By Peter Knegt | Indiewire January 24, 2012 at 9:53AM
The 84th annual Academy Award nominations have been announced. While the likes of "Hugo" and "The Artist" expectedly led the nominees overall, there were also many surprises this morning. For better or worse:
1. There are nine best picture nominees and they include "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." The best picture category was going to be a surprise no matter what. With anywhere from five to 10 nominees possible, the category was not announced in alphabetical order this morning, making it all the more suspenseful. In the end, there would be nine nominees (most seemed to think there'd be seven or eight). But the biggest surprise -- perhaps the most shocking nomination of the entire announcement -- was Stephen Daldry's "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." After being snubbed by almost every precursor and getting some very mixed reviews, "Loud" had been written off by pretty much everyone... except Academy voters.
2. Gary Oldman, Oscar nominee. Finally, we can no longer say that Gary Oldman is one of the greatest living actors to have never received an Oscar nomination. He deservedly snuck into the best actor category for "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy," which also took screenplay and score nominations.
3. Oldman -- and Demian Bichir -- get in over Leo and Fassy. Oldman was joined in the best actor category by "A Better Life" star Demian Bichir, both somewhat unexpected considering who got left out as a result: Michael Fassbender ("Shame") and Leonardo diCaprio ("J. Edgar").
4. Rooney Mara over Tilda Swinton. Another acting nomination shocker was "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo" star Rooney Mara managing a nomination over Tilda Swinton, who had received the holy trio of SAG, Golden Globe and Critics Choice nominations for "We Need To Talk About Kevin."
5. "W.E." got more nominations than "Shame," "Melancholia" and "We Need To Talk About Kevin" combined. Sadly, Fassbender and Swinton's films did not receive nominations anywhere else either, and neither did Lars von Trier's acclaimed "Melancholia" (this prognosticator's three favorite films of the year). But what did? None other than Madonna's "W.E.," which took a nomination for best costume design.
6. "A Separation" gets in for best original screenplay. A pleasant surprise was the presence of Asghar Farhadi's script for "A Separation" in the original screenplay category in addition to its foreign-language film nod. The Iranian import is definitely favored in the latter, though it's always hard to predict what happens in that controversial category.
7. No Albert Brooks!? Joining Swinton and Fassbender in the appalling acting snubs category was Albert Brooks, who failed to get a nomination for his work in "Drive."
8. "The Adventures of Tintin" snubbed in favor of "Chico & Rita" and "A Cat in Paris." While they nominated his "War Horse" in the best picture category (a bit of a surprise in itself), the Academy seriously snubbed Steven Spielberg in the animated feature list, where his "Adventures of Tintin" recently won a Golden Globe. In its place? The little-seen European films "Chico & Rita" and "A Cat in Paris" (which also took out "Cars 2" -- ending Pixar's streak in the category).
9. Only two best song nominees. The Academy decides how many nominations there are in the original song category based on how many songs score high enough with voters, but the count has never been this low. In 2005 and 2008 there were only three, but this time around there were just two: "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" and "Real in Rio" from "Rio."
10. Melissa McCarthy, Kristin Wiig, Bret McKenzie and Jim Rash all get nominated: While none of these nominees are really that surprising (though it's still quite something Melissa McCarthy made it in the end), collectively they made for a great morning for funny people primarily known for television. McCarthy ("Mike & Molly"), Kristin Wiig ("Saturday Night Live"), Bret McKenzie ("Flight of the Conchords") and Jim Rash ("Community"). Interestingly, only McCarthy was an acting nominee. Rash and Wiig both got in for writing (Rash for "The Descendants," Wiig for "Bridesmaids"), while McKenzie wrote the nominated song from "The Muppets."