Tuesday, January 24, 2012

84th Annual Academy Award Nominations

It's as if the Academy knew we became tired of being able to predict all the nominations because this year things are definitely shaken up. The announcement this morning for the 84th Annual Academy Award nominations provided a hefty number of surprises most notably when the Best Picture nominee title cards flipped over to show a symmetrical eight...and then a ninth. So there you have it: the first year not five, not ten, but nine films have been nominated for Best Picture.

The only thing not surprising was "Hugo" leading the nominations with 11 closely followed by "The Artist" with ten, then "Moneyball" and "War Horse" tied at six, "The Descendants" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" tied at five and finally "The Help" with four.

The biggest surprise of the morning goes to "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" which was originally thought to be left out of the race. Instead, it was the ninth nominee to be included for Best Picture along with "The Artist," "The Descendants," "The Help," "Midnight in Paris," "Hugo," "War Horse," and yes, "The Tree of Life" got recognized.

Best Director paired these nominees down to which ones really matter and included Martin Scorsese for "Hugo," Michel Hazanavicius for "The Artist," Alexander Payne for "The Descendants," Woody Allen for "Midnight in Paris" and Terrence Malick for "The Tree of Life" who clearly won over Steven Spielberg for "War Horse."

The renewed love for "Tree of Life" should come as no surprise, but it did seem like it might had been forgotten considering previous award show proceedings.

Every acting category but one provided a surprise. Let's start with the not-surprise of Best Supporting Actress which went to Janet McTeer for "Albert Nobbs," Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer for "The Help," Berenice Bejo for "The Artist" and yes, Melissa McCarthy for "Bridesmaids." I'm ecstatic about McCarthy's nod but equally upset over the snub for Shailene Woodley in "The Descendants."

Now for the surprises. In Best Actress, Rooney Mara for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" managed to edge out Tilda Swinton for "We Need to Talk About Kevin," a switch that I'm absolutely thrilled with. With Mara were the expected nominees of Viola Davis for "The Help," Glenn Close for "Albert Nobbs," Michelle Williams for "My Week with Marilyn" and Meryl Streep for "The Iron Lady." It's between Streep and Davis for taking this win.

The Best Actor category included not Leonardo DiCaprio for "J. Edgar" nor Michael Fassbender for "Shame" but instead accompanying the expected George Clooney for "The Descendants," Jean Dujardin for "The Artist" and Brad Pitt for "Moneyball" were the surprises of Gary Oldman for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and Demian Bichir for "A Better Life."

The Best Supporting Actor category gave "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" its second nomination, this time for veteran Max von Sydow. Joining him were the front-runner Christopher Plummer for "Beginners," Jonah Hill for "Moneyball," Kenneth Branagh for "My Week with Marilyn" and Nick Nolte for "Warrior." The fact that trailers can now proclaim Academy Award-nominated Jonah Hill still baffles me.

What about Albert Brooks for "Drive," you ask? Well, much like the rest of the film he got snubbed. "Drive" walked away with only one nomination -- for Sound Editing. It's a shame it couldn't even land a Best Cinematography nod.

The Animated Feature category made absolutely no sense to probably everybody. With nominees like "A Cat in Paris" and "Chico & Rita," it left people scratching their heads. No "Adventures of Tintin" to be found. "Kung Fu Panda 2" made it in along with "Puss in Boots" next to the front-runner "Rango." Except perhaps "Rango" is no longer the front-runner maybe replaced by one of the unknowns from abroad. "Cars 2" getting shut out marks the first time a Pixar movie has not been nominated. That's what you get for selling out.

Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross' score for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" got ignored over Best Score nominees "The Adventures of Tintin," "The Artist," "Hugo," "Tinker Tailor Solder Spy" and "War Horse."

"Dragon Tattoo" made up for it in other technical categories, however, including Sound Mixing, Sound Editing, Film Editing and Cinematography.

Although it deserved much more, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2" made its appearance in the usual "Harry Potter"-nominated categories including Best Makeup, Art Direction and Visual Effects.

And what of the Best Original Song nominees? Only two? And the song nominated from the "Muppets" was "Man or Muppet?" The other nominee went to "Real in Rio" from the not-nominated animated feature "Rio." At least it could supposedly make for a shorter ceremony without as many performances.

The Best Adapted Screenplay nominees included "The Descendants," "Hugo," "Moneyball" and the surprises of "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" and even "The Ides of March."

"Bridesmaids" represented comedy at the nominations this year with its Best Original Screenplay nod alongside "Margin Call," "The Artist," "Midnight in Paris," and finally, the foreign language "A Separation" which leads in its Best Foreign Language Film category.

So what can we take away from all of this? The Academy decided to sufficiently surprise us this year without really throwing a wrench in the whole thing. Yes, the "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" Best Picture nomination will cause an uproar if it hasn't already (I, for one, am over the moon about it). And yes, the re-emerged love for "The Tree of Life" is welcome to many. Still, though, "The Artist" will be the prize winner of the night come time for Oscar Sunday. The nominations may be switched up, but the winners remain the same.

It's the last stop, everybody! Tune in for the 84th Annual Academy Award ceremony on Sunday, February 26 at 8 p.m. on ABC. And check here for a full list of the Oscar nominations.

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