Hollywood applauds itself -- but ignores great turns in edgy films like "Melancholia," "Take Shelter" and "Shame"
As usual, it all went almost exactly as expected. This year’s Academy Award nominations went to a plethora of already much-accoladed movies and performances, with a rich dose of nostalgia and sentiment. Yet when Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president Tom Sherak and last year’s best actress nominee Jennifer Lawrence announced the contenders this morning, there were still a few gasps to be had.
The surprises started with the supporting performance nominations. Kenneth Branagh, Jonah Hill and Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”) all seemed likely nominees. But it was the sentimental inclusion of “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close’s” Max Von Sydow, and left-field nod for Nick Nolte in “Warrior” that roused the crowd.
For the supporting actresses, there were even fewer surprises to be had, with the likes of Bérénice Bejo and Octavia Spencer once again going head-to-head. But the inclusion of this year’s comedic It girl, Emmy winner Melissa McCarthy, for her bawdy, ballsy turn in “Bridesmaids” was a nonetheless sweet moment – and a rare display of evidence that you don’t have to be a glamazon or Dame Judi Dench to be in the running for Oscar. And the best original screenplay nomination for “Bridesmaids” was another encouraging sign, proving at last that women can not only make successful movies involving explosive diarrhea, they can make Academy Award-nominated movies involving explosive diarrhea.
The biggest surprise of the morning might have been the best actor nominations for “A Better Life’s” Demian Bichir and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy’s” Gary Oldman — and with them, the shutouts of “Shame’s” Michael Fassbinder and “J. Edgar’s” Leonardo DiCaprio. Or it might have been the best picture nomination for “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,” a film that was neither a box office home run nor a critical one — our Andrew O’Hehir called it “unconvincing Hollywood mush” — but happened to feature beloved, Oscar-winning stars Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock.
What didn’t make the cut this year? Alan Rickman’s heartbreaking swan song as Snape in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.” Albert Brooks’ shockingly malevolent turn in “Drive.” Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s fierce, unsentimental cancer patient in “50/50.” Ellen Barkin’s nightmarish mother in “Another Happy Day.” Olivia Colman’s abused wife in “Tyrannosaur.” Charlize Theron’s overbearing novelist in “Young Adult.” The brilliant end-of-the-world duo of Michael Shannon’s enigmatic father in “Take Shelter” and Kirsten Dunst’s depressed bride in “Melancholia.” And with them, their ignored films.
In the second year of the wider best picture category — and after a few years of some truly bold, innovative movies getting Oscar recognition (“Slumdog Millionaire,” “The Hurt Locker,” “District 9,” “Black Swan,” “Inception”) — the 2011 contenders seem more like a big fuzzy blanket of sweetness and nostalgia. “Hugo,” “The Artist” and “Midnight In Paris” are all, literally, about men stuck in the creative past. They’re all lovely movies. The word we keep hearing is “homages.” But when the most transgressive things on nomination day are a nod for the dude from “Superbad” and a best song nomination for one of the “Flight of the Conchords” guys, it’s a great year for the Oscars, all right. As long as that year is 1925.
More Related Stories
- Justin Timberlake: I'm a mediocre folk singer!
- Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74
- Beware of book blurbs
- Did a Salon excerpt ruin Penn Jillette's chance to win "Celebrity Apprentice"?
- Zach Galifianakis to take formerly homeless woman to "Hangover 3" premiere
- Seth MacFarlane will not host Oscars again
- "SNL's" uncomfortable Garner/Affleck moment
- "Celebrity Apprentice" finale ratings hit a new low
- Worst National Anthem fails
- The truth in Kanye's anti-prison rap
- Stephen Colbert to UVA: "You must always make the path for yourself"
- "Game of Thrones," season 3, episode 8: A salon
- Bieber booed, Miguel falls on fan at Billboard Awards
- "Mad Men" recap: Love, acid and whores. Lots of whores
- Taylor Swift leads Billboard winners
- “Game of Thrones” recap: “We must do our duty”
- "The Unwinding": What's gone wrong with America
- Michael J. Fox wins: The best and worst of the new fall shows
- First look: The Coens' marvelous folk-music odyssey
- New York's most persecuted subway artist?
- James Franco: "I really felt I was in conversation with Faulkner"
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11