Thursday, January 10, 2013

Oscar - jaws drop and the buzz and intrigue begin

The buzz is deafening. That other sound is jaws dropping. The announcement of the Oscar nominations this morning has indeed generated a lot of buzz and some head-scratching. In every major category the nominations carried a number of surprises – some more than others, however the Best Picture nominations were not a surprise for me. What is surprising are the Oscar nominations in the Directing, Acting and Foreign Language Film categories.

In my earlier reflections on the DGA and SAG Awards nominations, I noted that I thought that Oscar nominations would generally reflect those nominations. I was wrong.

Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck and Tom Hooper each received a DGA nomination but did not get an Oscar nod - only two DGA nominees also got an Oscar nomination, Ang Lee and Steven Spielberg. This flies in the face of what has happened historically when the Oscar nominations generally do reflect the DGA. It will now really be interesting to see who wins the DGA award and who wins the Oscar. Will they be one and the same? It will also be interesting to see how the DGA award, Best Director Oscar and Best Picture Oscar might – or might not – align.

Of the 20 Oscar acting nominations only 14 reflected SAG Award nominations. That too is in contrast to past years when the nominations were much more closely aligned. The three biggest surprises for me were the failure of John Hawkes, Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith to garner an Oscar nomination.

Perhaps I should also be surprised that I actually picked each of the Best Picture nominations. I listed ten films while noting that the Academy might not nominate ten. I listed them in the order of the number of first place votes I thought each would receive. My tenth pick was Skyfall which did not receive an Oscar nomination.

However the most interesting nomination is Amour. This film is nominated for an Oscar in the Best Picture category and as Best Foreign Language Film – it is Austria’s entry in that category. Moreover, Amour also received nominations in the Best Actress, Best Director and Best Original Screenplay. Can one picture win two 'best' picture awards?

Which brings me to the Foreign Language category: The biggest surprise for me was the failure of The Intouchables (France’s entry) to receive a Best Foreign Language Film nomination. I thought it had everything going for it and would be a lock – but again, I was wrong.

Finally, I am sorry Sister, from Switzerland did not receive a nomination. The film is disturbing but emotionally very powerful. Nonetheless I am surprised that Kon Tiki from Norway made it and Sister did not.

Ahh, the vagaries.

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