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by Peter Knegt
January 24, 2012 9:53 AM
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The 10 Biggest Surprises of the 2012 Oscar Nominations

"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" Warner Bros.
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."

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30 Comments

  • Samuel | January 26, 2012 3:41 AMReply

    Really biggest snubs are Shailene Woodley and nothing notable for Drive.

  • Jeremy | January 25, 2012 4:57 PMReply

    so i guess everybody saw Jonah Hill's nomination coming? i didnt.

  • Bogdan | January 25, 2012 7:32 AMReply

    Even though some of the nominations this year are questionable, and there are more unfair snubs than any previous year, I still think that The Oscars are the pillar of great cinematography and they really separate the best from the shitty, godawful blockbusters.

  • Sam | January 24, 2012 9:08 PMReply

    Agree with O'Reilly, I thought that "Undefeated" doc was the Sarah Palin doc. I see everything and this football film was not even on the radar. How the *#$%#@# did this happen? "Buck" was fabulous and "We Were Here" was terrific. This is crazy.

  • AMADEUS | January 24, 2012 7:25 PMReply

    I still don't understand why Dominic Cooper's masterful performance in Devil's Double has been forgotten by awards all around. Sure it looks like the producers did a poor job (or no job at all) to advertise it, but should that really be necessary when a performance is so outstanding? Sad sad...!!

  • Nigel | January 24, 2012 6:53 PMReply

    Shailene Woodley certainly should've been nominated and "Margin Call" over "50/50"? Also, I believe "Tinker, Tailor, Solider, Spy" deserved a spot over "The Tree of Life".

  • soytim | January 24, 2012 4:35 PMReply

    First of all, the Oscars are bullshit - a mainstream popularity contest with no connection to actual real cinematic greatness. Let's all agree on that and then I can feel OK about even writing anything about them.
    Having said that, I religiously watch it every year so that I can yell at my TV. I have the feeling I'm not the only one who feels this way.
    I'm very disappointed as a San Franciscan, that the Best Documentaries did not include "We Were Here"- I was rooting for the local boys and actually thought it had a chance. It still was the most moving film that I saw last year.
    As long as Uggie the Dog takes the stage when Jean Dujardin wins, I'll be pleased.

  • Ben | January 24, 2012 4:33 PMReply

    The snub that nobody is talking about is Shailene Woodley for Supporting Actress. I left the Descendants much more impressed with her performance than Clooney's good, but not really Oscar-worthy job, in my opinion. It's too bad she was never given more credit.

  • jean vigo | January 24, 2012 3:14 PMReply

    It's not who got nominated, it's whose work will be talked about 10 years from now.

    80% of the nominees won't be on anyone's quick recall in even 5 years, lost and forgotten in a pile of safe, OK movies that were entertaining for a single viewing.

  • TC Kirkham | January 24, 2012 3:09 PMReply

    Today's nominations prove once again that the people who make their living being Oscar prognosticators...are the best con artists in history - they never seem to accurately predict more than a third of each of the categories, and this year, the Academy essentially told all of them, in a nice loud voice, "Go screw yourselves!".

    And truthfully, I was reasonably sure that the Academy would NEVER go for Fassbinder or Swinton, though the omission of Brooks surprised me and it shouldn't have. The current membership of voters, most of whom are believed to be 60+ despite an influx in younger members joining in the last several years, are still too prudish and too old fashioned to give nominations to an actor who plays an unremorseful sex addict, an actor who plays a murderous mobster ("The Godfather" films are over 40 years old, people - they - the current members - were young back then), and an actress who plays possibly the worst mother in the history of film. I'm sure the Academy members loved the performances, but their characters were not acceptable by their moral standards. Witness all the other groups (SAG, Globes, BFCA, etc) putting Swinton in over Mara, whom the Academy members probably allowed to sneak by because her character is perceived as a victim and what actions she took that were repulsive were in revenge and self-preservation, neither of which the characters from Shame, Drive, and Kevin could claim. Anyway, it's just a theory....one of many I'm sure. Congrats to the actual nominees.

  • Francis O'Reilly | January 24, 2012 3:05 PMReply

    Biggest, most ridiculous nom - "Undefeated" in the Doc Category. The film hasn't even been released, no one has seen it, except a few people at SXSW and Toronto where Harvey Weinstein bullied his way in . Clearly a Harvey grab for a doc nom. Crazy that other, deserving films were passed over for so little.

  • Kimmo | January 24, 2012 2:01 PMReply

    A really average list of movies this year. I don't think there is one that got universal praise. Just a bad year for "great" movies.

    And definitely not everyone is happy with these nominations - especially not this studio mogul who blogged his displeasure with the Academy's picks.

    http://mankabros.com/blogs/chairman/2012/01/24/the-academy-of-motion-picture-arts-and-sciences-can-f-itself/

  • jason | January 24, 2012 11:58 AMReply

    Producers hugo :where is Johnny Depp??? his name is movie's website as producer.and where is Tilda Swinton?

  • bright | January 24, 2012 11:56 AMReply

    yes .Hugo" Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers :where is J.Depp??? his name is movie's website as producer.

  • ben | January 24, 2012 11:51 AMReply

    "Hugo" Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers where is j.Depp

    "Moneyball" Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt?, Producers

  • Bogdan | January 24, 2012 11:46 AMReply

    Gary Oldman?! Are you kidding me? Michael Fassbender was royally snubbed! SHAMEful indeed. I'm so happy that Rooney Mara and Melissa McCarthy got nominated, they deserved it.

  • bcbest | January 24, 2012 1:23 PM

    Yes, Bogdan, Gary Oldman! It is long about time that Mr. Oldman finally received an Oscar nod. He is most certainly one of the best actors alive today and you should know that he truly deserves this nomination. Gary's storied body of work in previous years as well as for this past year speaks for itself. Fassbender certainly had a great year and will most definately get his due for another year.

  • Eric | January 24, 2012 11:43 AMReply

    Well, I am very happy to Demian Bichir receive the acting nod over Fassbender. I am not shocked at all. Bichir got the SAG nod and proceeded to get the Oscar nod as well. Fassbender maybe the new flavor in town but Bichir is more deserving. Di Caprio snubbed???? No shock here. The only sadness I feel this morning is nothing major for the outstanding DRIVE. Pleasant surprise for JC Chandor getting the script nod for MARGIN CALL.

  • Joe B | January 24, 2012 11:17 AMReply

    IMO the biggest oversights: Elizabeth Olsen for best actress in "Martha Marcy May Marlene"; Dominic Cooper for best actor in "The Devil's Double"; The Chemical Brothers for best score for "Hanna"; and Shailene Woodley for best supporting actress for "The Descendants." Also, why does Jessica Chastain keep getting recognition for "The Help"? The movie she SHOULD have been recognized for this year is "The Debt"--a much more nuanced performance.

  • Vino | January 24, 2012 10:56 AMReply

    Biggest miss: Bennet Miller, director of Moneyball, which was saved from the vision
    of whathisBergh. Moneyball got noms in all top categories, except director. It makes
    one ask...questions...

  • John kirkpatrick | January 24, 2012 10:38 AMReply

    No Tilda Swinton.....outrageous. Stupendous performance...oh dearie me, the Oscars become more mainstream, money-orientated, bribe-taking, advertising-led every year....yawn

  • Patricia | January 24, 2012 10:29 AMReply

    Michael Fassbender was passed over? Are you kidding? His was the performance of a lifetime - one that few, if any, would have taken on and done as well. It's become almost predictable that the tried and true actors get nominated, despite the overwhelming evidence of truly fine acting.

  • filmneye | January 25, 2012 4:58 AM

    The Oscars are always late in recognizing great acting from "new" actors in film. Also, the Academy is known for considering a film's subject matter or morality of the character in making their nomination choices.

  • Trish Forde-Brennan | January 24, 2012 10:13 AMReply

    Shocked at the omissions of Michael Fassbender and Leonardo di Caprio.There are two of the tree best performances of the last year.Someone please explain this as it casts a shadow on this year's awards.

  • Tony | January 24, 2012 10:13 AMReply

    I'm sorry. I'm truly confused. Why is it surprising that the "The Tree of Life" was nominated???

  • Tony (Same Dude) | January 24, 2012 3:15 PM

    Wow. I can't believe that was edited out. How funny.

  • Andre | January 24, 2012 10:47 AM

    It's surprising because it didn't receive nominations from the Guilds (Producers, Directors) but not so surprising if you consider The Academy's love for Malick in general (The Thin Red Line was nominated for Best Picture, etc)

  • JM | January 24, 2012 10:43 AM

    Looks like the intitial surprise reaction for Tree of Life has now been deleted. I just don't get the element of surprise either. Tree of Life is the great achievement of the year and rightfully recognized by the Academy. Shame on DGA and PGA.

  • h | January 24, 2012 10:09 AMReply

    1. no PROJECT NIM.
    2. no adapted screenplay for THE HELP. Meryl > Viola.

  • Bogdan | January 24, 2012 11:44 AM

    Gary Oldman?! Are you kidding me? Michael Fassbender was royally snubbed! SHAMEful indeed. I'm so happy that Rooney Mara and Melissa McCarthy got nominated, they deserved it.