by Sara Michelle Fetters -
SGN Contributing Writer
When Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) president Tom Sherak and former Best Actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence announced the nominees for the 2012 Oscars, there were more than a few shocks and surprises. Sure, supposed frontrunners Hugo, The Artist, and The Descendants led the way with 11, 10, and five major nominations, respectively, but they were joined by six other contenders in the all-important Best Picture category, including the much-maligned (at least in some corners, certainly not in mine) Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, a fact that had many pundits and prognosticators scratching their heads.
The other nominees in the category were more or less the widely expected ones: Midnight in Paris, Tree of Life, Moneyball, The Help, and War Horse rounding things out. The biggest surprise snub had to be the exclusion of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, especially considering it received five major nominations including nods for Best Editing and Best Actress (Rooney Mara). Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy also did surprisingly well on the nomination front, receiving three, including ones for Best Actor Gary Oldman (the revered actor's first) and for Best Adapted Screenplay.
The Best Actor category was an especially tough call for the voting members of the AMPAS. Oldman, George Clooney (The Descendants), Brad Pitt (Moneyball), Jean Dujardin (The Artist), and Demian Bichir (A Better Life) all made the cut while the likes of Michael Fassbender (Shame), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (50/50), and Ryan Gosling (Drive, The Ides of March) were left on the outside looking in. The same could also be said for the Best Actress category, and while expected nominees Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady), Viola Davis (The Help), and Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn) made the cut, both Mara and former nominee Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs) took slots many figured were going to be handed out to the likes of Tilda Swinton (We Need to Talk About Kevin), Charlize Theron (Young Adult), or Elizabeth Olsen (Martha Marcy May Marlene).
Other surprises? How about supposed frontrunner Albert Brooks (Drive) being left out of the nominee pool in the Best Supporting Actor category? Sure, Christopher Plummer (Beginners), Jonah Hill (Moneyball), and Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn) all made the cut, but anyone who predicted that both Max Von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) and Nick Nolte (Warrior) would be given nominations over Brooks did so with decidedly crooked smiles.
Supporting Actress contenders include The Help scene-stealers Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain, Berenice Bejo (The Artist), Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids), and Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs), making this the only acting category that went more or less as expected. On the director front, the only surprise is the snubbing of Steven Spielberg for War Horse (which still received six total nominations), Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris), Terrence Malick (Tree of Life), Martin Scorsese (Hugo), Alexander Payne (The Descendants), and Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist) filling out the category instead.
But probably the most surprising category had to be the nominees for Best Animated Film. While studio financed efforts Rango, Kung Fu Panda 2, and Puss in Boots are all up for the win, the likes of The Adventures of Tintin, Cars 2, Happy Feet 2, Arthur Christmas, Rio, and Winnie the Pooh were all left out in the cold. Instead, foreign imports A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita found themselves as the final two nominees, a fact that left Hollywood heavyweights like Warner Bros., Sony Pictures, Disney, FOX, and Pixar scratching their heads.
For my part, nominations that made me personally squeal for joy were Best Original Screenplay nominations for J.C. Chandor (Margin Call) and Asghar Farhadi (A Separation, which is also up for Best Foreign Film), Undefeated up for Best Documentary, and Alberto Iglesias getting a nod for his superb original score for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I was also very excited both Malick and Allen found themselves in the Best Director race as I didn't think either had a chance of being recognized for their outstanding work in 2011, both films two of the more inspiring released all of last year.
The 84th Annual Academy Awards for outstanding film achievements of 2012 will be presented on Sunday, February 26, 2012, at the Kodak Theatre at Hollywood and Highland Center, and televised live by ABC. The Oscar presentation also will be shown live in more than 200 countries worldwide.
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