Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and there were several notable surprises among the expected nominees, as Tom Long pointed out.
But which of those surprises were the biggest? And who was left out of the race? Here are 10 surprises, snubs and shockers among the nominations.
DRIVE. What happened to Drive? Oh, Drive. It received one lone nomination, for Sound Editing, while director Nicolas Winding Refn, star Ryan Gosling and supporting actor Albert Brooks were all left with their toothpicks in their hands. (And where was Cliff Martinez for his amazingly moody score?) What happened? The film is likely too dark, too violent and just too darn cool for Academy members to embrace. Well, it’s the telecast’s loss; Gosling on the red carpet would have been the kind of sideshow Tumblrs are made from. Academy, you blew it!
SHAME. And, more to the point, Carey Mulligan. If Jennifer Hudson can win an Oscar for singing a song in Dreamgirls — and, let’s face it, Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for singing a song in Dreamgirls — Carey Mulligan should have at least been nominated for her haunting, dark and sad rendition of “New York New York” in Shame. Watch this and tell me I’m not right.
And that’s just half of it! Ugh. This — along with Gosling’s toothpick in Drive — were the two best things in movies in 2011. They got robbed! And so did…
CHARLIZE THERON. Theron was devastating in Young Adult as a 30-something ice queen who comes back to her hometown and is socked in the face with the harsh realities of what her life has become. She already won an Oscar for Monster for piling on more makeup than Eric Stoltz in Mask, and this was far more accomplished work than her chiller serial killer. But Young Adult was too dark to catch on, and it’s been getting no love throughout awards season, so you could see this one coming. But still! Shoulda happened.
SUNDANCE, SHMUNDANCE. Of last year’s crop of Sundance darlings — including Martha Marcy May Marlene, Like Crazy, Cedar Rapids, Win Win, Project Nim, Take Shelter and Tyrannosaur —
not one movie from the fest came away with a single nomination the only film to come away with an Oscar nomination was Margin Call, which earned a nod for Original Screenplay. Was it a bad year for Sundance, or is the festival losing its ability to launch hits? Either way, people at the festival right now should calm down about whatever movie they just saw being a huge contender in the 2013 Oscar race.
SERKIS. Motion capture actor Andy Serkis had been the topic of a lot of conversation for his performance in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but he did not end up getting a nomination for the role. Good! I think if Serkis had gotten a nomination, it would open the floodgates for all sorts of oddball technical nominations, and all of a sudden next year Optimus Prime would be nominated for Best Actor and Alvin and the Chipmunks would be out walking the red carpet and gabbing with Ryan Seacrest. It’s a dangerous precedent is all I’m saying. Serkis! But all the talk around him is only going to fuel his motion capture fire, so look for him to DROP BOMBS in his next role as Gollum in the Hobbit or whatever. Serkis is a fist of motion capture rage! Besides, we’ll always have him in 13 Going on 30 to remind us that he’s best left in his motion capture suit.
MELANCHOLIA AND THE INFINITE SADNESS. Kirsten Dunst had an outside shot at landing a Best Actress nomination for her role as the world’s most depressed woman in Lars Von Trier’s Melancholia, but she — along with the rest of the film — were shut out. Looks like the film was simply too dreary for anyone to get behind — or Von Trier’s nazi remarks at this year’s Cannes Film Festival buried him in Hollywood for good. Probably both.
THAT’S ACADEMY AWARD NOMINEE JONAH HILL TO YOU. Jonah Hill stepped up in his first dramatic role in “Moneyball,” and was awarded handsomely with an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. The 28-year-old now has one up over his “Superbad” pal Seth Rogen, who has never been nominated for an Oscar. Look for their friendship-rivalry to continue over the years; they’re tomorrow’s answer to George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Let the prank wars commence!
LONG LIVE GARY OLDMAN. The great Gary Oldman — who has played Sid Vicious (Sid & Nancy), Beethoven (Immortal Beloved), Dracula (Bram Stoker’s Dracula), Lee Harvey Oswald (JFK) and more luminaries, wack jobs and oddballs over the course of his illustrious career — was nominated for his very first Oscar for the British spy tale Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. While it’s unfathomable that Oldman, 53, had never been nominated before — he was even on Friends!!!! — this is one of those career-type of nominations that could result in an unexpected win. So yes, it looks like for Gary Oldman, it finally is white boy day.
EXTREMELY UGHHHHHHHHH. The appalling Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close — create your own Extremely ____ and Incredibly ______ joke here — somehow picked up a Best Picture nomination, easily Oscar’s biggest puzzler and/or misstep. With a dismal 48% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it’s one of the worst-reviewed movies to ever pick up a Best Picture nomination; even the much-reviled The Blind Side earned a 66% on the review aggregate site. In fact, going over the last 25 years of nominated Best Pictures, I didn’t find any that had a worse review score than the crassly told 9/11 tale. If the Academy needs a reason to go back to five Best Picture nominees, this is it.
TREE OF LIFE. Terrence Malick’s lovely tone poem about life, buildings and walking around on beaches maybe in the afterlife received welcome Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography nominations (though it would have been nice if Brad Pitt received a nomination, too). But I’m not complaining; in a world of Transformer 3s and Underworld 4s, it’s quite welcome that a nearly indecipherable and highly personal art film can score widespread recognition on film’s biggest night. It’s as if, albeit temporarily, all is right with the world.