Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oscar nominations: First impressions

So the nominations are out for the 84th Academy Awards, and while most of the names were expected, congrats to George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Viola Davis and Meryl Streep; there were a few surprises.

Best Picture: "The Artist," "The Descendants," "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close," "The Help," "Hugo," "Moneyball," "Midnight in Paris," "The Tree of Life" and "War Horse."

This year the Academy narrowed the field to nine films, with two of them coming as big surprises. Reviews for "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" have been mixed and its been all but ignored during award season, so this nod really came out of left field. "The Tree of Life" has been critically acclaimed, but people love it or hate it and it hasn't received much award attention so far, making its nomination seem like more of a gift to Terrence Malick.

Best Actor: Demian Bechir, Jean DuJardin, Gary Oldman, Clooney and Pitt.

Though the absence of DiCaprio is a little surprising, he had been losing steam just as Oldman was gaining traction. The real surprise here is Bechir for "A Better Life." He took the spot that would have went to Michael Fassbender or Ryan Gosling.

Best Actress: Glenn Close, Rooney Mara, Viola Davis, Michelle Williams and Streep.

Other than Mara taking what many thought would be Tilda Swinton's spot, this category went according to expectations.

Best Supporting Actor: Kenneth Branagh, Jonah Hill, Christopher Plummer, Max Von Sydow and Nick Nolte.

Jonah Hill, really?

Best Supporting Actress: Berenice Bejo, Jessica Chastain, Melissa McCarthy, Janet McTeer and Octavia Spencer.

Bejo could be the spoiler for Spencer, if "The Artist" enjoys a wave of wins Oscar night. Also the Academy has a history of surprising wins for foreign actresses.

Best Animated Feature: "A Cat in Paris," "Chico & Rita," "Kung Fu Panda 2," "Puss in Boots," "Rango."

While it's a little sad to see no Disney or Pixar films nominated, this wasn't their year. It's jaw-dropping to see the absence of "The Adventures of Tintin" which won the Golden Globe and has the Steven Spielberg/Peter Jackson pedigree. Seriously, what are those first two?

Best Visual Effects: "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2," "Hugo," "Real Steel," "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."

This is the last chance to honor the full achievements of the "Harry Potter" franchise so the Academy may take that into consideration. "Transformers" really? Did they not see those JFK scenes.

Best Original Song: "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets," "Real in Rio" from "Rio."

Obviously we're excited for "The Muppets" to be nominated, though "Pictures in My Head" is a better song. Also, even with stricter rules there had to be more than two eligible songs. At least there's no reason for the two nominated songs to not be performed on the show.

Stay with Inscaped as we continue to cover all things Oscar leading up to the show on Feb. 26 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT on ABC.

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