The 2012 Oscar Nominations Weird Us Out

A string of snubs and surprise nominations makes the 2012 Oscar nominations unexpectedly engaging.

William Bibbianiby William Bibbiani

The 2012 Oscar nominations were just announced this morning. If you watched Jennifer Lawrence and Tom Sherak announce them on television, then you no doubt heard the repeated gasps of surprise from the journalists covering the event live. Yes, despite the predicted strong showings for The Artist, The Descendants, Hugo and The Help, the Oscar nominations this year turned out to be a rather surprising bunch, with unexpected nominations in several categories. You may remember that we gave our Oscar predictions yesterday. As you can imagine, this turn of events has affected our average quite a bit.


Best Picture:

The Artist

The Descendants

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The Help


Midnight in Paris


The Tree of Life

War Horse


Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close overtook projected frontrunners Bridesmaids and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, despite heavy consideration from other awards bodies. There were nine nominations total, which seems like an impressive figure since the Academy changed its rules this year to allow anywhere from five to ten Best Picture nominees could be named. In theory, at least, these are the Best Picture nominees the AMPAS really wanted.


Best Director:

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Terence Malick, The Tree of Life

Alexander Payne, The Descendants

Martin Scorsese, Hugo


It's impressive to find Terence Malick in the Best Director category, since The Tree of Life wasn't universally adored, but otherwise this category is full of more-or-less expected nominees.


Best Actor:

Demian Bachir, A Better Life

George Clooney, The Descendants

Jean Dujardin, The Artist

Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Brad Pitt, Moneyball


A Better Life's Demian Bechir and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy's Gary Oldman broke into the Best Actor category, knocking aside Leonardo DiCaprio and Michael Fassbender, who were considered bigger contenders for their work in J. Edgar and Shame. This marks Oldman's first Oscar nomination, believe it or not. George Clooney, Jean Dujardin and Brad Pitt were all expected to be nominated, are all the frontrunners.


Best Actress:

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


Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress went more-or-less as expected, although Tilda Swinton was snubbed for her acclaimed performance in We Need to Talk About Kevin, with newcomer Rooney Mara replacing her on the ballot. This category is still expected to be a three person race between Davis, Streep and Williams, but will Mara syphon off some of William's "ingenue" vote?


Best Supporting Actor:

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Jonah Hill, Moneyball

Nick Nolte, Warrior

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close


Oh, and get used to saying "Academy Award-Nominee Jonah Hill," because the Superbad star earned himself a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his performance in Moneyball, alongside frontrunners Kenneth Branagh (My Week with Marilyn) and Christopher Plummer (Beginners). But the biggest shock of the morning came when Albert Brooks, whose been picking up awards from multiple critics associations, was completely snubbed for his role in Drive. Two underdogs, Nick Nolte and Max Von Sydow for Warrior and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, have taken his place on Christopher Plummer's undercard. Plummer is considered the frontrunner in this category.


Best Supporting Actress:

Berenice Bejo, The Artist

Jessica Chastain, The Help

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids

Janet McTeer, Albert Nobbs

Octavia Spencer, The Help


The big surprise in the Best Supporting Actress category is the absence of Shailene Woodley, who has been a constant presence in this category throughout the entire awards season. Those who took her place on the ballot come as little surprise though, and Octavia Spencer is still considered a lock for the Oscar for her role in The Help.


Best Animated Feature:

A Cat in Paris

Chico & Rita

Kung Fu Panda 2

Puss in Boots



For the first time in years, a Pixar film has not been nominated for Best Animated Feature, meaning that for the first time in four years, a Pixar film won't be winning it either. The bigger surprise is that not one but two relative unknowns filled out the nominations, leaving Aardman Animation's Arthur Christmas and more importantly The Adventures of Tintin out of the running. Spielberg's film was considered Rango's biggest competition for the award, but perhaps the controversy over whether a fully motion-captured film deserved the distinction of "Best Animated Feature" took its toll. In their place we find two relatively unknown foreign films, A Cat in Paris and Chico and Rita, and for some reason Kung Fu Panda 2. Huh?



Best Original Screenplay:

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Kristen Wiig & Annie Mumolo, Bridesmaids

J.C. Chandor, Margin Call

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Asghar Farhadi, A Separation


Woody Allen racked up his fifteenth career nomination for his screenplay to Midnight in Paris, a new record in the category. Bridesmaids ended up with what feels like a consolation prize nomination, since it failed to break into the Best Picture category. The Artist made an impressive showing, considering the film's lack of dialogue, but underdogs Margin Call and A Separation are the real story here, both of them unseating the popular pick 50/50.


Best Adapted Screenplay:

Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash, The Descendants

John Logan, Hugo

George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Williamson, The Ides of March

Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (Story by Stan Chervin), Moneyball

Bridget O'Connor & Peter Staughan, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy


No huge surprises here, although The Ides of March and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy both performed better than projected. The Drive shut-out continues, and once again The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is left out in the cold. 


Best Foreign Language Film:

Bullhead (Belgium)

Footnote (Israel)

In Darkness (Poland)

Monsieur Lazhar (Canda)

A Separation (Iran)


A Separation is currently favored to win, but alas, most people have not seen all of the Foreign Film nominees yet, and voters for the category were actually required to see all of them, so analyzing the potential of the other nominees is difficult.


Best Cinematography:

Guillaume Schiffman, The Artist

Jeff Cronenweth, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Robert Richardson, Hugo

Emmanuel Lubezki, The Tree of Life

Janusz Kaminski, War Horse


No real surprises in this category, with each film boasting a beautiful aesthetic. Had any of these films not been nominated, it might have been news.


Best Editing:

Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Kevin Tent, The Descendants

Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Thelma Schoonmaker, Hugo

Christopher Tellefsen, Moneyball


It's a little surprising to find The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo in the Best Editing award, because it usually runs mostly parallel to the Best Picture nominees. Regardless, a mostly straightforward bunch of nominations here.


Best Art Direction:

Laurence Bennett and Gregory S. Cooper, The Artist

Stuart Craig and Stephanie McMillan, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Dante Ferreti and Francesca Lo Schiavo, Hugo

Anne Seibel, Helene Dubreuil, Midnight in Paris

Rick Carter and Lee Sandales, W.E.


Four period pieces, one fantasy epic, the Best Art Direction nominees are a mostly expected lot, although the fact that Madonna's film W.E. was nominated probably comes as a shock to everyone but Madonna. It's disappointing that neither Thor nor Captain America: The First Avenger were able to make an appearance in the category however.


Best Costume Design:

Lisy Christi, Anonymous

Mark Brides, The Artist

Sandy Powell, Hugo

Michael O'Connor, Jane Eyre

Arianne Phillips, W.E.


Take that last paragraph and paste it down here. Add "Oh, and Anonymous? That's an Oscar-nominated film now?" to the end and you're done.


Best Makeup:

Albert Nobbs

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

The Iron Lady


Old age makeup and Voldermort's flat face make up the Best Makeup nominees this year. 



Best Original Score:

John Williams, The Adventures of Tintin

Ludovic Bourse, The Artist

Howard Shore, Hugo

Alberto Iglesias, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

John Williams, War Horse


Although most of the nominees are predictable, it's very surprising to find Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy up for this award, with the more noticeable themes of Captain America: The First Avenger and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo also eligible.


Best Original Song:

"Man or a Muppet" from The Muppets, by Brett McKenzie

"Real in Rio" from Rio, by Sergio Mendes, Carlinhos Brown and Siedah Garrett


Wow, only two nominees? Flight of the Conchords star Brett McKenzie could only manage one nomination out of his fantastic soundtrack to The Muppets? And "The Star-Spangled Man" from Captain America couldn't make its way in there either? What the hell happened in this category?


Best Sound Mixing:

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo



Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse


Best Sound Editing: 


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo


Transformers: Dark of the Moon

War Horse


At last, one lone nomination for Drive. Just too hip for the room, we suppose.


Best Visual Effects:

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2


Real Steel

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Transformers: Dark of the Moon


It's here that we finally realize that Andy Serkis was, expectedly, snubbed for Best Supporting Actor. We suspect that this category – again completely devoid of the snubbed Thor and Captain America – will be used as his consolation prize by the Academy voters.


Best Documentary Feature:

Hell and Back Again

If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory




Best Documentary Short: 

The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement

God is the Bigger Elvis

Incident in New Baghdad

Saving Face

The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom


Best Animated Short:


The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

La Luna

A Morning Stroll

Wild Life 


Best Live-Action Short:



The Shore

Time Freak

Tuba Atlantic


Alas, until we actually see of these final nominations, there's not much to say about them. We'll catch you up on what's what in the Documentary and Short Subject categories after we acquire our screeners.

That's it for the Academy Awards nominations this year. Wow. Going to be a weird one. We'll be back with more news and commentary as Oscar season finally gets going in earnest.