The Oscar nominations were released yesterday, and the joy in poring through each category is trying to figure out who got a surprise nomination and, more important, who got hosed. Because what’s the Oscars without pettiness and jealousy? Let’s dive in.
The Blind Side (Best Picture): A nomination for Sandra Bullock was expected (Bullock and Meryl Streep are the favorites to win Best Actress), but a Best Picture Nomination was far more of a long shot. But the smash hit made it into the category thanks to the Academy’s expansion to 10 nominees. The Academy accomplished precisely what it wanted to with this category: making enough room so that more popular movies could make the cut. If the category had not been expanded, it’s clear (at least to me) that hits like “The Blind Side,” “District 9,” and “Up” would be out of the running by now.
Jeremy Renner (Best Actor): The nomination itself isn’t as much of a surprise as Renner’s story is. Renner was a complete unknown until “The Hurt Locker” came out. Now he and Sam Worthington represent the next wave of full-blooded male acting superstars. His arrival is most welcome in a world where Russell Crowe gets a little older and a little sloppier each year.
Woody Harrelson (Best Supporting Actor): In a year where Harrelson reemerged with a hit comedy (“Zombieland”), he also scores a nod for his extremely serious turn in a little-seen but well-regarded movie about the after-effects of the Iraq War (“The Messenger” also got a screenplay nod). Harrelson will end up losing in this category to Christopher Waltz. Regardless, it’s nice to see him nominated, and it would be nice to see him one day fully rewarded. He’s an awesome acceptance speech waiting to happen.
Clint Eastwood (Best Director): I suppose you could be indignant about Clint not making the cut for “Invictus,” except the movie is just okay and Clint seems to get nominated every year these days.
The Hangover (Best Picture): The Golden Globe Best Comedy winner had an outside shot at getting into the Best Picture Oscar category, only to be denied. Yet another snub for comedy, which is annoying. Any person who isn’t funny will tell you comedy is hard to do.
The Lovely Bones (Best Picture): Count this movie, “It’s Complicated,” and “Nine” as films that would have earned Best Picture nominations if they hadn’t stunk.
(500) Days of Summer (Best Picture): The beloved indie comedy didn’t prove to be this year’s “Juno,” getting shut out of Best Picture. Know who I blame for it? The parentheses in the title. Such a hipster thing to do.