Tuesday, January 24, 2012

2012 Oscar Nominations

The nominations for the 84th annual Academy Awards were announced today (January 24). While I have had some issues with the Oscars over the years like most people, I take the Academy with a grain of salt and just try to have fun with the whole thing. Although I haven't seen all these movies I am going to plow through all the nominations and give my opinions. Let's see where I agree with the Academy and which movies I feel got snubbed!

Motion Picture of the Year nominees:

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Help
Midnight in Paris
The Tree of Life
War Horse

The only movie I've seen out of these nominees is The Tree of Life, which was my pick for best film of 2011. All the other nominees were on my 2011 movies I want to see list except The Help and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. I was shocked that Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was nominated for Best Picture since it was getting mediocre reviews at best. I saw the trailer a couple of weeks ago and simply had no desire to see it. Sadly I think the only reason it was nominated is because it deals with 9/11. Again, I haven't seen this movie so I really can't judge it but there were plenty of other movies that were better received by audiences and critics but did not get nominated for Best Picture.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role:

Demian Bichir for A Better Life
George Clooney for The Descendants
Jean Dujardin for The Artist
Gary Oldman for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt for Moneyball

I haven't seen any of these movies yet so I'm just going to talk about the actors I am familiar with. Gary Oldman is one of the most versatile actors of our time so I'm glad he got nominated. If he doesn't win an Oscar this year I would love to see him win sometime in the future. I thought Brad Pitt was great in The Tree of Life but I guess the Academy didn't want to nominate him for more than two movies in one year. Brad Pitt has never won an Oscar despite previously being nominated for Twelve Monkeys and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role:

Glenn Close for Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis for The Help
Rooney Mara for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep for The Iron Lady
Michele Williams for My Week with Marilyn

I haven't seen any of these movies and am not too familiar with some of these actresses. This is Meryl Streep's 17th Oscar nomination but she has only won two Oscars and hasn't had a win in almost thirty years. I thought Streep was great in Adaptation (2002) and she certainly deserves to win another Oscar.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role:
Kenneth Branagh for My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill for Moneyball
Nick Nolte for Warrior
Christopher Plummer for Beginners

Max Van Sydow for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Yet again I haven't seen any of these movies which makes sense since I only saw eleven movies from 2011 so far.
The nomination for Jonah Hill seems odd; either he put in a great performance or the Academy just loved Moneyball!
As unbelievable as it sounds, Kenneth Branagh, Christopher Plummer, and Max Van Sydow have never won an Oscar. I'd love to see one of these three win it, especially Plummer or Van Sydow since they are both in their early 80s and this could be their last chance to win an Oscar. If you want to see Plummer and Van Sydow acting together check out the 1984 movie Dreamscape!

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role:
Berenice Bejo for The Artist
Jessica Chastain for The Help
Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer for Albert Nobbs

Octavia Spencer for The Help

I haven't seen any of these films yet, big surprise, right? I thought Jessica Chastain was fantastic as the mother to Brad Pitt's father in The Tree of Life. I just wish that Chastain was nominated for that movie instead. It is interesting that both Chastain and Pitt were in The Tree of Life but got nominated for other films.
I haven't seen Bridesmaids yet but it is strange to see an acting nomination for a straight-up comedy film. I'm not against it, but where were these nominations for actors in comedies in previous years?

Best Achievement in Directing:

Woody Allen for Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius for The Artist
Terrence Malick for The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne for The Descendants
Martin Scorsese for Hugo

I hope Terrence Malick wins, but he has got some amazing competition in Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese. I've heard great things about
The Artist and The Descendants so I think this category is wide open and it should be interesting to see who the winner is.

Best Writing, Screenplay written directly for the Screen:
The Artist
Margin Call

Midnight in Paris
A Separation

Here is where things get really interesting. We have a silent film, an R-rated comedy and an Iranian film all nominated for best screenwriting! The Artist has been getting great buzz and I had a feeling the Academy would show it some love so I'm not too surprised to see it here. However, I bet many people will be confused as to why a silent film with no dialogue is being nominated for best screenplay! A story can be told without dialogue and although I haven't seen The Artist yet I think its great to see it nominated here.
I haven't seen Bridesmaids yet but I have no idea what the Academy sees in this. I mean, where were the nominations for The Hangover or other great comedies of the past few decades? Is the Academy changing things up or was this just a weak year? I've heard very good things about A Separation but I'm surprised to see it on the list just because it is a foreign film. Maybe I'm wrong it but it seems unusual for foreign films to be nominated for categories other than Best Foreign Language Film. I think that this is a good thing and would like to see this trend continue. But as I said earlier, is this the Academy changing or was this such a weak year for films that they felt the need to go in a different directions with some of these nominations? I had not even heard of Margin Call until now. I also think that Source Code should have been nominated but I can't say I'm surprised it isn't on this list.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published: 
The Descendants
The Ides of March
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy

I haven't seen any of these movies before but I have read the book Moneyball was based on. I loved the book so hopefully the movie will be good too. I am curious to see how the material was adapted as the book is non-fiction and takes a look at the business and statistical side of baseball.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year:
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

I am gravely disappointed that Winnie the Pooh was not even nominated for an Oscar in this category. I would love to see an explanation for this. Is it because it was only 63 minutes long? I sure hope not because Winnie the Pooh was a great traditionally animated film and it is a shame to see it snubbed like this.

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year:
Bullhead (Belgium)
In Darkness
Monsieur Lazhar
A Separation (Iran)

The only film on this list I have even heard of is A Separation. I gotta see more foreign films!

Best Achievement in Cinematography:

The Artist
The Girl with a Dragon Tattoo

The Tree of Life
War Horse

I hope that The Tree of Life wins this category. I think that of its three nominations this is the one that it is most likely to win.

Best Achievement in Editing:
The Artist
The Descendants

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

As you can see the Academy loved these films as they all got multiple nominations. I'm a little surprised and disappointed that The Tree of Life didn't get a nomination here.

Best Achievement in Art Direction:
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Midnight in Paris

War Horse

The Harry Potter series is no stranger to this category as Deathly Hallows: Part I, Goblet of Fire, and Sorcerer's Stone were all nominated for Art Direction. I don't think Harry Potter will be able to win it this year either as it faces some stiff competition.

Best Achievement in Costume Design:
The Artist
Jane Eyre

I had never heard of W.E. before. It turns out that it is a movie directed and co-written by Madonna! Well at least the costumes are good I guess...

Best Achievement in Makeup:

Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
The Iron Lady

I think that the Harry Potter series will finally have won its first Oscar with a win in this category! And is it too late to make the "Is the Iron Lady part of the Avengers" joke?

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score:
The Adventures of Tintin
The Artist

Tinker Tailor Solider Spy
War Horse

I haven't seen any of these movies yet. I'm not surprised since none of the 2011 movies I saw had memorable scores. If I had to choose a favorite score of the movies I saw I guess I would pick Alan Silvestri's score for Captain America.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song:
The Muppets - "Man or a Muppet"
Rio - "Real in Rio"

I figured that the song "Star Spangled Man" from Captain America would not be nominated, but I'm still upset because it not only deserved the nomination but to win outright. "Star Spangled Man" is a great, catchy song in the style of 1940s Irving Berlin tunes. The use of the song to deal with the propaganda side of Captain America was wonderful and I am glad the movie addressed this aspect of the character. The song's lyrics were written by David Zippel (two Oscar nominations) and the music was written by Alan Menken (eight Oscar wins and many more nominations) who both worked on the music of the Disney Renaissance films. The song even has a strong pedigree so what went wrong here? Does the Academy think comic book movies can't have great songs? There were only two songs nominated, would it really have killed the Academy to at least nominate "Star Spangled Man"?
On a more positive note I'm glad to see a song from the The Muppets get an Oscar nomination, especially "Man or a Muppet" as it was my favorite new song in the movie. Since "Star Spangled Man" is out I'm rooting for "Man or a Muppet" all the way!

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

The sound categories tend be to the time when the Academy throws a bone to genre films. That isn't the case here (other than Transformers) and all these films got several nominations. I would have liked to see a little more diversity here.

Best Achievement in Sound Editing:
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

This category is the only nomination for Drive. I haven't seen it yet but it only has one nomination while Transformers has three. That doesn't sound fair to me!

Best Achievement in Visual Effects:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

How The Tree of Life did not get nominated here is beyond me. Terrence Malick got Douglass Trumbull to work on visual effects on a movie for the first time since Blade Runner (1982) and the results were magnificent. Adding fuel to the fire is that couple of CGI fests got nominated instead.
I've heard that the special effects for Rise of the Planet of the Apes were groundbreaking. I'll be content as long as Real Steel and Transformers: Dark of the Moon don't win!

Best Short Film, Animated:

The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

Although I haven't seen any of these shorts, I have seen a short which fits the criteria that I feel should have been nominated. The traditionally animated short film (5 minutes) The Ballad of Nessie was shown in theaters before Winnie the Pooh. The Ballad of Nessie was a nice throw-back to the 1960s style of Disney animation and story telling. It was the perfect appetizer for Winnie the Pooh and it is quite sad to see the Academy ignoring Disney when they make great traditionally animated films.

Best Short Film, Live Action:

The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantic

I haven't seen any of these short films and I doubt that most people have. Time Freak is a sci-fi/comedy short about time travel, so it sounds like something I would enjoy if I ever get the chance to see it.

Best Documentary, Features:
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

While I am somebody who likes all genres of film, documentaries would probably be the type of film I watch the least. I like documentaries, especially those on historical events, I just don't really seek them out to watch. So like most people out there I didn't know anything about these documentaries until I looked them up now while writing this post. Undefeated is about a high school football team so I would probably like it. Pina was directed by filmmaker Wim Wenders and is a tribute to German dance teacher, performer, and choreographer Pina Bausch.

Best Documentary, Short Subjects:
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldiers of the Civil Rights Movement
God is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

After looking up some information on these documentaries they all sound quite interesting. God is the Bigger Elvis is about actress Dolores Hart who co-starred in some Elvis Presley movies before leaving Hollywood to become a Benedictine nun.

Well there you have it, my first (and hopefully not last!) Oscars post! Overall I don't think the Academy did any worse than usual as there always are snubs. The 84th Academy Awards will take place Sunday February 26th so be I'll make a follow-up to this post in about a month. I also plan on doing a post or two about the Razzie awards!

I still have a lot of catching up to do and I'm not sure when my next post will be as I've gotten busy with my job and grad school work. Don't worry though, future posts will be forthcoming, just at a slower pace until I get back on schedule.


  1. Ah, I had forgotten you had this blog.

    I haven't seen Tree of Life yet (I want to), but I've heard great things about it. I think it's biggest contender is The Artist. It's cleverly directed, well acted, and it'll definitely appeal to the aging actors who judge it. It's definitely oscar-bait of the self-congratulatory kind, but really good nonetheless. On the other hand, while I enjoyed Midnight in Paris, I'm not sure why it's on the list, and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo isn't.

    Achievement in directing should almost certainly go to Hugo for making such an awful script actually work. There are some truly amazing sequences and shots in that film.

    I'm really surprised Girl with the Dragon Tattoo showed up for cinematography, but not for writing. A big part of what made that film great was its writing, but its cinematography, while functional, felt rather passe for the most part.

    The Artist definitely deserves best score. It worked so beautifully with the film.

    I'm usually annoyed how anime films almost never show up for best animated feature (and those that do are invariably Miyazaki), but this year, there really wasn't anything that deserved a nomination that I know of.

    Anyway, not a bad year for movies.

  2. I have Tree of Life on DVD if you want to borrow it, just let me know.

    I really gotta see The Artist, Hugo, and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo especially after all the nominations they received. While I haven't read or seen Girl with the Dragon Tattoo I am also surprised it didn't get nominated for best adapted screenplay while The Ides of March (a movie I had never heard of before) did.

    I'm not too familiar with anime films but I can't say I'm surprised that the Oscars usually don't recognize them. I'm still disappointed Winnie the Pooh didn't get nominated for best animated feature! I agree that 2011 was a good year for film, although there is still a bunch of 2011 movies I still need to see.

    Thanks for the comment. Looks like I have two people with the name Nate who read this blog!

  3. I haven't seen Winnie the Pooh. Actually, I probably passed it off as some attempt at a cash in, to be perfectly honest. If you recommend it though, I'll check it out.

    If you don't mind, I'd definitely like to borrow Tree of Life, if you don't mind.

    The thing about anime and the Oscars is that they almost never get a large enough theatrical run here to count, if at all. The only ones that reliably do get that kind of release are films by Studio Ghibli (mainly the work of Hayao Miyazaki), who, while they almost always turn out interesting work, appeal very much to American sensibilities. Anything like a Mamoru Oshii or Satoshi Kon film can't get the necessary investment behind it, even if they're generally much more deserving.

  4. Don't worry, Winnie the Pooh was not a cash grab. I really gotta hand it to Disney to making a very good traditionally animated film. If you liked their original Pooh films then you will like this one.

    Sure no problem! The Tree of Life was pretty divisive amongst audiences so I'll be curious to know what you think of it.

    I'm not too familiar with anime so thanks for the information. I haven't seen anything by Miyazaki yet.