indieWIRE lead critic Eric Kohn and awards prognosticator Peter Knegt discussed the nominations for the 83rd Academy Awards. Surprises, predictions, and more from the iW duo.
Eric Kohn: So Peter: We're both listening to Trent Reznor's unequivocally awesome soundtrack for "The Social Network." That signifies two things: "The Social Network" continues to lead the charge, and Reznor's nomination rocks. But outside of those inevitabilities, the most interesting aspects of the nominations announced this morning are the ones nobody expected to hear from.
Peter Knegt: Indeed. Reznor and Atticus Ross's score getting in is definitely one of my favorite things about the nominations, but it was a pretty good bet going in. "Dogtooth" making it into foreign language film and Christopher Nolan not making best director, meanwhile, are probably the biggest shockers.
EK: But what about the smaller shockers? A snub for Lesley Manville, despite everyone loving her sad performance in "Another Year." Another for Davis Guggenheim's "Waiting for Superman" in the documentary category, which amazingly places Banksy as the frontronner for "Exit Through the Gift Shop." Nothing for the editors of all those levels in "Inception." But way to go John Hawkes. And "Winter's Bone" in general.
PK: Manville not making it in is really unfortunate. It was my favorite performance of the year. But at least "Another Year" pulled off a screenplay nod. And, yeah, I definitely wasn't expected "Inception"'s editing snub or "Superman" being left out of documentary. The omission of Cher's song from "Burlesque" - which won the Globe - is also a bit of a shocker. Though it seems these days winning a Globe for best song almost automatically means you aren't getting an Oscar nom. But "Winter's Bone"'s 4 noms is fantastic news. I was a little worried it wouldn't make best picture, and definitely was unsure about Hawkes.
EK: Getting our hands dirty with these details, of course, obscures the fact that "The King's Speech" is the real winner here, with twelve nominations. But nobody's really all that pumped about it. This year's Oscars are all about the triumph of the individual — kinda like "The Social Network." Jacki Weaver's story will be a great one, whether or not she wins for playing a fierce matriarch in "Animal Kingdom." Whoever announces the Best Animated Feature award might mention Jacques Tati's name to millions of American viewers, thanks to a nomination for "The Illusionist." And I'm even happy for Javier Bardem, who works wonders in the otherwise lackluster "Biutiful." Also: James Franco can celebrate "127 Hours" getting some prominent attention while hosting the Oscar telecast, but won't have to deal with the awkward situation of losing the prize, since he wasn't nominated. [Editor's Note: James Franco was indeed nominated for his work in "127 Hours." We'll blame that one on lack of sleep.]
PK: Weaver's nom is definitely a reward in itself. I'm so glad she got in, and choosing "The Illusionist" over the likes of "Tangled" and "Despicable Me" was a very classy move. Both noms are good news for Sony Pictures Classics, which could use some after both Manville and Robert Duvall lost out on nominations. But, yeah, "The King's Speech" haul is pretty impressive. I mean, it even got in for sound mixing. That plus its PGA win this weekend suggests to me that the momentum might be swinging its way. Its the "Shakespeare in Love" to "The Social Network"'s "Saving Private Ryan."
EK: But does it have enough momentum to pull a "Shakespeare" and rain on the "Social Network" parade? I'm hoping it does not. I'm all about Colin Firth, but Tom Hooper's mannered period comedy is pretty much middle-of-the-road entertainment...sort of like "Shakespeare." Yikes.
PK: Agreed, but stranger things have definitely happen. The Oscars have been historically fond of middle-of-the-road entertainment winning best picture. And a lot of people would disagree with the idea of "Speech" being such a thing. I liked the film, but a lot of people love it. At this point I'd bet on Fincher winning director, but "Speech" taking picture. Either way, though, at least there's something suspenseful developing... All the other major categories seem pretty locked up: Firth, Portman and Bale can start writing their Oscar speeches now. Melissa Leo seems like a pretty good bet too, but Hailee Steinfeld could spoil her party. After "The King's Speech," "True Grit" was the most nominated film... Including a director nod for the Coens.
EK: Well, these Coens always find their way into Oscar race, but they don't really run with the crowd. I realize people love "True Grit," but I just don't see it making much a dent this year. That's also wishful thinking, since I liked "True Grit" well enough but would have easily swapped the Coens' joint nomination for Best Director in favor of Christopher Nolan, who really outdid himself by making a heady blockbuster with "Inception." Wasn't one of the points of expanding the Best Picture field to ten categories that it allowed some room for bigger films? Memo to the Academy: Directors make movies, too.
PK: At least he got a screenplay nod, but yeah, Nolan's director snub has definitely gotta hurt. He's now got three DGA noms - for "Memento," "The Dark Knight" and "Inception" - but not one Oscar nom. I also would have loved to see one of the two female directors that got best picture nominations - "The Kids Are All Right"'s Lisa Cholodenko and "Winter's Bone"'s Debra Granik - get director noms. Which brings up how well Sundance films did this year. Both of those films played at last year's fest, as did "Blue Valentine," "Animal Kingdom" and 4 of the 5 doc nominees. Since we're both about to head into a sleep-deprived and busy day at this year's Sundance, care to suggest any films from this year that we could be talking about for 2012's Oscars?
EK: At Sundance, it seems like Jeff Nichols has given Michael Shannon an awards-worthy performance as a potentially schizophrenic blue collar man in the phenomenal "Take Shelter." The breakout documentary "Page One: A Year Inside the New York Times" has an outside shot for the non-fiction category. And Fox Searchlight's decision to pick up the haunting "Martha Marcy May Marlene" may put newcomer Lizzie Olsen in the running. Beyond Park City, all eyes are on Terrence Malick's "Tree of Life," which already should be nominated for best trailer in 2010.
PK: I'd imagine a good chunk of next year's doc nominees are currently screening in Park City. "Page One," yes, and maybe also "The Interrupters" and "Buck"? And agree re: Olsen. I know this has been said to death over the past week, but she's definitely this year's Jennifer Lawrence. Tom McCarthy's "Win Win" also looks like a good bet for at least a screenplay nomination. People are loving that film.
EK: On that note, perhaps we should attempt to wake up and take on Sundance, day 6.
PK:: They really need to make the Oscar noms come out on a morning that we don't have 12 hours of film festivaling to do afterwards.