Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oscar Nomination Snap Judgments

It might not be safe to judge me on these come the day of the ceremony! The disclaimer, obviously, is that it's 6 A.M. here in Los Angeles and my brain is still trying to process being awake, let alone writing for all the Internets to see.

Not too many surprises this morning, but there were a few. Here they are, along with other snap judgments regarding today's Academy Award nominations:
  1. True Grit back from the dead: After being snubbed at the Globes, and with indications that past winners the Coen Bros. probably would NOT be recognized for directing, the Coen Bros. WERE recognized for directing AND the movie had the second-most nominations, with 10
  2. Andrew Garfield overlooked for Best Supporting Actor in the role that is the heart of the film that is supposed to be the front-runner. I'm not saying this is a death knell by any means for The Social Network, but I can't take it as GOOD news by any means.
  3. The Academy just can't bring itself to dig Christopher Nolan. The whole reason we now have 10 Best Picture nominees is because, two years, the Academy made one of its biggest snubs ever and failed to nominate Nolan's film The Dark Knight. They've nominated Inception this time around, but snubbed the Brit of a Best Director slot, something that seemed like a foregone conclusion. The Coen Bros. presumably took that slot. So the moral of the story is, in the eyes of the Academy: Coens > Nolan
  4. Javier Bardem! The former winner (for a Coen Bros. film), in a bit of an upset, won a Best Actor nomination for his role in Biutiful. It's the first time ever that a leading actor nominee's performance was entirely in Spanish.
  5. Hailee Steinfeld's nom is Michelle Williams' gain. Not a surprise in the least that the 14 year-old heroine of True Grit was nominated, but there had been some thinking recently that she'd get nominated as Best Actress (since she drives the movie) and not Best Supporting Actress (which she was being pushed for, because she's 14). But in the end, Supporting it was - which kept open a spot for the much-loved indie queen Michelle Williams as a Best Actress nominee for Blue Valentine, but presumably kept Mila Kunis (Black Swan) out of the Supporting race.
  6. John Hawkes for Best Supporting Actor: The Winter's Bone actor presumably grabbed Andrew Garfield's spot.
  7. Jacki Weaver for Best Supporting Actress: The veteran Australian actress duplicated her Golden Globes nod by getting nominated for her chilling turn in Animal Kingdom. Largely expected in many quarters, but it's still somewhat of a coup considering her film is probably the least-seen of any nominee in a major category (acting, directing, writing, picture).
In the end, what I'm most interested in is the fact that The Social Network got "only" eight nominations, which puts it in third place behind The King's Speech with 12 and True Grit (!) with 10. Granted, Social Network is not a movie designed to get tons of Oscar nominations, whereas King's Speech or True Grit are - because they can rack up nods in the technical categories like art direction, costumes, etc. But I did get somewhat of a sense that, if Social Network is to cap off awards season with a Best Picture win, it will need to have a strong core of support within the Academy, because judging from the nominations alone the voters seem to be a bit ambivalent about it. Considering the fact that it's won almost everything up to this point, it's at least one of two front-runners (along with King's Speech; 10 nominations notwithstanding, I don't think True Grit is winning). But when you throw into the mix the fact that King's Speech got 12 nominations, just won the Producer's Guild prize for Best Picture, blew everyone out of the water at the BAFTAs (I know, they're British) AND the fact that Social Network is third among most-nominated films (with a not-insignificant snub in Andrew Garfield), you begin to get the feeling that Social Network's support within the Academy might be a little shakier than previously thought.

It's going to take a bit more than expected for the Academy to crown "the Facebook movie," especially when a heart-warming, old-fashioned piece of (British!) entertainment is sitting there for the taking - along with the Coen Bros., now firmly entrenched in the establishment, as a very dark horse.

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