Academy Actually Gets It Right…For the Most Part

Greetings from Helsinki! As long as I’m stuck waiting around for a connecting flight, let’s talk Oscar nominations, hmmm?

Right at the top, let me just say I think this is top-to-bottom one of the best lineups in recent memory. While there were, as always, some head-scratchers (no “TRON: Legacy” in Visual Effects?), looking down the nominees I had far more “AWESOME” moments than “huh?” moments.

There were some people left out in the cold. Andrew Garfield’s stellar work in “The Social Network” comes to mind, but I admit I can’t really find fault in the Academy’s preference for John Hawkes in “Winter’s Bone” (fresh off an EMO win, I might add; see, I’m totally becoming legitimate), especially since Hawkes has been long overdue for some career validation while Garfield still has a long and fruitful road ahead of him. The Supporting Actor category in general is one of the best lineups I’ve ever seen, particularly after having just watched “The Town” on the plane and been suitably impressed with Jeremy Renner’s enigmatic, smoldering turn as Jem.

Lesley Manville and Ryan Gosling were probably the other most deserving actors who got the snub, but at least their respective films received some validation, with a Screenplay nod for Mike Leigh’s “Another Year” and a Actress nomination for Gosling’s “Blue Valentine” co-star Michelle Williams (a selection which I greeted with some mild whooping). Gosling lost out on that fifth Actor slot to Javier Bardem in another intriguing and welcomingly daring choice.

There were several other below-the-line bright spots: Sylvain Chomet’s “The Illusionist” coming through in the clutch and finding that third spot in the Animated Feature category; “Exit Through the Gift Shop” making the Documentary Feature cut; Greece’s “Dogtooth” scrapping its way to a nod in Foreign Language Film, a category which is suddenly getting more exciting and unexpected (in a good way, now) every year.

Anyway, I ended up doing rather well in my final predictions, getting all off the actresses exactly correct and never missing more than 1 selection in any individual category. I do wonder how the hell I accidentally left Hans Zimmer off my Original Score picks, but oh well. Also: what the hell does Christopher Nolan have to do to get a nomination with these people? That’s now three, count ’em, three times that Nolan has been nominated by the Director’s Guild and not by Oscar. Tough crowd.

But enough from me. Anyone have any particular favorite/least favorite nominations? Do you think “The King’s Speech” bulky nomination haul points to a win in Best Picture, or did that film just score bigger in technical categories where “The Social Network” didn’t have a chance, anyway?

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