Extremely Weird & Incredibly Unexpected: Random Reactions to the Oscar Nominations

And here we thought it was going to be a predictable year. This morning’s Oscar announcement kept enough surprises to make things interesting… or, at the very least, confusing. Here are some random knee-jerk reactions to the latest batch of Oscar nominees:

The Artist

So it’s nine Best Picture nominees, thanks to the new “we don’t know how many nominees we’ll have this year!” rule. Eight of them were predictable enough, but Extremely Loud & Incredible Close? Huh. Looks like even the Academy knew it was a surprise, skipping the formality of an alphabetical reveal by shuffling the titles, saving this one to be announced last, drawing some gasps and cheers from the crowd. Extremely Loud was one of those movies that seemed destined for an Oscar lock months ago, only to become a longshot (at best) once the lukewarm reviews started pouring in. And now it’s back with enough support to place it in the top category – but not, curiously, in anywhere else other than Best Supporting Actor. This puts it alongside The Blind Side and A Serious Man as the only modern-era Best Picture nominees to earn only two nods. A dubious achievement.

At least we dodged the “Best Picture nominee Bridesmaids” bullet. It still landed two nods, though – one for its uninspired screenplay (a muddled, half-assed, go-nowhere story, but with poop jokes!), and one for Melissa McCarthy. She’s a funny lady, but let’s face it: as the Gross Weirdo, she was essentially the Nick Swardson of the movie, nothing more. (More importantly, she’s talented enough to deserve a role that’s more than just “I’m fat and goofy.”)

I still haven’t seen The Help, because I assume I’m going to be annoyed by it.

Cars 2 becomes the first Pixar film to not earn a Best Animated Feature nomination since the category was invented. Animation fans breathe a sigh of relief. John Lasseter consoles himself by rolling around on a huge pile of cash.

I’m glad smaller films are able to able to earn Best Animated Feature nods, even when nobody else has heard of them – I’m pretty sure not even the makers of A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita know what A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita are – but when Kung Fu Panda 2 can get a nomination while The Adventures of Tintin gets bupkis? That’s crazy talk. (Tintin landed a mere one nomination, for John Williams’ gorgeous score.)

I’m pretty sure Best Animated Short Film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore is a Troy McClure movie.

2011 sure was a crap year for movie music, wasn’t it? With so little from which to choose, the Best Original Song category features a meager two nominees – and neither of them is “Life’s a Happy Song,” sending Muppets fans into conniption fits the world over. Instead, “Man or Muppet” landed a nod, despite not being, you know, good. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but: I’m rooting for Rio.

Anyone expecting three nominations for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, take one step forward. Not so fast, everybody on the planet.

The Tree of Life: Nominees to be determined.” Translation: “As soon as we can find somebody actually willing to take credit for this damn thing, we’ll let you know.”

Tree of Life and Transformers 3 have the same amount of nominations. This amuses me.

Movies I forgot existed until this morning: Warrior, Jane Eyre, Real Steel, Anonymous, Puss in Boots.

The Best Director list includes Scorsese, Malick, Payne, and Allen… and Michel Hazanavicius has the opportunity to be the guy who beat them all. That’s a textbook definition of “impressive.”

The Artist remains the Best Picture front-runner. This is, of course, great news. I’d like to think the Academy’s celebration of a film this out of the ordinary is a sign that Hollywood is ready to take risks again, to allow themselves to not worry about name recognition and built-in fanbases, to not be afraid of originality. Then I remember that The Artist is a result of Hollywood long ago shuffling the “making smart movies” responsibility off to the independents, and they’re never going to ask for it back.

A complete list of the nominations can be found here.

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