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Oscar 2011 Surprising Nominations: Javier Bardem, Mike Leigh, David O. Russell

Javier Bardem, Biutiful
Javier Bardem, Biutiful

The Oscar nominations tend to be fairly predictable, but every year one can find surprising inclusions and just as surprising omissions. This year is no exception.

The top surprising inclusions are:

Javier Bardem as a Best Actor contender for Alejandro González Iñárritu's Mexican-Spanish drama Biutiful. In 2000, Bardem was nominated for playing a Spanish-speaking person, the Cuban poet Reinaldo Arenas in Julian Schnabel's Before Night Falls. However, Schnabel's movie was made for the American market and had mostly English dialogue. Thus, Biutiful marks Bardem's first Oscar nod for a performance chiefly in his native language.

David O. Russell is a Directors Guild nominee for The Fighter, which is also one of the year's top ten films according to Oscar voters. But Russell's chances in the Oscar's Best Director category seemed quite insignificant, considering that DGA non-nominees (DGA snubbees?) Joel Coen and Ethan Coen were very likely candidates for True Grit. Turns out the Coens and Russell are in, whereas shoo-in Christopher Nolan is out.

Mike Leigh's Another Year in the Best Original Screenplay category. Despite a warm reception at the Cannes Film Festival, Leigh's film has been relegated to the sidelines throughout this awards season, as Tom Hooper's The King's Speech has become the prestige British production of 2010. In fact, a week or so ago Another Year received only two BAFTA nods: Outstanding British Film and a Best Supporting Actress for Lesley Manville. Though not exactly a shocker – this is, after all, Mike Leigh's fifth nomination for Best Original Screenplay – Another Year's Oscar nod came as a moderate surprise.

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