if only Alan Rickman had gotten that career nomination he so richly deserved.

5. A Separation nominated for Best Original Screenplay
The film still hasn’t reached Dallas, which is kind of a shock, but I’m glad any time a category steps outside its comfort zone and nominates something less, well, WASP-y.

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