Before I start looking at the categories, I want to congratulate Emma Stone and Seth MacFarlane for actually making the announcement today a little more exciting.
I have to admit that by the time they got to best picture, it was actually a little anti-climatic. I had predicted ten films, and nine of the ten I predicted made it in. Moonrise Kingdom did score a nod for Screenplay, but missed the cut for BP. Not surprising. I am perticularly happy that I decided to add Amour at the last minute, as it ended up sweeping in and getting several major nominations. But my oh my how the tables have turned on this race in a matter of minutes. The directors race (see below), has completely changed the direction of this awards season. Yesterday it was Lincoln vs. Argo vs. ZDT. Today, the race now stands as Lincoln vs. SLP vs. Life of Pi. An incredible turn of events which will frustrate some, excite others, and definitely keep this race interesting. I had another thought as I read these nominees. For now four years, the Academy has expanded its nominees beyond five. In the first four years, I think that it wasn't quite the success story they had hoped it would be. But this year proves that in a year of great movies, this 5-10 system can be very beneficial. This is the finest list for Best Picture that I have seen in a really long time. But for now I will move on, because it is the other major categories that are chocked full of stunning and wonderful surprises.
Okay, let me put it this way: What the hell just happened? I couldn't even believe it when I heard it. It started off normal. David O. Russell got the fifth spot, Ang Lee, and Steven Spielberg. Then Michael Haneke's name was announced, and it suddenly occured to me that one of Ben Affleck or Kathryn Bigelow was going to be left out. And then BAM!! Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild. While I am disappointed that Affleck and Bigelow did not get nods (deserved nods), I am over the moon about Zeitlin's nomination. This is a stunning upset, and will keep us Oscar bloggers busy for days. Only two DGA nods got in, and only two BAFTA nods got in. I personally think this is now between Spielberg vs. Lee vs. Russell, and really Lee and Spielberg as Russell will not have the opportunity to win any major precursors. Most importantly, this really helps Lincoln. It leads the nominations, popular throughout the branches, and could give Spielberg his third Academy Award.
There were six slots for five guys. I am kind of disappointed that Hawkes was left out, but let's be honest, the buzz for The Sessions was dead. Now Helen Hunt did get in, but that was an extremely weak category. The big, and nice surprise is Joaquin Phoenix. Despite all of his ranting and raving about awards campaigning, clearly the power of Weinstein was enough to overcome that, as evidenced by the strong showing of SLP and The Master racking up all three major acting nominations. In terms of winning, this category may be one of the most anti-climatic. Daniel Day-Lewis will most likely start his march to Oscar tonight at the Critics Choice, and I doubt if any of the other four guys (all of which give great performances) can stop him.
I knew this one would be a tricky one, and boy did I get my butt kicked (only 3/5). Chastain got in, but the lack of love for ZDT across the board could spell bad news, especially as Weinstein and SLP are barreling towards Oscar glory. But I think that the other three nominees are all well-deserved, and could be surprises. I had left off Watts (a dumb mistake), and included Riva as I felt the love for Amour (no pun intended). I am not that surprised, but still kind of left smiling that my favorite female performance of 2012, the tiny powerhouse Quvenzhane Wallis was able to get into the mix over previous winners (and BAFTA/SAG nominees) Marion Cotillard and Helen Mirren. I will say this about Cotillard: I know some people weren't fond of Rust & Bone, but what does that woman have to do to get another Oscar nomination. She churns out worthy performance after worthy performance since her win now 6 years ago, and can't seem to crack the top five. I am happy with the five, I just think it is interesting that she keeps getting snubbed. In terms of the win, I think it's Lawrence to the finish line.
Best Supporting Actor
I think this is the only category I got 5/5 and that was only cause I went out on a limb at the last minute for Christoph Waltz. I loved Waltz, but he was clearly a co-lead, and Dicaprio and Jackson were aweseom supporting players. But other than that, there are no real surprises here. As Emma and Seth noticed (hilariously I might add), all five nominees are previous winners. So somebody is going to take home a second Oscar. This is the race to watch out for. Jones is in the lead for the moment, but any one of these guys could surprise us over the next couple of weeks.
Best Supporting Actress
Man, they really do love SLP. I thought Jacki Weaver was great in the film, but didn't included her in my awards because her role was so small (a real shame if you have read the book, where she is really a predominant character). This is a testament to the power of the film, and to the power of Harvey Weinstein. The other four nominations were expected, although unless something changes dramatically, I think Hathaway has this one in the bag.
The Master missing here is very interesting considering how well it played in the acting branch, but other than that I was 9/10 missing Flight. Really wish that Perks of Being a Wallflower had made it, but oh well.
I will process all of these later, but here are some notes. The Master was beautifully done and missed all of those well-deserved technical nods. The Intouchables was left off which is shocking. Amour should win, but remember the finicky way in which a smaller group selects the nominees and winners. The Pirates! getting in for Animination over Rise of the Guardians and some of the GKids stuff is quite surprising and not really in a good way. Two Snow White films for Costume Design. No Dark Knight Rises, even for deserved technical slots is surprising considering the last film got 8 nominations and 2 wins. Love the Skyfall love in Sound, Score, and Cinematography, and hope that Deakins finally wins his first Oscar. I liked Les Mis, but its Cinematography was horrific, and the Academy recognized this (but oddly enough not the ASC). Same thing with editing, where SLP did manage to get nominated, which means that it has at least one technical nod, usually a prerequisite for a possible Best Picture win. The Song category had some strange inclusions, but happy for MacFarlane and Adele, and probably it will be one of them who wins.
I will predict winners for the first time since the announcements tomorrow morning, and continue to dig into these nominations in the coming days!