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Reaction: 84th Academy Awards Nominations

And so, the Academy Award nominations have been announced for the this year's ceremony, which will honor the films released during 2011. As with every year, there were some surprises and some snubs, so I'd like to offer you my personal reaction to the announcement. I'll mostly focus on some of the bigger categories now, but as the actual ceremony approaches - it will be held on February 26, 2012 - I will do a full breakdown on my predictions. I'm going to take the categories one at a time, and I'm only going to talk about the ones that stood out glaringly. I hope you can forgive me for not going terribly in-depth at this point, but seeing as I still have yet to see many of the nominated films, I don't want to give my all-out predictions just yet. So without any further delay, here's my reaction to the 84th Annual Academy Awards nominations. (For a full list of nominees, be sure to check the Internet Movie Database, which has listed them rather nicely.)

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Let's start with a little bit of a breakdown. In total, forty-six feature-length films have received nominations for this year's Academy Awards, and fifteen short films have also been nominated. Hugo leads the way with eleven nominations but is followed close behind by The Artist, which nabbed ten of its own. From there, we have a bit of a drop to Moneyball and War Horse, both of which received six nominations.

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Best Achievement in Sound Editing
I want to start here for a very simple reason: this category offers the only nomination that Drive managed to receive for this year's awards. After being so brilliantly received, it hasn't managed to scare up much in terms of nominations, but the fact that it only received one is a bit of a shocker.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
This is the source of one of my biggest issues with this year's nominations, if only for the fact that only two songs were actually recognized. One - "Man or Muppet" from The Muppets - has been my favorite of the year since hearing it during the film, but the other - "Real in Rio" from Rio - seems an odd choice. Also, by only nominating two songs, this may be the sparsest selection from which the Academy has ever chosen. If anything, they could have nominated another song from The Muppets seeing as there were so many great ones from which to choose. Maybe the Academy hopes they can cut down on their show length by offering only a couple of live musical performances.

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
While I don't have any massive issues with this category's nominees, I think it's worth mention that John Williams will be competing against himself, as his scores for both The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse have been nominated. What's even more interesting is that his scores will be battling the likes of the music from The Artist, Hugo and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, so there's a slight chance he won't even manage to win.

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
For whatever reason, the Academy always seems to do something a little bit odd with this category, and this year is no exception. After winning the Golden Globe in this category, The Adventures of Tintin has not received an Oscar nomination for Best Animated Feature. In its stead are two foreign language films - A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita - to duke it out against Kung Fu Panda 2, Puss in Boots and Rango. Also missing is the beautifully-crafted Winnie the Pooh or Cars 2, which is still a Pixar film despite its lower-than-average critical response. I honestly don't know what the Academy was thinking here.

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
While I don't have any massively overbearing issues with either of the screenplay categories, I honestly thought we might see something here for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.

Best Achievement in Directing
Terrence Malick nabs a nomination for The Tree of Life. While I somewhat agree with this, I think this nomination tells a lot about where the Academy's head might be right now.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
I almost missed this category as I scrolled down the list because its generally a tad bit humdrum, but something shocking managed to catch my eye: a nomination for Melissa McCarthy for Bridesmaids. As soon as my heart started to beat again, I had to ask myself why the Academy chose to throw her a bone. Yes, I admit she was rather hilarious in the film, but she is by no means to the level of the other actresses who received nominations. It's almost as though they're trying to make a joke out of it. Why not offer something to Carey Mulligan for Drive? Or Shailene Woodley for The Descendants? Or Marion Cotillard in Midnight in Paris? It just doesn't make any sense, my friends. If this is just a way to appease Judd Apatow for his comments about how the Academy doesn't really salute comedy, then I might have to give up on the awards.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
I have a couple of issues here. First, does Jonah Hill really deserve a nomination for his piece in Moneyball? Sure, he was good, but was he really 'Academy Award' good? Second, I'm glad to see Nick Nolte pull a nomination for Warrior. I thought he was absolutely brilliant. Third, where is Albert Brooks for his performance in Drive? He's been in the Oscar buzz for months, and now they leave him out? Another massive snub here, folks. Also, we didn't get the much-anticipated nomination for Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, although I personally knew it wasn't going to happen. Still, there'll be a lot of fans crying outrage here.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Rooney Mara gets a nomination for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but the Academy manages to leave both Jodie Foster and Kate Winslet off the list despite their fantastic roles in Carnage. Also, a minor snub goes to Tilda Swinton, who received a Golden Globe nomination for her work in We Need to Talk About Kevin.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Gary Oldman (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) and Demián Bichir (A Better Life) are in, Leonardo DiCaprio (J. Edgar) and Michael Fassbender (Shame) are out. Despite this, I'm not totally surprised by the Academy's decision. Because J. Edgar as a film was rather underwhelming, I can see them not throwing Leo a bone, even if he was very good. And although I've heard plenty of praise for Fassbender in Shame, the fact that the film scored an NC-17 rating didn't bode well for it at all. Still, the Academy should be able to look beyond those lines and give credit where credit is due.

Best Motion Picture of the Year
The Academy altered their roles concerning the category once again, meaning that we could receive anywhere from five to ten nominees. We ultimately get the following nine to duke it out for 2011 supremacy:

The Artist
The Descendants
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
The Help
Hugo
Midnight in Paris
Moneyball
The Tree of Life
War Horse
While I can't really argue with most of the nominees, the addition of Extremely Loud does seem a bit more political than the rest, especially considering it hasn't had much momentum coming into today's announcement. The biggest snub here probably has to go to The Ides of March, while scored a Golden Globe nomination in this category.

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Having gone through all that, I'd like to list out the biggest winners and biggest losers from the Academy's announcement this morning.

Biggest Winners
The Artist: ten nominations and a Best Picture bid, where it looks to be the front-runner

Bridesmaids: two nominations in major categories for a comedy has to be a success

Demián Bichir: steals a Best Actor nomination

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: three nominations after securing none at the Golden Globes

Hugo: eleven nominations, including a Best Picture bid, leads the field

John Williams: nominated twice for Best Original Score

Melissa McCarthy: steals a Best Supporting Actress nomination

The Tree of Life: three nominations is more than I thought it would get

War Horse: six nominations including a Best Picture bid is better than most experts were predicting

Biggest Losers
The Adventures of Tintin: one nomination and wasn't recognized for Best Animated Feature

Best Original Song: only two nominees were recognized

Carnage: did not receive any nominations

The Descendants: the Golden Globe winner for Best Drama receives half the nominations of The Artist; this doesn't bode well for its ultimate success

Drive: only one nomination, in a minor category

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo: only five nominations, and it wasn't included in the Best Picture short-list

The Ides of March: only one nomination, and it wasn't included in the Best Picture short-list

Leonardo DiCaprio: snubbed for his performance in J. Edgar

Super 8: did not receive any nominations

Winnie the Pooh: did not receive any nominations

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And so ends my initial reaction to the nominations for the 84th Academy Awards. As the ceremony approaches, I'll make my final Oscar predictions. That should give me enough time to catch up on everything I still haven't seen!