Biggest Surprises & Snubs from 85th Academy Award Nominations
by Ethan Anderton
January 10, 2013
The nominations for the 85th Annual Academy Awards arrived this morning, and while many films and performances that were expected to get recognized ended up on the list, there were still plenty of surprises and snubs in the the spectacular year of film that was 2012. While we'll be talking about the potential winners for the weeks to come leading up to the live broadcast of the show on on Sunday, February 24th, 2013, now is the time to talk about the most surprising nominations and also the most frustrating snubs by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. There are quite a few wild cards this year. More below!
Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour
It's a sad truth, but because of all the campaigning that must take place before the Oscars, many times foreign language films and indies don't usually make it too far in awards season (that's why there's a Best Foreign Language Film and the Independent Spirit Awards). But this year, two surprising entries ended up making a big splash on the nomination lists. Beasts of the Southern Wild, which started this long journey at Sundance almost a year ago, and the Cannes entry Amour, landed slots in Best Picture and Best Director, the latter nods taking away slots from two very deserving filmmakers (we'll get to them later). Plus, the Best Actress nominations for Quvenzhané Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva in both of those films is amazing. In fact, their nominations mark both the youngest and oldest nominees in Oscar history.
Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck not nominated for Best Director
Look it's a tough year, I get it. But this blew my mind. After landing the guild, critics and other nominations in this category, Argo director Ben Affleck and Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow did not get nomination for Best Director. That makes it relatively difficult for those films to have a chance at Best Picture since the only time a film has won Best Picture without their directors being nomination were Wings in 1928, Grand Hotel in 1932 and Driving Miss Daisy in 1989. Honestly, as much as I'm flabbergasted that these two directors didn't get nominated, it's a bit more interesting to have names like Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke nominated for Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour respectively.
Jacki Weaver and Alan Arkin for Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor
Don't get me wrong, these two actors put in fine performances in Silver Linings Playbook and Argo respectively, but they weren't the most worthy performances in their respective categories. In fact, their nominations allowed for more than a few snubs (they come up further down). Personally, when it comes to Weaver's nomination (which should be replaced by either Ann Dowd in Compliance, Kelly Reilly in Flight or Judi Dench in Skyfall), it makes me think the Academy was going for headlines as this nomination allowed Silver Linings Playbook to have a nominee in all four acting categories. As for Arkin, sure the guy is getting up there in years, but when you see which names were snubbed below, you might not be so understanding.
Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson not nominated for Best Supporting Actor
When it comes to performances, Django Unchained certainly got the shaft this year with only Christoph Waltz walking away with a much deserved nomination. But the film could have easily dominated the supporting actor category. Either Leonardo DiCaprio or Samuel L. Jackson should have taken Alan Arkin's spot in the category and it would have been more complete. DiCaprio's first turn as a straight-up villain was intense, raw, brutal and also very entertaining. Meanwhile, Jackson's elevated performance was a surprising presence in Tarantino's western, and it would have been great to have him land a second nod after his first for the now iconic turn in Pulp Fiction in 1994.
Skyfall not nominated in any major categories
Our hats go off to the Academy for giving Roger Deakins an Oscar nomination for his cinematography on Skyfall, one of the most pretty movies on film this year. However, the film itself was ignored for Best Picture (it had a much better shot than The Dark Knight Rises) and didn't even receive any supporting actor love for Javier Bardem or Judi Dench. The latter should've been a no-brainer, if only because *spoiler* her franchise character M finally dies in this one and this could have been a great tribute to all her work on the Bond series. The former was a deserving performance in any given year as Bardem brought a lot of gravitas to the villain role, not unlike Heath Ledger's turn as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Bardem even landed a SAG and Critics Choice nomination, but that's not good enough for the Academy apparently.
The Academy loves The Master performances but not P.T. Anderson and the film
After Joaquin Phoenix voiced his problems with awards (he called them bullshit), some weren't sure if the Academy would still recognize his stellar performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's provocative film The Master. But the Oscar nominations took their honors even further by nominating Philip Seymour Hoffman for Best Supporting Actor and Amy Adams for Best Supporting Actress. However, the film itself just wasn't good enough (in the Academy's eyes apparently) to take that tenth spot for Best Picture or even give P.T. Anderson a screenplay nomination. This was a somewhat divisive film in a tough year, so it's understandable, but still a little disappointing nonetheless.
The Pirates! Band of Misfits nominated for Best Animated Film
The Academy really loved stop-motion animation films this year with nods to ParaNorman and Frankenweenie, but the most surprising addition to the line-up of honored animated fare was The Pirates! Band of Misfits. The film hasn't been ignored, but it's hardly been buzzed about this year. However, Aardman Animation always brings the thunder with their animated fare, and their dry humor sensibilities always make them enjoyable for adults and children alike. On another note, I actually would have rather seen Pixar sit this year out and have DreamWorks' underrated action fantasy Rise of the Guardians get nominated.
Django Unchained ignored for Best Original Song
Honestly, the whole Best Original Song category, with the exception of the nominations for Ted and Skyfall, is just boring and safe. There are plenty of worthy contributions from Florence and the Machine, The Black Keys, Arcade Fire and more that deserves some Oscar love in this category. However, the song that really deserved a nomination was Rick Ross' catchy rap track 100 Black Coffins from the soundtrack for Django Unchained. A rap song with a western flare that fits perfectly in the scheme of Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti western? What more could you ask for?! Take a listen to the song above to see what the Academy ignored and try not to have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman battling again
While I was hoping I'd never have to think about Mirror Mirror again, the Oscars came around and reignited the rivalry between the childish fantasy and the darker, slightly more acceptable action fantasy Snow White and the Huntsman. Both of the films are going head-to-head for costume design. The category always results in some sort of unlikely film getting an Oscar nomination because costume design on itself is one of the more independent categories acknowledged, regardless of the quality of any given film. The intricate and gorgeous wardrobe in each film is worthy of attention, but we're just somewhat frustrated that we have to keep talking about these lackluster films at all.
The Dark Knight Rises receives exactly zero Oscar nominations
Personally, I didn't think there was a snowball's chance in hell that Christopher Nolan and his The Dark Knight Rises were going to land any major nominations, but the Academy surprised everyone today by not even giving any nods for technical achievements. Wally Pfister was probably the most deserving for his work behind the camera, but it just wasn't in the cards this year. In fact, the only comic book movie to get any love this year was The Avengers for visual effects. Does this show that the Academy is out of touch, or was this too competitive of a year for Nolan to get any Oscar accolades?
So there you have it. There's a lot to like about this year's Oscar nominations thanks to such a great year of film, but there's plenty of choices by the Academy that will certainly rile up passionate cinephiles. I know the announcement early this morning had me scratching and shaking my head more than nodding in approval, but in the end, the awards don't matter nearly as much as any viewer's love for a given film. But were there any other nominations that stood out as snubs and surprises? What would you have rather seen get some Oscar love? Feel free to keep sounding off on all the 85th Academy Award nominations below!