What a relief! It looks like the Oscar show might actually be fun, thanks to Seth MacFarlane. When he and Emma Stone announced the nominees, MacFarlane commented with barbed lines that were as edgy as anything Ricky Gervais did during his controversial Golden Globes gigs. After announcing the Best Supporting Actress category, he congratulated the nominees with, “You five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.” Too far? I’ll always choose a host who crosses the line rather than someone tame and snoozy.
So the important question hovering over the awards is: Will ABC and the Academy try to tone down MacFarlane? Soledad O’Brien asked him about that in a post-nominations interview on CNN, and he said they were all in agreement on the line they’d walk, that they weren’t going for the kind of comedy Fox lets him get away with on Family Guy. But . . . he would say that, right? Fingers crossed it turns out to be true.
The nominations themselves had a couple of jaw-dropping omissions. You can watch the announcement here:
And here are the best and worst of the nominations:
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD did amazingly well, a shock for a small film: Best Picture, Best Actress for Quvenzhane Wallis (the youngest nominee ever, just 6 years old when she made the film), Adapted Screenplay and maybe most surprising of all, Best Director for Benh Zeitlin. It truly is one of the most moving and audacious films of the year: it was #2 on my best films list, second only to Amour, another great surprise with a nomination for Best Picture as well as Best Foreign Film. It’s almost certain to win in the Foreign category. Only Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor is more of a lock.
SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK was also incredibly strong, with Best Picture and Director for David O. Russell, and nominations in all four acting categories: Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence in leading roles, and Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver in supporting roles, As I said in my original review, De Niro and Weaver are the heart of that terrific film. (And I doubt that any of them pretended to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.)
Kathryn Bigelow, Kathryn Bigelow, Kathryn Bigelow. And Quentin Tarantino. The names missing from the Best Director category are outrageous, and you have to think that Oscar voters are wary of the whole Zero Dark Thirty kerfuffle about torture and the filmmakers’ access to government information. That fuss didn’t prevent writer Mark Boal from getting a nomination for original screenplay, but the directors’ category was overcrowded, and essentially Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke displaced Bigelow and Tarantino, as well as two other likely prospects, Ben Affleck and Tom Hooper.
Tom Hooper. Les Miserables was big; the directing was bad. Close-ups down the throat; a Cockney-sounding urchin on the streets of Paris . . . I won’t go on, but this omission is a pretty good sign that the Academy voters aren’t completely delusional about that film.
AND THE WINNER WILL BE . . .
Best Picture: LINCOLN. It’s a safe, easy choice; it’s serious and historical, it’s Spielberg. That’s my prediction, but then I wouldn’t have guessed at a surge for Beasts so do not put money on my guesses.
You can read the full list of nominees at oscar.com