Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oscars: The Surprises and the Snubs

Like every year the Oscars surprise with their nominations as they snub many deserving and surprise with some of their obscure choices. As many go through the list they will notice many films missing such as Drive, Shame, Melancholia, J. Edgar, Carnage, A Dangerous Method, Martha Marcy May Marlene and We Need to Talk about Kevin.  As I did with the Golden Globes I will go through each category and analyze them. 

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

When the Academy announced they were going to pick anywhere from 5-10 films, I thought it would be more interesting. However once I saw the amount of great films this year, I thought it was the wrong time for this. And as I had predicted they left out many great films. War Horse, The Artist, Moneyball, The Descendants, The Help and Hugo were all shoe ins as they received nominations for the Producers Guild of America. So when The Tree of Life and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close were nominated it was shocking to see these two neglected films on the list. The Tree of Life which won a handful of Critics awards had been neglected by all the Guilds and by the Golden Globes. As a result many believed it wouldn't get nominated. However having won the Palm d'Or, and the  Gotham Award, The Tree of Life still had a chance at a Best Picture nomination. It may not win but being on the list is already a feat for this highly experimental film. 

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was the biggest surprise as the film becomes one of the worst reviewed films to be nominated for an Academy Award. It seems that Stephen Daldry and Scott Rudin are favorites of the Academy. Daldry's previous film The Reader was scrutinized for shunning out the Dark Knight in 2008 for the Best Picture Award. Like The Reader, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was ignored by most guilds except for the BFCA. With bad reviews, most believed it would be left . This year, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close seems to be the film most will complain about. Daldry may be a great filmmaker but this film and his previous are far from his best.

The Snubbs: So who was left out? Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was the biggest loser as the film received three nominations but failed to get the Best Picture nomination. While it was neglected by the Guilds the BAFTA nominated it for Best Picture. Most believed that because the BAFTA's have similar voters, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy would be able to capitalize on this nomination. The result however was a snub. Bridesmaids, The Ides of March and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo received nominations for the Producers Guild of America. As a result many believed these films had better chances of a Best Picture nomination. Bridesmaids had the longest shot being it is a gross out comedy. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo had a great shot as it was also nominated for the DGA and because David Fincher's previous two films were nominated for Best Picture. Finally The Ides of March lost its shot as it was far from the film most expected when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival. As I stated in my Golden Globes article The Ides of March was more of a ratings booster than actual pick.  Other notable films most will complain about are Drive, Shame, J. Edgar, Melancholia, and Harry Potter.  
Best Actress
Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs
Rooney Mara, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Viola Davis, The Help
Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams, My Week With Marilyn

In this category there weren't many shocks. Meryl Streep received her 17th nomination, Glen Close received her sixth nomination, Michelle Williams received her third nomination and Viola Davis received her second. The big surprise was the omission of Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin. Most believed that  she was a lock having won Critics awards, and having received a BAFTA and SAG nominations. In her place came Rooney Mara for the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Mara had received a Gold Globe nomination previously. In my opinion I think they wanted to bring a first time nominee and they wanted to give Fincher's  film a nomination for something other than a technical award. 

Other snubs included Kirsten Dunst for Melancholia, Elizabeth Olsen for Marth Marcy May Marlene, and Charlize Theron for Young Adult. 
Best Actor
Demian Bichir, A Better Life
George Clooney, The Descendants
Jean Dujardin, The Artist
Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Like the SAGs the Oscars nominated Bichir, Clooney, Pitt, and Dujardin. Oldman came as the surprise after being snubbed from virtually every single major awards aside from British Organizations. At the expense came Michael Fassbender's towering performance for Shame, a performance I believe was far better than some of the these performances. Fassbender who won the best actor award at the Venice Film Festival was for most a lock. However the Academy once again demonstrated that they were unable to let go of their stigma toward NC-17 and opted out of nominating what many people will call the best performance of the year. However Oldman finally received the recognition he has deserved for many years.

Leonardo Dicaprio was also snubbed in his honest portrayal of J. Edgar. With this snub the academy demonstrated that Clint Eastwood's films no longer appeal to them and  that Dicaprio is still not their cup of tea. 

Other notable snubs include Michael Shannon for Take Shelter and Ryan Gosling for Drive and the Ides of March. 
Supporting Actress
Berenice Bejo, The Artist
Jessica Chastain, The Help
Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer, The Artist

There weren't any surprises in this list as the Academy picked the same five women as the SAGs. However there are many notable absences. Shailene Woodley will be everyones first pick. Even though I believe her performance was overrated, her absence demonstrated the lack of love the Academy had for The Descendants. Carey Mulligan's astonishing performance for Shame was also left out as was Vanessa Redgrave's incredible work in Coriolanus. The absence of these two performances showed how the academy will neglect smaller films in favor of studio films.   
Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh, My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill, Moneyball
Nick Nolte, Warrior
Christopher Plummer, Beginners
Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Like the other acting nominations the Supporting Actor kept with the SAG's except for Von Sydow. Max Von Sydow's nomination came as a surprise after so many had neglected the film and his performance alone. However Von Sydow's nomination came at the expense of critic's darling Albert Brooks. Brooks was for a long time considered the front runner as he had won the most precursor awards. When he was not nominated for the SAGs many were shocked but they thought it would not carry onto the Academy. However the absence of Brooks demonstrated that the Academy did not care much for Drive. 

As aforementioned the exclusion of Armie Hammer also demonstrated that Clint Eastwood is no longer infallible.  

Other notable snubs include Viggo Mortensen's outstanding performance in A Dangerous Method, Corey Stoll for Midnight in Paris, Patton Oswalt for Young Adult and Andy Serkis for Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
Best Director
Michel Hazanivicus, The Artist
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

The directing award deviated only once from the Directors Guild nominees. David Fincher received no nomination for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. As I had predicted, Fincher's DGA award nomination was a consolation nomination for his loss last year loss to Tom Hooper. In his place came the esteemed Terrence Malick who may not show up to the ceremony. Still the Academy demonstrated that they were willing to take a risk with an experimental film and nominate the vision of a great director. 

Notable snubs for the Best Directing award included Steven Spielberg for War Horse, Stephen Daldry for Extremely Loud Incredibly Close, Tate Taylor for The Help, and Bennett Miller for Moneyball. 
Best Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanivicius, The Artist
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumulo, Bridesmaids
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
J.C. Chandor, Margin Call
Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

Notable snubs included Terrence Malick for the Tree of Life, 50/50, Win Win, and Young Adult. Beginners, Martha Marcy May Marlene and Melancholia. 
The biggest surprise in this  category was  by far Margin Call, a film which I didn't really care for. It was solid but like I stated in my review it was far from memorable. It was nice to see A Separation receive recognition in a category other than foreign film.  
Best Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash,The Descendants
John Logan, Hugo
George Clooney, Beau Willimon and Grant Heslov, The Ides of March
Steven Zaillian, Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin, Moneyball
Bridget O'Connor and Peter Straughan, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Notable Snubs include The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Help, War Horse, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. The latter three are interesting as they were nominated for Best picture. Most of the time when a film is nominated for Best Picture, it is usually nominated for screenplay. Sometimes there is an exception. However four films out of nine is very rare. It is interesting to see how the Academy thought Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and The Ides of March had some of the BEST adapted screenplays and yet they didn't think they were BEST PICTURE quality. This will always seem odd and contradictory to me.    
Best Foreign Feature
In Darkness
Monsier Lazhar
In Separation

To talk about snubs is impossible as the Academy had already snubbed Miss Bala, and Le Havre when they announced the top nine contenders. However out of those Nine, PINA is the one that is not on this list. I have a feeling that the Academy has a stigma against Documentaries and Animated films in this category as they failed to nominate Persepolis back in 2007. Pina was put in the documentary category instead. This category is always tricky to predict but based on precursors A Separation and In Darkness are the front runners to win.
Best Animated Feature
A Cat in Paris
Chico & Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots

After The PGA awards, Tintin was thought to be the front runner. But like always the Academy surprises in this category. Two foreign films were nominated instead of Tintin. With the elimination of Tintin the academy once again showed that they are not fans of performance capture. Previous films to be neglected using this technique include, Beowulf, A Christmas Carol and the Polar Express. As a result of this snub, the front runner will be hard to predict but most will say Rango.

Other notable snubs include Winnie the Pooh, and critically acclaimed Arthur Christmas.
Art Direction
The Artist  
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

Notable snubs include Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Help and the Tree of Life.
The biggest surprises came from War Horse and Midnight in Paris as they were not nominated for the Art Director's Guild. Still War Horse was long considered a shoe in in this Category. 
The Artist
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

Notable absences include Drive, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and Melancholia. 
For the most part there weren't any surprises. 
Costume Design
The Artist
Jane Eyre

Notable absences include A Dangerous Method, The Help, My Week with Marilyn.

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

Notable absences include Project Nim and Senna. After all the precursors gave the award to Cave of Forgotten Dreams and the PGA gave the award to Beats, Rhymes and Life, this category seems  like it an open race to any one of these films. It's probably the most surprising and original category this year. 

Documentary Short Subject
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God Is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
Film Editing
Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Kevin Tent, The Descendants
Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Thelma Schoonmaker, Hugo
Christopher Tellefsen, Moneyball

There aren't any surprises except for the omission of War Horse as all these films were nominated for the Cinema Editor's society. However there were plenty of snubs as Drive, The Tree of Life, War Horse, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy demonstrated the capabilities of editing in film making. It is sad how some of these union groups dictate what is the best and how the Academy usually goes by there nominees. The editing nomination is very important as the winner of the Academy Award is usually nominated for this category. Based on this list The Descendants, Moneyball, The Artist and Hugo are the films most likely to win the Best Picture of year.
Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle, Albert Nobbs
Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland, The Iron Lady

There weren't any surprises. However I do believe that this category should be expanded to allow more films to compete. 
Music (Original Score)
John Williams, The Adventures of Tintin
Ludovic Bource, The Artist
Howard Shore, Hugo
Alberto Iglesias, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
John Williams, War Horse

John Williams proved to be a favorite of the Academy scoring two nominations giving him a total of 42 nominations. His nomination for Tintin was a surprise as many knew he would be nominated for War Horse.  Alberto Iglesias  also surprised as he was never considered a top contender because Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was absent throughout precursors. Hugo and the Artist seem to be the front runners. 

Ad midst the surprise many composers were snubbed such Alexandre Desplat's haunting score for Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and Trent Reznors' pitchy music for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. 

Other notable snubs include Dario Marianelli's Score for Jane Eyre
Music (Original Song)
"Man or Muppet" from The Muppets, Bret McKenzie
"Real in Rio" from Rio, Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett

This is very awkward as the academy had a huge list of contenders and after looking through them they believed only two songs were worthy of the nominations. Because there are only two choices the award seems likely to go to The Muppets. 

So what was Snubbed? The Help, W.E., Hugo, Gnomeo and Juliet among others.
Sound Editing
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse
Sound Mixing
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

The sound categories are always hard to predict because one never knows what the academy is looking for. However it sometimes gives nominations to films not considered for best picture. In this case Drive received its only nomination and Transformers received two of its three nominations. The rest of the nominees seemed like obvious choices. 

What surprised here was how the Academy deviated from the Sound guilds. Super 8, Hanna,  and Pirates of the Caribbean were nominated for the Cinema Audio Society and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Super 8 were nominated for the Sound editors guild.  
Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Notable Omissions included The Tree of Life and Pirates of the Caribbean.
The biggest surprise was Real Steel.
Short Film (Animated)
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life
Short Film (Live Action)
The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantic

After all has been said and done it seems the Academy tried to go for diverse films. They also showed that certain films like The Descendants and The Help were not at the top of their lists and that Hugo and the Artists were their favorites. Finally they demonstrated that they are not ready to take enough risks with their choices.  

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