Senior Theatrical Editor
82nd Academy Awards Nominations
Avatar, Hurt Locker and Inglourious Basterds Lay Down the Oscar Gauntlet
Itís taken me pretty much all day to finally sit down and write a reaction piece to the 82nd annual Academy Awards nomination announced this morning by last yearís Best Actress nominee Anne Hathaway and Academy president Tom Sherak. For whatever reason I just couldnít find the motivation, the lack of any real surprises (even with ten Best Picture nominees) diluting my excitement more than tad.
Anne Hathaway and Tom Sherak, photo Todd Wawrychuk / ©A.M.P.A.S.
Not that any of them made me particularly upset (although, even as a The Blind Side fan to say it was one of the yearís most outstanding cinematic achievements is certainly pushing things a bit), and I have no problem at all with Avatar, The Hurt Locker (both with nine noms) and Inglourious Basterds (eight nominations) being the frontrunners. I just find it a little underwhelming for some reason this year, and while I do have my personal favorites (In the Loop got a Best Adapted Screenplay nod, yippee!) very little is giving me the impetus to do cartwheels.
I think one of my problems here is that so many of the major categories (and a number of the minor ones, too) are already a forgone conclusion. The awards donít even happen until March 7 but I already know Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart) is going to win Best Actor, Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds) has the Supporting Actor statue in the bag and that Mo'Nique (Precious: Based on the Novel ĎPushí by Sapphire) is the runaway frontrunner for Best Supporting Actress.
Granted, Best Picture seriously is up for grabs, and I donít just think itís the big James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow and Quentin Tarantino (all of whom received Best Director noms as well) three with a chance for the win. Precious received six nominations in a slew of major categories (including Lee Daniels becoming only the second African American to be nominated for Best Director) while Up in the Air got six important big nods of its own to solidify the five pictures long thought to be most popular with the Academy.
But who knows what ten nominations now means in regards to actual voting. Do the popular Coen brothers have a chance with their magnificent comedy A Serious Man? Can Up (only the second animated film to be nominated for Best Picture) win over voters and steal the spotlight? Are massively different genre winners the coming of age melodrama An Education or the sci-fi racial thriller District 9 in the game or out of their league? Most importantly, will The Blind Side pull of the biggest upset since Chariots of Fire left Reds, On Golden Pond, Atlantic City and Raiders of the Lost Ark standing at the alter all alone?
Speaking of The Blind Side, Iím not counting Sandra Bullockís win for Best Actress as a lock. Meryl Streepís sixteenth nomination for Julie & Julia is no fluke, and the fact she hasnít won in over two decades gives her a sentimentality factor hard to dismiss. On top of that, these two have the very real possibility of splitting their votes meaning one-time frontrunners Carey Mulligan (An Education) and Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) might still pull off the upset. The only one who seems out of the running is former winner Helen Mirren, her performance in The Last Station feeling more like category filler than it does legitimate contender.
For all my talk to the contrary there were a few minor surprises. Hans Zimmer got noticed for his splendid Sherlock Holmes score, while the basically unknown stop-motion picture The Secret of Kells got a nomination for Best Animated Feature leaving both Ponyo and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs out in the cold. Bruno Delbonnelís (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) Best Cinematography nomination was a bit of shock as was Il Divo and The Young Victoria getting noms for Best Makeup. I also thought that the absolutely wondrous Paris 36 getting a Best Original Song nomination was a major stunner, and as Iíve already mentioned In the Loop getting noticed for its screenplay made me literally squeal in joy.
I loved the fact the abominable Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen only received a token nomination for Best Sound Mixing, and while I know others will detest me for saying this but the fact Star Trek only managed a handful of tech nods didnít bother me in the slightest. Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker) getting into the Best Actor race also made my heart sing, although on the flip side Maggie Gyllenhaal (an actress I do greatly admire) getting a Best Supporting Actress nom over the likes of Julianne Moore (A Single Man) or Marion Cottilard (Public Enemies) made me more than a tiny bit sad.
There were numerous other slights I could talk about (Bright Star getting a single nomination for Best Costume Design, (500) Days of Summer getting completely shutout) but thatís a column best left for another day. In the end I have little else to talk about at the moment as far as the 2010 Academy Awards are concerned, and until it comes time to make some new predictions in regards to the winners I think Iíll stop right there.