It's like Christmas morning for film geeks (the ceremony is like New Year's Eve). AMPAS has announced the nominations for the 85th Academy Awards (complete list of nominees).
Surprise! You're In!
Beasts of the Southern Wild might be the biggest surprise recipient this morning. Some were worried that it may have peaked too soon. But, when Benh Zeitlin was announced in Best Director the gasps were heard 'round the world. Less surprising were the nods for Best Picture, Best Actress (for the indefatigable Quvenzhane Wallis, and Best Adapted Screenplay. Indeed, some thought the only sure thing left for the film was the screenplay nod.
I was not terribly surprised at the strength Amour showed in the nominations, but some were. Michael Haneke's career has been growing in recognition over the past decade (though his career goes back much further than that) and he's become the default world auteur for Hollywood to fall in love with. Amour is his most accessible piece yet (though not an easy watch) and it focuses on the lives of an elderly couple...and we all know that the Academy membership is not known for its youth-skewing.
Jackie Weaver's nomination for Silver Linings Playbook was a bit of a surprise and it gave an unexpected strength to the film, making it the first film in 31 years to be nominated in Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress and Screenplay. The last film to do it was Reds. That year, Warren Beatty's film was upset by Chariots of Fire. Does this open the door for a shocker on February 24?
Surprise! You're Out!
When the Best Director nominees were announced, the gasps may have been less for Benh Zeitlin being in than they were for Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow being out. Each were considered front-runners (along with Spielberg) for the win, let alone the nomination. I think they were both victimized by the "they don't need my vote, they're surely in" syndrome that strikes the Academy from time to time (I think that's how Paul Giamatti was snubbed for Sideways).
Many were shocked at Nicole Kidman's absence in Best Supporting Actress for her delightfully over-the-top work in The Paperboy. I was less so. The predecessor nominations were, themselves, surprising. Her performance was simply not the type of thing the Academy tends to go for. If they're not going to nominate The Birdcage performances (which killed at the SAG awards that year), they clearly don't get "camp" and aren't going to go for it.
John Hawkes' snub for The Sessions was a bit of a surprise. I had suspected it, though. The film had just dropped from conversation recently. Many also were a tad shocked by Helen Mirren being left out of Best Actress, but given Hitchcock's less than stellar reviews, I was not.
One of the most shocking snubs came in a category that only shocks the most devout of Oscar followers (but tends to shock us every year). France's The Intouchables was thought a surefire nominee and a strong challenge to Amour for the win. With the Weinstein Company backing it, who would've even considered this? Not many. Of the possible NaFF film nominations, this seemed most likely.
Four nominations this year from nine possibilities.
In Best Documentary, 5 Broken Cameras is a nominee.
In Best Live Action Short, 2012 NaFF winner Curfew is a nominee, as is 2012 selection Buzkashi Boys.
And, in Best Documentary Short, former winner Cynthia Wade's Mondays at Racine is a nominee.
How'd I Do on my picks?
My top nine picks for Best Picture were all included. So, 9 for 9.
I was with most of the world in Best Director, so the Affleck / Bigelow snubs make me 3 for 5 in that category. I did have David O. Russell in my spoilers. I, like most, did NOT expect Benh Zeitlin (but am thrilled to see him there).
I went 4 for 5 in Best Actress, believing The Impossible had come out too late for Naomi Watt's to get the momentum necessary and Marion Cotillard's constant campaigning would carry her in. But Watt's was atop my spoiler list.
Best Actor? Nailed it. 5 for 5.
Somehow, I knew there would be a surprise in Best Supporting Actress, but I went with Dench, believing the 50-year anniversary of Bond might carry her into the first ever Bond-film acting nomination. Instead, it was Weaver - who, yes, was on my spoiler list. 4 for 5.
Best Supporting Actor, I went with a surprise Argo snub here. Should've used that in Director. Arkin replaces DiCaprio on my list and I go 4 for 5.
Flight overtook The Master in Original Screenplay, leaving me 4 for 5 there.
Nailed Adapted Screenplay with a 5 for 5 call.
I went 4 for 5 in Best Foreign Film, missing the one that nearly everyone predicted (the aforementioned The Intouchables) instead of Canada's War Witch.
And, finally, 4 for 5 in Best Documentary with How to Survive a Plague replacing Bully. I honestly think that I liked How to Survive a Plague too much to believe it would make it. There is usually something to infuriate me in this category. Not this year.
Overall, in the categories I predicted, I went 46 for 54 for 85%. In comparison, Nathaniel at TheFilmExperience.net went 44 for 54 for 81%. IndieWire's Peter Knegt went 42 for 54 for 78%. Scott Feinberg at The Hollywood Reporter went 43 for 54 for 80%. I give myself a NAILED IT!
Let's hope that Oscar night is as surprising as this morning was. Mark your calendars for Feb. 24.