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Posted at 10:50 AM ET, 01/25/2011

Oscar nominations: The snubs and surprises

By Jen Chaney

Christopher Nolan: snubbed once again. (Warner Bros.)

The Academy Award nominations are out. And as always, some pleasant surprises and egregious snubs emerged.

Here's a rundown, followed by a pair of polls that allow you to vote for the biggest shocker and the biggest oversights among this year's Oscar nominees. And feel free to post a comment -- or tweet your outrage using the hashtag #oscarshockers -- to vent about Oscar's neglected and happily included.

Who were the #oscarshockers this year?

The snubs

No Christopher Nolan for best director: "Inception," one of the most profitable, popular and widely dissected movies of the year, earned eight nominations, including one for best picture. But Nolan -- who was recognized by the Directors Guild for his work on the mind-twister -- was left out, unleashing a whole load of latent "Dark Knight"-snub rage on the Internet.

No Andrew Garfield for best supporting actor: The provider of "Social Network's" heart and soul also failed to earn recognition from the academy.

No Ryan Gosling for best actor: Same goes for the "Blue Valentine" star, who at least got to see his onscreen wife, Michelle Williams, get some Oscar love. Of course, his fans may not necessarily find solace in that.

No Mila Kunis for best supporting actress: With Hailee Steinfeld landing in the best supporting actress category instead of lead, looks like Portman's dance and make-out partner in "Black Swan" got bumped.

"The Town" fails to get a best picture nomination: As I suggested in my predictions, a couple of worthy movies were bound to get bumped from the finest film race. I posited that "The Town" might be one of them. In a wacky turn of events, I was right.

The surprises

Javier Bardem for best actor: This looked like a distinct possibility given the support behind his work in "Biutiful," but for casual movie fans who may not have heard of this bleak drama, it surely counted as one of the day's surprises.

Michelle Williams for best actress: Despite the acclaim for her work, Williams didn't necessarily seem like a sure thing as a lead actress contender. But she managed to make it into the big five.

John Hawkes for best supporting actor: Given his SAG nomination, the recognition here wasn't out of the blue to those closely following awards season chatter. But to everyone else, this one undoubtedly prompted some head-scratching, and perhaps some Google-searching to determine who he is.

Jacki Weaver for best supporting actress: The Aussie actress, a motherly force in "Animal Kingdom," also counts as one of those non-household names that may have led to some Oscar-nomination-morning gasps.

"The Illusionist" for best animated film: Most people know "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Toy Story 3." "The Illusionist"? Not so much.


More on this story:

'King's Speech,' 'True Grit' lead nominations | Complete list

Photos: A look at the Oscar nominees for 2011 | Video

Q&A: Ann Hornaday discusses the favorites, surprises

The red-carpet road to stardom

Special coverage of the 83rd Annual Academy Awards

By Jen Chaney  | January 25, 2011; 10:50 AM ET
Categories:  Awards Season, Movies  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Oscar nominations 2011: Tweeting the announcements
Next: Dear Academy Award voters: Why don't you like Christopher Nolan?

Comments

"Black Swan" wasn't particularly good; Portman was mediocre except that she learned to dance; and Kunis was good. That would make the Portman nomination a "surprise."

Posted by: falcon269 | January 25, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

I was surprised that Dispicable Me wasn't nominated for best animated feature - I thought it was great (I haven't even heard of The Illusionist).

On an unrelated note, I've been unable to find the Morning Mix yesterday and today - what gives? I thought the last time it was abandoned that there was enough Celebritology-readership backlash to bring it back. I've searched (including a key-word search) and can't find it or any mention of it perhapsn no longer being published. Any info would be appreciated.

Posted by: JLF03 | January 25, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse

I second JLF's comment ... where is Morning Mix? I couldn't find it yesterday either.

As for Oscars ... well, to me the big headscratcher all along has been the buzz over "The Kids are All Right". I thought the movie was flat and predictable, and the acting was not extraordinary given the caliber of the actors in the film.

Posted by: Californian11 | January 25, 2011 1:47 PM | Report abuse

JLF and Cali, I can't evening find an Afternoon Mix :-(

And someone calleing himself "Byool, IN" seems to have defected to Gene's chat today.

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | January 25, 2011 2:00 PM | Report abuse

"calling"

Posted by: Nosy_Parker | January 25, 2011 2:05 PM | Report abuse

glad to see john hawkes made it out of the Temple

Posted by: goose33 | January 25, 2011 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm not completely unconvinced that Mark Zuckerberg isn't spreading around some copious cash for all the love The Social Network is getting. Combined with the topical nature, it just seems like one of those years when AMPAS is trying to pat itself on the back for embracing something topical.

Not that it wasn't good - I generally like Aaron Sorkin-penned and David Fincher-directed movies - but Inception was tour-de-force filmmaking. Considering his DGA nod, not even giving him the nomination smacks of their whole "Oh, it's science fiction so we don't reward that too highly" mentality. It's like they gave LOTR their Oscars and that was it for the next decade. A western - i.e., the "True Grit" nom for the Coen Brothers - was more acceptable, I guess.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | January 25, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Dear Ms Chaney
Were there two movies titled "The Town" this year.

Because Ben Afflecks fantasy super-genius-hockey-playing-bank-robber meets most the implausible plot-holes the size of DC potholes laugh fest was not/is not/never will be Oscar worthy.

Not even worthy to ride the Oscar Meyer hot dog car even though it was filled with just as much useless filler.

Posted by: stikyfingas | January 25, 2011 3:10 PM | Report abuse

My biggest issue is with the score nominations, and the fact that Daft Punk was not nominated for the amazing "Tron: Legacy" score. I thought it would be fun to see Reznor/Ross and the French duo duke it out, but sadly the AMPAS didn't bother opening their ears while watching "Tron." "Tron" also got snubbed in the visual effects category.

Only having 3 animated nominess is just silly. I don't understand how they come up with just 3 nominees when there were over 20 major studio feature animation releases in 2010. "The Illusionist" was definitely worthy, but lots of other were also, but did not receive an honor because the category is inexplicably limited to 3 nominees.

Posted by: Russtinator | January 25, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

My biggest issue is with the score nominations, and the fact that Daft Punk was not nominated for the amazing "Tron: Legacy" score. I thought it would be fun to see Reznor/Ross and the French duo duke it out, but sadly the AMPAS didn't bother opening their ears while watching "Tron." "Tron" also got snubbed in the visual effects category.

Only having 3 animated nominess is just silly. I don't understand how they come up with just 3 nominees when there were over 20 major studio feature animation releases in 2010. "The Illusionist" was definitely worthy, but lots of other were also, but did not receive an honor because the category is inexplicably limited to 3 nominees.

Posted by: Russtinator | January 25, 2011 3:20 PM | Report abuse

Really happy about Jacki Weaver. Scary and wonderful performance.
Hey, did anybody see MicMacs? French film? It was SO funny and weird and original. I loved every bit of it.

Posted by: cococo | January 25, 2011 4:21 PM | Report abuse

I agree that Despicable Me should have been on the animated movie list, but the Illusionist is great. It belongs there. My Dog Tulip is amazing too. I wish it were there.

Posted by: cococo | January 25, 2011 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only one surprised that Black Swan didn't get a nomination for art direction?

Posted by: sammy328 | January 25, 2011 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I know Mark Wahlberg was up against formidable competition, but "The Fighter" showed Wahlberg as one of the best in the Hollywood tradition of "fight films".

Only 5 slots. But file this one away in a long run of fine Mark Wahlberg efforts. His Best Supporting nod was deserved for "The Departed". One day he will get a Best Actor nod or win in a supporting role and it will be well-deserved.

And Ryan Gosling, also overlooked, has now impressed me as one of the best American actors out there.

Is it rude to say Hollywood is a little too gaga over well-made British Royalty & costume films, a little too enamored of nuanced Brit method actors in them? Has been for decades?

Posted by: ChrisFord1 | January 25, 2011 4:55 PM | Report abuse

@Russtinator:

You're absolutely right. Even my father - whose musical taste leans to the irritating - thought the Tron soundtrack was cool. He said it's not something he'd listen to himself, but that it was absolutely perfect for the movie.

@ChrisFord
Yes, they are gaga over well-made costume films. That's a given. I really, really loved the film but I'm not sure it deserved the 12 nominations. Colin Firth most definitely deserves the nods he's getting, though - he did a great job.

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | January 25, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

I actually loved The King's Speech and think it deserves all of the accolades and nominations it's received. I haven't seen The Social Network but I hate Facebook so I'm not interested in it and don't know if it deserves all its buzz. The whole process is so subjective - Yes, there are "formulas" for "good" movies (although comedies are usually left out) but based on the various nominations this year, you'd be hard pressed to be able to identify a unanimous definition of good this year. Perhaps The Kids are Alright is getting attention to give a nod to a "dramedy".

Tangentially, I thought Mo'Nique looked fabulous for the nominations annoucement. Loved the dress, loved the hair - just awesome.

Still no Morning or Midday (Midday? - that's what's listed in the side bar links list) Mix. The only one coming up in the search is from Friday. Very disappointing, with respect to celebrity/pop culture news. Perhaps Liz is under the weather? Jen's been busy with the Oscar noms (nice appearance on WTOP) so maybe that's the explanation.

Posted by: JLF03 | January 25, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Don't sweat it Chris Nolan. Just keep making great action blockbusters for the thinking person, along with James Cameron. I'd rather see your movies three times than one loud, bombastic, and thoughtless Bruckheimer extravaganza. "Inception" was the best of the best and the only thing that could make it even more fun is experiencing it in 3D IMAX. Yeah baby yeah.

Posted by: Airborne82 | January 25, 2011 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I knew I'd be disappointed about the animation category when it was announced that there'd only be three when I thought it was a big year for animated films. I loved "Tangled", and bet it would have made it if the category was five.

I loved Christian Bale's shout out to Whalberg when he got his Globe--you can only get away with the "out there" characters when there's a strong anchor performance, the latter of which is always overlooked. I'm always reminded of Tom Cruise's performance in "Rain Man"--I'm not a fan, but he was incredibly good as the protagonist in a film where his co-star Hoffman is deliberately NOT working with him. And of course the co-star got all the accolades.

Posted by: sorcerers_cat | January 25, 2011 5:34 PM | Report abuse

Concur with Falcon269. "Back Swan" was barely okay regardless of the obvious investment of time/effort by Natalie Portman. The movie was blah.

Posted by: MDey | January 26, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

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