Those expecting to find major surprises in the 2010 Oscar nominations were in for a major surprise: there were very, very few truly unexpected nominees.
All five Directors Guild nominees, Kathryn Bigelow, James Cameron, Quentin Tarantino, Lee Daniels, and Jason Reitman were shortlisted by the Academy. All but one of the 20 Screen Actors Guild nominees received matching Academy Award nods; the sole exception was Diane Kruger (Inglourious Basterds), who was replaced by Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart).
Gyllenhaal's nomination, in fact, could be considered the biggest Oscar surprise this morning. Many were predicting that some other actress would take Kruger's place at the Oscars, but most were expecting Julianne Moore (A Single Man), Samantha Morton (The Messenger), or Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds).
Other surprises of various sizes, shapes, and degrees of magnitude were the following:
'The Blind Side' for best picture
Considering that former best picture nominees include Ghost, The Green Mile, Titanic, Erin Brockovich, and Ray, that actually should be no surprise at all. Many feared (and a couple of us at Alt Film Guide hoped) that the expanded best picture category would feature at least two or three small, daring films, but no such luck. A Serious Man got in, but there was no room for The White Ribbon, Broken Embraces, The Messenger, and numerous other worthy – and obscure (in Hollywood) – candidates. Even the unusual sleeper hit (500) Days of Summer was left out.
'The Secret of Kells' for best animated feature
I don't believe The Secret of Kells was under most people's radar, even though it did get an European Film Award nomination last year. Directed by Tomm Moore, this French-Irish production is set in 9th-century Ireland, where a twelve-year-old boy discovers a way to protect the locals from Viking raids.
'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince' for best cinematography
Bruno Delbonnel's work on the latest installment of the fantasy movie franchise failed to get a nod from the American Society of Cinematographers. Delbonnel took the spot of Dion Beebe for Nine.
This is a follow-up to my previous post on the Oscar 2010 surprises (or lack thereof). So, if you hear someone like Sandra Bullock or Jeff Bridges or Mo'Nique or even Stanley Tucci or Penélope Cruz telling the media, “Gee, whiz! By golly, this is all so totally unexpected.” Feel free to call them shameless liars. Now, if someone like Joe Klotz says he was totally caught off guard when he found himself shortlisted for the 2010 Oscar, make sure to believe him.
Who's Joe Klotz? See below a few more Oscar 2010 surprises in the less media-friendly categories.
'Precious' for best editing
Star Trek, Nine, Up in the Air, and even (500) Days of Summer would have been more likely possibilities. Instead, the Academy's Editors Branch went for Joe Klotz and his work on the urban drama Precious, which also earned director Lee Daniels a nomination.
'The Hurt Locker' for best original score
Bob Murawski and Chris Innis' The Hurt Locker hadn't been mentioned very often as a possible Oscar contender. In fact, I don't recall seeing it on anyone's list – but I could be mistaken. Anyhow, most best score awards have gone to Michael Giacchino for Up. Giacchino has been nominated and he's the clear favorite in that category.
<h3 'loin=”” de=”” paname'=”” for=”” best=”” original=”” song<=”” h3=””>I wonder how many people were expecting Reinhardt Wagner and Frank Thomas' “Loin de Paname” to get a nomination. Christophe Barratier's Paris 36 / Faubourg 36, released by Sony Pictures Classics with little fanfare in the United States, stars Gérard Jugnot (of The Chorus / Les choristes fame) as a music hall stage manager accused of murder.
'Il Divo' for best make-up
Actually, we almost had Aldo Signoretti and Vittorio Sodano's make-up job listed in our 2010 Oscar predictions posted yesterday. In fact, we had Il Divo there and then took it out. I was the only one who had actually seen the movie. Signoretti and Sodano were nominated for transforming Toni Servillo into former Italian prime minister Giulio Andreotti.
As an aside: I highly recommend Il Divo, which I find superior to the vast majority of this year's Oscar nominees.
Avatar, starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, and Sigourney Weaver, and The Hurt Locker, featuring Jeremy Renner and Anthony Mackie, are the 2010 Academy Awards' leaders. James Cameron's sci-fi/fantasy adventure and Kathryn Bigelow's Iraq War drama received nine nominations apiece, including best picture, best director, and best original screenplay. Curiously, Cameron and Bigelow were married for a couple of years about two decades ago.
The other best picture nominees – the first time since 1943 in which 10 films have been shortlisted – are: the sentimental (extended) family drama The Blind Side, the British coming-of-age-tale An Education, the South African political-sci-fi thriller District 9, the World War II revenge fantasy Inglourious Basterds, the urban family drama Precious, the mordant suburban comedy A Serious Man, the animated blockbuster Up, and the socially conscious comedy-drama Up in the Air.
Up is the first animated film to be nominated in that category since Beauty and the Beast (1991). Pete Docter's box office hit was also shortlisted for best animated feature, along with Coraline, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The Princess and the Frog, and The Secret of the Kells, which received an European Film Award nod late last year.
This year is one of the rare instances when the Academy's best director nominees matched the Directors Guild's shortlist: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), James Cameron (Avatar), Lee Daniels (Precious), Jason Reitman (Up in the Air), and Quentin Tarantino (Inglourious Basterds). Bigelow won the DGA's top prize last Saturday, and is expected to win the Oscar as well.
The Academy's acting nods were nearly identical to those of the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
The best actress nominees are Meryl Streep (above), who earned her 16th mention for her portrayal of chef Julia Child in the comedy Julie & Julia; fourth-timer Helen Mirren as Leo Tolstoy's wife in The Last Station; and Oscar newcomers Sandra Bullock as a conservative well-to-do mom who discovers compassion after adopting an inner-city teen, Gabourey Sidibe as an abused pregnant teen, and Carey Mulligan as a 1960s London student who falls for a man about twice her age.
Streep has two Oscars: supporting for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and lead for Sophie's Choice (1982). Mirren won for The Queen four years ago.
The best actors nominees are Jeff Bridges for his troubled country singer in Crazy Heart, George Clooney for his corporate downsizer in Up in the Air, Colin Firth for his bereaved 1960s gay college professor in A Single Man, Morgan Freeman for his Nelson Mandela in Invictus, and Jeremy Renner for his bomb-disposing Iraq War soldier in The Hurt Locker.
Bridges and Freeman are five-time nominees; this is Clooney's third acting nomination. Firth and Renner are first-timers. Both Freeman and Clooney have won Oscars in the best supporting actor category; the former for Million Dollar Baby (2004), the latter for Syriana (2005).
In the running for best supporting actor are Matt Damon's rugby player in Invictus, Woody Harrelson's soldier in The Messenger, Christopher Plummer's Leo Tolstoy in The Last Station, Stanley Tucci's psycho murderer in The Lovely Bones, and odds-on favorite Christoph Waltz's Nazi in Inglourious Basterds (above).
Damon's and Plummer's supportingness may be debatable, but that's how those things go. Damon had previously received a best actor nod for Good Will Hunting (1997). Harrelson's prior nomination, also in the best actor category, was for The People vs. Larry Flynt (1996). Plummer, Tucci, and Waltz are all Oscar newcomers.
The supporting actress nominees are third-timer Penélope Cruz for Nine, and first-timers Vera Farmiga and Anna Kendrick for Up in the Air; Maggie Gyllenhaal for Crazy Heart, and odds-on favorite Mo'Nique for Precious. Last year, Cruz won a best supporting actress Oscar for Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Of all the names listed above, only Maggie Gyllenhaal's was missing from the SAG Award nominations. Gyllenhaal replaced Diane Kruger for Inglourious Basterds.
The winners will be announced on March 7.
Meryl Streep breaks acting record
Meryl Streep has broken her own record for most Oscar nominations for acting: 16 in all. They are: The Deer Hunter (supporting, 1978), Kramer vs. Kramer (supporting, 1979), The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), Sophie's Choice (1982), Silkwood (1983), Out of Africa (1985), Ironweed (1987), A Cry in the Dark (1988), Postcards from the Edge (1990), The Bridges of Madison County (1995), One True Thing (1998), Music of the Heart (1989), Adaptation (supporting, 2002), The Devil Wears Prada (2006), Doubt (2008), and Julie & Julia (2009).
She won for Kramer vs. Kramer and Sophie's Choice.
Meryl Streep breaks another acting record
Thanks to her Julie & Julia nomination, Meryl Streep has also broken the record for most acting nominations in a leading role. The previous record holders were Streep and Katharine Hepburn, with 12 nominations each. Streep now has 13.
For the (other kind of) record: Thelma Ritter holds the record for most acting nominations in the supporting category: six in all. Katharine Hepburn still holds the record for the most acting wins: four.
Photo: Julie & Julia (Jonathan Wenk / Columbia Pictures)
Among the Oscar 2010 curiosities are the following:
Ex Husbands & Wives
James Cameron and Kathryn Bigelow are both competing in the best director category. About two decades ago, they were married for a couple of years. Cameron's Avatar cost one trillion dollars to make and has earned about two trillion dollars at the box office. It's now the biggest, all-time, for all eternity supermegablockbuster in the history of the universe (not accounting for inflation or higher 3D/IMAX prices etc etc). Bigelow's The Hurt Locker cost about $11 million and grossed less than $13 million in North America. Let's not even mention “inflation” here.
Well, don't expect a Titanic replay. The Hurt Locker has already won both the Producers Guild and the Directors Guild awards; it's now the favorite to win the best picture Oscar. Bigelow is all but assured an Oscar statuette, which would make her the first woman to ever win in that category.
Kathryn Bigelow & Nominated Woman Directors
Back to Bigelow: Kathryn Bigelow is only the fourth woman to be nominated for best director. Previous nominees were Italian Lina Wertmüller (Seven Beauties, 1976), New Zealander Jane Campion (The Piano, 1993), and American Sofia Coppola (Lost in Translation, 2003). The gap between nominations keeps getting smaller. Perhaps we'll have another nominated female director within three or four years. Hey, slow progress is better than none whatsoever.
'Up' for Best Picture
Pete Docter's Up is the first animated feature to be included in the best picture category since Beauty and the Beast (1991). And they're the only two so far.
Which movies were totally ignored by the Academy? Which performers and filmmakers were ignored? The list is quite long, of course. Below are the most notable omissions from the Oscar 2010 shortlist.
Marc Webb's (500) Days of Summer, Pedro Almodóvar's Broken Embraces, Todd Phillips' The Hangover, Michael Moore's Capitalism: A Love Story, Duncan Jones' Moon, Cary Joji Fukunaga's Sin Nombre, Sebastian Silva's The Maid, and Olivier Assayas' Summer Hours were totally left out.
And so were Richard Linklater's Me and Orson Welles, Nancy Meyers' It's Complicated, Steven Soderbergh's The Informant!, John Hillcoat's The Road, Spike Jonze's Where the Wild Things Are, Hayao Miyazaki's Ponyo, Jim Sheridan's Brothers, Roland Emmerich's 2012, and Grant Heslov's The Men Who Stare at Goats.
Among the individuals left out were Julianne Moore (A Single Man), Samantha Morton (The Messenger), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man), Robert Downey Jr (Sherlock Holmes), Marion Cotillard (Nine), Catalina Saavedra (The Maid), Clint Eastwood (Invictus), Michael Haneke (The White Ribbon), Emily Blunt (The Young Victoria), Abbie Cornish and Ben Whishaw (Bright Star), and Diane Kruger and Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds).
Also, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel ((500) Days of Summer), Sam Rockwell (Moon), Alec Baldwin (It's Complicated), Saoirse Ronan and Susan Sarandon (The Lovely Bones), Christian McKay (Me and Orson Welles), Nora Ephron (Julie & Julia), cinematographer Dion Beebe (Nine), plus A.R. Rahman's song “Na Na” (Couples Retreat), Agnes Varda's documentary The Beaches of Agnes, and Warwick Thornton's best foreign language film semi-finalist Samson & Delilah.
It's always good to remember that all of the above may – and likely did – get a number of votes. Some may even have showed up on a majority of the ballots – but as a result of the preferential voting system their potential nominations went kaput.
Photos: Broken Embraces (Emilio Pereda & Paola Ardizzoni / El Deseo / Sony Pictures Classics); It's Complicated (Melinda Sue Gordon / Universal); The Beaches of Agnes (Cinema Guild)
Clint Eastwood's Invictus – a sentimental mix of politics, social consciousness, and soccer – was expected to land a Best Picture Oscar nomination and was a possibility for Best Director as well. Yet, Invictus' only two Oscar 2010 nominations were for Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon in the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor categories, respectively.
“We didn't get a best picture nomination? Well that's a big letdown,” Morgan Freeman remarked upon learning that he was in, but his movie was out. “Well there you go. That's my problem, I thought we should get a best picture nomination.” Considering the extra number of slots in the Best Picture category, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences members clearly thought otherwise.
Michael Hoffman's The Last Station was at one point touted as a possible Best Picture Oscar 2010 contender. The period family drama ended up with only two nominations: Best Actress for Helen Mirren and Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Plummer for his performance as Leo Tolstoy. As expected, The Last Station co-star James McAvoy was once again bypassed by the Academy. McAvoy had been previously left out for both The Last King of Scotland and Atonement, which earned nominations for, respectively, eventual winner Forest Whitaker as Best Actor and Saoirse Ronan as Best Supporting Actress.
Oscar 'front-runners' gone bust: 'The Lovely Bones' & 'Nine'
Peter Jackson's The Lovely Bones, an Oscar 2010 “front-runner” before it opened to tepid reviews and even more tepid box office in North America, earned only one nomination: for Stanley Tucci in the Best Supporting Actor category. Another early “front-runner,” Rob Marshall's musical Nine, earned four nods: Penélope Cruz for Best Supporting Actress, Best Art Direction, Best Costume Design, and “Take It All” for Best Song. Not even the awards-season might of The Weinstein Company was enough to land Nine – an expensive, poorly received box office bomb – among the year's Best Picture contenders.
More Oscar 'underperformers': 'Fantastic Mr. Fox,' 'Bright Star,' 'Star Trek,' 'The White Ribbon'
Wes Anderson's well-received Fantastic Mr. Fox received two Oscar 2010 nominations: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score. Fantastic Mr. Fox didn't, however, get a nomination for Anderson and Noah Baumbach's screenplay, which has been widely praised by North American critics.
Despite the success among Academy members of James Cameron's Avatar and Neill Blomkamp's District 9, another sci-fi adventure fared less well at the 2010 Oscars: J.J. Abrams' Star Trek garnered four nominations, two of which in the Best Sound categories, plus Best Make-Up and Best Visual Effects. Some had predicted that Star Trek would be one of the year's Best Picture nominees.
Jane Campion's period romantic drama Bright Star, starring Ben Whishaw and Abbie Cornish, was well received at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival, but earned only one Oscar nomination: Best Costume Design. Michael Haneke's 2009 Palme d'Or and European Film Award winner The White Ribbon was deemed good enough only for the Best Foreign Language Film and Best Cinematography categories. Obviously, John Lee Hancock / Sandra Bullock's feel-good Best Picture nominee The Blind Side had more ardent fans among the Academy's ever-so-elitist members.
Morgan Freeman quote via The Associated Press. Morgan Freeman Invictus image: Keith Bernstein / Warner Bros.