Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave the most nods to movies about movies: “Hugo,” Martin Scorsese's wonder-riddled nod to filmmaking pioneer Georges Melies led with 11 nominations, and “The Artist,” the clever black-and-white throwback homage to the silent era, scored 10. Feels a bit self-serving, doesn't it?
Still, I won't argue too hard with those two films getting some acclaim - I love the art of film making, too, and they both do it justice. Yet neither was my choice for best of 2011 (which can be summed up in one verb – more on that later). And here's where I share my knee-jerk reactions, where I either A) boot the Academy in the ribs for being clueless or boring, B) praise them for occasionally, and possibly accidentally, getting it right and C) point out some of the oddities and surprises among the nominations:
Hooray: Woody Allen scores a Best Director nod for “Midnight in Paris,” also a Best Picture nominee. The wonderful “Hugo” got 11 nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director (Martin Scorsese) and Best Adapted Screenplay. Rooney Mara scored a well-deserved Best Actress nod for her captivating, brave, nuanced, etc. performance in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” The underrated “Margin Call” gets Best Original Screenplay recognition. “Rango” “Rango” “Rango” (Best Animated Feature)! Clooney Clooney Clooney (Best Actor)! And, not to be repetitive but just to make a rhyme, Rooney Rooney Rooney!
(LOL no to Clooney tbh)
Boo: The borderline terrible “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” gets Best Picture recognition. The Academy takes the bait for Glenn Close's cross-dressing lead performance in “Albert Nobbs.” Same for Janet McTeer (Best Supporting Actress) for said movie. Meryl Streep gets her 14 billionth nomination for “The Iron Lady” which, let's face it, is not a good film. (someone's bitter.) And “The Tree of Life” is too divisive and too rife with pseudo-profundities and too inconsistent and too much of a mess to deserve a Best Picture nod. (again, y u mad tho?)
Zzzzzzzzzzz: Ten nominations for “The Artist.” Michelle Williams (“My Week with Marilyn”) for Best Actress. A bunch of nods for the decent-but-overrated “The Help.” “War Horse” for Best Picture. All maybe perhaps arguably deserving (especially “The Artist” - don't listen to the backlash, people, it's a charming film), but glaring examples of the Academy's rampant conservatism.
The snubs: Speaking of the Academy's conservatism. It was too scared of the controversial subject matter of “Shame” (sex! Eeek!) to give Michael Fassbender a Best Actor nod. Michael Shannon got the cold shoulder despite an extraordinary performance as a man wrestling with mental illness in “Take Shelter.” No Best Picture love for “Dragon Tattoo.” No love for Charlize Theron's brilliant take on the depressed former high-school prom queen in "Young Adult." And don't get me started on my pet favorite of 2011, “Drive”: Best Picture? Nope. Best Director for Nicolas Winding-Refn? Nope. Best Actor for Ryan Gosling? Nope. Best Adapted Screenplay? Nope. Which leads me to...
Albert Brooks outrage: Yep. We're angry about this one. It's an especially egregious snub, considering Nick Nolte's ham-devouring performance in “Warrior” got a nod instead of Brooks riveting against-type turn as a brutal gangster in “Drive.” (LOL should be more pissed at the next reason as to why Brooks didn't get the nom LBR.)
“Oscar nominee Jonah Hill:” A few are peeved that the goofball star of “Superbad” and other crass comedies got the supporting nod for “Moneyball,” but he does show another side of himself in it as he did for the underrated “Cyrus.” Still wouldn't nominate him over Brooks, though.
Andy Serkis outrage: Get real. Some folk were rooting hard for the motion-capture actor/artist/whatever to get a nomination for playing the chimp Caesar in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” but A) if you can't see the actor's real face, the Academy doesn't acknowledge it, and B) it's really not that great of a performance, especially compared to his work as Gollum in “The Lord of the Rings” series (which also didn't get nominated). (WHAT IS HE EVEN SAYING RN.)
Most overstuffed category: Best Director. You know there's no elbow room when heavyweights Steven Spielberg (“War Horse”) and David Fincher (“Dragon Tattoo”) don't get nominated. Bennett Miller (“Moneyball”) was a serious contender, too. Kudos for not nominating Tate Taylor, because “The Help” was an overlong and messy narrative.
Getting it right where the Golden Globes failed: Nominating Melissa McCarthy for Best Supporting Actress for “Bridesmaids.” The Academy recognized a good scene-stealing comedic performance, pretty much in spite of its usual snooty self. And as Richard Roeper tweeted (and I paraphrase), it's probably the first time any actress has been nominated for a role requiring her to defecate in a sink.
What the heck is: “Chico y Rita”? “A Cat in Paris”? It's not without precedent that the Best Animated Feature category throws us a curveball – remember “The Illusionist,” “The Secret of Kells” and “The Triplets of Belleville” from previous nominee lists. So, I furiously Googled so you wouldn't have to: “Chico” is a Spanish-language hand-drawn animation set in 1940s Cuba, about a romance between a pianist and a singer. “Cat” is a French film about a feline named Dino who's a little girl's best friend by day, and a burglar's companion by night. Harsh truth: Neither has a chance in heck of beating “Puss in Boots,” “Rango” or “Kung Fu Panda 2.”
Who the heck is Demian Bichir?: The star of “A Better Life” got a underdog nod for Best Actor, playing an illegal immigrant raising his son in Los Angeles. It's one thing to be acknowledged by the Screen Actor's Guild like he was, but an Oscar nod is huge in comparison.
GPOY reading this article
Biggest snub from the Oscars, ONTD?