10 things we learned from the 85th Academy Awards nominations
It's been two days since the Academy Awards nominations were announced and Hollywood is still getting over the snubs and surprises. Like Nancy Kerrigan's primal cry of "Why? Why? Why?" echoing through time, industry pundits, critics across the globe, a plethora of Sony Pictures employees and Academy members not in the directing branch are opening questioning how Kathryn Bigelow could have been overlooked in the best directing category. And the outrage over Ben Affleck's omission is only slightly quieter. Clearly, it's never to late to review the lessons the Academy's collective membership have taught us so far this year. With that in mind, here's 10 things we've learned so far.
Somehow "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Argo" directed themselves
While fans of "Amour" are thrilled that Michael Haneke made the cut, it's hard to see why David O. Russell did. That's not a dig on the "Silver Lining" director, but any member of that branch who thinks Russell did superior work to Kathryn Bigelow or Ben Affleck this year has to have another agenda with their vote. Of the two omissions Bigelow's is the most disheartening. Not just because she won more best director honors from critics groups across the country, but because it's too easy to see a vein of sexism reappearing in this notoriously male dominated branch. Yes, we know. She won best director for "The Hurt Locker," but two nominations? Guess that's just too much for the good ol' boys. And as for Affleck, it's clear his peers insist the former screenwriter winner impress them with more than three fine films on his resume.
The Actor's branch appreciated "The Master" more than the other branches
Once lauded as the best film of the year by critics, "The Master" lost a tremendous amount of awards season momentum following its September debut. Paul Thomas Anderson was shut out of the writing and directing categories as expected, but the actors didn't forget and appropriately rewarded their peers. That's a good thing because you can easily argue Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix have never been better. Unfortunately, it looks like the nomination is the win for the trio this time around.
The 5% rule may be harming populist best picture nominees in the expanded era
Some diehards in the Academy may be happy with the new 5% rule which qualifies the best picture nominees and has now resulted in two years of nine out of a potential 10 nominees. The problem, however, is that since this rule went into effect it is not helping the more "populist" films that many in the industry believe deserve inclusion (and we won't even get into what audiences think should be nominated). This year's victim appears to be "Skyfall." One of the best reviewed films of the year and one of the biggest blockbusters with $1 billion worldwide, Sam Mendes' take on 007 appeared to have a significant shot at landing a best picture nod. It even made the cut for the PGA's ten nominees and dominated the BAFTA nominations earlier this week. And with Javier Bardem's SAG nomination you could make the assumption the actor's branch would support it as well. That wasn't the case. Bardem didn't make the supporting actor cut (Christoph Waltz did instead) and "Skyfall" had to make due with five nominations: song, original score, sound editing, sound mixing, and cinematography. With all that support it's a given it would have made the cut under the old rules. What film will be burned next year? Time to revisit this rule Academy.
The Academy has issues with Leonardo DiCaprio
"Django Unchained" came relatively late to the party, but not late enough for Christoph Waltz to land a best actor, cough, er, best supporting actor nomination. The previous winner for "Inglorious Basterds" will no doubt be thrilled he's found a significant fan base in the Academy, but his inclusion left out the better supporting turn by co-star Leonardo DiCaprio. Granted, DiCaprio did not do a lot of press for "Django" nor did he do an inkling of campaigning (his decision obviously) but you could say the same for "The Master's" Joaquin Phoenix (hardly a beloved actor at the moment), Philip Seymour Hoffman or "Amour's" Emmanuelle Riva. Ever since DiCaprio was nominated for "Blood Diamond" instead of "The Departed" five years ago he's arguably had five great performances overlooked by the Academy for a nomination including "Django." What's changed? DiCaprio hasn't done anything criminal or been caught screaming at a craft services cook. Pundits may say the Academy just doesn't like Ben Affleck, but recently they've been proving they really don't like DiCaprio.
Even the below the line categories continues to discriminate
The more things change, the more things stay the same. Even with the below the line categories. Let's see here, so the production design for "Les Miserables" or "Lincoln" was more impressive than "Prometheus" or "The Dark Knight Rises"? Sound mixing for "Argo" and "Lincoln" was superior than "The Avengers," "Cloud Atlas" or "Looper"? The score for "Skyfall" was more impactful and memorable than that of "Cloud Atlas"? The costumes for "Lincoln" and "Les Miserables" were a stronger achievement than the work in "Cloud Atlas" or "The Dark Knight Rises"? So on, and so on.