I'm going to do as little griping about this year's nominations (listed below my opines) as possible...
Best Picture - Thankfully the Academy changed the rules for this award, stating that there would no longer be ten required nominations. Only films receiving 5% of first place votes in the nomination process would be nominated.
Be sure to note the time so that you can fire up "Super Troopers" on Netflix instead.
So we've got nine nominees. BIG improvement. Why should a film that only 1 out of 20 Academy members deem the best receive a nomination? Why should it share the ticket with the film that gets 50% of the votes? More importantly, it would be much appreciated by EVERYONE if they released the actual voting results. Everyone except for the producers of the film that got 5%, I suppose.
I'm a bit shocked by all of "Moneyball"'s nominations. As a baseball stat freak and a film nerd, I enjoyed it thoroughly. A good smart piece of entertainment. But a Best Picture nominee? It's good but not that good.
"The Tree of Life" is that good. I'm very happy to see the Academy nominating non-linear avant-garde cinema.
"Midnight in Paris" is dynamic and electric in the time travel scenes yet flat and shallow in the contemporary ones. But we fans of the film can't get those great scenes with Hemmingway and Dali out of our heads. "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" was liked by no one. Not many folks are seeing it and it had the worst critical response of any nominee in HISTORY (per Metacritic scores). Even Rupert Murdoch's New York Post thought it was exploitative pablum.
Ultimately, though it looks like a battle between "The Artist" and "Hugo", two cinema-loving pieces of cinema. Could be much much worse.
Best Director - I love that lineup. The Academy will never nominate Lars Von Trier out of fear of what he'll say and do.
Acting Awards - Jonah Hill? Really? He was quite solid but it wasn't that complicated or demanding or interesting of a role. On the other hand, Brad Pitt was great in "Moneyball" and "The Tree of Life".
It's nice to see Jessica Chastain nominated, but for "The Help" and not "Tree of Life"? The Academy again proves it likes EXTREMELY LOUD rather than incredibly close when it comes to performances.
Foreign Language Films - Damn, I should watch these.
Feature Animation - Many thanks to Pixar for releasing "Cars 2".
Feature Documentary - This is where I get angry. Breathe slowly and deeply. Okay.
I am very happy to see Wenders's "Pina" on the list.
I'm just going to assume that "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" and "Nostalgia for the Light" weren't submitted to the Academy this year. Or is it because they're not American docs? Herzog's "Cave" was an enormously important piece of cinema that beautifully documented a pivotal moment in human intellectual and artistic development. And it's the best use of 3D that I've seen yet. And "Nostalgia" was not only just beautiful and educational, but it was deeply emotional and perfectly paced; the best film I saw outside of "Tree of Life". Neither of these films (along with Herzog's "Into the Abyss" and Morris's "Tabloid") even made the 15-film shortlist. I have nothing nice to say about that.
Writing - Good to see Sorkin on there because he's a ninja. I'm glad that Beau Willimon got nominated. It was his script "Farragut North" that Clooney's company had purchased, then tweaked into "Ides of March". I liked "Farragut"; very Washington insidery and wonky.
"Extremely 9/11 & Incredibly Hanks" did not get a writing nomination. Neither did "The Help". Yet both picked up best picture nominations. I'd go into a diatribe about them not deserving a Best Pic pick if they can't get a Writing pick, but then again "The Tree of Life" didn't get nominated for Best Original Screenplay. Apparently a volume of poetry about God cannot compete with a woman taking a sh*t in a wedding dress.
Thanks again, Academy!
“The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) A La Petite Reine/Studio 37/La Classe Américaine/JD Prod/France3 Cinéma/Jouror Productions/uFilm Production, Thomas Langmann, Producer
“The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight) An Ad Hominem Enterprises Production, Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
“Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (Warner Bros.) A Warner Bros. Pictures Production, Scott Rudin, Producer
“The Help” (Touchstone) A DreamWorks Pictures Production, Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
“Hugo” (Paramount) A Paramount Pictures and GK Films Production, Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
“Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Pontchartrain Production, Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
“Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing) A Columbia Pictures Production, Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
“The Tree of Life” (Fox Searchlight) A River Road Entertainment Production, Nominees to be determined
“War Horse” (Touchstone) A DreamWorks Pictures Production, Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers
“The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) Michel Hazanavicius
“The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight) Alexander Payne
“Hugo” (Paramount) Martin Scorsese
“Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics) Woody Allen
“The Tree of Life” (Fox Searchlight) Terrence Malick
Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in “A Better Life” (Summit Entertainment)
George Clooney in “The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight)
Jean Dujardin in “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company)
Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Focus Features)
Brad Pitt in “Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn” (The Weinstein Company)
Jonah Hill in “Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Nick Nolte in “Warrior” (Lionsgate)
Christopher Plummer in “Beginners” (Focus Features)
Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” (Warner Bros.)
Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs” (Roadside Attractions)
Viola Davis in “The Help” (Touchstone)
Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Sony Pictures Releasing)
Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady” (The Weinstein Company)
Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn” (The Weinstein Company)
Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist” (The Weinstein Company)
Jessica Chastain in “The Help” (Touchstone)
Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids” (Universal)
Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs” (Roadside Attractions)
Octavia Spencer in “The Help” (Touchstone)
Animated Feature Film
“A Cat in Paris” (GKIDS) Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
“Chico & Rita” (GKIDS) Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
“Kung Fu Panda 2” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount) Jennifer Yuh Nelson
“Puss in Boots” (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount) Chris Miller
“Rango” (Paramount) Gore Verbinski
Foreign Language Film
“Bullhead” A Savage Film Production, Belgium
“Footnote” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Footnote Limited Partnership Production, Israel
“In Darkness” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Studio Filmowe Zebra Production, Poland
“Monsieur Lazhar” (Music Box Films) A micro_scope Production, Canada
“A Separation” (Sony Pictures Classics) A Dreamlab Films Production, Iran
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
“The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight) Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
“Hugo” (Paramount) Screenplay by John Logan
“The Ides of March” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
“Moneyball” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin Story by Stan Chervin
“Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (Focus Features) Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan
Writing (Original Screenplay)
“The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) Written by Michel Hazanavicius
“Bridesmaids” (Universal) Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
“Margin Call” (Roadside Attractions) Written by J.C. Chandor
“Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Woody Allen
“A Separation” (Sony Pictures Classics) Written by Asghar Farhadi
“The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) Production Design: Laurence Bennett, Set Decoration: Robert Gould
“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” (Warner Bros.) Production Design: Stuart Craig, Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
“Hugo” (Paramount) Production Design: Dante Ferretti, Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
“Midnight in Paris” (Sony Pictures Classics) Production Design: Anne Seibel, Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
“War Horse” (Touchstone) Production Design: Rick Carter, Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
“The Artist” (The Weinstein Company) Guillaume Schiffman
“The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” (Sony Pictures Releasing) Jeff Cronenweth
“Hugo” (Paramount) Robert Richardson
“The Tree of Life” (Fox Searchlight) Emmanuel Lubezki