Tuesday, January 24, 2012

THE 84TH ANNUAL ACADEMY AWARDS: A Look at the Nominees, Suprises, Rants, Thoughts...

33 out of 44. For the last two years I have been 35 for 45 in my Oscar predictions, so I suppose I am staying close. And yet again, for another year the Academy has decided to stay safe and irrelevant while still keeping us interested just enough to tune in on February 26th. There are some disastrous missteps this year, far outweighing the pleasant surprises.

We ended up with nine BEST PICTURE nominees in this new format, where there could be anywhere from five to ten. I was 8 out of 9, but there should only have been 7 to begin with. War Horse received no other major nominations but somehow picked up a Best Picture nod. This makes no sense. And if War Horse was to receive a nomination, they should have ended at eight. But alas, in a surprising move the Academy pegged Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close for the ninth slot; here is a film with a paltry 48% rating on the Tomatometer. Someone explain this to me. And don’t tell me it’s the Tom Hanks effect, because he’s been in better films.

BEST DIRECTOR is the one category where I was 5 for 5, and I have no qualms about any of the nominations. I only wish Terrence Malick and Woody Allen would show up to the ceremony.

BEST ACTOR is disgustingly baffling and pleasantly surprising at the same time. Three nominees, Jean Dujardin, Brad Pitt and George Clooney, are expected nominees. And then the pleasant surprise is Gary Oldman, receiving his first ever nomination for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. While I didn’t have him pegged as a nominee I am very excited for Mr. Oldman, one of the finest character actors of a generation. Which leads me to the stomach-turning shock of the entire nomination field: Demián Bichir for the small and relatively unnoticed A Better Life. While I am sure Mr. Bichir is solid in his performance, and I do remember rumblings about his performance when the film was released, you will never be able to convince me anything he does in the picture rivals a single second of Michael Fassbender’s performance in Shame.

I simply cannot believe the Academy snubbed Fassbender. Here is the finest performance from an actor all year, and one of the most daring and unsettling turns in several years. And once again, the Academy shows they are frightened of uncomfortable films with edgy subject matter. This is a move of pure cowardice and narrow-minded idiocy by an institution which exists to reward the best of the year in their respective category. Had Daniel Day Lewis been in the role, he would pick up a nomination and immediately be the frontrunner for the award. This is purely unforgiveable. The Shame belongs on the Academy’s shoulders.

I picked 4 out of 5 in the BEST ACTRESS category, missing on Rooney Mara for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I may not have had her but I do think she deserves a nomination. It was a tough role, and Mara disappears into the role. I am pulling for Michelle Williams.

SUPPORTING ACTOR got me at 3 for 5. While I didn’t have Jonah Hill pegged as a nominee, much like Rooney Mara I think he deserves it. The wild card here is Max Von Sydow for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Again, 48% overall rating on the Tomatometer.

SUPPORTING ACTRESS went about the way I expected, as I was 4 for 5, with Janet McTeer surprising me for Albert Nobbs. She doesn’t really have a chance in my opinion, I think this statue belongs to Octavia Spencer.

Some more quick thoughts about the nominations…

* When announcing Best Supporting Actress and Jessica Chastain was announced, the picture was not of her in The Help, but The Tree of Life. Honest mistake, sure, but a telling mistake.

* Leonardo DiCaprio may have been snubbed for J. Edgar, but if her slot was taken by Gary Oldman I am just fine with that. DiCaprio has time and better movies in his future.

* George Clooney looks like the frontrunner for Best Actor, but without Fassbender in the field I am pulling for Brad Pitt all the way.

* Too bad Albert Brooks wasn’t nominated for Drive, but it’s really no big letdown. He was good in a great film, but whatever.

* People are really upset about Drive not getting more than a single sound award. Wake up! Drive was never going to be a contender. It’s far too obtuse for Academy voters.

* Rango should win Best Animated Feature. And it’s the first time in a long time Pixar has been shut out.

* A Separation is the Best Foreign Language winner. No question about it.