Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Oscar Nomination Reflections

Every single year, we film school graduates snub our noses at the Oscars. We say that it doesn't matter, that the Academy is a bunch of establishment swine, yet we inevitably check the nomination list. Despite our claims to the contrary, we do want some validation in our taste, be it through critical praise or awards. When a film that we love wins an award, it's like we've won something, too. It's only when we admit it that we can accept the stupidity of the Oscars while lightheartedly enjoying our favorite films' successes.

All that being said, it's fair to say that the Academy was relatively conservative with their nominations this year. There are no big surprises, short of the nominations for the relatively weak and pedantic Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (which, I can only assume, were for America and 9/11, not for the film itself). Well-known names dominate the nomination list: George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Glenn Close, Terrence Malick, Martin Scorsese, and so on.

Woody Allen delivered one of the best films of his career with Midnight in Paris, and he was rewarded with multiple nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. I do wish that Corey Stoll was nominated for his scene-stealing performance as Ernest Hemingway, but we can't win them all. I'm also excited that Gary Oldman has received his very first nomination. It's been a long time coming, and I'm thrilled that he's nominated for a role he loved. And don't even get me started on the beauty of the "Man or Muppet" nomination.

Of course, there are some incredible snubs to keep us cinephiles in an uproar. The absurdly powerful Melancholia and its amazing actresses, Kirsten Dunst and Charlotte Gainsbourg, are both noticeably absent from the list -- most likely due to the media antics of Lars von Trier. Strikingly beautiful and difficult film Shame was also skipped over. I assume the film's NC-17 rating was the kiss of death for the mostly family-friendly Academy.

So overall, the nominations are fairly mundane. With frequent host Billy Crystal returning to the main stage duties, I think this year will be a snoozer. But what's worse, a safe and boring award show, or a controversial one? The Academy has clearly come down on one side, and I think that it might be a mistake.

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