13 Meryl Streep Continues To Make Things Difficult For Everyone Else
Love you Meryl! Scoring her 15th acting nomination she puts further distance between herself and nearest rival Jack Nicholson who has only (ha ha) a measly 12 acting nominations (one more win than Meryl, though). Just about the only person who might be a threat to Meryl in the all-time record books is Kate Winslet, considering that Kate is only 33 years old and has 6 nominations already. Streep only had 4 nominations by that age (although she had won twice... and Kate is still waiting). [Lots more on Meryl]
12 The Guilds are a Problem
Would WALL•E have gained more Oscar Best Picture traction if all of these guilds didn't declare animated films ineligible? I believe it would have. What a shame. It's quite obvious that 50 years from now people will still love WALL•E... but will any of the actual nominees have devoted fans by then? [related posts on WALL•E]
11 Same As It Ever Was...
The 6000+ members of AMPAS weren't quite ready to shake things up, resisting genre films for the hundredth time. They said no to the beautiful and very rare fusion of equal critical/populist pull that both WALL•E & The Dark Knight had going into year end honors. Instead they retreated to their favored genres: biopics, epics and Holocaust dramas being comfort food for those 6,000.
10 An Odd Clint Eastwood Situation
The Academy loves him so the reaction to his two films is slightly eyebrow raising. Gran Torino was shut out completely (did it open too late?) but Changeling managed to win Tom Stern, Eastwood's trusted regular DP, a cinematography nomination. That's a surprise because it's his very first. AMPAS has ignored him over before even when he shot Best Picture nominated films like Million Dollar Baby and Letters From Iwo Jima. He's probably having one of his best mornings ever right about now.
09 Early Bird Get the
Everyone knows the primo Oscar strategy: Open in December. Fewer studios recognize the other rule. Be First. Especially if you have a film that's primarily a low budget triumph of acting without a huge star. Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and Melissa Leo (Frozen River) gave great performances but that's never enough (just ask Sally Hawkins). So they should thank their stalwart campaigns for understanding that December releasing isn't smart for smaller films. You have to cement your Deserving Nominee! status before the A listers all arrive, ready and practiced at walking red carpets and sucking all the oxygen out of every room.
08 The 1970s Curse Lifted
Costume Design aficionados rejoice: Milk nabbed Danny Glicker a costume design nomination. I'm not sure how the hell it happened since the 1970s are usually off limits for costume nominations but, yay! I'm quite pleased. It's also in my shortlist but I thought the work way too subtle for the Academy.
07 Penélope Cruz is the Happiest Person in Hollywood Today
With Kate Winslet out of the way in Supporting Actress (what a miracle: The Academy rejected Category Fraud that had been supported by nearly all precursor bodies) and those troubled Catholics in Doubt competing against each other she's probably seeing gold everywhere she looks.
06 The Snubbed
Years from now... Okay, TODAY (who needs to wait?) people will be mortified that the Academy rejected new classics like Bruce Springsteen's "The Wrestler" for Best Original Song or Sally Hawkins film-carrying bliss-inducing nuanced positivity in Happy-Go-Lucky for Best Actress. Those snubs sting. Those snubs suck. Those snubs make no damn sense whatsoever. WHAT WERE THEY THINKING?
Another note regarding snubs. No cinematography mentions for either Australia or The Wrestler means the record still stands: no female DP has ever been nominated for that particular honor. (Both made my preferred ballot)
05 Harvey Weinstein is Back. God Help Us All
If you've been an Oscar Watcher for more than the last few years you'd know that he used to run the smartest loudest and most expensive campaigns in his time with Miramax. For whatever reason (money?) the new Weinstein Co hadn't had much Oscar luck and MGM was also almost always a no go, even failing to land Hotel Rwanda in the shortlist in 2004. Until now that is. The Reader surprised nearly everyone to nab 5 nominations, including Picture & Director.
04 It's All in the Timing (Good)
Slumdog Millionaire (November) and Frost/Nixon (December) came out at just the right time. If it had been released even a few weeks later, Slumdog's rabid fan base might not have been as legion since the film had no stars and needed the time to snowball (or avalanche as it were). Frost/Nixon fervor would have dissipated if it had been released earlier --it's entertaining but very lightweight given the competition and the fact that you could always just watch the Frost/Nixon tapes instead.
03 It's All in the Timing (Bad)
The Wrestler (December) and Rachel Getting Married (October) probably came out too late and too early respectively. The Wrestler, a small grungy picture -- in comparison to what Oscar would usually go for -- needed more time to build. Rachel should probably have come out later... it somehow got lost in the shuffle despite pockets of passionate fans. Maybe that Almodovar'ish November slotting would have helped it? It's depressing that Supporting Actress Rosemarie DeWitt who gave a complicated passionate performance, got passed over for honors... but then, the precursor voting bodies are too blame for that, continually shunting her to the side to get bigger stars [cough Amy Adams cough] in Christmas films to attend their functions. I've talked a lot about the December Glut problem but a "glut" at any time of the year can be problematic. The Best Actress glut happened in October with 4 major competitors arriving nearly simultaneously (I've Loved You So Long, Happy-Go-Lucky, Rachel Getting Married and Changeling). As you can see only the biggest stars survived that throwdown come Oscar Nomination time.
02 Stephen Daldry is The Man
He's made only three films and he's been nominated for Best Director every time: Billy Elliott, The Hours and The Reader. I believe that's an all time record.
01 The Dark Knight is the new Dreamgirls?
Not really... Sort of? Nobody expected a Batman film to compete in the Best Picture slot before the movie went and exploded 'round the world but everyone expected Dreamgirls to compete months and months and months before it opened. So, that's a big difference. But they do share two things: They both had fantastic Oscar showings thanks in large part to their sensational absolute locked-to-win Supporting nominee, they're tied for second place in the odd derby of films that seem like Best Picture nominees on account of how many nominations they actually did receive -- In this case, eight. Only the great Depression era miserabilist classic They Shoot Horses Don't They? beats them, still holding the record of most nominations without a corresponding Best Picture bid, nine.
Full Oscar Nomination List
Another Odd Statistic Regarding Best Actress
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