Oscar Nomination Morning – Post Mortem

E: Happy Nomination morning, everyone.  We have 6 more weeks of winter, and about 4 to Oscar.  Woah!  I didn’t see some of that coming, and that is pretty fun.  This morning proved that what I thought I knew, I knew, and what I knew I was guessing on – well, I was guessing.  Out of the 35 nominations I guessed at, I got 31 right.  See the 4 I got wrong after the jump.

Best Supporting Actor:

I Guessed:

Matt Damon, Invictus

Woody Harrelson, The Messenger

Christopher Plummer, The Last Station

Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

The Chosen Five (5/5):

Matt Damon, Invictus

Woody Harrelson, The Messenger

Christopher Plummer, The Last Station

Stanley Tucci, The Lovely Bones

Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds

What is there to say?  The easiest category of the day. Hurrah for first time nominees Plummer, Tucci and Waltz!

Best Supporting Actress:

I Guessed:

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air

Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

Melanie Laurent, Inglourious Basterds

Mo’Nique, Precious

Julianne Moore, A Single Man

The Chosen Five (3/5):

Penelope Cruz, Nine

Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air

Maggie Gyllenhaal, Crazy Heart

Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air

Mo’Nique, Precious

Ouch!  It’s rare that I do so badly on a category.  I knew that Moore and especially Laurent were guesses, but yikes.  What did we learn?  That it didn’t matter so much that Nine flopped – or perhaps it’s just that the Academy really likes former winner and now three time nominee Cruz?  The Academy is not overly enamored of Inglourious Basterds.  Good.  Me neither. It’s also clear that the Academy really likes Crazy Heart.  Not, apparently, enough to give it a Best Picture nod (which I started wondering about after hearing Gyllenhaal’s name), but quite a bit.  I’m excited for her; she’s a terrific actress who’s flirted with the awards season before (in her lead role in Secretary) but had never been nominated before this morning.  I actually thought about picking Gyllenhaal or Morton, but (as you saw) decided on Laurent as my “surprise” nominee.  Ooops.

And, blast it, that means I need to see Nine.  Is it even playing anywhere now?  Oh well.  At least I love the rest of the cast, even if Cruz isn’t one of my personal favorites.

Best Actor:

I Guessed:

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

George Clooney, Up in the Air

Colin Firth, A Single Man

Morgan Freeman, Invictus

Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

The Chosen Five (5/5):

Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart

George Clooney, Up in the Air

Colin Firth, A Single Man

Morgan Freeman, Invictus

Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker

Woohoo, first time nominees Jeremy Renner and Colin Firth!  I was really nervous that Firth was going to miss out (as Moore did – that may show the support for that lovely movie is waining) but no!  Hurrah!  I’m thrilled for them.  This is a really nice group.

Best Actress:

I Guessed:

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

Helen Mirren, The Last Station

Carey Mulligan, An Education

Gabourey Sidibe, Precious

Meryl Streep, Julie and Julia

The Chosen Five (5/5):

Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side

Helen Mirren, The Last Station

Carey Mulligan, An Education

Gabourey Sidibe, Precious

Meryl Streep, Julie and Julia

We have three first time nominees here, starting with Meryl Streep… oh, wait that’s right.  This was her record 16th nomination.  Of course all her nominations will be record – she passed the record at 13 and everything from there up just increases her just dominance.  It’s Bullock, Mulligan, and Sidibe who are new to the show.  Bullock is hardly new to Hollywood, but she’s never been the type of actress that the Academy rewards.  She got the loudest cheer of all the nominees in any category at this morning’s announcement, and is our likely winner.

Best Director:

I Guessed:

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

James Cameron, Avatar

Lee Daniels, Precious

Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

The Chosen Five (5/5):

Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

James Cameron, Avatar

Lee Daniels, Precious

Jason Reitman, Up in the Air

Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds

The first name called this morning was James Cameron, and my heart froze for a second until I remembered that they call this category alphabetically by movie title, not director’s name.  All just as expected, which is some ways is rather unusual for the Director’s branch (as the nominations are voted on by the relevant “branches” of the Academy – only directors get to nominate directors, etc).  Go, Kathryn Bigelow! They had her (and Anthony Mackie and Jeremy Renner) on the Today Show just after the nominations we read.  I’m so excited for them.  She’s stunning, by the way – tall, incredibly thin, kind of a Kim Raver/ Dana Delaney blend, and so gracious not only about her ex-husband, but about thanking her entire cast and crew for working on little money in difficult circumstances (filming in the Middle East, sand storms, cross cultural and linguistic barriers, etc).  She and her actors were all tremendously winning.

Best Picture:

I Guessed and Cursed the Academy:

Avatar

District 9

An Education

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Invictus

Precious

Star Trek

Up

Up in the Air

The Unwieldy Ten (8/10):

Avatar

The Blind Side

District 9

An Education

The Hurt Locker

Inglourious Basterds

Precious

A Serious Man

Up

Up in the Air

The big story here has to be The Blind Side.  Sure, it’s interesting to see that another little indie movie like A Serious Man snuck in; that’s the sort of movie I thought would round out the top ten when the Academy launched this experiment.  (Does this mean that the Academy likes the Coens more than Clint now?)  But The Blind Side – and District 9, which I called correctly, and Avatar, which was a given – is an old fashioned blockbuster, a crowd-pleaser, and it achieves everything that the ten movie shift was meant to do.  It gives viewers a rooting interest, a movie they care about.  (I think it also bolsters Sandra Bullock’s chances of a win; if the movie is considered that high caliber, then it’s easier to stop thinking of her as just romantic comedy Sandy.)

It’s also interesting from a sort of academic standpoint.  The Hurt Locker and Avatar (ie David and Goliath) are tied with 9 nominations a piece.  A husband (the excellently suave Peter Sarsgaard) is in a nominated movie (An Education) while his wife (Maggie Gyllenhaal) got an acting nomination.  We traded one inspiring true sports story (Invictus) for another.  And we got some comedy blended in that way, too, even though The Blind Side isn’t a straight comedy.  The Academy is not so daring as that, it seems. We do have three movies out of ten about women, which is one more than I thought we were getting.   We have two instead of three sci fi nominees; I should have know that the very name Star Trek would be enough to sink its chances.  We have four bonafide blockbusters.  We have the second animated film ever to be nominated for best picture (the first being Beauty and The Beast), and that’s a wonderful, if expected, bonus of the 10 nominee slate as well.

So what did you think?  How did your favorites do?  Are you more likely to watch now, or are you in a snit because the brand has been diluted?  What leaves you cheering, and what has you scratching your head?  Let me know.  Happy Nomination morning, everyone  – and for the complete list of nominees, check here.

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15 comments on “Oscar Nomination Morning – Post Mortem

  1. Sonia says:

    I watched the HURT LOCKER peeps on the Today show, too! KB is indeed a very elegant and gracious lady.

    As for your predictions — well done, you!

    I need to get crackin’ on seeing all the films I’ve missed . . .

    • E says:

      Thank you!

      And yes, I’ve got quite a few to see myself. The Hurt Locker is at the top of my list to see – I’m missing only 2 of the Best Picture nominees, but 8 altogether. Eep!

  2. Matt H says:

    You know, I just saw The Hurt Locker last night, and while I’ve been rooting for it all along (probably mostly to take down the mighty, flawed Avatar,) I have to say that I wasn’t terribly impressed. It was kind of a movie that was just a string of tense moments tied together. It wasn’t a BAD movie by any means, but… I don’t know. I guess I’m just a little disappointed to realize that something I was hoping to root for didn’t so much pan out.

    Anyway – back to thoughts on the noms.

    My immediate thought, seeing Cruz, is just that people sent in their nominations earlier rather than later – back before Nine totally flopped. I mean, I know she’s gotten nominated before, so they seem to like her, but it’s hard to imagine she’d have gotten nominated for such a dud of a movie. Boy, though, am I sad to have her taking a slot from my beloved Julianne Moore and adored Samantha Morton. And I guess it’s nice to see a semi-surprise like Gyllenhaal in there, but ech, I cannot stand her.

    Not much to say about the other acting nominations, eh? Pretty standard.

    And Best Picture. Boy, imagine if there’d only been 5 this year. You’d have likely had 28 correct out of 30! A couple of things pop out at me here. With the inclusion of The Blind Side in the Best Picture race, you have to think that catapults Bullock from a tight Best Actress race into the clear front-runner. It’s also going to be fascinating to see what happens with Best Picture. I’m thinking of it from a little bit of a different perspective. As in, now there are 5 additional films to pull votes away from the 5 assumed front-runners (Avatar, Hurt Locker, Up in the Air, Precious and Inglorious Basterds.) Does the potential favorite Avatar lose votes to smaller blockbuster-sci-fi District 9? And enough votes to lose? Maybe it even loses popular votes to The Blind Side? Does little indie Precious lose votes to little indie An Education? Or does it lose votes to An Education and The Blind Side as the other two female-centric films? Does the screenplay driven Up in the Air lose votes to screenwriter experts the Coens’ A Serious Man? It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. And while I was positive that this would be a showdown between The Hurt Locker and Avatar, now that the nominations are actually out, I don’t feel like I have a clue what could happen in this uncharted territory. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see The Blind Side, or even Up, walk away with the grand prize.

    • E says:

      Eek, Matt, too much to respond to! I think you’re spot on about Sandra Bullock. I think it’s going to be fascinating; with no precursors, and a month between the nominations and the show, how on earth are we going to know how the momentum is evolving? There’s the Independent Spirits, but they’re almost a contra-indicator. People could shift over to The Blind Side (which, good movie, but Best Picture? I don’t know) or Inglourious Basterds or something different. And we could just stick to the favorites now for the acting races, or people might be looking to meet them, and someone might use a charm offensive to sneak in. Baffling.

      • Matt H says:

        Oh, that’s always a great point! It’ll be interesting to see how the nominees make the rounds. It seems to be widely believed that Marion Cotillard’s charm and exposure, combined with Julie Christie’s invisibility, pushed her over the top last year. So I can’t wait to see how the nominees “campaign.” (That sounds so unseemly, but hey, you gotta do it.) For example, I keep hearing what an effervescent delight Gabby Sidibe is, in a way that might make people that much more impressed with her performance, yet, I have to admit, I haven’t seen interviews with her. It’d be fascinating if she could get out there and convince people that she should get their votes. I’m just so intrigued to see how it all plays out, with, as you said, no other major awards left to capture.

      • Matt H says:

        Oh, and you know what? Were I to get a vote, I would seriously consider choosing The Blind Side. Once I thought about it, I’m sure I’d end up choosing Precious or Up (and, to be fair, I haven’t seen Up in the Air or A Serious Man yet.) But I think it’s dangerous, with a top 10 to anonymously choose from, to discount a win for a movie like that that people just really LIKE.

        • E says:

          Up Up Up!!!!!!

        • M says:

          It’s just that so frequently in the past Oscar has very pointedly gone against the movies that people really like…

          • Matt H says:

            Well, if you mean it in the sense that the big, popular highest-grossers don’t always win, then that’s fair, a very good point. But I think that what the general public goes out to see and what could be considered quality filmmaking usually aren’t in alignment (with certain exceptions, like The Dark Knight and the Lord of the Rings films,) and thus don’t typically get nominated. However, if you look at the last few winners, you could argue that a lot of them were the most popular choices of the 5 nominated. Slumdog Millionaire, The Departed, Chicago, A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator – all big hits. The grand exception, of course, is the first two Lord of the Rings films, but I’d expect there was something else going on there, a combination of a hesitation to award fantasy and the thinking that there was another year to reward the trilogy. The case I was trying to make was really a more compact, specific one – not that the Academy would be likely to award the films that people actually like (Star Trek’s omission being a good argument to counter that,) but that, given what an additional 5 slots has allowed in, I could see a selection from this multiple choice being a movie that they actually were entertained by rather than one that they were told by critics to appreciate.

            • E says:

              I think it’s a pendulum swing kind of thing. Many of the indie movies that have become popular in the 90s are just plain better films. But what Oscar has forgotten, I think, is that it’s no sin to be entertaining. A movie doesn’t need to be Serious to be a perfectly made movie. Not that I have anything problems with Seriousness; I just don’t think it’s the only thing. I can’t imagine a movie like Pretty Woman getting a nomination today, can you? And that’s a shame, because it’s a great movie, that isn’t just a blockbuster or mindlessly popular, it’s a movie people continue to love because it does the things a movie should. It entertained.
              Anyway, I think it’s tough to figure out how to tell people what movies to like, or to change the standards by which we measure them (especially if the goal is just to improve ratings). The funny thing is, lots of these dark movies aren’t even that highbrow, so it isn’t even the elitist thing it’s sometimes taken for.

              • Matt H says:

                And the “serious” thing is exactly it, isn’t it? When was the last time we got a REAL comedy nominated? You just don’t see any more Full Montys or Four Weddings and a Funerals. You get quirky, dark “comedies,” like Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, if you get any at all. And I think that instant dismissal of comedy is a shame. You really miss out when you don’t even consider great comedies like Best in Show or Bridget Jones’s Diary or Devil Wears Prada.

  3. Matt H says:

    Oh, also? In other categories, what the heck ARE some of these movies?!?
    The Secret of Kells – Animated Feature
    The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus – Art Direction / Costume Design
    The White Ribbon – Cinematography
    Il Divo – Makeup
    Paris 36 – Original Song
    In The Loop – Adapted Screenplay

    I can’t remember a time when there were, well, frankly ANY films nominated that I didn’t know or barely knew, never mind this many!

    • E says:

      Gosh, I’m so with you. I’ve heard of a few of these – Parnassus was Heath Ledger’s last film, and White Ribbon is one of the foreign film nominees. I don’t remember hearing that Parnassus even got released, though. What the heck are the rest of them?

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