Academy Award Nominations 2012

Oscar Nominations 2012: 11 Snubs and Surprises

The Oscars are a yearly event in which Hollywood marries itself, and this time around the two biggest recipients of Academy love are Hugo (with 11 nominations) and The Artist (with 10). This shouldn’t be such a surprise: both are movies about how great the movies are, and at least one of them actually is.

Of course, as is usually the case with the Academy, most of the films that have been nominated are bigger with critics than moviegoers. Among the nine contenders for Best Picture, only one crossed the $100 million mark at the box office.

Several of the others were polarizing in the extreme.

Terrence Malick’s tells the story of a family tragedy, and brings in all sorts of deep ontological themes (as well as a curious sequence involving a dying dinosaur). It alienated and inspired its way to a Best Picture nomination, as well as earning nods for its director and cinematographer. Heidegger, at least, would be proud.

The Descendants (which scored six nominations) was a surer thing, but it, too, has been divisive.

And then there’s Moneyball. Given the reviews and its quality (we’re just going to dispense with objectivity and admit that we thought it was superb), it’s not exactly a surprise that the film was nominated for Best Picture. Nevertheless, it was by no means a lock. For one thing, it came out in September and is no longer in theaters. For another, it’s almost too smart for its own good—a big, ambitious baseball pic in which the home team (the Oakland Athletics) doesn’t win in the end. Not exactly cathartic.

So few would have expected it to get six nominations, as it did.

But before we get to the meat of this piece, we’re going to give a shout to an actress whose absence in the Supporting category was entirely expected, but disappointing nevertheless: Demi Moore in Margin Call.

“WTF?” you’re probably thinking. DE-MI Moore?

To which we can only say: you should have seen it. In the film she plays a ruthless corporate executive at a company that resembles Lehman Brothers. And she’s astonishingly good. Unfortunately, the film had a tiny budget and little money for an Oscar campaign, and Moore was going through a divorce at the time of its release, which made promoting it a nightmare. Which is too bad. It is the best thing she has ever done. (Thankfully, it got a screenplay nomination.) Someone should at least send her a box of chocolates.

Without further ado, the biggest snubs and surprises …

scored terrific reviews when it was released in December, but the movie and its stellar leading man, Gary Oldman, seemed to be nearly forgotten in the run-up to the Oscars. He didn’t get a Golden Globe nomination or earn a nod from the Screen Actors Guild, many of whose members nominate for the Academy as well.

2. SNUB: Leonardo DiCaprio

Leo scored both a Golden Globe nomination and a SAG nod for the title role in J. Edgar, Clint Eastwood’s biopic of the late FBI honcho, but critics savaged the film. Clearly, it wasn’t just them rooting against it. Though the Academy loves Eastwood and has nominated DiCaprio four times in the past (most recently for 2006’s Blood Diamond), it just doesn’t love this one.

Though the American adaptation of has been an undeniable critical success, it stalled as it came out of the gate, not quite delivering at the box office in initial weeks and—because of its late release—missing the boat with a number of pre-Oscar awards shows. Moreover, the unbelievable violence and tough sexual imagery did not make a natural fit with the Academy, a relatively old voting bloc. Still, members have shown over and over again that they like to give career awards in the Best Actor category and prefer ingénues for Best Actress. So while it’s a surprise that Mara got nominated, it’s by no means worthy of an exclamation point.

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