No Affleck? No Bigelow? Where the Oscar noms went wrong

The nominations for this year’s Academy Awards were announced this morning, and here’s how it all shakes out:

Best director

Michael Haneke, “Amour”; Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”; Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”; Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”; David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

This category has the most shocks of any.

No Ben Affleck? Sacrilege! “Argo” was one of the best movies of the year, due in no small part to Affleck’s ability to balance the drama in Iran with the satirical scenes in Hollywood.

And I’d probably be more outraged about Kathryn Bigelow’s being left off if I had actually seen the film. (It’s FINALLY coming to southeastern Connecticut this Friday. I’m expecting to feel outraged over her omission this weekend.) But, based on the slew of glowing reviews for “Zero Dark Thirty,” Bigelow wuz robbed.

I can see why they left out Tom Hooper for “Les Miserables”; his direction was all over the place.

Nominating Ang Lee’s direction of “Life of Pi”? His work was wildly overrated. Yes, “Pi” was a challenging work to bring to the screen, but the resulting movie was middling at best. Pretty to look at, sure, but middling.

Best picture

“Amour,” “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Miserables,” “Life of Pi,” “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Zero Dark Thirty.”

This category can fill out to 10 nominees if the films earn enough votes. This year, it reached nine. And rightly so. This was a good year for movies. Two smaller, critically acclaimed films that fans were worried might not make it into the mix did — the French “Amour” (probably the biggest unexpected inclusion here) and “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained” hadn’t been a sure thing, either. “The Impossible” didn’t make the cut, as some thought it would.

Best actor

Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”; Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”; Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”; Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”; Denzel Washington, “Flight”

Joaquin Phoenix for “The Master”? Blech! I hated the movie and hated his performance as a weirdo (yes, that’s my technical term for it) who, an alcoholic, falls under the spell of a cult leader. John Hawkes deserved that slot instead for playing a man confined to an iron lung who wants to experience sex in “The Sessions.” Not that it matters — Daniel Day-Lewis, as honest Abe, has this category all locked up.

Best actress

Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”; Jennifer Lawrence, a “Silver Linings Playbook”; Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”; Quvenzhane Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”; Naomi Watts, “The Impossible.”

Just as their movies were pleasant, relatively surprise nominees, so is the fact that both Riva, as an elderly, ailing woman, and Wallis, a young girl living in the wilds of Louisiana, are up for best actress. 

Supporting actor

Alan Arkin, “Argo”; Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”; Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”; Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”; Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

This is pretty much the lineup that was expected, although I would have been happy if John Goodman had nabbed a nom for “Argo” for playing a Hollywood helper to Ben Affleck’s CIA agent. Between “Argo,” “Flight” and “Trouble with the Curve,” Goodman had a great year.

Supporting actress

Amy Adams, “The Master”; Sally Field, “Lincoln”; Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”; Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”; Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”

The only slight surprise here is Weaver (who was wonderful as the tremulous, often-tearily-on-the-edge mom in a dysfunctional family). She beat out eternal Oscar fave Maggie Smith, who had been talked up for her role in “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”

The Oscars will be handed out on Feb. 24.

What did you think of the nominations?

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