There were some genuine, mostly happy, surprises among the Oscar nominations – hard to do with those nominations coming so late in the glut of awards season. Here are some highlights and lowlights:
JAVIER BARDEM is nominated for Best Actor for Biutiful. Who knows how much Julia Roberts’ vocal campaigning helped him, but he deserves the nomination for his extraordinary performance in a tough – OK, sad – but wonderful little film, in Spanish no less. The conventional wisdom was that Robert Duvall would be nominated instead, for Get Low; Oscar voters usually love those old-coot roles.
JACKI WEAVER, nominated for Best Supporting Actress, wasn’t considered a sure thing, but she is amazing as the lethal granny of a crime family in Animal Kingdom. She’ll probably lose to Melissa Leo, but I’m glad she’s on the list.
MARK RUFFALO: He wasn’t a sure thing either, but he was the ballast in The Kids Are All Right. (Photo above: why is this man smiling?)
JOHN HAWKES: His nomination for Supporting Actor as the sinister, drug-dealing uncle in Winter’s Bone, came out of nowhere, but he’s a terrific actor (best known as the marshal’s sidekick in Deadwood) who should get a boost from the attention. And he’ll lose to Christian Bale, who deserves to win.
BEST OVERALL FILM SURPRISE:
TRUE GRIT. The film crept in late in the season and didn’t get the over-the-top critical responses that The Social Network or The King’s Speech did, but the Coen brothers’ idiosyncratic take on a Western is a fantastic film. Of course, it’s making piles of money, so don’t overlook that as a reason for its 10 nominations, including Best Picture and Director, Jeff Bridges for Actor and Hailee Steinfeld for Supporting Actress.
PEOPLE WHO WERE ROBBED:
CHRISTOPHER NOLAN. Do they think he directed Inception while he was sleeping? He makes it look easy, but that film was a pure expression of Nolan’s vision. There’s no way Tom Hooper’s pedestrian direction of The King’s Speech should have edged Nolan out of a nomination.
JULIANNE MOORE. This isn’t a surprise, because the best actress awards for The Kids Are All Right have gone to her co-star, Annette Bening. But they really were co-stars, and Moore deserved a nomination too.
Here’s IndieWire’s full list of nominees.