The harbingers of doom.
Carnage, I tell you. Absolute carnage.
By the time the nominees for the 85th annual Academy Awards were revealed, the overwhelming buzz coming out of nomination morning was not about who was included, but who was left off the list.
Because there were so many names left off.
Usually, you can count on one or two well regarded names missing out on an Oscar nomination. It’s just the way it goes when there are only five nominees in most categories. Some people get left behind. But this year represents a high water mark in the number of heavily favored, big name individuals whose names were not called… the supposed locks that weren’t locked in at all. A whole swath of expectations crashed and burned.
Talk about a bloodbath.
The most jaw-dropping omissions took place within the Director’s category.
The Director’s Guild nominations, a usually reliable indicator of where industry sentiment is heading, only named two out of the five eventual nominees for Oscar’s Best Director; Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) and Ang Lee (Life of Pi).
Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Ben Affleck (Argo) and Tom Hooper (Les Misérables) were all thought to be safe bets going into this morning… yet none of them were nominated. It’s like some gold-plated version of The Hunger Games. Even Django Unchained helmer Quentin Tarantino, who was thought by many to be a potential spoiler in the category, was also left off the roll call.
I cannot overstate how shocking a development this is. These were the biggest directors of the most critically acclaimed films of the year. The winners of critic award after critic award. And they were all snubbed. And with these directorial omissions, you’ve got to consider the Best Picture chances of their respective films have all but disappeared.
Not since 1989’s Driving Miss Daisy has a movie won Best Picture without a corresponding directing nomination. This will not, in all probability, be the year that that stat will be rendered moot.
It didn’t end with the directors.
The Screen Actors Guild, also usually reliable, included many of the names missing from this morning’s announcements. Helen Mirren, Marion Cotillard, Javier Bardem, Nicole Kidman, John Hawkes and Maggie Smith were all missing from Oscar’s list. So were much loved performers such as Matthew McConaughey, Ezra Miller, Samuel L. Jackson and oft-snubbed Leonardo DiCaprio. Apparently, Oscar was hellbent on treating some people like Taylor Swift‘s exes.
It didn’t end with the actors.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Rust and Bone, Cloud Atlas and Looper… every single one of these films was expected to be players in some capacity. And they all scored a grand total of zero nominations.
What does all this all mean going forward?
It means that from here on out, only three films have a realistic shot at getting Best Picture now. And I’m being a bit charitable.
Looming large over the morning was Spielberg’s Lincoln. With a field-leading twelve nominations overall, it was the absolute force of the morning. Reading the very early tea-leaves, you’d have to consider that film the prohibitive favorite to win the Best Picture Oscar.
Lee’s Life of Pi followed with eleven nominations. Its weakness continues to be a lack of direct actor support. None of the actors in the film were nodded and films without nominated actors aren’t often invited into the winner’s circle (films like Slumdog Millionaire are an unusual exception).
One favorite doesn’t have to worry about actor’s support. Silver Linings Playbook managed eight nominations this morning, half of them in the acting categories – accomplishing the rare feat of scoring nods in every acting category.
But let’s not forget that Silver Linings’ director, David O. Russell was not mentioned by the Golden Globes or the DGA. That’s a real problem. It is also a comedy and comedies have proven to be kryptonite to Oscar voters. But it is a strong player, nonetheless.
The only other films with the crucial Picture/Director/Screenplay support are Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild. That’s it. Those are the players.