Every year I get so caught up in the predictions and the precursors and the critics’ groups and the early nominations that I forget the Oscar nominations always offer not one or two, but plenty of surprises. Such was definitely the case this morning. Am I pleased or disappointed with the nominations? As in every year, I feel a little bit of both.
What was expected? Of course Lincoln leads the way, with twelve nominations. This movie had Oscar written all over it before the cameras rolled, so given that people seem to genuinely love the movie just helps its case. Nominations went to Screenplay, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, Actor, Director, and Picture, and while it’s not an absolute lock at this point—more on this in a bit—Lincoln is definitely the movie to beat in February! Life of Pi, one of my favorites of the year, received the second most nominations—11—with a much deserved nod for director Ang Lee. It turns out the most predictable category was Best Picture, which featured nine movies that were all previously assumed to have solid shots at nominations.
But what were the shocks? The biggest upsets usually occur in the acting categories, but this year, it was in director! While Spielberg and Lee received their nominations as predicted, Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Tom Hooper (Les Miserables), and Ben Affleck (Argo) were left out. This is shocking not just because a movie normally can only win Best Picture if it has a Director nod, but also because these three directors were just nominated at the DGA and have been nominated for their films time and time again over the last month. Many were assuming the one to beat Lincoln was either Les Miserables or Zero Dark Thirty, but it turns out Harvey Weinstein’s still got the magic touch: Silver Linings Playbook has suddenly and forcefully emerged as the movie that can beat Lincoln, with nominations in every single top category, a feat that hasn’t been repeated in thirty-one (!) years, ever since Warren Beatty’s Reds, with nominations for Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress, and Screenplay. Wow!
There were some surprising omissions in the acting categories. John Hawkes was predicted to get a Best Actor nomination for his winning turn in The Sessions, but he was sadly left out. In Best Actress, Marion Cotillard and Helen Mirren were omitted, for Rust and Bone and Hitchcock, respectively. Best Supporting Actor lined up pretty much as predicted, except for the lack of a Leonardo DiCaprio nomination, which would have been well-earned (the Academy went with Christoph Waltz instead). My happiest omission came in Best Supporting Actress, when Nicole Kidman’s name did not appear for her embarrassing turn in the dreadful The Paperboy, making way for Amy Adams, who gave a superb subtle turn in The Master.
What were my happiest surprises? Shaunta and I will be posting our Top Ten Films of the Year articles in the coming days, but here’s a preview: Silver Linings Playbook is one of my absolute favorites of the year, and I’m ecstatic to see the overwhelming number of nominations for it. I’m the Ebenezer Scrooge in the room who didn’t think Lincoln was all that so I’m pulling for an upset here. It’s very possible Lincoln will win Picture and Director, but Spielberg’s already won Director twice, and Lincoln is not, to me at least, a movie that makes you feel very often. Silver Linings Playbook has a chance! My other applause-worthy surprise was Joaquin Phoenix’s nomination for The Master. After his snub at the SAG Awards, it seemed actually possible his stunning performance would be over-looked; I’m so happy it wasn’t. I’m happy to see Naomi Watts recognized for her fantastic turn in The Impossible, and here’s to Roger Deakins getting a much deserved nod for Skyfall in the Best Cinematography category. Lastly, go Adele!
But yes, as there is every year, there were a couple of disappointments, none so much as the lack of a nomination for The Perks of Being a Wallflower for Best Adapted Screenplay. This is an extraordinary film recognized by a number of critics’ groups the last few weeks, and I really thought Stephen Chbosky had a shot at an Oscar nomination. Too bad. Similarly, I was really pulling for Rian Johnson to get a nomination for Looper for Best Original Screenplay, a script that’s not only been nominated but won in a few critics’ groups, but no luck there either. The Academy actually played it pretty safe in the two Screenplay categories this time around. I also would’ve loved to see Skyfall nominated for Best Picture; with a PGA nomination last week, it actually seemed like for the first time in history a James Bond movie might have been nominated in the top category.
But overall I was pretty pleased with this morning’s nominations. I can’t wait to see who wins on February 24, and you best believe Shaunta and I will give you our thoughts soon after the ceremony!