E: Oh, wow. Some of that was really, really surprising. I said I wanted mystery, and here it is!
That said, I’m looking forward to this year’s ceremony more than ever; Seth McFarlane and Emma Stone were hilarious, and some of the snubs and especially the mismatches in the director/best picture races give perhaps unexpected clues about who the frontrunners might be.
Best picture: 7/9
Argo, Django Unchained, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Les Mis, Moonrise Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
Argo, Amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Mis, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, Zero Dark Thirty
So I got one wrong, and left two off. Bah. I knew Dave Karger was wrong about there being only 6 nominees! I knew I should have picked a 9th nominee – which after two years I’m starting to see as a standard; I was debating between The Master and Beasts of the Southern Wild, and thought I was muddying the waters too much. Clearly the latter had far more support than I’d imagined, more in line with its critical reception than its performance thus far in the precursor awards. I’ll admit it, though; I would never have picked Amour. It was on my short list, as was Beasts, but I just did not expect it, even given the Academy’s fondness for foreign films. (I was stunned to find out that Amour is an Austrian production, not a French one; McFarlane rather hilariously observed that it was a German/Austrian production, but so much better than their other famous collaboration, Hitler.)
Best Director: 2/5
Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, Ang Lee, Steven Spielberg
The Academy Nominated:
Michael Haneke, Ang Lee, David O. Russell, Steven Spielberg, Benh Zeitlin
Best director is a pain in the butt because they tend to do these crazy things – but even for the director’s wing, this is crazy. This is the worst I have ever done in this category. So much for my unusual level of confidence! At least Haneke and Russell were on my alternate list, but Zeitlin comes so far out of left field I hadn’t even mentioned him. I mean, if I thought they were going to knock off former winners like Bigelow and Hooper, I’d have thought it’d be for bigger names like Tarantino or even Nolan. And I’m not just saying that because I wasn’t expecting it myself; if you watched the telecast, then you heard the shocked murmurs running around the room when his name was announced. That’s going to be one of the biggest stories of the day. It always astounds me when the Directors Guild is so far off from the Academy’s directing branch, which votes exclusively for this category; with such overlapping membership, you wouldn’t think their results would be that different.
The other is this: with no nominations for best director, Zero Dark Thirty and Les Mis suffer serious setbacks in their quests for best picture. This may also mean that Silver Linings Playbook (Harvey Weinsteins’s candidate) is now officially in the hunt. It’s exceedingly rare for a movie to win best picture if its direction isn’t nominated: Driving Miss Daisy is the only modern example. (The other two are Wings and Grand Hotel, in case you were wondering.) I didn’t think Argo was really going to contend for the win, but yikes. Poor Ben.
Best Actor: 4/5
Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day Lewis, John Hawkes, Hugh Jackman, Denzel Washington
Bradley Cooper, Daniel Day-Lewis, Hugh Jackman, Joachim Phoenix, Denzel Washington
Well, I did say it was a 6 man fight for five slots. I’m not surprised that Phoenix made the list, but I’m very surprised and really bummed that he displaced Hawkes, a tremendous and underated actor. Hawkes could have won this category; his absence pretty much solidifies a third Oscar for the brilliant Daniel Day-Lewis, barring an overwhelming shift in momentum toward first time nominee Hugh Jackman. This is another massive snub that’ll be a big story today.
But speaking of first time nominees, you go Will Tippin! Er, Bradley Cooper. He is not a Mila Kunis or Michael Fassbender after all! He’s been a family favorite since his days on Alias, and it’s nice to see critical success arrive along with the box office gold. Whatever happens, you will forever be Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper, and that’s got to feel nice. Now, if Cooper can beat Jackman at the Globes this weekend, that could make him an actual contender for the big prize. If it’s Jackman as I expect it will be, he’s the one who goes on to duel with Day-Lewis for the crown.
Best Actress:3/5 (ugh)
Jessica Chastain, Marion Cotillard, Jennifer Lawrence, Helen Mirren, Naomi Watts
Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Emmanuelle Riva, Quvenzhane Wallis, Naomi Watts
Well, again, I said this was going to be an unusually shifty year. I did say it was a 7 way race for the five slots, and I did identify the proper 7, but yikes. The last time I got an acting category this wrong was 2004, when 14 year old Keisha Castle-Hughes (until today the youngest best actress nominee ever) beat out perceived lock Nicole Kidman for their roles in Whale Rider and Cold Mountain, respectively. Maybe I don’t take child actors sufficiently seriously, but after she was snubbed for the Golden Globe and SAG, I didn’t expect it. Of course, Beasts of the Southern Wild wasn’t a SAG production, and so wasn’t even eligible; clearly I needed to take that into account.
I’d say it’s more shocking that both Riva and Wallis got in than either one of them did, mostly because former winner Cotillard seemed to be such a lock. Maybe voters choked on two foreign language performances in one year? Riva’s reputed to be devastating in her role; I can’t wait to see Amour now, and to rent Beasts of the Southern Wild to see what all the fuss is about. As Emma Stone noted, at 85 Riva is now the oldest best actress nominee ever (Gloria Stuart was 87 when she was nominated for best supporting actress for Titanic) and 9 year old Wallis the youngest. Even more amazing than that age spread? Wallis was 6 when she filmed the movie. That’s right. 6. Makes you wonder what you’ve been doing with your life, doesn’t it?
Prognosticators expect the big fight now to be between Chastain and Lawrence. Chastain was last year’s It girl, absolutely everywhere and nominated in the supporting category. Lawrence starred in one of this year’s biggest smashes, and at 22 becomes the youngest woman ever to receive a second best actress nomination. Sunday’s Golden Globes won’t clear this one up since the two are nominated in different categories (Drama and Musical/Comedy). We’ll have to wait for SAG and BAFTA to give us a better idea. After such a shake up to the race, however, it’s not outside the realm of possibility that this category could be shaken even further. I’m not willing to take anything for granted here.
Best Supporting Actor: 4/5
Alan Arkin, Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones
Alan Arkin, Robert DeNiro, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones, Christoph Waltz.
Sigh. Well, I said it, didn’t I? Either Waltz or DiCaprio. I hate it when pick the wrong way in a split. (Not that DiCaprio necessarily was the 6th highest vote getter in this category because that’s something we’ll never know – I just mean I’m annoyed that I flip flopped in the wrong direction in my own thinking.) It’s not a shocking result at all; I definitely went more out on a limb with DiCaprio.
Best part of this announcement? Emma Stone, as she and McFarlane went through the names: “He’s won before.” “He’s won before.” “He’s won before, too!” Supporting actor is the only category where the nominees are not only all former nominees, they’re all already Oscar winners. Considered the most wide open of the acting categories, one of these five men will become a two time Oscar winner this February.
Supporting Actress: 4/5
Amy Adams, Sally Field, Anne Hathaway, Helen Hunt, Nicole Kidman
Amy Adams, Sally Field, Anne Hathaway, Helen Hunt, Jacki Weaver
Okay, so, I was soft on Kidman, and that turns out to have been justified. I guess the hideous reviews for that movie (which hurrah, now I don’t have to see!) won out. Or maybe it’s just Harvey Weinstein’s incredible power of persuasion. But good for you, Jacki Weaver! I’m sure she never would have gotten this part if not for the awards notice she had for Animal Kingdom (a brilliant, horrifying Australian film) a few years ago, so maybe this one will take her even farther. All five women have been nominated before, and Hunt and Field are former winners. Anne Hathaway is still the overwhelming favorite.
So, what else? The dueling Snow White movies (Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror) are now dueling costume design nominees. The Hobbit and Anna Karenina did, as I predicted, pick up a bunch of nominations for their gorgeous looks. Lincoln leads the field with 12 nominations; Lincoln and The Master have 3 acting nominations apiece, and Silver Linings Playbook has 4. Twelve movies received acting nominations, which (as predicted) is a somewhat concentrated field. Because of its mastery in the technical categories, Life of Pi is the next most nominated movie with 11. Silver Linings Playbook has 8, Les Mis and Argo both ring up 7, and there’s 5 each for Zero Dark Thirty and Amour. I was sorry, but not surprised, to see WGA nominee The Perks of Being A Wallflower fail to snag an adapted screenplay nomination (fiendishly difficult category, that one). The Hunger Games was also shut out entirely, even for music (where I thought it had the best claim), and surprisingly wonderful The Rise of the Guardian was left off the animated feature list.
The biggest snubs are Hawkes, Cotillard, Affleck, Bigelow and Hooper, no question. For a full list of the nominees, go here.
All in all, this was not a spectacular showing for me. Not a single category where I got everything right! I usually do much better (I guess my standards are high), but I hope I gave you a sense of what to expect and maybe helped you enjoy the nominations a little bit more.