This year’s Oscar nominees

by Tom Ingram

I did not see very many new movies this last year, so I’ve come up somewhat short on Oscar predictions. I did browse casually through a list of 2011 movies shortly before Tuesday’s announcement in the hopes of finding any obvious candidates without much effort. I saw that the adaptation of The Help had come out, and I distantly recall something about a silent film star and an alcoholic boxer (The Artist and Warrior). Aside from that, I had no pre-nom predictions.

That said, let’s have a look at the list. Simply going by the volume of nominations, I’m inclined to tentatively guess that the Best Picture winner will be either Hugo or The Artist. However, we’ve got a nice broad slate of nominees this year, and I look forward to watching some of them.

Best Supporting Actor has some very interesting names in it, including Max von Sydow, Kenneth Branagh, and Christopher Plummer. Not having seen any of the movies, I have no predictions here, but just a general enthusiasm. Particularly notable is the absence of any Pixar movies from the Best Animated Feature list. The last time Pixar failed to win was in 2007, when Cars lost to Happy Feet, and the last time they weren’t nominated at all was 2006.

Not that I’m surprised, mind you—the best thing you can say about the Cars series is that it does a good job of funding real Pixar movies. It’s nice to see some diversity here for once. I’d be very surprised if Rango failed to win, though, because in terms of technology and art it was a milestone. Also, the rest of the slate is a pair of mediocre Dreamworks movies and two indie films that no one’s ever heard of.

Best Original Score this year is John Williams, Howard Shore, and two other guys. I’m sure we all know how this is going to go. The question is whether Shore gets to build a pyramid or Williams gets to melt down his awards and form them into a life-sized statue of himself. Last year’s original score category was very strange, with Zimmer’s excellent work on Inception losing out to Trent Reznor’s faintly comic soundtrack to The Social Network. This time around things appear to be more conservative.

The changes to the categories all seem fairly sensible—philosophically, I’m opposed to the Best Animated Feature category because a good animated movie is a good overall movie, but it’s realistically the only way for animated films to get any recognition, so we’ll have to deal. It’s nice that they expanded the slate of Best Picture movies last year, but we all know which films are the bottom five and nobody actually thinks they’re going to win, so it’s hard to see the point. They reduced the change this year, allowing anywhere between five and ten candidates, which makes somewhat more sense.

James Earl Jones got an honorary award—he never received an Oscar during the height of his career (his only nomination is from 1971), and what has he done lately? Nice to see him get some recognition, even if it’s of a “sorry we forgot you” variety.

Like last year, I’m going to watch as many of the nominated movies as I can. Watch this space for updates.