December 06, 2016

Oscars: Nine surprises from this year’s nominations – ANALYSIS – AWARDS ALLEY


By Sean O’Connell
hollywoodnews.com: Nominations for the 84th Academy Awards were revealed this morning, with nine films making it into the fluid Best Picture race.

Jennifer Lawrence and Academy President Tom Sherak revealed that “The Artist,” “The Descendants,” “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” “The Help,” “Hugo,” “Midnight In Paris,” “Moneyball,” “The Tree of Life” and “War Horse” will compete for Oscar’s top prize when Billy Crystal hosts this year’s ceremony on Sunday, Feb. 26, at 7 p.m. ET / 4 p.m. PT.

In honor of the nine Best Picture nominees, here are the nine biggest surprises from this morning’s nominees:

1. “Hugo” earned more nominations than “The Artist”
That doesn’t mean Michel Hazanavicius’ film isn’t the frontrunner, as it earned nominations in the top categories including Picture, Director, Actor (Jean Dujardin) and Supporting Actress (Berenice Bejo, who had to hear her name butchered by Sherak). But Marty Scorsese’s film topped all contenders with 11 nominations, and that means something.

2. “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” represents
A late entry into the Oscar race, Stephen Daldry’s heartwrenching drama about a special needs boy (Thomas Horn) overcoming the loss of his father in the 9/11 terrorist attacks connected with enough Academy members to earn a Best Picture nomination, as well as a nod for the mighty Max Von Sydow. It also triggered the largest number of cry-baby Tweets from detractors, which are always fun to read.

3. Stephen Daldry’s Director streak is snapped
With nine Best Picture nominees and only five Best Director slots, some filmmakers had to be left out. Steven Spielberg (“War Horse”), Bennett Miller (“Moneyball”), Tate Taylor (“The Help”) and Daldry all saw their films earn Picture nods, but they missed the Director cut. For Daldry, it is the first time he has released a movie and has not been nominated.

4. Nick Nolte makes the cut!
Thankfully enough voters saw Gavin O’Connor’s grossly underrated “Warrior” to recognize Nolte’s tremendous performance.

5. Gary Oldman makes the cut!
Earning his first (FIRST!!) Oscar nomination. That, alone, is shocking. At least the Academy’s starting to wake up to this “newcomer.” (Side note: Thrilled that Demián Bichir scored a nom for “A Better Life.”)

6. Melissa McCarthy made the cut, as well!
So the “Bridesmaids” train didn’t carry the mega-comedy all the way to Best Picture, but it did churn up nominations for this year’s “It” girl, McCarthy, and a Screenplay nod for Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig.

7. Albert Brooks did not make the cut …
And “Drive,” in general, was overlooked. This one disappoints me, as I thought Brooks should have been a frontrunner in the Supporting Actor category. He didn’t even get a nomination. Same basically goes for “Drive,” which was skipped over in virtually every category, earning only a Sound Editing nomination. That’s a shame.

8. “Harry Potter” did not receive that “Lord of the Rings” bump.
Remember when the Academy bent over backwards for “Return of the King,” using the third and final installment in Peter Jackson’s trilogy to reward the filmmaker for a complete body of work? Yeah, they didn’t feel like doing that for “Harry Potter,” which was relegated to the technical categories. A franchise this monumental deserved much more than that.

And finally …

9. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” earns five nominations
Yet misses out on Picture and Director. Listen, it’s still a very good morning for David Fincher, producer Scott Rudin, and Team “Tattoo.” But going into the nominations, I felt the Academy would either completely embrace Fincher’s dark adaptation or shun it. They did neither. Or is it both? Rooney Mara worked her way into a very competitive Best Actress race (nudging out Tilda Swinton and Charlize Theron, to name a few). And the film did very well in the technical categories. We’ll see how it performs on Oscar eve.

Awards Alley brings you the best Oscar coverage. Click below to read our exclusive interviews with:
Harvey Weinstein
– The cast of “The Artist.”
Kenneth Branagh for “My Week With Marilyn.”
Bennett Miller talks “Moneyball.”
Sir Ben Kingsley and Chloe Grace Moretz for “Hugo.”
Tilda Swinton for “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”
David Fincher, Daniel Craig and Rooney Mara on “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.”
Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer for “The Help.”
Tate Taylor for “The Help.”
Woody Harrelson for “Rampart.”
Gavin O’Connor for “Warrior.”
Gary Oldman and Colin Firth for “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy.”
Charlize Theron, Patton Oswalt, Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody for “Young Adult.”
Steve McQueen for “Shame.”
Glenn Close for “Albert Nobbs.”
Seth Rogen and Will Reiser for “50/50.”

For complete Oscar and Film Festival coverage, visit our Awards Alley for the latest news items, reviews and interviews all season long.

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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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