October 28, 2016
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Oscars: Javier Bardem, “Winter’s Bone” lead list of Oscar’s pleasant surprises

By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Oscar’s Best Picture race has a new frontrunner, it would appear.

The 12 nominations for “The King’s Speech” — including crucial nods in key categories such as Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay – means Tom Hooper’s historical drama (and not David Fincher’s Facebook film) is the new dog pulling the sled … at least for the time being. We now enter a whole different phase of the annual race, where those who have been nominated can position themselves around the game board as they vie for a coveted Oscar win.
(Here’s our interview with “The King’s Speech” director Tom Hooper)

One of those “pieces” suddenly in the race (when so many feared he would be left out) is Javier Bardem, nominated in the Best Actor race for his outstanding work in “Biutiful.” Though Bardem was on the outside looking in during the run-up to the Oscar nominations, the Academy saw fit to recognize his brilliant performance in Alejandro González Iñárritu’s film. Bardem is in good company, as the category also includes Colin Firth, Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg, and James Franco, who will act as co-host with Anne Hathaway for this year’s Oscar telecast.
(Here are our exclusive interviews with Bardem, Eisenberg, and Franco)

And while “The Social Network” appeared to be the critical favorite leading up to the Academy Award nominations, the voting body decided to throw more weight behind Joel and Ethan Coen’s “True Grit,” which earned 10 nominations to “Network’s” eight. While that doesn’t necessarily mean “Grit” has a better shot at winning Best Picture over “Network,” it does suggest that Fincher’s film isn’t the unstoppable Oscar behemoth many pundits believed it to be. Now we have a race.

So, what were the surprises from this morning’s announcements?

– “Winter’s Bone” gets the mysterious 10 spot in the Best Picture race, which could have gone to “The Town,” “Rabbit Hole,” or “Blue Valentine.” Those films, instead, were recognized in various acting categories.

– Michelle Williams makes it into the Best Actress category for “Blue Valentine,” which her on-screen partner, Ryan Gosling, does not. Recognizing one without the other seems strange, but there you have it.

– Jacki Weaver gets to represent the truly great “Animal Kingdom” at this year’s Oscars. She was nominated in the Supporting Actress category, and totally deserves it.

– Speaking of that category, “The Fighter” starlets Amy Adams and Melissa Leo will go head-to-head in the Best Supporting Actress category. Will they split the vote, allowing one of the other three actresses (Jacki Weaver, Helena Bonham Carter or Hailee Steinfeld) to rise up?

– Julianne Moore does not get to go head-to-head with Annette Bening for “The Kids Are All Right.” Mark Ruffalo, however, is nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category, and Lisa Cholodenko’s film gets in for Best Picture and Original Screenplay.

– Though “Inception” earns eight Oscar nominations, including Original Screenplay and Best Picture, Christopher Nolan is left out of the Best Director category, most likely to make room for “True Grit” directors Joel and Ethan Coen.

– James Franco becomes the first actor since Paul Hogan to be both an Oscar nominee and host on the same evening.

– And while “The King’s Speech” scored the most nominations, “Winter’s Bone” might be the morning’s biggest winner by earning nominations in major categories like Best Picture, Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), Supporting Actor (John Hawkes) and Screenplay.

The Oscars will be held on Sunday, Feb. 27. For a complete list of this morning’s nominees, click here.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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One Comment

  • January 25, 2011 | Permalink |

    I`m very sorry for Julianne Moore. It`s getting an habit that the Academy just ignore her work. Here are the words of the movie`s director: “It’s incredible to think that this morning’s Oscar nominations go back 7 years to the fateful day Stuart Blumberg and I crossed paths in a Los Angeles coffee shop and agreed to write ‘Kids’ together…I only regret that Julianne Moore didn’t get the acting nomination she so richly deserved. But the Picture nomination is as much hers as ours. We couldn’t have made this film without her heart, smarts and loyalty, not to mention her outstanding performance.” -Lisa Cholodenko, Best Original Screenplay nominee for “The Kids Are All Right”

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