Tuesday 24 January 2012

Oscars Nominations: The World WILL End in 2012

The Oscar nominations have been announced today and it is an understatement to say that they have elicited some strong reactions. Surprises, snubs and shocks, given what has been written about them today, you would almost believe that these Mayans had based their end of the world predictions for 2012 when foreseeing those Oscar nominations. I will not cover them extensively as this has been done elsewhere by people with more time on their hands. I would rather focus on what really stood out for me.

The problem with any awards such as the Oscars is that they are the result of the votes of thousands of members, as opposed to film festivals who have juries of no more than fifteen members, hence more surprising results. Indeed the Academy is not an entity that single-handedly takes some decisions, so it is actually even more of a surprise that this year reserved so many surprises.

The biggest one is the lack of British presence. 1982 might have been the year when "The Brits were coming" but 2012 is the one where they have not been invited, after the recent years of domination, with Slumdog Millionaire and The King's Speech, as well as countless acting awards. So no nod for Tilda Swinton, nothing for Shame and Michael Fassbender (did you really expect the Academy members to vote for this, although I was secretly hoping his Johnson would get a supporting acting nod, as integral as it was to his performance despite having a mind of its own). It is a little disappointing however as it has genuinely been a strong year for British cinema, with some great diversity.

This year is the year where the Academy is loving films which love films, with Hugo and The Artist dominating the nominations. Both figured on my top ten for 2011 so I shall certainly not complain. The Guardian in the UK called this a masturbatory display of self-love, I call it a celebration of the magic of cinema. Notable absence from the best films list however are Drive and Take Shelter, despite strong reviews although those two might have been a little too indie and leftfield to sway the mostly elderly members of the Academy. More surprising is the inclusion of 9/11 drama, Extremely Close and Incredibly Loud. I hear it features a nauseating scene with Tom Hanks falling off one of the Twin Towers. The stuff of nightmares.

The Artist might be a frontrunner and despite having actually enjoyed Midnight in Paris slightly more, I would still love for it to win big on the night. It would reward the guts of all the team behind it, as who could have predicted a year ago that a French tribute to the golden age of Hollywood would even be nominated? It could work against it as often being the frontrunner for too long might mean a tumble in the last hurdle (see Brokeback Mountain snubbed for the atrocious Crash). And a few pesky journalists are loving playing up its Frenchness as a way of undermining its chances. We can all but dream but if the lovely on screen couple Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo win on the night, I will probably tapdance in my living room.

Wendy McLendon-Covey in Bridesmaids
On the acting front, apart from the Swinton snub, there is the relative surprise of Melissa McCarthy from Bridesmaids getting a supporting acting nod. While Bridesmaids was also in my top 10, I, for one, preferred the more subtle performance of Kristen Wiig or even Wendi McLendon-Covey, with a hilarious turn as a frustrated housewife. On a personal note, I am overjoyed that Rooney Mara got nominated for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Some felt her Lisbeth Salender was less fiery than Noomy Rapace, but I cannot help thinking she delivered a fantastic performance, undergoing an incredible transformation for the part, and giving her part depth and vulnerability among the toughness required. I personally would have loved to see Helen McCrory's turn as Madame Lumiere rewarded with at least a nomination, charmed as I was with her luminous performance.

But perhaps the biggest surprise came from the best animated film category. Neither Tintin, and more predictably Pixar's rare misfire Cars 2 did not feature. But what a humiliating snub when more obscure titles as the Cuban Chico & Rita and The Cat in Paris feature. I do feel that the vastly underrated Rango is in for a chance.

Since us, British viewers, are taken hostage by Sky and are unable to watch the ceremony unless we fork out for their expensive Sky Movies channel, I shall not be covering the event live, with much sadness. I do feel that it is, for the first time in year, going to be a very interesting and nerve-wracking ceremony indeed. And now The Artist trailer. Just because I could watch it over and over and still have tears of joy.

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