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84th annual Academy Award nominees list: Hugo and The Artist lead a field of predictable candidates

Earlier today, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences released the nominations for the 84th annual Academy Awards, which will air about a month from now, on Feb. 26 (on a Sunday at 7pm EST). While I tend to get excited about the Oscars every year, this year is especially fascinating because there just weren’t any huge standout films. There were many good films, but few that blew me away. Looking at the list of nominated films, it looks like nostalgia for the golden age of movies has gotten the best of Academy members, as I noted earlier on Digital Trends. The two most nominated films of the year were Hugo and The Artist, both of which harken back, in different ways, to the earliest days of cinema. 

I’m not quite ready to make my picks for the big show, but I’ve broken out and listed all of the nominees in every category below, splitting them the awards into four categories: the big awards, acting, technical, and everything else. In the next couple weeks, we’ll make our predictions on who will take home the prize in each category. But first, I have to find a way to go see The Artist and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close. Interestingly, some very good movies are not on the list. Young Adult, Pariah, Like Crazy, Shame, and We Need to Talk About Kevin are four exceptionally good films with truly amazing performances by Charlize Theron, Adepero Oduye, Anton Yelchin, Michael Fassbender, and Tilda Swinton. Are they too dark for the Oscars? Perhaps they missed the cutoff date? It looks like the Harry Potter series won’t be getting a Return of the King sweeping victory either. The Oscars are as political as ever. I was a bit disappointed that Neither Drive nor The Ides of March got much (if any) love from the Academy. Both were critically acclaimed and fascinating films starring Ryan Gosling. 

But, without further delay, here are the actual nominees for the 2012 Oscars. 

Biggest films of the year (by number of nominations)

  • Hugo (11 nominations)
  • The Artist (10 nominations)
  • Moneyball (6 nominatons)
  • War Horse (6 nominations)
  • The Descendants (5 nominations)
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (5 nominations)
  • The Help (4 nominations)
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (3 nominations)
  • Midnight in Paris (3 nominations)
  • Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (3 nominations)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (3 nominations)
  • The Tree of Life (3 nominations)
  • Bridesmaids (2 nominations)
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (2 nominations)
  • My Week with Marylin (2 nominations)
  • A Separation (2 nominations)
  • The Iron Lady (2 nominations)

The Big Categories

The Artist may rip through this entire category of nominations if momentum swings its way, but keep an eye on the Best Animated Feature category. The animated film category was practically created for Pixar, but this year it is absent from the list, possibly for the first time with Cars 2. Even the original Cars, which was no better than its sequel, made the cut. This year, there are five nominees (2 more than usual), but both Cars 2 and The Adventures of Tintin were not nominated. Sadly neither was Winnie the Pooh. Kung Fu Panda 2 though, that made the cut…

I think we can also safely assume that “Man or Muppet” will pick up best song. What a lame year for songs. 

Best Picture

Last year, the rules for Best Picture were altered and we had 10 nominees, but this year, the voting methods were changed, making it possible to have anywhere from 5 to 10 nominees. There are 9.

  • The Artist
  • The Descendants 
  • Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
  • The Help
  • Hugo
  • Midnight in Paris
  • Moneyball
  • The Tree of life
  • War Horse

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 Music (Original Score)

  • John Williams (The Adventures of Tintin)
  • Ludovic Bource (The Artist)
  • Howard Shore (Hugo)
  • Alberto Iglesias (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
  • John Williams (War Horse)

Best Original Song

  • “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets (Bret McKenzie)
  • “Real in Rio” from Rio

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • The Descendants (Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & 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 Soldier Spy (Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan)

Best Original Screenplay

  • The Artist (Michel Hazanavicius)
  • Bridesmaids (Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig)
  • Margin Call (J.C. Chandor)
  • Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen)
  • A Separation (Asghar Farhadi)

Best Animated Feature Film

  • A Cat in Paris
  • Chico & Rita
  • Kung Fu Panda 2
  • Puss in Boots
  • Rango

Acting categories

Earlier in the article, I mentioned some actors that weren’t nominated. The list of actual nominees is a bit more predictable. Meryl Streep and George Clooney are the big guns and seem to appear on the list every year. Streep likely deserves the award, but The Iron Lady was not a great film so she is vulnerable. Michelle Williams or Rooney Mara could surprise as well, and who could be mad if Viola Davis wins an Oscar?

Oddly, Jonah Hill also made the cut, but I can’t imagine him beating Christopher Plummer, who was amazing as a closeted gay man who comes out in Beginners. Jessica Chastain and Melissa McCarthy are also fan favorites. Chastain has an especially good shot since she also starred in The Tree of Life and about four other major movies this year. Oddly, Hugo picked up no nominations in acting categories. If it sweeps the Oscars, it will be a lot like Titanic’s win in 1998, where Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet went home empty handed. 

Best Actor

  • Demián Bichir (A Better Life)
  • George Clooney (The Descendants)
  • Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  • Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy)
  • Brad Pitt (Moneyball)

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

  • Bérénice Bejo (The Artist)
  • Jessica Chastain (The Help)
  • Melissa McCarthy (Bridesmaids)
  • Janet McTeer (Albert Nobbs)
  • Octavia Spencer (The Help)

Technical categories

The technical categories are where Hugo, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and War Horse pick up a lot of nominations. I’d expect Hugo to be rewarded for actually being a good 3D film, though I’m not sure in what category. The Iron Lady may also have a lock on the Best Makeup category. I could have sworn Meryl Streep was an old lady for a bit there. 

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 Art Direction

  • The Artist
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • Hugo
  • War Horse

Best Cinematography

  • The Artist
  • The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
  • Hugo
  • The Tree of Life
  • War Horse

Best Film Editing

  • Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist)
  • Kevin Tent (The Descendants)
  • Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo)
  • Thelma Schoonmaker (Hugo)
  • Christopher Tellefsen (Moneyball)

Best Costume Design

  • Anonymous
  • The Artist
  • Hugo
  • Jane Eyre
  • W.E.

Best Makeup

  • Albert Nobbs
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • The Iron Lady

Best Sound Editing

  • Drive
  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Hugo
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • War Horse

Best Sound Mixing

  • The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
  • Hugo
  • Moneyball
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon
  • War Horse

Documentary, short film, and foreign film categories

As seems to always be the case, almost none of the shorts, foreign films, or documentaries got much of a run here in the US, so I haven’t yet seen almost any of them. The one I did see, A Separation, is particularly intriguing and has a good shot in any category this year. Check it out, if you can. 

Best Feature-length Documentary

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

Best Short Documentary

  • 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 Foreign Language Film

  • Belgium, “Bullhead”
  • Canada, “Monsieur Lazhar”
  • Iran, “A Separation”
  • Israel, “Footnote”
  • Poland, “In Darkness”

Best Animated Short Film

  • Dimanche/Sunday
  • The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore
  • La Luna
  • A Morning Stroll
  • Wild Life

Short Film (Live Action)

  • Pentecost
  • Raju
  • The Shore
  • Time Freak
  • Tuba Atlantic
  • Hallvar Witzø

That’s it…

So now you know the nominees. What do you think? Was is a good year for movies? Were the best films and actors chosen? Who will win? We’ll make our predictions soon. Please share yours. 

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