The 2012 Academy Award Nominations: The Biggest Snubs and Biggest Surprises

Despite the fact that many of the results of this year’s Academy Awards seem pre-destined, the discrepancy between many Oscar pundits (myself included) and the actual nominations gives me hope for some excitement in the next month. Some of these nominations overjoy me. Others… leave me notably displeased. Here are the nominations, along with the surprises that please me, the surprises that don’t, and the performances and films with realistic nomination chances that ended up snubbed.

Best Picture
“The Artist” Thomas Langmann, Producer
“The Descendants” Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” Scott Rudin, Producer
“The Help” Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
“Hugo” Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
“Midnight in Paris” Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
“Moneyball” Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
“The Tree of Life” Nominees to be determined
“War Horse“ Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers

Most pundits predicted eight at most, so the number of nominees itself is pretty stunning. Most stunning of all is the inclusion of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which many had all but counted out of the race. I have yet to see it, but an interesting bit of trivia: no Best Picture nominee in the history of the Oscars has so low a rating on Rotten Tomatoes (interesting follow-up: the second lowest film was also directed by Stephen Daldry). The inclusion of Tree of Life is somewhat exciting– I think it’s imperfect but it’s certainly bold and creative cinema in a category with many “safe” picks. I’d hoped Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy or even Drive would have snuck in here, and Tinker Tailor did have a good amount of support judging by the other categories– just not enough under these new voting rules to make the cut.

Directing
“The Artist” Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants” Alexander Payne
“Hugo” Martin Scorsese
“Midnight in Paris” Woody Allen
“The Tree of Life” Terrence Malick

The inclusion of Malick is nice. Pretty much everything as expected here. Again, an inclusion of either Tomas Alfredson or Nicolas Winding Refn would have been a pleasant surprise, but everything in this category is fairly par for the course.

Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
George Clooney in “The Descendants”
Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

Two very pleasant surprises in Gary Oldman and Demian Bichir– I haven’t seen A Better Life, but I’ve been wanting to, and a lesser known actor winning out over bigger names like Leonardo DiCaprio is always nice. Michael Fassbender not collecting a nomination here is a pretty big shock, since he had a hell of a year in three well-received films. I’m happy to see that Leonardo DiCaprio didn’t make it for J. Edgar, and that J. Edgar was snubbed in general, after a long history of the Academy overrating Eastwood’s films.

Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
Viola Davis in “The Help”
Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

Pretty much as expected here, with the only quasi-surprise that Tilda Swinton was snubbed in favor of Glenn Close and Rooney Mara. Tilda Swinton gave in my humble opinion the most daring and engaging female performance of the year, so it upsets me to see We Need To Talk About Kevin snubbed entirely. I’m not surprised or upset by any of the nominated choices, however.

Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

No Albert Brooks for Drive is both a massive disappointment and a massive surprise. He was considered a front-runner at one point, and now he fails to make the ballot. It reminds me of the Jim Carrey in The Truman Show snub, and the losses of Eddie Murphy and Bill Murray in their respective years– ain’t no love for comics turned serious, I’m afraid. Max Von Sydow is a pretty big surprise, because the film had been counted out, but he was praised as the best part of the film in reviews. (I can’t believe I have to see this movie now… sigh.) Jonah Hill isn’t a total surprise, I was just really hoping to see someone like Patton Oswalt, Ben Kingsley, or Andy Serkis slip in in front of him. On second thought, Jonah Hill is a surprise, considering Albert Brooks isn’t on this ballot.

Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

I think a lot of pundits had predicted that Shailene Woodley would get the snub here, but I thought since love for The Descendants was high that she would still slip in– not so. Doesn’t really bode well for The Descendants having any chance in the Best Picture race, but there’s a long month ahead. Nothing else here is a surprise. I’m glad to see Melissa McCarthy got in for her comedic performance.

Animated Feature Film
“A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
“Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
“Kung Fu Panda 2″ Jennifer Yuh Nelson
“Puss in Boots” Chris Miller
“Rango” Gore Verbinski

I guess Tintin wasn’t considered animated by enough Academy members– kind of a shame. I love the fact that there are five nominees here, and I’m now really excited to try to hunt down the other two films. Rango should win this award. I’m praying and hoping.

Art Direction
“The Artist”
Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2“
Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
“Hugo”
Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
“Midnight in Paris”
Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
“War Horse”
Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales

No Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy here is pretty surprising– it would easily make my Top 3 of the year. I didn’t imagine Midnight in Paris would make this list… perhaps it shows how strong support for Woody’s flick is?

Cinematography
“The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth
“Hugo” Robert Richardson
“The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki
“War Horse” Janusz Kaminski

The lack of nomination here for Tinker Tailor is also pretty baffling. Everything else in this category is as expected.

Costume Design
“Anonymous” Lisy Christl
“The Artist” Mark Bridges
“Hugo” Sandy Powell
“Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor
“W.E.” Arianne Phillips

I don’t think anyone expected W.E. to get a single Oscar nomination anywhere, but Academy voters do love a good period piece. Pretty glad to see The Help not on here, since I thought its costumes were fairly hideous.

Documentary (Feature)
“Hell and Back Again”
Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
“If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”
Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
“Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”
Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
“Pina”
Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
“Undefeated”
TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

No Project Nim, the new doc by James Marsh, is very surprising to me– it was one of the best received films of the year. I’m seeing Pina tomorrow and hoping to see Paradise Lost 3 and Undefeated in the coming weeks. The major surprises in this category came when the shortlist arrived and there was no Werner Herzog or Errol Morris or Steve James to be found, so this nominee list is what it is.

Documentary (Short Subject)
“The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement”
Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
“God Is the Bigger Elvis”
Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
“Incident in New Baghdad”
James Spione
“Saving Face”
Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
“The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”
Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Don’t know anything about either of these. I do love the title God Is The Bigger Elvis though. That’s as deep as my commentary goes here.

Film Editing
“The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants” Kevin Tent
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
“Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker
“Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen

No surprises here. Sad that deserving films like Drive and Tinker Tailor, and maybe even artfully crafted indies like We Need To Talk About Kevin or Martha Marcy May Marlene don’t get love in this category, but whatever.

Foreign Language Film
“Bullhead” Belgium
“Footnote” Israel
“In Darkness” Poland
“Monsieur Lazhar” Canada
“A Separation” Iran

A Separation will win this. I don’t know enough about the other nominees, but I know a lot of people are passionate about Bullhead and happy to see it nominated today.

Makeup
“Albert Nobbs”
Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″
Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
“The Iron Lady”
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

No Hugo or The Artist here are somewhat surprising. I was kind of hoping one or the other would get nominated to point us towards which was the front-runner going into February. At least there was no J. Edgar here.

Music (Original Score)
“The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams
“The Artist” Ludovic Bource
“Hugo” Howard Shore
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias
“War Horse” John Williams

No Trent Reznor for Dragon Tattoo I know is going to leave a lot of people gobsmacked today, especially considering how hard he was campaigning for the nomination. It’s likely due to the fact that the music is moody and not particularly melodic– not many tunes you can hum from that soundtrack, whereas I’ve been humming War Horse since I saw the film. I’m happy Tinker Tailor and Tintin were both able to sneak in here.

Music (Original Song)
“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
“Real in Rio” from “Rio” Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Only two nominations here is a huge surprise, and while it’s great to see Man Or Muppet on here, I would’ve campaigned for Pictures In My Head, the more emotional and less outwardly goofy song. No song from The Help or Albert Nobbs, both of which feature very typical Oscar ballads, is a huge stunner.

Short Film (Animated)
“Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon
“The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
“La Luna” Enrico Casarosa
“A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
“Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Don’t know any of these, but I always love finding them online and watching them. I strongly suggest you do the same.

Short Film (Live Action)
“Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
“Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
“The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
“Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
“Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø

No clue about these either. Titles like Time Freak and Tuba Atlantic are enticing.

Sound Editing
“Drive” Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Ren Klyce
“Hugo” Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
“War Horse” Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

While it’s not surprising to see Transformers here, I was hoping something sophisticated and artfully crafted like Hanna would make it, or even something like Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol or Super 8, over the noisy clutter in Transformers 3. Nice to see Drive get a single nomination somewhere. Sigh.

Sound Mixing
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
“Hugo”
Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
“Moneyball”
Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
“War Horse”
Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Kind of surprising that something animated like Tintin or with a ton of CGI like Super 8 or Rise of the Planet of the Apes would be snubbed here in favor of something like Moneyball, but I’m historically bad at predicting what will be in the sound category.

Visual Effects
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2″
Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
“Hugo”
Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
“Real Steel”
Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”
Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
“Transformers: Dark of the Moon”
Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

To me, a snub of Captain America, whose effect of shrinking Chris Evans’ body is second only to Caesar The Ape, is inexcusable here. I really liked Real Steel, but let’s get serious here, there is nothing new or exciting about the effects in that film. Pretty baffling. Even if something like Pirates 4 had gotten it over Captain America, at least it’s a typically flashy effects film… I liked Real Steel more than Pirates 4, so I guess I mustn’t grumble.

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
“The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
“Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan
“The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
“Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Nominating Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy over The Help is great news, as it’s both deserved and it indicates that The Help has very little chance of winning Best Picture. The rest of these nominations are as predicted.

Writing (Original Screenplay)
“The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius
“Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
“Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor
“Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen
“A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadi

Glad to see Margin Call snuck a nomination into the field– would’ve hoped Kevin Spacey had gotten more shine in the Supporting Actor race (especially over Jonah Hill!). A bit disappointing that very deserving films like Win Win and especially 50/50 got no writing nomination, but it’s not the biggest surprise in the world.

There you have it. The nominations, the surprises, the snubs. Thoughts? Leave comments below!

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~ by russellhainline on January 24, 2012.

3 Responses to “The 2012 Academy Award Nominations: The Biggest Snubs and Biggest Surprises”

  1. Reblogged this on haeunice and commented:
    yay!

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  3. I just saw Captain America a few minutes ago. I think it should have gotten two Oscar nominations for Best Original Song and Art Direction.

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