The nominees for the cinematic super bowl, the 2012 Academy Awards, were announced yesterday, and as always there were a few of the year's best pictures and performances that were left warming the bench by the all-powerful Academy.
Martin Scorsese's Hugo leads the game with 11 nods, beating out the fan favorite underdog -- the black-and-white, silent-era throwback The Artist from French director Michel Hazanavicius -- which comes in second with 10 nominations. Tied for third place are Steven Spielberg's War Horse and Bennett Miller's Moneyball -- the latter being a bit of an overall surprise home run for a film that was previously thought to be no more than a base hit, come awards season.
The sports drama starring Brad Pitt (nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role) and Jonah Hill (nominated for Best Actor in a Supporting Role) is the second feature from the Capote director, who was nominated for Best Director and Best Picture back in 2006. No BD nod for Miller this year but not bad stats for a guy who only has three films to his credits! But he's in good company, as his tie buddy, Spielberg, didn't get a nod for director either, though War Horse did (bummer The Beard didn't get a nod at all for The Adventures of Tintin in the Best Animated Feature Film category. It could have swept it). Same goes for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which also got a BP nod but its director, Stephen Daldry, did not.
Completely snubbed from both Best Director and Best Picture was David Fincher's The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which got five noms, including Rooney Mara lead role as the titular girl with said dragon tattoo. Could that have been this year's vacant 10th nominee (they are only nine this year due to changes in the voting system)? Only time in an alternate universe will ever tell.
As for the actors and actresses, they had their fair share of snubs, surprises, and shockers as well. Where was Michael Fassbender's much deserved nom for Shame (side note: he was nominated for a Golden Globe for his portrayal of a struggling sex addict)? Better yet, where was Shame's name at all in this game? The film seemed to be completely overlooked, with not one nod in any of the categories. What a ... you get where this is going. Perhaps if they had a "Best Performance by an Actor Urinating on Screen."
Also absent from the category, and categories as a whole, was Leonardo DiCaprio in Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar -- a duo traditionally and separately known as Oscar darlings, which didn't prove to get them any love when they teamed up this year for the political biopic. Looks like The Fass and/or Leo's spot was taken by A Better Life's Demian Bichir, a guy who was likely as stunned by this news as they were. And for the Best Actress category, they were no real stand-out surprises. Meryl Streep gets her annual nod making it 17 since 1979 (hey, it wouldn't be the Oscars without it!) as did Glenn Close, making it her 6th nomination. But The Help's Miss Viola Davis looks to be that categories favorite.
Speaking of The Help, we all knew Jessica Chastain was going to get nominated for at least one of her seven roles from this past year, though I am a bit surprised that it was for The Help and not The Tree of Life. But at least that film has some literal help in the category, with both Chastain and Octavia Spencer getting a nod. This should be a fiercer competition than Best Actress, with no a clear winner in sight. Many think Bridesmaids' Melissa McCarthy is the contender to beat, while others were surprised at her inclusion at all (comedies like Bridesmaids don't typically make the cut come awards season and the film's possible inclusion or exclusion was the topic of much debate leading up to the announcements). So, she could prove to have the underdog advantage.
On the flip side, the Actor in a Supporting Role category was equally unexpected. Nick Nolte got a nod for Warrior, a film I didn't expect to see at all but was pleased to see here just the same. On the other hand, Andy Serkis didn't get a nomination for his motion-captured performance as Caesar from Rise of the Planet of the Apes, raising the larger debate of live action versus CG performances and where their place in awards are. Which I expect, given current advancements in technology, will soon be answered in the coming years, possibly even in a whole new category.
So, what do I personally think was the biggest shocking, surprising snub of the 2012 Academy Awards? Drive! No surprise there, as those of you who frequent The Mixmaster know my love for this film is driven into your head with a figurative hammer. While Nicolas Winding Refn's much loved (93% critic/79% audience certified), octane filled neo-noir starring Ryan Gosling as a stunt driver by day/getaway driver by night did receive one nomination (Best Achievement in Sound Editing) it looks to have run out of gas with the Academy voters. No Lead Actor nod for Gosling as the silent hero. No Supporting Actor nod for the villainous Albert Brooks. No Best Picture nod or Directing nod for Refn. Not even a Costume Design nod for the most badass jacket to grace the screen in a long time. For this, I can't see any of the Academy being real heroes or real human beings.
Check out the full list of nominees below and strike back with your own Oscar opinions and predictions! And be sure to tune in Sunday, February 26, for the 84th Annual Academy Awards!
Best Picture "The Artist" Thomas Langmann, Producer "The Descendants" Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" Scott Rudin, Producer "The Help" Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers "Hugo" Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers "Midnight in Paris" Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers "Moneyball" Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers "The Tree of Life" Nominees to be determined "War Horse" Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
Actor in a Leading Role Demián Bichir in "A Better Life" George Clooney in "The Descendants" Jean Dujardin in "The Artist" Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Brad Pitt in "Moneyball"
Actor in a Supporting Role Kenneth Branagh in "My Week with Marilyn" Jonah Hill in "Moneyball" Nick Nolte in "Warrior" Christopher Plummer in "Beginners" Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
Actress in a Leading Role Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs" Viola Davis in "The Help" Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady" Michelle Williams in "My Week with Marilyn"
Actress in a Supporting Role Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist" Jessica Chastain in "The Help" Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids" Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs" Octavia Spencer in "The Help"
Animated Feature Film "A Cat in Paris" Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli "Chico & Rita" Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal "Kung Fu Panda 2" Jennifer Yuh Nelson "Puss in Boots" Chris Miller "Rango" Gore Verbinski
Art Direction "The Artist" Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan "Hugo" Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo "Midnight in Paris" Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil "War Horse" Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
Cinematography "The Artist" Guillaume Schiffman "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Jeff Cronenweth "Hugo" Robert Richardson "The Tree of Life" Emmanuel Lubezki "War Horse" Janusz Kaminski
Costume Design "Anonymous" Lisy Christl "The Artist" Mark Bridges "Hugo" Sandy Powell "Jane Eyre" Michael O'Connor "W.E." Arianne Phillips
Directing "The Artist" Michel Hazanavicius "The Descendants" Alexander Payne "Hugo" Martin Scorsese "Midnight in Paris" Woody Allen "The Tree of Life" Terrence Malick
Documentary (Feature) "Hell and Back Again" Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner "If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman "Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs "Pina" Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel "Undefeated" TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas Documentary (Short Subject) "The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement" Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin "God Is the Bigger Elvis" Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson "Incident in New Baghdad"James Spione "Saving Face" Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom" Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen
Film Editing "The Artist" Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius "The Descendants" Kevin Tent "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall "Hugo" Thelma Schoonmaker "Moneyball" Christopher Tellefsen
Foreign Language Film "Bullhead" Belgium "Footnote" "In Darkness" Poland "Monsieur Lazhar" Canada "A Separation" Iran
Makeup "Albert Nobbs" Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng "The Iron Lady" Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
Music (Original Score) "The Adventures of Tintin" John Williams "The Artist" Ludovic Bource "Hugo" Howard Shore "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Alberto Iglesias "War Horse" John Williams
Music (Original Song) "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie "Real in Rio" from "Rio" Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett
Short Film (Animated) "Dimanche/Sunday" Patrick Doyon "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg "La Luna" Enrico Casarosa "A Morning Stroll" Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe "Wild Life" Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
Short Film (Live Action) "Pentecost" Peter McDonald and Eimear O'Kane "Raju" Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren "The Shore" Terry George and Oorlagh George "Time Freak" Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey "Tuba Atlantic" Hallvar Witzø
Sound Editing "Drive" Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Ren Klyce "Hugo" Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl "War Horse" Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom
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Sound Mixing "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson "Hugo" Tom Fleischman and John Midgley "Moneyball" Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin "War Horse" Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson
Visual Effects "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson "Hugo" Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning "Real Steel" Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier
Writing (Adapted Screenplay) "The Descendants" Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash "Hugo" Screenplay by John Logan "The Ides of March" Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon "Moneyball" Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan
Writing (Original Screenplay) "The Artist" Written by Michel Hazanavicius "Bridesmaids" Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig "Margin Call" Written by J.C. Chandor "Midnight in Paris" Written by Woody Allen "A Separation" Written by Asghar Farhadi