Oscar Nominees: Discuss the favorites, surprises and more with Ann Hornaday

Jan 25, 2011

Movie critic Ann Hornaday will be online Tuesday, Jan. 25, at 10 a.m., to discuss Tuesday's Academy Award nominations. Were you surprised by any nomination? Did a favorite movie or actor get snubbed? Discuss all that and more. Submit your questions now.

Happy Oscars everybody! Lots to talk about today, so let's get started!

I was quite stunned, when hearing the nominations announced this morning, that Christopher Nolan was snubbed for a Best Director nod. I found the direction of the movie superb, and was quite pleased that it received a Best Picture nomination, but I was sure he'd get a Best Director nod.

I totally agree. That *was* this year's big stunner, and I would also have liked to see Danny Boyle recognized for his superb work on "127 Hours." I'm glad that got into the Best Picture list and cheers for James Franco! But Boyle made an essentially static story visually dynamic and expressive -- an achievement in film direction if there ever was one.

Hello - Do you know if the Academy limits the number of animated films that are nominated in that category? I was surprised that 1) there were only three movies nominated and 2) that Dispicable Me was not nominated. That was actually the first "snub" I noticed in the nominations. Thanks!

I was curious about that too --  and I would have liked to see "Tangled" make the cut, it was so visually rich. My impression of the Oscar rules is that the Animation branch has a lot of discretion as to how many films to nominate and, indeed, whether enough films merit a category at all that year.

I was quite disappointed that Leonardo DiCaprio didn't receive a Best Actor nomination for year, as he had not one but TWO Oscar-worthy roles in 2010--Inception and Shutter Island. (Inception would have been my preference, though popular opinion was more for Shutter Island.)

I thought he was good in both those films, too.  But I'm even more surprised/disappointed that Robert Duvall got whiffed for "Get Low." He delivered a terrific performance, and it would have been nice to see him get the nod. (The surprise in that category is Jeff Bridges, whose performance many people couldn't even comprehend beneath all the grizzled gruff mumbling stuff!)

Thrilled to see that the Oscars actually realized that there was a movie that came out last year called True Grit, which the Globes were apparently completely unaware of in their rush to nominate the heck out of The Tourist. And I'm thrilled to see that Hailee Steinfeld got nominated but....supporting actress? I know that the film studios push whether they want a particular person considered a lead or supporting and that it's a judgment call by the voters, but if you sat down with a stop watch I'd be willing to bet Steinfeld had more screen time than Bridges. What's the logic there?

I'm one of those people who isn't one bit surprised by the love TRUE GRIT is getting from the Academy -- it exemplifies just the kind of film the industry loves to reward: classic, harking back to its own legend and lore, and getting filmgoers' tushies into seats!

I'm thrilled to see Hailee Steinfeld recognized; and yes I think it's a case of odds-playing. Annette Bening and Natalie Portman are the clear front-runners for the lead actress Oscar, while the supporting category is a bit more fluid. It may seem weird on paper, but it's about the studio garnering as much visibility as it can for its movie and its cast.

Considering that Natalie Portman is the third actor/actress from Darren Aronofsky to be nomination for an Oscar *and* widely considered to be the category favorite, I can't help but wonder if--for the third time--said actor/actress will LOSE the award to another A-lister. Think about it for a second. Ellen Burstyn lost in 2000 for Requiem for a Dream (to Julia Roberts). Mickey Rourke lost in 2008 for The Wrestler (to Sean Penn). Both were heavy favorites, and I can't help but wonder if Natalie Portman will lose to someone like Annette Benning--an actress who's been heavily favorited before for an Oscar and both times lost (to Hilary Swank). Sort of an apology Oscar for not awarding her before.

Oh lord I think you just gave Darren Aronofsky a case of the hives! You might be on to something -- I hadn't connected it to an Aronofsky pattern, but it is widely believed that Annette B. could take it this year. You've just injected added interest into the race, thank you!

Ann- I enjoyed this movie. I really did. But I think it's ridiculous that it got nominated in both best picture and best animated film. Enough! And is there a cap on the number of animated films that can be nominted? I'm a little disappointed Tangled isn't there.

Yes, as I said before I agree about "Tangled," which was just a gorgeous film, full stop. But I'm glad "Toy Story 3" made the best picture list -- it's a stunning piece of filmmaking, drew huge audiences and proved that mass appeal and high artistic values aren't mutually exclusive.  Plus it's great to mix it up in that category!

To get myself geared up for Oscar season, I recently watched the infamous video clip of Marlon Brando turning down his Oscar for The Godfather. Wow, talk about uncomfortable!!! I can barely imagine the kind of stir this created in 1972; today it would have blown the blogosphere out of the water! I was very glad to see Jack Lemmon tone down the controversy when he won his Oscar the following year, but I still have to wonder--with the Brando incident, has there every been a more perfectly orchestrated, high-profile middle finger given to Hollywood by one of its own?

Ah yes, the infamous Sacheen Littlefeather affair! No similar moment comes to mind; although George C. Scott also refused his Oscar, calling the Academy Awards "a g***d meat parade." So Patton-esque!

How in the world did the too-quickly-paced The Fighter get Russell a nomination over Nolan (say what you will about the script, but the directorial decisions were brilliant) or even Boyle? I'm just floored.

Yes, maybe Nolan and Boyle will go all Michelle Bachmann and stage their own rebuttal ceremony.

I thought there were few surprises this year. Going into today, pundits had identified 11 films for the 10 slots, 8 of which were shoo-in or very likely. Of the remaining 3 likely contenders, The Town was the one that missed out over 127 Hours and Winter's Bone, but that's not a big surprise. If you're paying attention, Javier Bardem and Jacki Weaver weren't big surprises either. Christopher Nolan missing director over the Coen Brothers was a bit of a surprise. My biggest surprise was the relatively few nominations for Black Swan. I thought it would get 10 and that was even excluding the possibility of a supporting actress nod. But it wound up with only 5, shut out of screenplay, art direction (I think it really deserved a nod for its visual look and color palette), costumes and sound (the sound was so creepy too--gave me chills). Interesting that Hailee Steinfeld wound up in supporting after all the comparisons to the Kate Winslet category confusion from a few years ago.

Yes you're right about the visual noms for BLACK SWAN, I'm befuddled by that. I'm wondering if it got punished for being *too* expressive; in other words, the fact that we noticed the design might have worked against it with professionals who see their job as seamlessly (and invisibly) supporting the story and characters.

I'm a little shocked that he was left out for directing, though I admit I've only seen two of the five films that got nods in this category. Also seems strange that Inception was not nominated for film editing. Any thoughts?

You know, maybe it came down to the fact that Academy viewers were just confused by the movie. And that kind of complicated editing isn't always rewarded, especially by editors themselves, who are trained not to draw attention to themselves. They might have seen it as too showy and look-Ma-no-hands. Although in this case, of course, there were many hands moving very quickly on a shifting planes of consciousness within a context of indeterminate reality. (Cue band: "That's Entertainment!)

SOOOOO Happy that the Coen brothers got some love!

Good!

Kind of surprised he didn't get nominated. Didn't see Blue Valentine (although I'm dying to) but heard such great things about his performance.

It *is* an amazing performance, but I'm really happy Michelle Williams was recognized...Still, it's very much a two-hander of a movie, so it would have been nice to see them both rewarded. While we're on the lead actor category, I was really pleased to see Franco up there -- "127 Hours" is the most unfairly overlooked movie of 2010. If these nominations help it, then hooray for that. Go see it, people!

No nom for her for Kids - is that a surprise?

I'm not picking up on that as a big wowzer. If you're using the Golden Globes as a guide, then she basically had the slot that Haillee Steinfeld now has, which feels fair (even though we can quibble over whether hers was a supporting or leading role).

The King's Speech? Really? I thought the noms for script and Helena Bonhan Carter were especially overreaching. Am I completely alone on this? This movie is not worth all this attention. Not even close.

I think you may be the first person I've encountered who doesn't love this movie! Fly your flag proudly, my friend! And good luck at your Oscar-night party, you may end up hoarse from having to defend yourself!

I liked the movie, although I didn't find it especially 'cinematic' in the sense of having a lot of dynamism and visual movement...Still, a terrific story and fabulous performances (I actually quite liked Bonham Carter as the future Queen Mother). According to my pal Steven Gaydos at Variety, THE KING'S SPEECH is now the movie to beat.

It seems that the Academy got most of the things right, certainly on the acting side of things. However, because so many of the categories were nailed, there's no room for unpredictability, and it could be a very boring night.

Yes although with KING'S SPEECH garnering so many noms and THE SOCIAL NETWORK now stepping back a little, it might be a horse race. Bening or Portman? That'll be interesting. The directors category is very much wide open as far as I can tell...And for us documentary hounds, we'll be interested to see if INSIDE JOB wins over RESTREPO.

PS, the big shocker in docs was that the presumed shoo-in WAITING FOR 'SUPERMAN' wasn't nominated, and that the little-film-that-could, GASLAND, was. Congratulations to Josh Fox, job well done!

What 's the most surprising nomination for you? Conversely, what's the most surprising "missing from the list" lack of a nomination?

No Nolan or Duvall were big surprises, as were no WAITING FOR 'SUPERMAN' and TANGLED. I'm sure once this list sinks in there will be more.

If you had to put all your cash on one of the major categories and pick a winner today, what would be your pick? I lean toward Colin Firth.

I'd put it on Colin Firth too, but since you've taken that bet, I'll put the mortgage on Christian Bale for supporting. Absolutely no question about that one.

Why is there a makeup category anymore? Why not just combine it with costumes? They might as well just call it the "Rick Baker" award.

Zooiiinggg!

. . . for Jeff Bridges to win an Oscar for the role that John Wayne won an Oscar for! The Duke and The Dude in the same role.

Okay I *will* have to use that one. (Remember, amateurs borrow, professionals steal!) Well played!

Hi Ann -- do you have any predictions for us? Any other surprises?

Well, I guess a few weeks ago I would have called THE SOCIAL NETWORK for Best Pic, but now the tide is definitely turning toward THE KING'S SPEECH. But here's a wild one: the vote will split and TRUE GRIT will get it. How's that for going out on a limb? (This is my way of quoting William Goldman: "Nobody knows anything."

Finally, Christian Bale gets some Oscar attention! I only wish it'd have come sooner, specifically for his roles in American Psycho and The Machinist.

I know, when I was preparing my article for today's paper, I was shocked to see that he hadn't been nominated yet! Richly deserved for this one, he's truly amazing.

Please explain how Daft Punk's score, and the incredible visual effects are not worthy of nominations.

With Daft Punk soundtrack, 'Tron: Legacy' is a film to be heard, Chris Richards, The Washington Post, Dec. 24, 2010

I'm sure my colleague, pod mate, pop music critic and good friend Chris Richards would agree with you -- please read his excellent article on how the sound and visuals of TRON: LEGACY worked. He says it all!

Hi Ann, Were you surprised to see Ryan Gosling bypassed for best actor and instead seeing Javier Bardem nominated? I thought for sure that we'd see noms for both Michelle Williams and Ryan for Blue Valentine.

Not really -- Bardem's performance in BIUTIFUL (which I found just as contrived and overwrought as all of Innaritu's movies) was a bravura turn and a true shoo-in from the get-go.

Why are there only 3 nominees in certain categories? There are only 3 animated nominees despite at least 20 feature length animated features released in 2010. There are only 3 makeup nominees despite just about every live-action feature film using makeup. However, there are 4 songs nominated, despite original song being pretty much abandoned by movie studios. What are the rules for the number of nominees in a given category?

I haven't perused the rules as diligently as I should have (we're linking to them so you can dig on your own), but again my impression is that for many of these branches, the number of films nominated is discretionary.

As for songs, my friend Steve Gaydos again points out that Diane Warren's song for BURLESQUE, which won the Golden Globe, was shut out (as was everything else from the movie). Too bad, that means no Cher singing at the ceremony!

Thrilled to see him nominated for a performance that really drew me in and scared me to death. Any chance for a dark horse like this one?

I agree with you; I'm actually joining you today from Sundance, where I just saw him in a movie called HIGHER GROUND -- completely unrecognizable from his character in WINTER'S BONE. And sorry, there's no chance he's beating Bale. But the nomination itself is a terrific honor for him.

I'm just happy "Alice in Wonderland" (really "Alice Returns to Wonderland and Becomes Xena, Warrior Princess, then Modern Liberated Businessperson") didn't get any nods, like it did for the Golden Globes. Alice and Mad Hatter as action heroes? I at least enjoyed watching "Social Network," though I don't think it deserves a Best Picture award.

Love that!

Chatters, I'm running late so I might go ahead and post some of your comments with a minimum of blah-blah.

Take it away!

I'm glad that Christian Bale FINALLY got an Oscar nomination, especially after he has given so many amazing performances. And I love Amy Adams. I appreciate her work in Doubt, too, for which she got a nomination, but I thought she was absolutely breathtaking in Enchanted, for which she wasn't nominated.

I agree re ENCHANTED, comedies get robbed at Oscar time.

Some suggest Mila Kunis was overlooked for Black Swan? Pleased to see Jennifer Lawrence's best actress nomination.

Yes I loved her performance as well, but it's difficult to see whom she'd unseat in that category. All very strong contenders.

Hi Ann, thanks for taking my question. I was just wondering who were in the panel this year to select the nominees/nominations & also select the winner. Is that public or is that more secretive of who is in the panel?

The films are nominated by branches of the Academy that are made up of professionals in that category; then the whole Academy votes on the winners. We linked to the Rules here, far better for me to let the Academy speak for itself rather than my garbling their guidelines!

Folks, I do have to scoot to a screening here at Sundance. I'm so sorry I didn't get to all your questions and excellent observations. I know we'll all be watching on Oscar night -- good luck with your ballots!

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Ann Hornaday
Ann Hornaday is a film critic for The Washington Post.
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