Tuesday, 24 January 2012

ACADEMY AWARD NOMINATIONS

Best Picture
The Artist (Thomas Langmann)
The Descendants (Jim Burke, Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor)
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (Scott Rudin)
The Help (Michael Barnathan, Chris Columbus, Brunson Green)
Hugo (Graham King, Martin Scorsese)
Midnight in Paris (Letty Aronson, Stephen Tenenbaum)
Moneyball (Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz, Brad Pitt)
The Tree of Life (Dede Gardner, Sarah Green, Grant Hill, Bill Pohlad)
War Horse (Kathleen Kennedy, Steven Spielberg)
You want proof that the new system doesn't work? Your proof is here. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has a lower Metascore than any other film ever before nominated for Best Picture, and only the second (after The Blind Side) with one review at 0. Nine nominees is a bit pathetic too - it's only one off ten, and weren't they just admitting that that hadn't worked? To think, also, that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has been left off, despite its DGA nomination, is a big shame. Forget about The Tree of Life - the support is evidently there anyway. It has a Best Director nomination in a field of five. Academy, just admit it. Five worked best. Go back to that. And I was optimistic about this new format...

Best Director
Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Terrence Malick (The Tree of Life)
Alexander Payne (The Descendants)
Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
Very happy for Terrence Malick. Against the odds, with so little support from the guilds, he has secured a Best Director nomination. I always thought the Academy would respond well to The Tree of Life, I just didn't think it'd be this well! Indeed, this may be the year the Academy separated itself from the guilds, after separating themselves from the critics last year (they've kind of done that this year too). Malick over Fincher means something.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir (A Better Life)
George Clooney (The Descendants)
Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
Two things are all that are keeping me from booking a flight to L.A. and slapping Tom Sherak in the face right now. One is that so many of the all-time greatest performances went unnoticed by the Academy (Jeremy Iron in Dead Ringers, Naomi Watts in Mulholland Dr., John Huston in Chinatown etc.). The other is that Gary Oldman is in - now in his 50s, delivering his best performance to date, one of the best of the year too, and not expected to earn this nomination by many, he is nevertheless one of AMPAS' five honorees. But all the same, Michael Fassbender is not. And I am PISSED.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs)
Viola Davis (The Help)
Rooney Mara (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady)
Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
I'm so freaking pleased for Glenn Close. It's something of a fuck you to the haters ;) And equally pleased for Rooney Mara. Sure, Tilda Swinton has had to lose out (isn't it ridiculous to think that she's only been nominated once?!?) but I didn't think it was her best performance, nor one of the best five of the year in this category.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn)
Jonah Hill (Moneyball)
Nick Nolte (Warrior)
Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
Max von Sydow (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)
I was so hoping to see Albert Brooks in here. It's not just for him...in fact, it's not for him at all. It's for Drive, a film I so wanted the Academy to love. All it has is a Sound Editing nomination. Now Max von Sydow may not deserve this nomination this year but, like his co-nominee and likeness Christopher Plummer, this is only his second nomination. What the fuck, I know. But with Brooks out of the picture, this isn't Plummer's to lose, simply because he cannot lose it now. And this may be one of my favourite categories: of all four acting categories, it's the only one to contain my pick (Nick Nolte).

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
Jessica Chastain (The Help)
Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
Octavia Spencer (The Help)
Here's the thing. These are all good performances. But only one stands out for me, and that's Janet McTeer. Bejo is good, but not brilliant. The same goes for Spencer. McCarthy was funny, but far from my favourite thing about Bridesmaids. Chastain was better in Take Shelter. McTeer is the only one out of these five who would have been in my five, and she's perhaps the least likely to win.

Best Original Screenplay
Woody Allen (Midnight in Paris)
J.C. Chandor (Margin Call)
Asghar Farhadi (A Separation)
Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig (Bridesmaids)
I am so, so happy to see A Separation in this list. It's definitely the best screenplay of the year. Margin Call is another great choice. In fact, Bridesmaids aside, these are very good, and I'm happy enough to see the fab Kristen Wiig nominated for an Oscar.

Best Adapted Screenplay
Stan Chervin, Aaron Sorkin and Steven Zaillian (Moneyball)
George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon (The Ides of March)
Nat Faxon, Alexander Payne and Jim Rash (The Descendants)
John Logan (Hugo)
Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
Another good surprise in the screenplay categories - Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, my favourite adaptation of the year. Not so sure that The Ides of March or Hugo deserve to be here - both are patchily written, with good bits and disappointing bits. But this is between the other two - Moneyball and The Descendants. I think The Descendants will take it, what with it hitting the four biggest assets with regards to winning Best Picture (directing, acting, writing and editing)



Best Cinematography
Jeff Cronenweth (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Janusz Kaminski (War Horse)
Emmanuel Lubezki (The Tree of Life)
Robert Richardson (Hugo)
Guillaume Schiffman (The Artist)
A little shameful that this is the only category I correctly called. However, it's an impressive bunch. And what with The Tree of Life appearing in both Best Picture and Best Director, I think it has a good shot at this. And deservedly so.

Best Film Editing
Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
Thelma Schoonmaker (Hugo)
Christopher Tellefsen (Moneyball)
Kevin Tent (The Descendants)
Whether or not Moneyball deserves this, The Descendants certainly does not. A good film, no doubt about it, but not a shining example of editing. What was wrong with Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Tree of Life or Drive? Or my pick, Martha Marcy May Marlene? Oh well. None of them had much of a chance at winning, anyway.

Best Art Direction – Set Decoration
Laurence Bennett and Robert Gould (The Artist)
Rick Carter and Lee Sandales (War Horse)
Stuart Craig and Stephenie McMillan (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2)
Hélène Dubreuil and Anne Seibel (Midnight in Paris)
Dante Ferretti and Francesca Lo Schiavo (Hugo)
I had a little feeling about Midnight in Paris here, but, being a coward, I wouldn't dare predict it.

Best Costume Design
Mark Bridges (The Artist)
Lisy Christl (Anonymous)
Michael O’Connor (Jane Eyre)
Arianne Phillips (W.E.)
Sandy Powell (Hugo)
I ought to have seen Anonymous coming. Elizabethan costumes - how could they resist? I thought they'd make somewhat braver choices than these, considering recent nominees like The Queen and, in particular, I Am Love (swoon!).

Best Sound Mixing
Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, David Giammarco and Ed Novick (Moneyball)
Peter J. Devlin, Jeffrey J. Haboush, Greg P. Russell and Gary Summers (Transformers: Dark of the Moon)
Tom Fleischman and John Midgley (Hugo)
Tom Johnson, Andy Nelson, Gary Rydstrom and Stuart Wilson (War Horse)
Ren Klyce, David Parker, Bo Persson and Michael Semanick (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Moneyball? Am I the only one who wasn't raving about its sound mix? Nothing wrong with it or anything, I just didn't notice, and it's not like I was particularly distracted by other things while watching that film, 'cos it was only alright. Great to see War Horse and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in here as well, after their CAS snubs. Awesome sound mixing in both of those films.

Best Sound Editing
Erik Aadahl and Ethan van der Ryn (Transformers: Dark of the Moon)
Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis (Drive)
Eugene Gearty and Philip Stockton (Hugo)
Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom (War Horse)
Ren Klyce (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
Normally, this category hews pretty close to its sister, Sound Mixing. And so it is this year, with 4/5 matching. Sometimes, one film powers through both categories - maybe Hugo? - but sometimes, the lone nominees in either one take home the prizes. Drive? Not with this reception. Moneyball for Sound Mixing? Oh please.

Best Visual Effects
Daniel Barrett, Dan Lemmon, Joe Letteri and R. Christopher White (Rise of the Planet of the Apes)
Scott Benza, Matthew E. Butler, Scott Farrar and John Frazier (Transformers: Dark of the Moon)
Tim Burke, Greg Butler, John Richardson and David Vickery (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2)
Swen Gillberg, Erik Nash, John Rosengrant and Danny Gordon Taylor (Real Steel)
Ben Grossman, Alex Henning, Robert Legato and Joss Williams (Hugo)
Hmm. Even with The Tree of Life's support in more major categories, it can't pull off a Visual Effects nomination, despite deserving one. But we all know which film deserves this one more than the others, and it had better fucking win! We can't have another The Golden Compass scenario again...

Best Make-Up
Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnson and Matthew W. Mungle (Albert Nobbs)
Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland (The Iron Lady)
Nick Dudman, Amanda Knight and Lisa Tomblin (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2)
Hooray for these three, all of which are good picks. I thought Hugo would take this, but with 11 nominations, more than any other film, it hardly needed it, did it?

Best Original Score
Ludovic Bource (The Artist)
Alberto Iglesias (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
Howard Shore (Hugo)
John Williams (The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn)
John Williams (War Horse)
Although I enjoyed both of John Williams' scores this year, they weren't exactly vintage. Tintin was my preference of the two, but I'd rather have seen The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in. Sure, they went with Reznor and Ross last year, but it's always nice to see versatility in the pack, and we haven't seen that this year.

Best Original Song
Carlinhos Brown, Siedah Garrett and Sergio Mendes – ‘Real in Rio’ (Rio)
Bret McKenzie – ‘Man or Muppets’ (The Muppets)
Two? Fucking two? And they're not even any good. Get rid of this shite category now, Academy. Time for a wee overhaul, I think!

Best Animated Feature
Chico & Rita (Fernando Trueba, Javier Mariscal)
Kung Fu Panda 2 (Jennifer Yuh)
Puss in Boots (Chris Miller)
Rango (Gore Verbinski)
A Cat in Paris (Jean-Loup Felicoli, Alain Gugnol)
Boo that Tintin is out. But hooray that two independent, unsung animated films have been nominated. The animation branch of the Academy has a habit of championing different styles of animation, so this was to be expected. But in such a weak year for animated films, I thought they'd give up and tow the line. I just wish they'd have included another style of animation again, and kicked either Panda or Puss out for Tintin.

Best Documentary
Hell and Back Again (Danfung Dennis, Mike Lerner)
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front (Sam Cullman, Marshall Curry)
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory (Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky)
Pina (Gina-Piero Ringel, Wim Wenders)
Undefeated (Daniel Lindsay, T.J. Martin, Rich Middlemas)
Great to see Pina nominated. Also, don't worry, that's not The Undefeated (like Sarah Palin Undefeated). I've been meaning to see If a Tree Falls and Paradise Lost 3, so I can't complain about their nominations, although Hell and Back Again doesn't seem like an especially exciting choice. Not over Project Nim.

Best Foreign Language Film
Footnote (Joseph Cedar) – Israel
In Darkness (Agnieszka Holland) – Poland
A Separation (Asghar Farhadi) – Iran
Monsieur Lazhar (Philippe Falardeau) – Canada
Bullhead (Michael R. Roskam) – Belgium
I rather wish Pina was nominated here too, but this'll do. The shortlist wasn't very inspiring regardless. As long as A Separation wins. FML, In Darkness is definitely going to win, though, isn't it?

Best Animated Short
Dimanche (Patrick Doyon)
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg)
La Luna (Enrico Casarosa)
A Morning Stroll (Sue Goffe, Grant Orchard)
Wild Life (Amanda Forbis, Wendy Tilby)

Best Documentary Short
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement (Gail Dolgin, Robin Fryday)
God is the Bigger Elvis (Julie Anderson, Rebecca Cammisa)
Incident in New Baghdad (James Spione)
Saving Face (Daniel Junge, Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy)
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (Kira Carstensen, Lucy Walker)

Best Live Action Short
Pentecost (Peter McDonald)
Raju (Stefan Gieren, Max Zähle)
The Shore (Oorlagh George, Terry George)
Time Freak (Andrew Bowler, Gigi Causey)
Tuba Atlantic (Hallvar Witzø)

And so, in short, this is a rather huge disappointment. The absence of Michael Fassbender is not compensated by the presences of A Separation and Tinker Tailor for Screenplay, nor Gary Oldman and Rooney Mara. The Costume Design list is dull, Moneyball has no place in Sound Mixing, the shocks for Animated Feature can't make up for Tintin's exclusion, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a fucking travesty in Best Picture. This is the first year since 2006 in which I rated none of the Best Picture nominees 10/10, and the first year since 1994 in which I rated none of them 9/10 either. 8 is the best I could do (for The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo, Midnight in Paris and The Tree of Life, which isn't bad anyway). That's pretty bad in a year of nine Best Picture nominees. As I said above, AMPAS, please switch back to five. It worked for so long. At least then, if a film like The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was left off, it wouldn't be so intolerable.