Academy Award nominations riddled with oversights

You can’t say the Academy didn’t make it interesting this year. With the unveiling of the 84th annual Academy Award nominees on Tuesday morning, the film world was treated to a number of surprises — both good and bad.

This year’s ceremony promises to provide the first real competition the Oscars have seen since 2005.

The obvious surprise going into the Best Picture race was the newly implemented “5 – 10” rule, under which any number of films within that range can be nominated in the category. Stephen Daldry’s Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close came along to make that eventual number nine.

With this inclusion, as well as the “on the bubble” films Midnight in Paris and War Horse, David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was glaringly overlooked for a Best Picture nod. While I agree that Midnight in Paris did earn its place amongst the year’s best nine, director Woody Allen filled a spot that should have been occupied by either Fincher or the even more deserving Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive. That being said, I’m glad they didn’t give Spielberg a courtesy nod, so I can’t be too pissed off.

Drive was an obvious omission, seeing as the film’s leading and supporting actors Ryan Gosling and Albert Brooks were both shut out from the competition. The donut that Drive received from the main categories is, in my mind, the Academy’s biggest oversight this year.

On the other hand, it’s a huge relief to see some Oscar love finally thrown in Gary Oldman’s direction. Oldman received his very first nomination this year for the British spy flick Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. There was also the catch-22 inclusion of Demián Bichir in the Best Actor category. On one hand, it’s nice to see an under-appreciated, little known performance get recognized. On the other, Bichir took a spot that should have been secured by Gosling, or Michael Fassbender for Shame.

In the Best Actress race, Rooney Mara’s nod was a much-welcomed surprise, as her inclusion throws a wrench into what would have been a two-woman race. Viola Davis and Meryl Streep may now split the vote with Mara riding in on their coat tails, making the situation infinitely more interesting.

The Supporting Actor category dropped a few bombs of it’s own — giving a nod to veteran thesp Max von Sydow for his work in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. This category includes projected winner Christopher Plummer, who is expected to take home the award as a “career achievement” Oscar, after being overlooked by the Academy throughout his illustrious career. With von Sydow, who has also never been awarded the film’s greatest prize, now included, the categories front-runner has become significantly less discernible.

Outside of the main categories, there were additional oversights. Will Reiser’s original screenplay 50/50 should have taken a spot over the likes of Bridesmaids —a movie that, while very funny, seemed heavily improvised.

I was glad to see John Williams get what seems like his millionth nomination for War Horse’s lovely score, but was disappointed that he was also recognized for Tintin. This second nod took a spot away from much more deserving candidates Atticus Ross and Trent Reznor for Dragon Tattoo and Michael Giacchino and his brilliant musical contribution to Super 8.

There was also the disappointing case of the “Best Original Song” category, in which only two songs received nominations. Thankfully, The Muppets was one of these two, but it’s a shame the Academy didn’t recognize which of the soundtrack’s songs were truly deserving of the acknowledgement. It should have been “Life’s a Happy Song” grabbing the nod. Lastly, I’m completely confounded as to how Captain America received nada in any of the visual or art categories.

It seems the Oscars were hell bent on keeping things interesting this year. While I am glad that The Artist did well and the additions of Rooney Mara and Gary Oldman to the nominees were fantastic, there were too many missed opportunities by the Academy. Then again, I’m now more excited about the show than I have been in years.

Touché Academy.

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