The Academy Award nominations were announced on Thursday to a reaction of resounding… “yeah, all right.” Like every year, it seems, the Oscars have managed to nominate things that seemed like they’d get nominated for Oscars. Mostly. There are some strange categories and some individuals and films that didn’t nearly get as much love as they ought. Unlike years past, geek-centric films didn’t get nearly as much love as they might, especially considering it was a banner year for sci-fi/fantasy movies. Well, I guess it wouldn’t be the Oscars if there wasn’t some kind of controversy.
WHAT’S TO LIKE
All the love for Beasts of the Southern Wild has us very pleased indeed. A small, low-budget independent fantasy film getting Picture, Director, Actress (for an 8-year old!) and Screenplay nominations shows that smart, thoughtful, and innovated movies can certainly get love from the Academy.
Ang Lee’s Life of Pi got 11 nominations, the second most of any film. This is a 3D, mostly computer-generated (in the scenery anyway) film where the second lead is a tiger. That’s really amazing. It’s also the film that best used stereoscopy in a dazzling and inventive way. The movie wasn’t ABOUT the 3D, the 3D was ABOUT the movie.
This year’s crop of animated films (five this time) are all incredibly strong. Three of the five (Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, and The Pirates! Band of Misfits) are stop-motion films as well, which is certainly notable given that animated films more and more rely on computer-generated everything. Those two, Brave and Wreck-It Ralph are also gorgeous to look at. We here at Nerdist are particularly thrilled about Wreck-It Ralph, which we still contend is the Toy Story for the gamer generation. Also worth noting, The Simpsons and Paperman (the short before Wreck-It Ralph) got nominated in the best animated short category. How d’ya like them apples?
The lone nomination for a comedy (it’s arguable whether Silver Linings Playbook really is one or not. I say it’s a drama that has funny bits) was a much-deserved screenplay nomination for Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola for Moonrise Kingdom.
And, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t thrill up and down about Roger Deakins’ nomination for best cinematography for Skyfall as well as the two music noms for that film. I love James Bond and Skyfall is easily the best since the ’60s.
WHAT’S NOT TO LIKE
As I alluded to earlier, the Academy largely snubbed a lot of genre things that might have deserved a little more love.
Science fiction is woefully underrepresented in this ceremony. After its Writer’s Guild Nomination, Rian Johnson’s Looper seemed like it was in great shape to possibly pick up a nomination at the Oscars, but alas, no.
The Avengers, which is just the biggest money-maker of the year, got nothing more than a nod for Best Visual Effects. Much deserved, yes, but being able to write a film with eight main characters and have it make sense and be good is a huge feat. One may have thought it could have gotten some sort of recognition for that.
The Dark Knight Rises represents the culmination of a huge amount of excellence in bringing a comic book character to life in a realistic and believable way. It got zero nominations. At the very least, Wally Pfister should have gotten recognition for his amazing cinematography.
Also a major fault was not nominating Quentin Tarantino for Best Director. While not as impressive an outing as Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained is still marvelous and represents some amazing attention to visual detail. Plus, it’s a hell of a lot of fun, which is missing from many of the movies and directors that got recognized. And I love Christoph Waltz, but Leonardo DiCaprio gave the more impressive performance in that movie. The Academy just doesn’t like him for some reason.
The Hobbit also got relegated to the lesser technical categories. Even if you didn’t like the way it looked in the high frame rate 3D, its cinematography was trying something incredibly different and might have gotten notice for that.
As a whole, the Oscars are, again, rather a stuffy bunch of things. Here’s hoping things like Beasts can make a dent in the actual awards and maybe show the ceremony is less fuddy-duddy than it usually seems.
Put your cheers and shoulda-been-nominateds in the comments below