Well, it’s been about six hours since the nominations were announced and, although I’m still a little bleary, I have had a chance to do some sifting and sorting of the announcement. There are a few surprises, but not too many.
Best Picture. With ten nominees in the field again this year, there were bound to be some interesting choices. All the expected names were there, including the “Big Five” (The King’s Speech, The Social Network, The FIghter, 127 Hours, and Black Swan), as well as the movie with the momentum right now, True Grit. Toy Story 3, The Kids Are All Right, and Inception were fairly predictable, too. Only the addition of the Winter’s Bone was a bit of a surprise.
(Side note: my favorite quote of the Golden Globes was the maker of Toy Story 3 backstage after winning the award. His words were to the effect of relief — he just didn’t want to be known as the guy who made the Bad Toy Story Movie.)
Actors. Man, the Academy has a love affair with Javier Bardem. The only nomination that Biutiful got was for his performance and for foreign language film (which it will certainly win). What about Mark Wahlberg in The Fighter? It was a quiet performance, but it was a steadying one and one that was very giving to the other actors in the film. It’s a testament to the nominations that Bale, Leo, and Adams got that Wahlberg was a force there. The Academy just didn’t agree. Jeremy Renner for Supporting Actor (for “The Town”) is another surprise. Enjoy the nomination.
Actresses. With two nominations for “The Fighter” in the Supporting Actress category (for Melissa Leo and Amy Adams), expect all of the prognosticators to talk about them canceling each other out in terms of votes. But it could be another Tatum O’Neal/Anna Paquin year for Hailee Steinfeld. We’ll see how she does during the campaign season. And it’s gotta be a sign of love for the movie that the Academy nominated Helena Bonham Carter for The King’s Speech. Maybe they’re just looking forward to another fashion disaster on the red carpet. (At the Golden Globes, someone called her “the new Bjork.” Sounds about right.) On the lead side, it’s probably Portman’s to lose. The Academy routinely dismisses lighter films like The Kids Are All Right when it comes to the awards, and they love the descent-into-madness roles. Portman’s performance was pretty good, but it’s unclear if it’s the best of the year.
Directing. Most of the Big Five are represented here, with True Grit taking the place of 127 Hours. Which is an interesting choice, since 127 Hours required quite a bit of intricacy from the director, setting up shots in very confined places. Beyond that, though, little surprise here.
Cinematography. Again, the biggies are mostly here. The surprise for me was the addition of Inception, since so much of that seemed to lie in the art direction world, not necessarily cinematography. That, or visual effects (both categories for which it also got nominations). The cinematography in Black Swan seemed…okay. Another mild surprise that it got a nomination.
Editing. A personal favorite category of mine, and usually one in which I seethe. It seems that many films over the last few years have been poorly edited, with running times that vastly exceed the stories they tell. This year, the five nominees all did manage to get through their reels without dragging too much. There was no watch-peeking during these nominees, which is a good sign. I’d guess it would be a race between King’s Speech and Social Network, with the beloved nature of the former challenging the breakneck speed of the dialogue of the latter.
With the shortened Oscar season this year (and looking to get shorter all the time), the suspense won’t last long. The red carpet unfurls on February 27…