The 83rd Annual Academy Awards nominations were announced this morning in Beverly Hills. In a time where it becomes more and more apparent that they were once the holy grail of all film awards, they seem more and more inconsequential, with their awarding of undeserving films and feeding into the hype frenzy. Yet for all their pomp and circumstance, this big night still retains some of the magic we felt as children, sprawled before the television screens of our parents' living rooms, engulfed in a celebration of cinema, dreaming those big, fat dreams.
This year offered a few delightful surprises in the ranks. Though the "Big Ten" Best Picture nominees were to be expected, with the well made costume drama The King's Speech and Fincher's quaint The Social Network vying for the top prize which rarely goes to the most deserving film. Nolan's Inception and Granik's Winter's Bone are the two "best" films in this category, perfect fusions of solitude and celluloid, with Black Swan, The Fighter, 127 Hours and True Grit not too far behind.
The four acting categories were all pretty much as expected. All of the performances were splendid this year, though I don't think Eisenberg(The Social Network)deserved to be in a category with those four wrenching performances. He was good, it was the best thing he'd ever done, which is far from great. Bardem, Bridges, Firth, and Franco were all sublime, and it looks to be a repeat of last year, with Bridges and Firth competing once more as front runners.
The surprises came tumbling out in the remaining three acting categories, everything to be expected but for Michelle Williams, exceptional in an otherwise standard "hip" indie film(Blue Valentine), John Hawkes(Winter's Bone) creepy and touching, Jeremy Renner(The Town) old school gutsy and Jacki Weaver(Animal Kingdom) brilliantly chilling.
I was excited to see two of my favorite directors, Darren Aronofsky and David O. Russell,get well earned first nods for their hard work and vision, alongside Fincher and Hooper, who both did very well while the surprise here was the Coens, who reconfigured the Western with marked bravado. I was disappointed to see Nolan snubbed, when he truly was the craftsman of the year with his incredible Inception.
Other standouts include Mike Leigh's original screenplay nod for the amazing Another Year, Exit Through the Gift Shop in Documentary Feature, The Illusionist in Animated Feature and all five of the Foreign Language Film Nominees, which are very solid this year. Hans Zimmer's score for Inception is a high point in his illustrious career.
Come the night of greatest show on earth, hopefully we'll see some good old fashioned black horse shockers and not the same tired obvious wins of the past decade or so, where the voters vote for what they think they should vote for and not who and what truly was the best!