Following today’s Oscar nominations, Dan Martin identifies ten key trends
This is the year when the film industry, with its saggy box offices and still reeling from last week’s PIPA wars, gives itself a pat on the back. Both of this year’s most formidable frontrunners are romantic celebrations of film-making itself.
The Artist is an endlessly sentimental love note to the age of the silent movie, which Scorsese’s Hugo tells the fantastical tale of a young Parisian orphan and his friendship with a forgotten and disillusioned film-maker.
The Iron Lady is unstoppable
Nobody’s pretending that Phyllida Law’s Thatcher biopic is an all-time brilliant work of cinema. But everyone who sees it concurs that Meryl Streep’s note perfect brittle/terrifying/vulnerable/gaga turn as the old nemesis is up there with the great performances. This is Streep’s 14th Best Actress nomination, but would only be her third win. That now looks so dead set that they didn’t even bother nominating Berenice Bejo for The Artist, giving the leading lady a fighting chance in Best Supporting Actress instead.
In all honesty, I haven’t seen The Artist yet. But since every single person I know who’s seen it comes away gasping some variant of “I left the theatre walking on air.” So I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s probably fairly good. Moreover, in a year where the loudest wails take place in debates over whether 3D and CGI are amazing/the end of cinema, there’s an appetite for making them like they used to – even if this technically isn’t made like they used to but an homage to when they made them like they used to. This will sweep the board.
Back in the day, there were up to ten nominees for Best Picture. Up until recently it was just five, but this year, nobody knew how many movies would make the cut until Tom Sherak and Jennifer Lawrence announced the list. The Academy decided to honour nine, giving nods to the obvious Oscar bait while sating the mainstream by including War Horse, allowing Woody Allen another nod for Midnight In Paris and letting in curveballs like Extremely Loud And Incredibly Close. Nothing for The Human Centipede 2, though.
With such a French bent to the big hitters, the 2012 Oscars need a good old-fashioned all American dong slapped down in the middle of the room. So Best Actor becomes a fight between the chiselled messrs Brad Pitt for (Moneyball) and George Clooney (The Descendants). Boy George will take it – he’s been nominated twice for Actor and once for Director but only picked up the supporting role (for Syriana). But his turn as a man trying to be a better Dad as his wife lies in a coma is getting Career Best plaudits. Shoo. In.
The Academy can be a fusty old place, given to supporting films that live up to a Hollywood version of serious that as often as not just qualifies as The New Boring. Here is a world where Allen’s Midnight In Paris factors as a comedy and lord help any comic book movie that expects a nod. So hurrah for the onslaught of the fabulous Bridesmaids.
Melissa McCarthy (“I apologise, I’m not even confident which end that came out of”) gets a nod for Best Supporting Actress, while Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo get props for Best Original Screenplay – quite right, for not only providing a real and touching portrayal of female friendship, but also the most brilliant deploying of the C word in cinema history.
War Horse canters, doesn’t gallop
Spielberg’s equine epic was so divisive that some were hailing it as his best and others got so angry they came close to executing an Archduke. It hasn’t sprinted away with a haul, but a nod for Best Picture plus a handful of technical awards proves that to a large extent, Big Steve remains critic-proof. Or perhaps not – The Adventures Of Tintin doesn’t get recognised in Best Animated Feature.
Few would deny that the golden boy and breakout star of last year was Mr Ryan Gosling. But he misses out on nominations for his work on both Drive and The Ides Of March. Probably because that, thanks to The Descendants, this has already been ordained as the year of the Clooney. Boy Wonder may just be too edgy for the Academy just now.
Hollywood’s most establishment evening still has reserved table space for some hip young gunslingers. Rooney Mara gets to be on the same list as Meryl Streep for her wonderful turn as Lisbeth Salander in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, friend-of-Apatow Jonah Hill gets props for his part alongside Brad Pitt in baseball drama Moneyball. Although that is rather about it.
Could David Furnish have been right over his unseemly spat with Her Madgeness over her Golden Globe win? ‘Masterpiece’, her track from W.E. doesn’t get acknowledged as Best Original Song (that goes to ‘Man or Muppet’ from The Muppet Movie and ‘Real in Rio’ from Rio Music). But – oh yes – neither does Miseryguts John’s song from Gnomeo And Juliet. Ha!
We asked followers of the @NMEFilmandTV Twitter account to tell us where the Oscar noms 2012 went wrong: