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2012 Academy Award nominations announced 

Yay Plummer! Woohoo The Tree of Life! But WTF Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close?

Academy Award-nominee Christopher Plummer plays a man in his 70s coming out, in Beginners.
  • Academy Award-nominee Christopher Plummer plays a man in his 70s coming out, in Beginners.
The Academy Award nominations were announced earlier today in Los Angeles, and if you care about movies and are on some kind of social network, you've noticed people are talking about this. If you haven't yet seen the complete list of nods, go here, then come on back.

On the acting front, my thoughts are mostly positive.

Demian Bichir for the little-seen A Better Life is the big surprise. (The film, a drama about a Mexican illegal immigrant in Los Angeles is now available on DVD.) Clooney, Pitt and Dujardin are all deserving, I would say---even though I'm one of the few who didn't adore The Artist---and great to see Gary Oldman recognized for his work in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy---his first Oscar nod, incidentally---even though the film is more of an ensemble with many great performances. It seems a bit odd to single someone out, but that's what the Oscars does. No Best Ensemble award for performance, while teams in other categories are recognized. There's something they could consider.

The Actress in a Leading Role category is stellar, lots of deserving roles, though you've gotta feel for Glenn Close in Albert Nobbs, yet to open in Halifax. Streep has to be the favourite here for The Iron Lady, a movie that isn't much more than a venue for a dazzling performance, and Close has never gotten the kudos she deserves from the Academy, despite an amazing career. Props to Rooney Mara for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. It's a powerful performance, and even though she isn't likely to win in this company, the nomination is an implicit industry recognition that she's "arrived."

The Supporting Actor categories include a nod to Jonah Hill for Moneyball. Good for him, but really? I didn't think he particularly shone in the role, though I really liked the film. Nick Nolte was a surprise for his role in Warrior, but an amazing performer whose tabloid appearances sometimes overshadow a killer career. Max von Sydow is excellent in a so-so movie. But big props to Canadian thesp Christopher Plummer, who deserves to win, if not for a great part in a great movie (Beginners), then for his body of work, which is often tacitly recognized with these things. (If he wins, maybe they'll play him up to the podium with a selection from The Sound of Music. He'd hate that.)

Nice to see Melissa McCarthy nominated for Bridesmaids for a couple of reasons: she created a memorable character earning some of the film's biggest laughs and comedies get too few awards. Also good to see Jessica Chastain recognized, though they could have chosen her role in The Tree of Life or Take Shelter to nominate.

The list for Best Picture this year includes nine films. I think it's pretty representative of a lot of conservative choices, remarkable as much for what isn't on there as for what is. I like The Tree of Life, The Descendants, Moneyball and Hugo. Even The Artist, I can understand why it would earn a place on this list, along with Midnight in Paris, which gets props for being so popular, though I'd say is less deserving of awards than, say, other semi-recent Woody Allen pictures such as Vicki Christina Barcelona or Match Point. But War Horse? Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close? Those movies have no business being anywhere near a list of the best of 2011. Especially while 50/50, Young Adult, Shame, Take Shelter, Melancholia, Martha Marcy May Marlene were all snubbed.

And speaking of snubs, where is Charlize Theron's nomination for Young Adult? Or the same film's screenwriter Diablo Cody in the Original Screenplay category? Where is Michael Fassbender's nomination for Shame?

Other Canadians aside from Plummer earning recognition this morning include Philippe Falardeau's Monsieur Lazhar in the Best Foreign Language film category. Hope we see that soon in Halifax cinemas! Also, In Darkness, the Polish entry, is a Canadian co-production. Two animated shorts are NFB productions, Dimanche/Sunday, directed by Patrick Doyon, and Wild Life, directed by Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby. And we shouldn't forget Canuck Howard Shore is up for Best Original Score for Hugo.

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