The 84th Academy Awards Nominations – My Take

Here we are at last. The mother of all award shows released its list of 2011’s best this morning in what many will consider to be the highest honor in film.

So let’s look at some of the major categories and see what were some highlights and other areas where the Academy dropped the ball.

Best Foreign Language Film:

“A Separation” (Iran), “In Darkness” (Poland), “Bullhead” (Belgium), “Footnote” (Israel), “Monsieur Lazhar” (Canada)

There are so many foreign films to look at this year so it isn’t that crazy, but if one were to pay attention to which imports had been nominated at the Golden Globes 9 days ago, they’d notice that only the winner (“A Separation”) from that ballot is seen here.

It is also interesting to note that “A Separation” received a nomination for Best Original Screenplay, which is pretty rare for a foreign film.

Best Original Song:

“Real in Rio” from “Rio,” “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets”

Most likely due to the Academy’s ever-tightening qualifications for what can be nominated, this year’s category only has two nominees. While fans of Jim Henson’s creations will be happy for its nomination, I hate to see “Rio” of all movies on this list. “Real in Rio” is probably tenth in line in my eyes for deserving songs this year.

Best Original Score:

“The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams, “Hugo” Howard Shore, “War Horse” John Williams, “The Artist” Ludovic Bource, “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias

John Williams and Howard Shore are two great composers and Bource won the Golden Globe for Original Score, so their nominations were on lock. However, between Williams second nomination and the appearance of Alberto Iglesias’ work in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” (an original score that wasn’t bad, but hasn’t been recognized by other award shows aside from the BAFTA’s), Trent Reznor’s score for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” fell by the wayside.

Best Cinematography:

“War Horse,” “The Tree of Life,” “The Artist,” “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” “Hugo”

This is one of those categories where everything makes sense. “War Horse” won this nomination based on the trailer alone. “The Tree of Life” rests solely on its directing and cinematography and does both very well, so no surprise there. “Hugo,” “The Artist” and “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” all deserve to be on this list as well.

Best Supporting Actress:

Berenice Bejo “The Artist,” Janet McTeer “Albert Nobbs,” Jessica Chastain “The Help,” Melissa McCarthy “Bridesmaids” and Octavia Spencer “The Help”

While I picked Shailene Woodley (“The Descendants”) to win this category at the Golden Globes, it makes sense that Melissa McCarthy would steal her spot for this show. McCarthy made “Bridesmaids” the movie it was. “The Help” hangs onto its acting trifecta with Spencer and Chastain getting bids here as well as Viola Davis getting a Best Actress nomination.

Best Actress:

Glenn Close “Albert Nobbs,” Meryl Streep “The Iron Lady,” Rooney Mara “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” Michelle Williams “My Week with Marilyn” and Viola Davis “The Help”

There were other great performances this year from actresses like Tilda Swinton (“We Need to Talk About Kevin”) and Charlize Theron (“Young Adult”), but honestly, who can you take off of this final ballot? It’s just one of those years where there are more than 5 worthy ladies.

Best Supporting Actor:

Kenneth Branagh “My Week with Marilyn,” Jonah Hill “Moneyball,” Nick Nolte “Warrior,” Christopher Plummer “Beginners” and Max von Sydow “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”

Jonah Hill. Really? I will never shy away from my dislike for the actor but I’m especially upset that he gets a nomination and Albert Brooks (“Drive”) is left out in the cold. If that switch were made, I’d think this was a fantastic category. Still, between Plummer, Nolte and Branagh, this is a strong ballot.

Best Actor:

Brad Pitt “Moneyball,” George Clooney “The Descendants,” Demian Bichir “A Better Life,” Jean Dujardin “The Artist” and Gary Oldman “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”

A lot of people will be upset that Michael Fassbender (“Shame”) didn’t make the cut (and they have a right to be), but the inclusion of Bichir and Oldman amongst this year’s big names is a good thing. “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” really didn’t get enough credit for its fine acting outside of the BAFTA Film Awards and Bichir is this year’s Javier Bardem, pointing audiences toward a smaller film that should be seen.

Best Picture:

“Hugo,” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” “The Descendants,” “The Artist,” “Moneyball,” “War Horse,” “The Tree of Life,” “The Help,” “Midnight in Paris”

Since the Oscars starting nominating more than the usual 5 films for Best Picture, I have been pretty hesitant to like the idea. This year there is a lot of diversity, which is good for the show I guess, but I still feel like a film or two got the shaft. Without exceeding the nomination ceiling of 10, I would’ve liked to have seen “Extremely Loud” taken off the ballot and 2 of 3 films added: “The Ides of March,” “50/50” and/or “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.”

Looking at this year’s nominees, I am shocked to see that “Hugo” has more nominations than “The Artist” (11 to 10, respectively). Aside from that and the few complaints expressed above, I think the Academy did a rather good job of picking nominees this year. This time next month, however, I may have something new to whine about when the winners are revealed.

Between now and then, visit Velvet Curtain Reviews for my takes on “The Artist,” “War Horse” and other films as well as my picks once we get closer to February 26.

Happy viewing.

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