Five Things About the Oscar Nominations

Updated 9:27ET

It’s time for Oscar nominations, that special time of the year when Hollywood women move far away from candles to prevent their new faces from melting off and George Clooney sits down with “The View” to explain how gosh-darn adorable he is to your grandmother (though he lost a director nomination to Terrence Malick, he has acting and writing nominations for two different movies).

As always, there were some major surprises. For those more interested in seeing if “Jack and Jill” (which this blog tragically, became deeply connected to on the Internet because of this going viral in its own way) will win the Razzie award for worst film of 2011, you have to wait another month for those nominations.

Five things to consider:

(1) The rules have changed. After expanding from five to ten Best Picture nominees in 2009, the Oscars have now taken an “Anything goes! We don’t care, just please, please watch us!” approach, allowing anywhere from five to ten nominees, depending on the year’s quality. This expanded list brought us “A Serious Man” in 2009, which might be my least favorite Best Picture nominee in recent memory (I can’t judge “The Tree of Life” because I refuse to see it), but was partially expanded to prevent films like “The Dark Knight” from missing out again (it didn’t make the cut of five in 2008, but would have made the top ten) so it did have some value. 2011 was not a strong year but we have nine (with instant commentary):

The Artist  (excellent)

The Descendants (great but overrated)

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (surprise, see #5 below)

The Help (audience favorite to get viewers)

Hugo (good, not excellent, but strong direction, see #3 below)

Midnight in Paris (Woody Allen makes a commercial hit? Award him before he dies!)

Moneyball (This year’s “The Social Network” but with less chance of winning)

The Tree of Life (I cannot express my hatred for this movie only because I refuse to see it based on all of his other pretentious films)

War Horse (likely more disappointing than his “Terra Nova”)

(2) “The Artist” is a great movie deserving many Oscars, but it’s not for everyone. Even though it received nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Director, etc., you have to answer this question: “So… wanna see a black and white silent film from France with some American actors?” If the answer is “hell no!” (you know who you are), then the awards are not going to change that. If the answer is “maybe”, consider the awards and its spot as the leading contender for Best Picture reason to go check it out. It’s more enthralling than you’d expect.

(3) As stated by this blog earlier, Hollywood loves talking about itself and glamorizing itself. That’s partially why “The Artist” and “Hugo” are making big runs for awards. Despite a quiet spot behind “The Artist” and “The Descendants” in many Best Picture awards this year, “Hugo”‘s Martin Scorsese grabbed a well-deserved Best Director Golden Globe earlier this month. His direction is great, the premise is great, but “Hugo” lacks the magical punch it needed to be an instant family classic. Still, nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay, among others, keep it in the big leagues.

(4) “Bridesmaids” fails to get a Best Picture nomination, but scores screenplay and best supporting actress nominations. This is being portrayed as a surprise but is “Bridesmaids” really a best picture contender? Sure, I enjoyed it but ehh … Oscars do not give awards to comedies and this wasn’t the one to change that. The only sure comedic bet is Pixar, which won two Oscars last year for “Toy Story 3”. But even Pixar is losing steam, with “Cars 2” being its first film rejected for Best Animated Feature, an award pretty much created for Pixar. Woody Allen also brings a strong chance to the comedy genre with “Midnight in Paris” but it’s hard to call Woody Allen movies comedies. They’re more just “Woody Allen movies” in their own genre.

(5) In what truly did surprise me, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” shot from nothing to Best Picture. Its nomination even got a loud yell and clapping from the audience at the nominations. This expected to be schlocky, maudlin, melodramatic 9/11 drama needed a big day to jump start its D.O.A. box office, even with Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock behind it. A Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor nomination might do that, though its chance for Best Picture is only slightly higher than that of “The Muppets” which did not get a best picture nomination. I was very pleasantly surprised at the “Margin Call” and “A Separation” writing nominations, though disappointed they knocked out “Win Win” which I loved. I am fickle, especially now than “Real Steel” is an Oscar nominee and “Win Win” is not. [Updated 9:30ET]

Acting snubs included Tilda Swinton for “We Need to Talk About Kevin” (killing its box office chances), Albert Brooks for “Drive”, and Michael Fassbender for “Shame” (NC-17, constant full front nudity may be a bit much for the octogenarians on the Academy committee). The Oscars chose Jonah Hill as their (formerly?) fat supporting actor comedian in a semi-drama award for “Moneyball” over Patton Oswalt in “Young Adult.” I love Patton, but I hear Jonah was excellent.

For loyal viewers like you, this was written after the major nominations were announced. The complete list will be available soon at: http://www.imdb.com/oscars/nominations/ and it sure as hell better have a best song nomination for “The Muppets”. (Update: It did. “The Muppets” received one of only TWO Best Song nominations (new formula this year). It looks like the stars of “The Big Bang Theory” and “HIMYM” will be singing at the Oscars.)

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Five Entertainment Stories to Keep You Awake

It’s January 3 and most of us return to work this morning after temporarily being reminded of what it was like to have a winter break (though some of us were in school until age 29). To keep the morning going, for each cup of coffee you chug down, read one of these entertainment-related links:

1) Roger Ebert talks about the decline of movies. While I often disagree with his reviews (“Gigli” at 2 1/2 stars still baffles me), the man is a brilliant film commentator and historian.

2) People sure love watching the Dallas Cowboys lose (this link also lists the top ten most watched NFL Sunday Night Football games ever).

3) Read about tonight’s TV premiere of what could be 2012’s worst show.

4) The obituary of a movie man you’ve all seen without knowing it.

5) Roger Ebert’s four star review of “The Artist”, which is currently my top movie of 2011 (with many more left to see). As usual, Ebert’s review is more about himself and the film industry than the movie itself, but the review brings this too-often-true anecdote:

“I was reminded of the time a reader called me to ask about an Ingmar Bergman film. “I think it’s the best film of the year,” I said. “Oh,” she said, “that doesn’t sound like anything we’d like to see.””

Five Things About The Golden Globes

Golden Globe nominations were announced today (full list HERE). As always, there were disappointment and surprises, but no embarassments like the recent decision to give “Burlesque” a Best Picture nomination.

Five Things to Consider:

(1) The Golden Globes hate “The Muppets”. This was the time for “The Muppets” to shine with a Best Comedy (Best Picture) nomination. Instead, the Globes nominated the supposedly sub-par “My Week with Marilyn” alongside expected nominees “50/50” (very good, but more drama than comedy), “The Artist” (get used to seeing this one on lists), “Bridesmaids” (all to help leverage Melissa McCarthy’s possible Oscar nom), “Carnage” (phenomenal play, phenomenal actors, phenomal yet pedophilic director…), and “Midnight in Paris” (Woody Allen has a commercial success?). It also received ZERO nominations for best song, despite two of the best of the year.

(2) The Golden Globes love Ryan Gosling. Nominated for Best Actor-Drama (“The Ides of March”) and Best Actor-Comedy (“Crazy Stupid Love”, though more like “Sexy” than “Stupid” based on People magazine’s obsession with Gosling’s abs), the Globes ignored “Drive” but was it really an acting performance? He’s pretty quiet and somber throughout the stylistic movie but, then again, the whole cast of “The Artist” is silent as it’s a silent film and all.

(3) The Golden Globes love TV creator Ryan Murphy. You say “Glee” has fallen asunder into a weekly rehash of trite performances and unbelievable plots? The Globes say it’s a Best Comedy nominee, much more deserving than “Community” and “Parks and Rec.” You say “Breaking Bad” and “The Good Wife” are two of TV’s best dramas (and “The Walking Dead” one of the most entertaining)? The Globes say “American Horror Story” is better. Both Ryan Murphy shows, both denied better shows a good nomination.

(4) George Clooney is the new Johnny Depp. The Globes normally just gave a nomination evert time Depp touched a movie (“The Tourist”, anyone?), but now it’s Clooney, with Best Screenplay (“Ides of March”), Director (“Ides of March”), and Actor (“The Descendants”) nominations. The second two are deserved, but the first knocks out better writing this year like in “Win Win.”

(5) There’s still room for surprises. Because the Globes have drama and comedy categories, some well-deserved performances can make their way in. Two examples: Brendan Gleeson’s excellent performance in “The Guard” and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s strong, dramatic performance in “50/50”; neither Oscar likelies, but both nominated here for Comedic Actor. Ignore all of the crying, “I have cancer” drama — “50/50” is a comedy! Yeah …

All in all, not bad, but it begs the question: These are the best movies of 2011? Not a strong year. Here’s to 2012 and “The Dark Knight Rises.”