Hugo 2011
The 2012 Oscar nominations are in – with their usual contradictory mix of eyebrow raising omissions and inclusions and crushing predictability. Who are the likely winners of the main gongs this year – and does it really matter anyway?

The front runners are films celebrating the early days of cinema – The Artist and Hugo. The smart money will be on the silent black and white feature, nominated for ten awards, to become the first silent winner of Best Picture in over 80 years and for Michel Hazanavicius to take home the director prize. Having said this, despite The Artist winning other awards left, right and centre, a potential backlash is brewing and the momentum behind the picture arguably has as much to do with the heft of the Weinsteins and Hollywood’s desire to look back fondly as it does truly excellent cinema. Although the exact number of nominees for Best Picture depended on the voting patterns, the fact Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close and The Help have slipped in to the nine nominees ahead of the likes of Drive, We Need To Talk About Kevin and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy speaks more of the Academy’s rather predictable tastes than the quality and imagination of the films in question.

The acting awards have thrown up a number of surprises, however, and not all of them are good. Andy Serkis would have been more than worthy of a Supporting Actor nomination for his work in The Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, but his motion-capture turn likely proved to be too left-field for the Academy’s voting tastes. Less predictable, however, was the omission of Drive’s Albert Brooks, thought to be the genuine competition for Christopher Plummer (Beginners) in the category. His omission will be treated as real kick in teeth for Nic Winding Refn’s film, which garnered only one nomination for Sound Editing despite strong nomination cases in several categories, not least for Refn.

It would be expected that Jean Dujardin will take home the lead actor award if it proves to be The Artist’s evening, but keep an eye out for dark horses Brad Pitt (Moneyball) and George Clooney (The Descendants). Although pleasing to see Gary Oldman recognised for his work in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, what further betrays the Academy predictability is the snub of Michael Fassbender for Shame. Although a picture that is far from perfect, the Irishman was superb and the uncomfortable subject matter has likely turned Academy voters off, as could have Ryan Gosling’s drop-of-a-hat violence in Drive.

The Actress awards didn’t throw up any major shocks, but the exclusion of Tilda Swinton for We Need To Talk About Kevin can be considered a snub given her excellent performance in the picture and strong case for winning had she made the cut. As it is, it would take a brave cineaste to bet against Meryl Streep (The Iron Lady) for the leading award and Octavia Spencer (The Help) for supporting.

In addition to an (admittedly not surprising) omission for Serkis, the lack of a nomination for Tintin in the animated feature category would point to a reluctance to embrace new technologies, with a possible scepticism towards performances melded with motion capture techniques. Although the leading nominee, with 11, is the 3D Hugo, this is more due to subject matter being reverential of cinema than the technology itself. It is no coincidence that it is closely followed by The Artist, another film dripping in nostalgia for the movies.

Needless to say, some of the omissions are glaring and will only add fuel to the fires of the Oscars’ critics – is the ceremony still truly awarding the best in cinema, and was it ever? The debate goes on.

Nominations in full:
BEST PICTURE
War Horse
The Tree of Life
The Artist
Moneyball
The Descendants
Midnight in Paris
The Help
Hugo
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

BEST DIRECTOR
Michel Hazanavicius – The Artist
Alexander Payne – The Descendants
Martin Scorsese – Hugo
Woody Allen – Midnight in Paris
Terrence Malick – The Tree of Life

BEST ACTOR
Jean Dujardin – The Artist
Demian Bichir – A Better Life
Brad Pitt – Moneyball
George Clooney – The Descendants
Gary Oldman – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

BEST ACTRESS
Glenn Close – Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis – The Help
Rooney Mara – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep – The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams – My Week With Marilyn

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Kenneth Branagh – My Week With Marilyn
Jonah Hill – Moneyball
Nick Nolte – Warrior
Christopher Plummer – Beginners
Max von Sydow – Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Berenice Bejo – The Artist
Jessica Chastain – The Help
Melissa McCarthy – Bridesmaids
Janet McTeer – Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer – The Help

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM
Bullhead – Belgium
Footnote – Israel
In Darkness – Poland
Monsieur Lazhar – Canada
A Separation – Iran

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY
The Artist – Michel Hazanavicius
Bridesmaids – Annie Mumolo and Kristen Wiig
Margin Call – JC Chandor
Midnight in Paris – Woody Allen
A Separation – Asghar Farhadi

BEST ANIMATION
A Cat in Paris
Chico and Rita
Kung Fu Panda 2
Puss in Boots
Rango

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY
The Descendants – Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash
Hugo – John Logan
The Ides of March – George Clooney, Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
Moneyball – Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin.
Tinker Tailor Solider Spy – Bridget O’Connor and Peter Straughan

BEST ART DIRECTION
The Artist
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
War Horse

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Artist
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
The Tree of Life
War Horse

BEST SOUND MIXING
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Moneyball
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

BEST SOUND EDITING
Drive
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
War Horse

BEST ORIGINAL SONG
Man or Muppet from The Muppets – music and lyrics by Bret McKenzie
Real in Rio from Rio – music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown and lyrics by Siedah Garrett

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE
The Adventures of Tintin
The Artist
Hugo
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
War Horse

BEST COSTUMES
Anonymous
The Artist
Hugo
Jane Eyre
W.E.

BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE
Hell and Back Again
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Pina
Undefeated

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
God is the Bigger Elvis
Incident in New Baghdad
Saving Face
The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

BEST FILM EDITING
The Artist
The Descendants
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Hugo
Moneyball

BEST ANIMATED SHORT FILM
Dimanche/Sunday
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore
La Luna
A Morning Stroll
Wild Life

BEST LIVE ACTION SHORT FILM
Penecost
Raju
The Shore
Time Freak
Tuba Atlantic

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Transformers: Dark of the Moon

BEST MAKE-UP
Albert Nobbs
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
The Iron Lady

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