Two major stepping stones in the road to the 2013 Oscars happened just yesterday. First, at around 8:40 AM eastern time the Academy Award Nominees were announced. While I plan on simply dissecting the snubs and surprises, you can find a FULL list of the nominees by clicking here (courtesy of IMDB.com). Then, later that night we were graced with the first major awards show of the season, the Critics' Choice Awards. At the event, Argo (Best Picture and Best Director) and Silver Linings Playbook (Best Comedy, Best Acting Ensemble and Best Actor and Actress in a Comedy) walked away as the biggest winners of the evening. For a complete list of Critics' Choice winners, you can go here (courtesy of IMDB.com). Now, back to the Oscar debate.
While many people had the lesser known films such as Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour on their radars, I felt that the Academy would find other ways to acknowledge them. Simply a Best Foreign Film Nomination (and most likely a win) for Amour and some sort of acting nomination or maybe even a Best Picture Nomination for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Instead, the Academy shocked us all by recognizing both of them with a massive collection of Best Picture, Best Director and Best Lead Actress nominations. Clearly a surprise that no one saw coming, the Academy managed to throw another annual curveball.
In a year overflowing with top-notch filmmaking, some may try to justify the craziness behind the Academy's selections in the Best Director category. Most notable are the omissions of Ben Affleck (Argo - pictured above) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty - pictured below). Even if the voters felt the need to include Michael Haneke (Amour) and Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) in the final five, it goes without saying that the direction illustrated by Affleck and Bigelow surpasses other nominated efforts given by David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and Ang Lee (Life of Pi). After receiving recognition in the Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor categories, it's completely shameful to deny Affleck his first directorial nomination for Argo.
Another major snub goes to John Hawkes (pictured below) who gave one of the best lead performances of the year in the indie hit The Sessions. I understand that there were 6 shining performances this year and someone had to be the odd-man-out, but Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook), Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables) and Denzel Washington (Flight) failed to deliver the same level of performance as Hawkes. Playing a polio-stricken quadriplegic who spends most of his life confined to an iron long, Hawkes gives us an authentic look into the real life story of poet and writer Mark O'Brien. With this role of a lifetime, the Academy absolutely misses on this one.
There are clearly some other snubs and surprises such as Marion Cotillard's (Rust and Bone) omission and Jacki Weaver's (Silver Linings Playbook) inclusion. But all in all, the Academy did a stellar job recognizing a large majority of the top tier performances we expected it to. While I would have loved to have seen Ezra Miller (The Perks of Being a Wallflower) in the Best Supporting Actor category and some Best Director and Best Picture love for J.A. Bayona's The Impossible, most of the announced nominations (outside of the Best Director category) were what we anticipated. Now, all we can do is process what we've been given and try to dissect the future winners. Until then, stay tuned for Sunday January 13th's Golden Globe Awards as we continue our road to the Oscars.