A few comments on this morning's Academy Award nominations, as we now live in a world where Seth MacFarlane is an Oscar nominee….
* If there was any doubt that Lincoln was the front-runner for Best Picture, this morning's noms confirmed it. Probably the next two biggest contenders (Zero Dark Thirty, Argo) were dealt crippling blows in the director category, clearing the way for Spielberg's good but not great movie to take the prize.
* As noted, Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck weren't nominated for Best Director, which easily stand as the two most surprising snubs of the day. It was a very deep and varied list of Best Director contenders this year and you knew that a few big names weren't going to make the cut, but the one thing that everyone seemed to agree upon was that Bigelow, Affleck and Spielberg were the locks and everyone else was fighting for the other two nominee slots. In the end, however, KB and BA both were sent packing, along with the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Tom Hooper (the other two directors of Best Picture nominees who didn't get recognized) and the likes of Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson.
* Of the two Andersons, at least Wes (and Roman Coppola) got screenplay nominations for Moonrise Kingdom, whereas PT got jack-all. Can't say I'm too broken up given how The Master didn't go anywhere. Though I didn't really like the movie, I would've been weirdly okay with PT Anderson getting a directing nomination for it, which I blame on my film studies education.
* So if Argo, ZDT and Les Miserables have all been chopped down as Lincoln's top opponents, can any of the other nominees stop it? Beasts of the Southern Wild won't garner wide BP support, but even getting a nomination is a monster achievement for this oddity indie movie. Amour also got a lot of love in the nominations but unless the elderly Academy voters really take to the story of old love, it's probably out (Michael Haneke is now the fave for original screenplay, however).
* This leaves Life Of Pi and the Silver Linings Playbook. It struck me as odd that Life Of Pi flew under the radar for as long as it did, given the huge popularity of the book, the big-name talent of Ang Lee attached to direct and the general sense that it would be nominated for something but wasn't a serious contender. Well, 11 nominations later, I think we can officially call it a serious contender. SLP got a bit of history itself going when it became the first movie in 31 years to get nominations for picture, director, screenplay and all four acting categories. Clearly the Academy loves it, Jennifer Lawrence is probably going to win Best Actress and it is possible that voters will end up going with the quirky comedy over Spielberg's history lesson.
* This said, while there's officially no reason Argo, Django, ZDT or Les Mis couldn't still win Best Picture, the last film to do so without its director getting nominated was Driving Miss Daisy back in 1989. I'd say that all four of those movies have no shot at the top prize, which is a shame since at least two will end up amongst the leaders in my own Markademy Awards coming up in February.
* Argo's nomination for Best Picture did clinch a bit of Academy Award trivia for George Clooney, who was one of the film's producers. Clooney has now been nominated as a producer, director, lead actor, supporting actor and screenwriter, the first person to ever be recognized in all five categories. It's an even more elite list if you factor in his People Magazine's Sexiest Man Of The Year award, which naturally every serious Oscar historian does.
* Meryl Streep made history last year when she cracked the prestigious "three Oscar" club, joining Ingrid Bergman, Jack Nicholson, Walter Brennan and Katherine Hepburn as the only actors to win three or more Oscars for acting. This year, a whopping four actors have a chance to join this club, as Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington, Sally Field and Robert De Niro all have a shot at Oscar #3. I'm not sure Academy members really have history and Oscar statistics weighing on their minds then they cast their ballots, but you wonder if some history-minded voters will hesitate to vote for DDL or Field (the only two who have legit shots at a win) just because they think it's too soon for either to join the three-Oscar club. In Field's case, she would be a stunning 3-for-3 in Oscars. While they like her, they really like her (and her name isn't as out of place as Brennan's in that elite list), it would still seem weird to have Sally Field as, statistically, the most awarded performer in Academy history.
* It's overall a very familiar list of actors, as only four of the 20 acting nominees were being nominated for the first time. The entire supporting actor field, for instance, is comprised of former winners, which I think is the first time this has ever happened.
* My man Greg P. Russell is back! The hard-luck soundman has picked up his 16th nomination as he is on a quest for his first-ever Academy Award. What are his chances? Probably shitty, given history.
* Russell was nominated for Skyfall, as was cinematographer Roger Deakins, who is looking for his first Oscar in his 10th nomination. I confess to not knowing much about the sound effects world so I have no idea if Russell has been snubbed on merit or what, but since I have eyes, I can safely say that Deakins should probably have a couple of Oscars already. That said, his losing streak will probably continue as Claudio Miranda (Life Of Pi) should have this category wrapped up.
* Okay, so, more snubs. Christoph Waltz was Django's only acting nominee, leaving Leonardo DiCaprio and (my favourite of the bunch) Samuel L. Jackson out in the cold. My man John Hawkes sadly didn't get nominated for his tremendous performance in The Sessions. My girl Marion Cotillard was cited on virtually every critics' list for her performance in Rust & Bone get didn't get an Oscar nod; I haven't seen R&B yet but given my history with Ms. Cotillard, I suspect I'll soon be a lot more upset about her snub. Perhaps unsurprisingly given its mixed reaction, personal favourite Cloud Atlas didn't get nominated for anything. A little more surprisingly, Dark Knight Rises was also shut out completely, even in the technical categories, thus finalizing the Academy's semi-annual slap in the face to Christopher Nolan. In my mind, Anne Hathaway was nominated just as much for DKR as she was for Les Mis, but then again, my mind is a bizarre and frightful place.
* Just so nobody is too horrified, MacFarlane was only nominated as a co-writer of a best original song nominee. Don't worry, it's not like he's up for Best Actor for Ted or something. (Also, I can't help but think that MacFarlane is going to be a kickass Oscar host. He can sing, he's funny, and it's hard to pull off a live-action cutaway gag.)