The 2012 Oscar nominations: Who was snubbed and who was surprised

Jan 24, 2012

Chat live with Jen Chaney and Ann Hornaday about this year's Oscars nominations, which were announced Tuesday morning.

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Hi everyone! Ann Hornaday here, and Happy Oscar-nom day! Hope some of your favorites got the nod. We definitely have some surprises and snubs to discuss -- so let's have at it!

Busy morning. I am curious to hear from everyone, both the elated Terrence Malick fans and the angry members of the "Drive" camp.

Let's talk Oscar.

I have to say, I'm very disappointed that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was overlooked for Best Picture and Best Director. I would have thought David Fincher to be a shoo-in for a nomination. Or was the academy concerned that it would be construed as an apology nomination for last year's upset by The King's Speech?

Poor David Fincher. He defnitely has a spotty history where the Academy is concerned, and as you suggest many people thought he was robbed last year for THE SOCIAL NETWORK. Glancing at the nominees this year, it looks like there was one iffy slot, which wound up going to Terrence Malick, the others were definitely shoo-ins. So a tight race in that category!

I think the other issue here is that "Dragon Tattoo" is a pretty dark film in terms of subject matter. As we also saw with the lack of nods for "Shame," Academy voters didn't seem to go for that this year.

And I agree, Malick took the spot that might have gone to Fincher or Spielberg.

Did Moneyball manage to snag so many nominations. Same with Tinker Tailor. I saw both movies over the weekend and I had a hard time staying awake. And where is the love for Michael Fassbender?

I was disappointed that Fassbender wasn't nominated, too. A very lived-in, authentic and brave performance. But as I said before, one that may be too "edgy" for some voters.

I liked "Moneyball" a lot -- great performances and a fine script. Did you start watching it late at night? Were you under the influence of sleep-inducing medication? Just trying to get to the bottom of this.

Perhaps my math is off, but I'm only counting 9 Best Pictures nominees. Aren't there supposed to be 10? Or did I miss that memo?

Yes, last year the Academy instituted a new rule that 10 movies could be nominated for Best Picture; this year they tweaked their preferential voting system so that only films that received 5 percent or over got nominated -- meaning anywhere from five to ten could be nominated. Convoluted, but I think they wanted to avoid allowing sub-par movies in just for the sake of an even ten.

To paraphrase a line from Inherit the Wind, we're growing a strange crop of nominees this year. Because I have to say, I'm rather perplexed at the list of nominations, and feel it reflects on the lackluster quality of films released in 2011. To wit, I never in a million years thought Bridesmaids or The Help would get anything close to Oscar attention. And please forgive my cynicism, but War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close struck me as Oscar-baiting films. Having said that, I have to confess that it was a pleasant surprise that Jonah Hill got a nomination.

I was not a big fan of "War Horse." I liked "Extremely Loud" but also totally understand others' criticisms of it. And the longer it sits with me, the more those criticisms start to ring more loudly in my ears. (After the first viewing, I was so teary that I couldn't even think straight.)

I also was glad Hill got in there. Are there other movies that you think should have been nominated but were overlooked?

They're kidding, right? Ann gave it one star and it's well below 50% on both Rotten Tomatoes and Megacritic. I saw it anyway, with 4 friends -- there's not much out there at the moment, and we wanted to see the Jeopardy champ perform. One of us said it was OK, but the rest are with Ann. Maybe 1.5 stars, but best picture moninee? Give us a break!

As I said in my predictions post, it possesses a lot of qualities that appeal to Oscar voters. So I was not surprised to see it in the mix at all.

I think it has next to no chance of winning, but I was not surprised. I am sure some politicking may have been involved, too. I was happy Max Von Sydow got nominated -- I thought his performance was excellent.

Kaminski vs. Lubezki, two of the best DPs working today going head to head. Who ya got?

I'm going with Chivo FTW w/ THE TREE OF LIFE.  (I dug what Spielberg was getting at with that retro look of WAR HORSE but it got a bit muchly for me. What say you?

I agree, actually: "Tree of Life" was the most visually gorgeous movie of last year, period. I want to move into that neighborhood and bask in the all that golden sunlight and run through those verdant suburban lawns.

Seriously, think that Tree of Life house is on the market?

Bridesmaids certainly deserved a best picture nomination today. I am one of those people who thought the Best Pic noms should have stayed locked at 5. However, with all the evolving rules (5 , 10, this yr 9) for nominations, I truly thought..this year a true comedy has a shot! I guess it was left at the altar..wah wah and ba dum bump

Ah, somebody had to say it! As much as I enjoyed BRIDESMAIDS, I was surprised to see so much Best Pic buzz for it, I just don't think it merited that. But huzzah for Melissa McCarthy. And I agree, one of these years a comedy really needs to take it.

I am not sure it should have been a best picture nominee either. I loved it, think it's still very funny on multiple viewings, but also think the editing is a bit clumsy and it goes on a tad too long.

But I was happy to see McCarthy get something, and the screenplay, too. I'd say it's the year of the female, but everyone said that when Bigelow won and you see where that got us. (How many female directors are nominated this year? What's that, you say? Zero?)

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close?? A film that was pretty much panned by critics and ignored by moviegoers gets any Oscar nods, including Best Picture?? Help me understand!!! Is this a payoff to Hanks/Roberts? Are the Oscar voters a bunch of robots who can only remember Hanks, Clooney, Pitt, and Roberts???

As has been mentioned, this is pretty much a classic Oscar-bait movie -- based on a prestigious literary work, from Oscar-winning filmmakers (the screenwriter gave us FORREST GUMP after all), with two of America's most beloved stars...Also, the fact that it was so recent in voters' memories no doubt helped. I saw a comment on a blog this morning that asked if this will be the worst-reviewed Best Pic nominee in Academy history! We'll see!

I bet there is a worse reviewed one. I'll have to do some research.

How did we end up with nine Best Picture nominees? Did we really need "Extremely Boring and Incredibly Cliched" amongst the best movies of the year? There were dozens of other movies that could have filled that slot or taken it to ten, which would have given the appearance that the Academy needed one more film to get to a round number. Having nine nominees that includes that stinker is just insulting to the other movies nominated.

As I noted in this post this morning, I think this nine business is ridiculous. It's such a strange number.

I think the number of noms should either be five or 10, but not a wildcard. All the attempts to futz with the five-nominations model haven't really addressed what I'll call the "Dark Knight" problem -- excellent, blockbuster movies getting nominated and thereby pumping up the Oscar ratings. Good movies still get passed over and arguable ones still make it in. I say pick a number and stick with it.

Will anyone give this guy some recognition? He single-handedly turned "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" into a blockbuster, and was really strong in "Tintin." With movies relying so heavily on CGI and the success of animated films, how much longer will it be until we see a Best Voice-Over Performance category?

I had my fingers crossed for Serkis, too, but knew it was a long shot.

And actually, it wouldn't be a voice-over category. It would be a motion capture performance category. But the fact is -- and I am sure Serkis would argue this -- there really isn't any difference between what he and a traditional actor does. He is physically moving -- not just standing still and reading lines --  and he certainly assumes his character the same way any other actor does. So a mo-cap performance should be considered in one of the regular acting categories. The divide should not exist.

If he eeks out enough screen time in "The Hobbit," maybe they will finally give him one next year for Gollum.

I'm so bummed that Tilda Swinton didn't get nominated! I wonder who/what edged her out, especially since she had been getting a lot of good press of "We Need To Talk About Kevin". And more importantly, does this mean we'll be robbed of the opportunity to see her in a weird-yet-fabulous ensemble at the ceremony?

I have to say, I was not bummed by that one. Swinton is a fine actress and her performance in that movie was solid, as always. I just disliked that movie a lot, and I think she's done equally fine, if not better, work in other films.

It's still possible she'll show up as a presenter, so don't give up hope. She still may appear in a designer trash bag yet!

I think the intensity of KEVIN probably alienated a lot of voters who reacted like Jen (I liked it more than she did). It's a very difficult movie with a very difficult performance/character at its center. And I *do* hope we see her, I'm always fascinated with what TS wears, says and does!

I've seen all the other nominees (Extremely Loud? Really?) but can't bring myself to see this one because of the human and animal carnage. Am I being overly squeamish?

I felt the exact same way you do, and I found much of the film very painful to watch. That said -- they don't *completely* break our hearts, and you can always repeat, 'It's only an animataronic horse, it's only an animatronic horse...' But yes, it's a toughie.

I found the animal carnage worse than the human, in terms of squeamishness.

But if you're concerned, watch it when it comes out on DVD. You'll miss the majesty of the visuals. But I honestly wasn't so in love with it that I think it merits $11 to see it in the theater.

Put it this way: the way that other reader reacted to "Moneyball" is how I responded to "War Horse."

I'm not going to judge the other Best Actor noms, and I'm thrilled Gary Oldman was tipped after the GG snub, but no Michael Fassbender? I was concerned that the NC-17 would scare your typical Oscar voter off, but with that performance and the other accolades Fassbender has received, I got my hopes up. Wrong again. Or maybe they were just worried that Clooney would make similar jokes to those in his GG acceptance speech...

I agree that Fassbender was mesmerizing in SHAME but I was really happy to see Gary Oldman and Demian Bichir make the cut -- so with luck, MF will have his day. With a year that included JANE EYRE, an X-MEN movie and playing Carl Jung, I'd say 2011 might have been its own reward for him!

Where is Leo?

He got knocked out of contention by Gary Oldman and Demian Bachir.

There's no Pixar nominee. how many years in a row have they won up to this point?

Pixar has won for the past four years in best animated feature. And pretty much every time it releases a movie, it gets nominated.

This was the first year the studio's work was overlooked entirely. Not surprising, given the reception for "Cars 2." And I suspect if "Brave" is any good, they'll be right back in the mix at next year's Oscars.

Can we just drop the curtain on this category? When Madonna and Elton John can not get nominations when Jason Segal and Carlinhos Brown do (no offense to their good songs), the category is broken. The restrictions on this category are so strict that it's a wonder they can nominate anyone. I was really digging Trent Reznor's "Immigrant Song" cover on "Girl with the Dragon Tatoo," but of course it'snot eligible.

I agree that the eligibility restrictions need to be looked at again.

I would also like to say that if "Man or Muppet" loses, I will lose all faith in the Oscars, humanity, puppets and the purpose of living in general.

Yay that Gary Oldman finally gets Oscar recognition! I have to say, I have never seen a more versatile actor (think True Romance, Leon, JFK, Immortal Beloved). His nomination is long overdue.

Oh my gosh, yes!

It is unreal that Oldman has never been nominated until now. And that fact may make him George Clooney's fiercest competition.

Ann H. here -- I'm truly torn between rooting for Oldman or Brad Pitt. But I gotta say my heart's with Oldman!

Why no nomination for Tintin in animation category do you think, and why only 2 songs in original song it seems very odd to me especially after Globe noms

Personally I was happy to see TINTIN snubbed -- I'm not a big fan of motion-capture animation (apparently, neither is the Academy!). To me, when you're going that far to be realistic, just use live actors, already! Plus I thought it was way too busy and plotty and not very emotionally involving. The song question demands further investigation, that definitely qualifies as one of this year's biggest head-scratchers. (That said, yay for "Man or a Muppet"!!)

I also found this odd. I agree with Ann that I was not engaged by TinTin, but purely as an achievement in animation, I thought it was very well-done. (I'm not anti- mo-cap animation when it's done well. And in TinTin, it was.)

The two song thing is odd. Ann's right -- an investigation must be launched.

When and where can I see "A Cat in Paris"?

Right now there are no firm plans for A CAT IN PARIS to come to DC, but it's highly likely that Landmark E Street will get it. CHICO AND RITA, another nominee in animation, will be there on March 16. So keep checking Post listings!

Wow, what a mixed bag the Oscars has become. "Extremely Loud" as best picture? Did the Academy watch a different movie than the rest of us? Glenn Close for best actress -- talk about an "insider" nomination if there ever was one, given the extremely limited release and tepid reviews for her film. Shailene Woodley overlooked in "The Descendants," but two for "The Help." And all this from a group that, because they need to fill the ballot, give "Kung Fu Panda 2" a nomination. Sorry, but they could have done a lot better.

I'll let you have the last word -- although I agree about KUNG FU PANDA, I wish RIO had gotten it instead (what a beautiful movie!) So: Go, RANGO!

Really good point, Ann -- "Rio" definitely should have made the cut in that category.

Extremely Loud for Best Picture, are you kidding me??! What a classic case of favoritism for an A+-list actor like Hanks. What an awful, awful movie. I heard today that the average age of the voter is over 60. Any plans to revamp the system to get some more younger voters in the mix?

I am not sure the favoritism was for Hanks. (As stated before, I did not hate it, but I do believe it has flaws. Having read the book, I was prepared for the semi-cloying details of the storyline.)

I think there may have been favoritism toward Scott Rudin, who produced it. (Not that he didn't already have a best pic contender in Moneyball or Dragon Tattoo, but still.)

In terms of getting younger voters in the mix, the Academy invites new members all the time. The balance is still tilted though, so perhaps they need to expand the base more aggressively.


I just saw a headline stating that the worst movie of the year might get an Oscar nomination? Say it isn't so! I went to see it, hoping for hijinx and fun, and got nasty and drunk. It should get a raft of Razzies, not a positive award!

Wait a minute, *you* didn't get nasty and drunk did you?! This was absolutely not a movie to everyone's taste -- were you suitably prepared by the reviews or did you go based on other factors? I definitely tried to make sure viewers knew they were in for major raunch.

Where is Albert Brooks?! He played such a great bad guy.

Yes, his DRIVE performance being left out is being deemed kind of a big snub...But again, I think that movie might have been very divisive. (I know I got lots of reader pushback after my positive review!) Sometimes I think Academy voters are much more like the rest of us than we realize (give or take a private jet or two).

In the other three acting awards, there seem to be clear frontrunners, George Clooney, Meryl Streep and Christopher Plummer. That isn't that they are 100% certain to win, but clearly they are the frontrunners. But best supporting actress seems to be the hard one to say, "Yeah, it's her year."

I mean, right now I'd say it's Octavia Spencer because she's won some other prizes.

Will be interesting to see what happens this weekend at the SAGs.

No love for Charlize Theron in YOUNG ADULT? I know, she already has a Best Actress Oscar, but so does Meryl Streep. Also sad that the movie itself was overlooked. Also that MELANCHOLIA was passed over.

This might be similar to what happend with Tilda, in that Charlize Theron played a really unlikable character in what I consider a truly loathsome movie.

I think there was too much competition for Theron to break through in what was, as Ann rightly said, a challenging movie in some ways.

Same goes for Dunst and Melancholia.

Biggest omissions? Biggest surprises? Thanks!

I've already done a post on biggest snubs. I've got one on surprises coming up soon. I think Demian Bachir was a big one. People in the industry or who follow film had heard some buzz about his performance, but he wasn't talked about very much in the predicto-sphere and I think most average moviegoers probably don't know who he is.

Ann H. here -- I was pretty surprised (although not disappointed) to see Leo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer passed over for J. EDGAR. Spielberg not getting a directing nod I think is pretty major.

Link to the complete list of nominations? Thanks!

Sure thing. Here you go

Has anyone ever won an Oscar and a Super Bowl in the same year?

I don't believe so! That's a riot. I don't expect Mara to win the Oscar in that category -- I'm thinking Davis or Streep has it sewn up. And don't count out Glenn Close either. She's been nominated six times now and never won. That could be a factor as well.

Wow, if Glenn Close wrests it from Meryl Streep, that would be HUGE! Put it out there, Jen!

Why was the unusual time of 5:30 a.m. PST selected to make the Oscar nomination announcements?

That's the time they are always announced, so that us East Coaster can watch the announcements during the morning news shows.

It's all about "Good Morning, America." Which, at least here in the Post newsroom, had no audio today. Not sure why that happened. I'll just blame Comcast since they've been blamed for all TV mess-ups this week.

Was Ryan Gosling robbed?'s tough to see where he could have fit. Supporting for IDES OF MARCH or CRAZY STUPID LOVE? Lead for DRIVE? He's deserving for all three performances, but I don't know who I would have zotzed to give him a space.

Agreed. And we all know I'm a Gosling supporter, but I don't think he deserved it over any of the men who made the cut.

If two people deliver the same quality of performance (unlikely scenario) but one movie is much better than the other, do you think the actor in the better movie deserves to win? Meryl Streep was amazing but the movie wasn't very good. If you compare her performance to George Clooney in The Descendants, it's a world of difference but I liked The Descendants much better than Iron Lady.

Interesting question. I think when the category is about the acting, you have to evaluate purely based on that.

That being said, I liked Davis more than Streep in this particular case. I thought Viola Davis grounded The Help so, so much. Anyone else in that part and I think the movie would have lost something crucial.

Ann H. here -- it's true that you can't blame an actor for the movie that surrounds their performance. That said, I think the superficiality of THE IRON LADY did rub off on Streep's performance, making it more akin to an impersonation than a truly revealing characterization. I wouldn't mind seeing someone take home the award in that category.

Brad Pitt turned in a performance that created a real person and reminded us why he is Brad Pitt. He won't win (and perhaps shouldn't) because: 1. He is Brad Pitt, 2. He is in a sports movie. 3. He did nothing unusual. He didn't put on makeup, distort his body through fasting or gluttony, or play a horriably unredeemable character .He just made you believe in a real person. 4. He's Brad Pitt.

Aw -- I don't know, this could be his year! I think you bring up excellent points and I'm with you. He definitely deserves it. (Now I kind of wish Gary Oldman weren't nominated so I wouldn't be so torn!)

Honestly, I think you can make strong arguments for a potential win for all of those guys.  To me, it's a three-way race between Clooney, Pitt and Oldman and I think it could go any of those ways. And I would be happy to see any of them win, although neither Pitt nor Oldman has an Oscar so it would be nice to see them finally get one.

OK. For the past 6 years, I have seen every Oscar nominated movie. I am prepared to go on an all-out blitz between now and Feb 26 to fill in the ones I've missed (although I'm not enthusiastic about Transformers or W.E). There are 2 movies, HOWEVER, that are nowhere - A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita.

I have 2 questions. First, how were these 2 nominated, where did they come from? It is unlikely that if I have heard nothing of them that anyone else has heard of them or for that matter seen them. Second, where can I see them? According to they were released in 2011 but there appear to be no plans to release them on video. What's a girl to do? I don't like to admit defeat so early in the game!

Ah, see my answer about  A CAT IN PARIS; unfortunately CHICO & RITA won't get to DC until *after* the awards, and A CAT IN PARIS probably won't get here for a while. Sorry about that, but you get points for trying!

Do we know yet where Woody will be playing on Oscar night?

Ha -- isn't he always at the same club, or does he vary it?

I am certainly he won't be at the Oscars, unless he finally decides to surprise everyone.

I think he plays at Michael's, in Manhattan...Maybe Terrence Malick will show up and they can jam!

How often has Gary Oldman been nominated? seems to me he would be a popular winner with the audience; seems to be a real character actor versus a "star" if that makes sense.

This is his first nomination, if you can believe it. Ann, correct me if I am wrong.

Yes, this is his first Oscar nomination, if you can believe that!

I submit to you, Crash.

That might be most disliked. That's different from having the worst reviews.

Jen, where did you see it? My book club has been looking for a showing, as it's supposed to start this weekend, and nobody has it or knows when they will. And I'm thrilled the Ides of March didn't get any big nominations. That movie was lousy. It was the first time I turned to someone and said, man this score is horrible.

I saw an advance press screening of "Kevin." It was supposed to come out in the next few weeks, but the studio just announced they are pushing it back until later in the spring here in D.C.

Ann/Jen -- who or what is a Demian Bichir?

He's the lead actor in a wonderful movie called A BETTER LIFE, which came out early last year. I'm sure it's on DVD by now and it's well worth catching up with.  A lovely film and an eminently worthy performance!

A darn shame a fine film about a complex man was overlooked. I guess the Academy's going green this year, as "Drive" was snubbed as well. Although I noticed fewer people crying in the theater at the end of "Drive" as opposed to "Senna." But that's just me. bc

I agree with you about SENNA and today I was shocked to see that BUCK didn't get nominated in the documentary category. I really loved that film!

... has been broken since the Academy didn't give it to "Blame Canada." Yes, I am still bitter.

As am I.

One interesting note: there were 39 songs on the short list for best song. 39!!

Surely some of them are very good. I thought the She and Him songs from Winnie the Pooh were sweet, for instance.

I'll be writing something on this shortly, BTW. Stay tuned...

Dealthy Hallows Part 2 got snubbed big time. Am I the only disappointed Potterhead out there?

You are not. Twitter confirms this.

My wife and I have seen exactly 0 "grown up" movies in the theater this year. Of those nominated for best pic or best director, which top 2 or 3 do both of you think we should make a point of seeing on DVD between now and the ceremony?

Here are my favorites: THE DESCENDANTS, MONEYBALL, MIDNIGHT IN PARIS and THE ARTIST. (I'd add THE TREE OF LIFE, but that one really is best seen on the big screen.)

An earlier poster wanted to see a comedy in the Best Picture race, well there is already one there..."Midnight in Paris" I would agree that pigs will be flying if a raunchy comedy gets nominated for Best Picture, but a comedy movie doesn't necessarily mean that you could insert a laugh track.

Good point.

Folks, the hour has whizzed by and we need to wrap up the chat. Thanks so much for your good questions, astute observations and impassioned arguments! Happy watching until Oscar Night on Feb. 26!

I'm bailing to go do more blogging. Feel free to continue this conversation when we do the Celebritology chat on Thursday at 2 p.m.

Thanks for your great questions.

In This Chat
Jen Chaney
Also an accredited Celebritologist, Jen focuses on pop culture news and trends in the entertainment world.

In addition to overseeing movie content for the Post's Web site, she also writes regularly about film, DVDs and stars of screens large and small.

When she isn't blogging or at the movies, she's ... um ... probably at home, watching a movie.

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Ann Hornaday
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