Yesterday, the Academy Award Nominations for the films of 2012 were announced...and let me just say: Whoa!!! I mean, the prognosticators were thrown for a major loop. And so were the Oscar record books! So now, it is time for me to run through the major categories and give you all my (somewhat!) initial reactions to the names that appeared (and didn't appear!) on yesterday's list of nominees.
- Again with the 9 nominees for Best Picture! I was fairly sure that six of the nine were guaranteed (Lincoln, Argo, Life of Pi, Zero Dark Thirty, Les Misérables and Silver Linings Playbook) and throwing one more in the mix was not a shock (Django Unchained). I'm not even surprised by the momentum "outsider" films gained during this awards season (Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild). But with this new "between 5 and 10 films nominated" rule the Academy has, if just 9 films get nominated again next year, it will truly feel forced!
- I am quite surprised that The Master's Joaquin Phoenix didn't ace himself out of a nomination with his very public and very graphic chiding of the process actors are "forced" to go through in order to obtain an Oscar nod (no matter how right he was!). Unfortunately his inclusion means the exclusion of The Sessions' John Hawkes who, according to many critics, gave one of the best performances of the year (and he had scored both Golden Globe and Screen Actors' Guild nominations!).
- With 85 year-old Emmanuelle Riva (Amour) and 9 year-old Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild), the average age of the Best Actress nominees falls somewhere around 40 - an age that, in Hollywood, is NOT considered "Lead Actress material!" How Hollywood has changed!!! Maybe not that much since either 35 year-old Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) or 22 year-old Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) will most likely be the eventual winner!
- For the first time (at least that I can currently recall!), ALL of the nominees for Best Supporting Actor are previous Oscar winners: Alan Arkin, Robert De Niro, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Tommy Lee Jones and Christoph Waltz. As for a front-runner, it is still a toss-up (although both Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Tommy Lee Jones are the first names mentioned among the critics!).
- With Jacki Weaver garnering her second Oscar nod for Best Supporting Actress, she helps put David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook into the elite club of films that had acting nominations in all four categories (this club includes films like Warren Beatty's Reds, Mike Nichols' Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and Elia Kazan's A Streetcar Named Desire). Despite all that, Les Misérables' Anne Hathaway is still going to win!
- Jeffrey Katzenberg must be somewhere licking his wounds. After the poor box-office performance and mixed reviews of the holiday-themed movie Rise of the Guardians, it was pushed out of the Animated Film category by not one...not two...but THREE Disney films - Brave, Frankenweenie and Wreck-It Ralph. Good thing Dreamworks has Lincoln carrying the studio banner at this year's ceremony!
- In the writing categories, it is small consolation that Wes Anderson's critically lauded comedy Moonrise Kingdom got some recognition. But it's still disturbing that original and creative genre fare like Looper (science-fiction) and Brave (animated fantasy) get ignored. Also, is there some scientology-themed conspiracy in Hollywood against Paul Thomas Anderson? Though The Master has lost some awards momentum, many thought he would at least get his fourth writing nomination. I would also like to point out that I was one of the few people I know that correctly predicted each of the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay (Lincoln, Life of Pi, Silver Linings Playbook, Argo and Beasts of the Southern Wild). Just want to get that fact in there, folks!
- And lastly, what the hell is going on in the Academy's Directors branch!?!?! Are they afraid of ticking off the CIA so they choose NOT to nominate Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty)? Did the mixed reception that Les Misérables and Django Unchained each got from the critics dismay them from including Tom Hooper or Quentin Tarantino, respectively? Entertainment Weekly's own Owen Gleiberman pointed out that it is odd that FOUR major Hollywood players are excluded from an albeit very crowded category. Did the branch just clear the way for Steven Spielberg to obtain his third Best Director Oscar? Maybe!!!
With all this and more going on in Hollywood, it will be an interesting month as the prognosticators try to figure out what the Academy is thinking and what film will be in the Winners' Circle at the end of February. So let's relax now and listen to Adele has she sings her way to yet another award!