The Oscar Nominations: Reactions, Thoughts and Tidbits

posted Jan 24, 2012, 11:11 AM by Terrence Moss   [ updated Aug 24, 2014, 3:32 PM ]

This has been an interesting year for movies – for those who actually went. In Terrenceland, 2011 was the year of the film boycott. It started with being charged a usurious $16 “holiday rate” for a matinee at the Arclight in Hollywood to see The Fighter on PRESIDENT’S DAY.

Then everything started coming out in 3D, which I refused to support.

And of course there were the sequels and the reboots and the remakes and the sequels to the reboots and the sequels to the remakes and the reboots of the remakes and the remakes of the reboots.

None of this, however, abates my interest in the Oscars and nominations were announced this morning. Though I’ve only seen three theatrical releases this year (The Help, Weekend and The Seminarian) and only two more at home (Beginners and Bridesmaids), I’m still going to offer my reactions as to how the nominations bore themselves out in the eight top categories.

These reactions are based on buzz, the Critic’s Choice Awards (handed out on January 12), the Golden Globe Awards (handed out on January 15), the Screen Actors Guild Award nominations (to be handed out on January 29) and anything I might actually know.


Best Picture (9 out of 10 allowed)

The Descendants

The Help

The Artist

Midnight in Paris



Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

The Tree of Life

War Horse

Nothing is terribly surprising here. Since Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close missed out on a lot of the precursor awards, I wasn’t sure it would make the Academy’s list.

I figured the Academy’s love affair with George Clooney would extend to The Ides of March here.

It would have been interesting to see a thriller like Drive make this list.


Best Actor

George Clooney, The Descendants

Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Brad Pitt, Moneyball

Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier Spy

Demain Bichir, A Better Life

This was a highly competitive category. The biggest surprise is the fact that Michael Fassbender didn’t make the list for Shame. Given the competition, you can’t even call it a snub.

Leonardo DiCaprio had a lot of buzz going into award season for J Edgar, but that faded as George Clooney (who won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2006 for Syriana, but was also nominated in this category for Michael Clayton in 2008 and Up in the Air in 2010) and first-time nominee Jean Dujardin took home some of the precursor awards.

This is also the first nomination for veteran actor Gary Oldman.

He surprised many with his unexpected SAG nomination but Demain Bichir less unexpectedly though still surprisingly also makes the Academy’s list for the first time.

Ryan Gosling, nominated in this category in 2007 for Half-Nelson is snubbed again as he was last year for Blue Valentine. It is likely his performances in Drive and The Ides of March split the voting.

This is Pitt’s fourth nomination and second in this category following 2009’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. His first nomination was in 1996 as Best Supporting Actor for Twelve Monkeys. He’s a double nominee this year since he’s a named producer for Best Picture nominee Moneyball.

In a less competitive year, I hope Ewan McGregor would have gotten some attention for his understated performance in Beginners. Among many other things, I would nominate him for a Stewart Movie Award (that I made up) solely for the scene where he reacts to his father’s passing.

I would also nominate Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who was snubbed for 500 Days of Summer in 2010 and didn’t have much of a chance this year for 50/50.


Best Actress

Viola Davis, The Help

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

Glenn Close, Albert Nobbs

Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

There’s nothing completely unexpected here. Of all the categories, this one has pretty much been lined up since Day Three. The only surprise for me is Rooney Mara’s nomination over Tilda Swinton (who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 2008 for Michael Clayton). I thought for sure would make the list.

This is the second nomination for Viola Davis, who was previously nominated as Best Supporting Actress for Doubt in 2009 opposite Meryl Streep.

Streep keeps breaking her own record with this, her 17th Oscar nomination – out of which she has two Oscars (Best Supporting Actress in 1980 for Kramer vs. Kramer and Best Actress in 1983 for Sophie’s Choice).

Michelle Williams earns back-to-back Best Actress nominations after last year’s Blue Valentine. This is her third nomination. Her first was as Best Supporting Actress for Brokeback Mountain.


Best Supporting Actor

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Max Von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Here’s some more love for the late-in-the-game Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, with a not-all-that-unexpected nomination for a Max Von Sydow’s wordless performance. He was previously nominated in 1989 as Best Actor for Pelle the Conqueror.

It would have been nice to see Albert Brooks or Patton Oswalt make the list because they’re more well-known for comedy. That said, I’m glad to see Jonah Hill’s name on here for that very reason. He is the lone first-time nominee in this category.

An out-of-left-field nomination for John Goodman in The Artist would have been a huge surprise. I just loved him in Roseanne.

Thomas Horn won a Critic’s Choice Award for Best Young/Youth Actress. A nomination for him here would have been interesting since child actors don’t have a great history with Oscar. The last such nomination was Haley Joel Osment in 2000 as Best Supporting Actor for The Sixth Sense.

Armie Hammer’s SAG surprise nomination for J Edgar didn’t have the same Bichirian benefit for him.

All that said, who would you leave off? Christopher Plummer (previously nominated in this category in 2010 for The Last Station)? Nick Nolte (previously nominated as Best Actor in 1992 for The Prince of Tides and in 1998 for Affliction)? Kenneth Branagh (with four previous nominations – for Best Actor and Best Director in 1990 for Henry V, Best Live Action Short Film in 1993 for Swan Song and Best Adapted Screenplay in 1997 for Hamlet)?

There are no snubs here. Just a lot of competition.


Best Supporting Actress

Octavia Spencer, The Help

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Berenice Bejo¸ The Artist

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

There are so few actual surprises this year – which is not a bad thing. As with Hill, it’s nice to see people known for comedy become Oscar nominees. Melissa McCarthy’s nomination is even rarer in that it’s for a full-on comedy performance – the first, off the top of my head, since Joan Cusack for In & Out in 1998.

There should be an ensemble award at the Oscars as there is as SAG and the BFCA. You could fill this category with actresses from The Help alongside Octavia Spencer and Jessica Chastain, but neither Bryce Dallas Howard, Sissy Spacek nor Alison Janney have been singled out during this award season.

With the exception of Janet McTeer, who was nominated as Best Actress in 1998 for Tumbleweeds, this category is full of first-time nominees.


Best Director

Michael Hazanavicius, The Artist

Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Martin Scorcese, Hugo

Terrence Malick, The Tree of Life

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

No surprises here. It would have been great to see Mike Mills nominated for Beginners. Perhaps the hardware being collected by Christopher Plummer is tribute enough to his direction.

I would also have liked to see Tate Taylor on this list as well for The Help.

This is Woody Allen’s 7th nomination in this category. He won previously in 1977 for Annie Hall. We’ll see if he shows up to the ceremony.


Best Adapted Screenplay

Nat Faxon, Jim Rash & Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Steve Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin, Moneyball

Peter Straughan & Bridget O’Connor, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

John Logan, Hugo

George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon, The Ides of March

It looks like there’s some Clooney love for March after all. Minus the Best Director nomination, it’s 2006 all over again for him (in addition to his Syriana win, he was also nominated as Best Director and Best Original Screenplay for Good Night, and Good Luck.).

Sorkin earns back-to-back nominations in this category. He won last year for The Social Network.

The biggest surprise to come out of the nominations is Tate Taylor’s unexpected snub for The Help. I’m hoping he’ll still be invited to the ceremony because he’s really good-looking.

And that’s what the Oscars are ALL about.


Best Original Screenplay

Kristin Wiig & Annie Mumolo, Bridesmaids

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

J.C. Chandor, Margin Call

Asghar Farhadi, A Separation

Margin Call and A Separation (which was nominated for Best Foreign Film as expected) are unexpected nominees here.

I am surprised that Will Reiser didn’t make the cut for 50/50. I was also hoping that Mike Mills would make the cut for Beginners. I like personal stories.

And if The Skin I Live In was going to get some attention anywhere, I thought it might be here for Pedro Almodovar – who struck gold in this category in 2003 for Talk to Her.

Like Streep, Woody Allen keeps breaking his own record. This is his 14th nomination in this category. He has won twice – in 1977 for Annie Hall and in 1987 for Hannah and Her Sisters. We’ll see if shows up to the ceremony.


The 84th Annual Academy Awards will air on February 26 at 7pm EST/4pm PST. I’m assuming this includes the pre-show.


Movies I now want to see – The Artist (which is playing at the Vista in Silver Lake), A Better Life (now in my Netflix queue), 50/50 (long wait in my Netflix queue), A Separation (this is LA, I’ll find it), The Ides of March (long wait in my Netflix queue), Drive (released on January 31) and Moneyball (long wait in my Netflix queue).

I just need to finish Season Five of Designing Women