With all of today’s hoopla about POTUS and his SOTU speech, you might have forgotten the other big news story – Oscar nominations! It’s the time of year to dissect and obsess over the best (or “best”) that Hollywood had to offer. Unfortunately I had to miss my annual ritual of watching them live, but did catch up as soon as I could. Here are my first reactions, with more to come as the Academy Awards draw closer.
1. Not such a bad list of 10 for Best Picture
Granted I’m still not wild over this idea of a G10 of nominees for the top prize, but at least this year they have all been well-recognized by critics for being great movies. So far I’ve managed to see six of them, with Winter’s Bone sitting next to the TV ready to be watched soon. I don’t really plan to hit them all, however – I just have no interest in 127 Hours.
My first instinct when I scanned the list was to cry out, “No Directing nod for Christopher Nolan? What is wrong with these people?” Then I noticed he still picked up a nod for Original Screenplay, and of course Inception is up for Best Picture. That gave me a bit of solace. So I’ve decided the biggest snub this year is Julianne Moore, whom I thought was deserving of a nomination for The Kids Are All Right. Her performance was playing a character unlike I’ve seen from her before – and really made an adulteress likable. Isn’t that usually a shoe-in?
Every year there is one nominee, usually a Supporting Actor or Actress, that comes as a bit of a surprise. It’s the one person that flew under the radar of the prognosticators and wasn’t on anyone’s lists. In other words, the one person that Entertainment Weekly hadn’t already run out and photographed for their upcoming issue! Last year it was Maggie Gyllenhaal. This year it has to be John Hawkes from Winter’s Bone. I’ll be watching the movie soon, so I’ll report back if this one was deserved.
4. Most confusing categories
Other than the categories that amateur critics like myself can’t be expected to predict, the rest of the nominations are usually straight-forward with the occasional surprise. But this year there are two that just baffle the mind. First, there is the Best Documentary Feature category – all of the buzz throughout the year has focused on a handful of films – notably Waiting for Superman and Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work. But neither made the final list! This will be a huge advantage for two other docs that got a lot of talk this year – Exit Through the Gift Shop and Inside Job. The other baffling category is Best Makeup, which features an American film that bombed at the box office (The Wolfman), a Canadian film few have heard of (Barney’s Version) and a movie that was just released nationwide last Friday that nobody’s heard of (The Way Back). Isn’t this the category where they usually nominate a blockbuster that has only one redeeming quality – good prosthetics?
5. Plenty still to see
With weeks to go, I’ve got a lot of catching up to do! Fortunately with one nominee here at home and another (Animal Kingdom) on the way, I have a head-start. Which begs the question – are there any films I need to make a priority to see in the theaters while I still can? The Fighter? True Grit? Weigh in through the comments below.