Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Oscar Nominees: Overall Reactions

After posting quick summaries of the nominees in each category, I’d like to step back and offer an overall analysis of the nominations. I scored 89/120, or 74%, which I’m pretty happy with, and my gamble to predict the short categories paid off pretty well, as I got 10/15. I got ten for ten in Best Picture, and five for five in Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Foreign Film. At this point, I’m planning to see all fifteen shorts on February 20th, and otherwise I’m only missing nine films: two documentaries (“Gasland” and “Waste Land”), two films in sound editing (“Tron: Legacy” and “Unstoppable”), one in makeup (“The Way Back”), and four in foreign films (all but “Biutiful”). I’m hoping to see as many of those as possible before Oscar night, but I’m least concerned with the sound editing mentions. Now, some brief thoughts on the nominations as a whole. Please offer your own thoughts below!

Good surprises

- Javier Bardem for Best Actor! A great performance in a film that might otherwise have been underseen, and a very deserving nominee.
- John Hawkes for Best Supporting Actor! He’s the type of character actor who could easily go his entire career without being recognized, and I’m so thrilled that he got a mention, even if the film didn’t make too much of a splash besides its other three expected categories.
- “I Am Love” for Best Costume Design. Though its fans would surely have also included it in Best Actress, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Foreign Film, this will have to do!
- No Mila Kunis. Much as I like the actress, there just wasn’t much to the performance, and she shouldn’t have taken a spot away from someone like Jacki Weaver.
- “Another Year” for Best Original Screenplay. Not so much of a surprise (I predicted it), but I’m still thankful.
- “Barney’s Version” for Best Makeup. Another prediction of mine but an admirable inclusion nonetheless.

Bad surprises

- No Christopher Nolan. I wrote about this at length in my Best Director post. It’s just ridiculous. Similarly, the film gets snubbed in Best Film Editing. Seriously?
- No Lesley Manville for Best Actress. I know it didn’t really come that close to happening, but come on? At least she lost her slot to Michelle Williams, which isn’t a bad choice.
- No Andrew Garfield for Best Supporting Actor. He’s such a nice guy, and it’s a shame that he had to be the one to go to make room for Hawkes.
- Only four nominees for Best Original Song. I could easily pick seven or eight great songs from the
- No “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World” for Best Visual Effects. Why??!!
- No “Waiting for Superman” in Best Documentary. That’s just puzzling. I’m also sad about “Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer” being left off the list, but it’s not as big of a shock.

It seems alarming to me that the ten Best Picture nominees ate up a staggering 69 nominations, which is over 50% of the entire nominations total and closer to 75% of the feature film categories. It strikes me as unfair that those films are more so broadly recognized and individual achievements can’t stand out as much. Only four acting nominees, one per category – Javier Bardem, Michelle Williams, Jeremy Renner, and Jacki Weaver – didn’t star in Best Picture nominees. The Best Makeup award, interestingly enough, contains three nominees not found elsewhere. That’s good. There really weren’t so many surprises this year, despite my assertions above, and the good ones were balanced out by the bad ones. The only person who I’d be newly rooting for (besides the costume designer from “I Am Love”) would be John Hawkes, and Christian Bale was just so good that he doesn’t need to lose. I’m going to step away from the Oscars for a bit, chiming in only as I see a few of those nine leftover films, and focus instead on an awards body I have more say in, notably, the AFT Awards. My own personal choices for the best in film in 2010 begin next Tuesday. Stay tuned! SAG predictions will go up until then in advance of Sunday night’s ceremony.


Richter Scale said...

Abe, as shocking as it was, I'm actually okay with Nolan getting snubbed, but if they were going to snub him in one category, I wish it were Screenplay rather than Director. Inception was a brilliant concept, but the execution had a lot of problems, mainly in its writing. The dialogue was nothing but exposition and some of the characters felt incomplete. I appaud Nolan for taking such bold risks and making a film that challenges the mind a bit, but the film is flawed and I think the Academy might be bothered with those flaws in Nolan. Also, I'm a huge fan of True Grit, so I don't mind the Coen Brothers getting another nomination (in fact, I want Hailee Steinfeld to win, she's amazing!). I'm also more into Black Swan then you were apparently. I think the reason why Nolan keeps getting snubbed though is because he's a very intellectual director and Oscar voters like films with heart (or at least films that get people on more of a gut level). That's something Nolan might need to work on if he ever wants a nomination (without ever losing his ambition of course, he should keep that up). The Social Network is also a more intellectual film, but there is a humanity in that and it crawls under your skin. Black Swan also gets to people on a gut level so it's hard to shake off, same with True Grit (I also didn't think much of it when I first saw it, but the film has stayed with me, so there's something about it). Inception was a very ambitious project, but there was something kind of cold about it and it didn't really stay with me as much as it should have (I felt the same with The Dark Knight). Those are just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

I also don't feel so bad about the Nolan snub. But if I were to choose, I would also choose a Screenplay snub for the reasons Richter mentioned above.

I was devasted with the Kunis snub. Not only because I love her in Blak Swan, but because I think it would've been so nice to see such different performance get noticed. I haven't seen Animal Kingdom or True Grit, for what is worth, so I don't know who she could've replaced.

Movies with Abe said...

Richter, always happy to hear your two cents, especially if I disagree, which in this case I do. For me, the complexity of the story made up for the lack of more intelligent or creative dialogue, and the film held up quite well on a second viewing. I felt about the same way about "Dark Knight" as I do about "Black Swan" and "True Grit" (though I probably like this year's two films a bit less), and so it stings much more when Nolan gets snubbed for an award I was rooting for him to get (at least nominated for). It's also somewhat saddening to me because he had everything going for him and was finally going to get there with a can't-miss following his third DGA nod, and it's a shame that he didn't. I'd say my disappointment is equal parts personal (I liked the film) and institutional (I'm annoyed he was snubbed by Oscar voters yet again).

Fabio, you have to see "Animal Kingdom." It should have received more honors than just one acting bid (hopefully a few AFT Award nods will suffice), but Weaver was pretty terrific. Others, such as Richter Scale, will be able to more staunchly defend Steinfeld's performance.