Oscar Nominations: Snubs and Surprises

Yesterday morning, Seth McFarlane and Emma Stone announced the Oscar hopefuls for the 85th Academy Awards. As is the nature of any awards show, there are a variety of opinions on who deserves what and what films are worthy to be called the best of the year.

Best Director

Two of the biggest films this year were “Argo” and “Zero Dark Thirty,” which combined for 12 nominations. Sadly, none of those 12 will lead to Oscars for Kathryn Bigelow or Ben Affleck. Leaving Bigelow off the ballot makes some sense as she won the title back in 2010. The bigger crime is that Hollywood seems to still be punishing Ben Affleck for a couple of poor films from a decade ago. His three directorial features (“Argo,” “The Town” and “Gone Baby Gone”) are all loved by critics and were financially successful. It’s about time he was rewarded for resurrecting his career. On the bright side, Affleck is only 40 years old, so he has several decades to change voter’s minds. What is most admirable for this year’s category is the inclusion of first-time director Benh Zeitlin and his work with “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”

Apparently the Academy loved “Amour” and “Silver Linings Playbook”

Before Thursday morning, French film “Amour” was only expected to pick up a nomination in the foreign language department. On top of that category, it also received recognition at best actress, best picture, best original screenplay and best director. Quite the victory for a non-American film that flew under more than a few radars. It wasn’t a real surprise to see “Silver Linings Playbook” on the list of nominees, but the Academy’s love for the David O. Russell picture was overflowing when Robert DeNiro and Jacki Weaver were able to pick up supporting nominations (bringing the film’s total nominations to eight).

“Django Chained”

It isn’t unusual for Quentin Tarantino’s films to be under-appreciated at the Oscars, but many of his fans will be crying foul after failing to read the filmmaker’s name on the ballot for Best Director. Perhaps just as frustrating for them will be how the Academy overlooked Samuel L. Jackson and Leonardo DiCaprio for supporting actors. But, let’s be honest, the possibility of getting 3 supporting actor nominations for one film is ridiculous. Even if it happened, none of them would probably win because they would cancel each other out with the voters.

Animated Feature

While most people may not be all that excited about this category, I’m just glad that all of the nominees are quality animated films. There’s no “Hotel Transylvania” or “Kung Fu Panda 2” on this year’s list. Although “Wreck-It Ralph” has most of the momentum going into the awards season, there are several films in this category that could win.

There’s several more remarks I could make about this year’s nominations, like “What does John Hawkes have to do to impress Academy voters?” but at the end of the day, a lot of this is subjective. For the most part, I think this is a solid class of films. Now let’s see how the Golden Globes go this Sunday night.

Happy viewing