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Snubs & Surprises Of The 2011 Academy Awards

by Edward Davis
February 28, 2011 3:30 AM
15 Comments
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'King's Speech' & 'Inception' Win 4 Awards, 'True Grit' Is The Night's Biggest Loser With 10 Nominations & Zero Wins



First off, you might want to check out our 10 pleasant surprises of the 2011 Oscar nominees. They were pleasant surprises for a reason and none of those people won any awards except for one musical duo (more on that later). You probably checked out our liveblog and our winners recap last night, but yes, we have more.

Ok, you probably witnessed the oddly toned 83rd Annual Academy Awards last night, a mix of pandering to the youth -- young hosts James Franco and Anne Hathaway, MTV-like meta-movie skits (see the opening below), autotuning 'Harry Potter' and 'Twilight' several references to Banksy and Charlie Sheen -- and genuflecting to the olds -- a "Gone With The Wind" tribute, Kirk Douglas presenting the Best Supporting Actress award (which was both awesome and awkward), a dead people tribute sung by Celine Dion, an appearance by Billy Crystal and from-the-dead announcer Bob Hope among lots of other little things.

And somehow, the ratings did better than (we) expected (only a 7% drop from last year), but higher than 2008 and 2009) as Franco's narcoleptic stoner routine felt strange in contrast to Hathaway's perenially bubbly cheerleader. Let's face it for the first 30 minutes of the show, viewers were going, '"WTF is going on?"

But anyhow, let's get to the surprises and snubs in case you went to bed early (and we wouldn't blame you, we hit a wall with 40 minutes left). The night kicked off with a few surprises and given the already bizarro feel of the show, it hinted at a wonderfully weird night in terms of who would win what. But it was for naught, though most Oscar bloggers went 0-2 with the opening awards, the awards show went down as many predicted it would, including us.

They switched up the order this year and instead of kicking off with Best Supporting Actress, the night began with Art Direction. While most pundits had their money on "True Grit" or "The King's Speech," the award surprisingly went to Robert Stromberg and Karen O’Hara for "Alice In Wonderland," which took home two statuettes last night.

The great director of photography Roger Deakins is threatening to become the Susan Lucci of cinematography. Nominated eight times in his career, he and Danny Cohen of "The King's Speech" were considered the frontrunners, but in a wonderful surprise turn "Inception" lenser Wally Pfister took the prize kicking off a night that would lead to the Christopher Nolan helmed mind-bender to tie "The King's Speech" for winning the most number of awards (4 in total).

In another surprise move, Alexandre Desplat's "The King's Speech" original score did not take home the Oscar, instead the trophy went to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for their moody and pulsating "The Social Network" score which should be seen as a major achievement for scores outside the norm that are usually never nominated, much less win the Oscar.

Surprises after that -- unless you were one of those who thought the critical chorus around "The Social Network" would be stronger than the crowd-pleasing vibe that "The King's Speech" gave guild and Academy members -- were pretty few. The biggest upset of the night might have been the fate of "The Social Network" in general. Nominated for 8 awards, the picture did take the coveted Best Editing award -- which usually goes hand and hand with Best Director and Best Picture -- but it could not muster more than three awards including Aaron Sorkin's win for Best Adapted Screenplay. The biggest snub was probably that of David Fincher as many expected "The Social Network" helmer to take the Best Directing prize (we won't even get into the Chris Nolan snub that happened during the nominations phase). How did this 180 sea change shift happen? How did "The Social Network" go from surefire winner early in the season to "The King's Speech" taking over? We have our ideas, but frankly, we'd love to read a more in-depth piece on this, Vanity Fair-style.

Other shut-outs that may be considered snubs were the Coen brothers "True Grit," nominated for the 2nd most number of awards after "The King's Speech," with 10 nods; the film came up totally empty-handed and Lisa Cholodenko's "The Kids Are Alright," which was nominated for four awards and also came up with zero wins.

Which brings us to the Best Original Screenplay category which is generally reserved for the "cool," innovative and edgy, often indie films -- past winners include, "Pulp Fiction," "Good Will Hunting," "Almost Famous," "Lost in Translation," and "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." But while something like "The Kids Are All Right," therefore, would have seemed like the frontrunner in this category, the more orthodox "The King's Speech" took the bauble instead.

Speaking of 'Kids,' Natalie Portman did dominate the season, but late-game groundswell support began to rise for Annette Bening. Nominated four times in her lengthy career, some thought she could pull a last-minute win over the "Black Swan" ballerina, but it was not to be. Frankly, some of the Playlist members, including this writer -- though not all, (we are divided on that film) -- think this was unfortunate. Bening owned "The Kids Are All Right," with her frosty, micro-managing mother and Portman has an entire career in front of her, but we suppose we shouldn't muddy the waters with "they'll have another shot down the road" thinking, because then we end up in "Scent Of A Woman" awards for folks like Al Pacino. In short, Bening deserved to win, but so did Portman.

"The Fighter," which was nominated for 7 awards -- 3rd highest of the night -- took home two awards: Christian Bale and Melissa Leo for Best Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively. All was good in that universe and the two awards were expected -- Leo's f-bomb during her acceptance speech, probably less so.

Even though Colin Firth should have won last year for his superior performance in "A Single Man," his Best Actor win last night was no surprise. There was quiet talk around the Playlist water cooler that whispered an upset from Javier Bardem for his harrowing performance in "Biutiful," given all the celebrity support behind him (friends like Sean Penn and Julia Roberts actively campaigned on his and the film's behalf), but it was just not meant to be.

While some were sort of shocked that "Alice In Wonderland" took Best Costume over "The King’s Speech," "True Grit" and "I Am Love," a closer inspection shows that it was likely a no-brainer: the 'Alice' designer was Academy favorite Colleen Atwood who has won 3 Oscars and has been nominated 9 times. Not too shabby. So those were pretty much the awards. How did you feel about it? What were your biggest snubs? Are you still outraged that the more traditional "The King's Speech" won Best Picture over "The Social Network"? Or like us, did you simply shrug and assume as much would happen when you saw the Guild late-season writing on the wall. And hey, it's always fun when Oscar pundits are wrong. Sound off below with your Oscar kvetching. Lord knows we're kind of hungover and probably missed something.

Below is the opening video montage of the Oscars, ripped from the spoofing MTV Movie Awards playbook of putting new actors in scenes of nominated films. They must be pissed on this one. Too bad you can't trademark that kind of idea and hell, it was probably the first time older Academy viewers, saw this type of meta-joke montage, so they were probably thrilled by it.

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15 Comments

  • Marc | March 1, 2011 10:21 AMReply

    I don't understand the praise being heaped on the Inception score. It's The Thin Red Line part 2.

  • Jan Lisa Huttner | February 28, 2011 9:27 AMReply

    The Social Network was overtaken by events. The screenplay relied on Hollywood-style stereotypes (geeky Jewish fraternities versus deluxe Valhalla clubs), never bothering to ask what might make “the real” Mark Zuckerberg tick. But while the film’s protagonist was enjoying blow jobs in bathroom stalls (feh!), the rest of us were watching Tunisian students on 60 Minutes waving big signs thanking Zuckerberg (personally!) for creating the infrastructure that enabled them to mobilize for their January Revolution.

    So enough with Harvey Weinstein conspiracy theories already. Weinstein & Zuckerberg are two really smart Jewish guys who probably both slept pretty well last night. As Mel Brooks always says: He who laughs last, laughs best!

    http://secondcitytzivi.com/2011/02/20/220-60-minutes/

  • Amir Syarif Siregar | February 28, 2011 8:53 AMReply

    Fincher was robbed... It's an unjustice to see The Social Network walked away only with three not-so-important awards. Blah... blah... blah... It's The Academy. They're old! What do you guys expecting? Move on.

  • Erick | February 28, 2011 8:32 AMReply

    FIncher was robbed....plain and simple....He greatly deserved that Best Director oscar...I mean come on....What is so great about the direction from "The King's Speech"? Tom Hooper won only because his movie was going to win. I even knew when it won Original Screenplay that it was going to win Best Picture. But Fincher was a better director and his vision was focus on current events. Chris Nolan will get his due one day...otherwise i will forever hate the academy because it clear that they are not voting for the viewers, rather for themselves and what looks good...what I mean is, they can't have a best picture without it having a best screenplay...something like that.

  • Steve Warren | February 28, 2011 8:19 AMReply

    The King's Speech wasn't just based on someone's life but, according to the director in his acceptance speech, on a play, albeit an unproduced one. This should disqualify it for Best Original Screenplay. (But since that and Social Network were the year's two best screenplays I'm glad they both won.)

  • Max | February 28, 2011 7:33 AMReply

    I agree with the above statements about Hans Zimmer getting snubbed. The score for Inception was an invaluable contribution to what made that movie so great. Don't get me wrong, I really like Trent Reznor and I think its great that he won, but I think its really just the Academy making up for snubbing Nick Cave and Johnny Greenwood in the past (the former especially; seriously, his work was just on a new plain of awesome).

    At least Zimmer was nominated, and he already has an Oscar (although that should be irrelevant), but the greatest snub, by far, was Nolan not even getting nominated. That movie has a unique style all its own, images of which I genuinely believe will be replayed to a sickening degree for the next few decades. But I would even take it a step further and say that Inception should have gotten best original screenplay. I think its the most ORIGINAL story we've seen in years. And isn't The King's Speech just as much of an adapted screenplay as 127 Hours?? Inception is an idea Chris Nolan just completely thought up and developed on his own. The King's Speech and The Fighter were both adapted from people's lives.

    I am satisfied, though, that it actually tied for most wins, which I didn't initially realize. But I really think it should have gotten more love in other categories.

  • sumonesumhow | February 28, 2011 6:50 AMReply

    Even better than a Vanity Fair piece, you can read about how there is no one more capable of buying an Oscar than Harvey Weinstein, in the book "Down and Dirty Pictures." Remember "Shakespeare In Love" v "Saving Private Ryan" v "The Thin Red Line"?

    For trying to appeal to a younger generation they sure made some safe and old school choices for almost all the awards. Animal Kingdom for foreign? Scott Pilgrim for any-fucking-thing? And on and on...

    JEAN-LUC GODARD FTW!!!!!!!

  • Ken | February 28, 2011 6:41 AMReply

    If the Social Network score came on during a trip to the doctor's office, I'd start to feel like something terrible was gonna happen to me.

  • WhiskeyTamer | February 28, 2011 5:09 AMReply

    I am still surprised that the score for "Inception" did not win Best Score. You can experience the music from "The Social Network" in any doctor's office, elevator, or TV drama. It's nice, don't get me wrong, but compared to Hans Zimmer's Wagneresque score, it was just commonplace. Hans was completely robbed. The music at the end of that movie, when they're all waking up on the plane, is worth the Oscar alone.

  • cirkusfolk | February 28, 2011 5:00 AMReply

    I will say the only category I was truely conflicted over was score. I thought Inception's score was the best ( even better than The Dark Knight's), so that's what I wanted to win. To me, the music for Inception went hand in hand with the movie more than any other film this year, including The Social Network On the other hand, I was ecstatic that Trent Reznor was nominated when other rockers like Jonny Greenwood and Nick Cave failed to do so, but felt his award was the nomination itself and there was no way for him to actually win. I honestly thought Alexandre Desplat was going to win for two reasons...1) His score was for the film I knew would win Best Picture and which had the most nominations, and 2) and I didn't realize this at first, but he's been nominated 4 times in the past 5 years!!! It looks like he might become the Roger Deakins or film scores (although he does of The Tree of Life coming out his year, fingers crossed).

    And speaking of Deakins, it's truely a shame the man has been nominated 9 times and hasn't won. But was True Grit the film he should've won for? Don't get me wrong, I wouldn't have minded him winning, as True Grit looked great, but it's not his best work. Personally, I would've loved for him to win for Assassination of Jesse James or No Country For Old Men, but of course There Will Be Blood (the film with the best cinematography that year, and the film that won both the Oscar and the ASC) was the same year. And this year there was Inception. Wally Pfister already won the ASC this year, and even though the Oscars don't match up with that guild very often, with 3 previous nominations (all being Nolan films), he was almost due himself. So I'm afraid Deakins will just have to keep waiting.

  • rodie | February 28, 2011 4:51 AMReply

    ‘True Grit’ Is The Night’s Biggest Loser With 10 Nominations & Zero Wins...

    This just proves that Christopher Nolan deserved the Best Director NOMINATION over the Coens. What a brain fart by the Academy on that one. At the rate Nolan and the Academy are going he's going to be 80 years old and receiving his first Oscar for Lifetime Achievement. What a pity.

  • DuluozGray | February 28, 2011 4:50 AMReply

    Billy Crystal used to put himself into the nominated movies all the time. MTV ripped off the Oscars, not the other way around.

  • evange | February 28, 2011 4:34 AMReply

    i liked the awards.. yes Anne was a Cheerleader, but she had to overcome catatonic Franco .. beyond that I loved the Kings Speech and Colin Firth .. I foung Zuckermans character so loathesome that it was hard to really like Social Network ... Sandra Bullock looked beautiful but sad .. I loved Nicole Kidman in Rabbit Hole .. also a sad movie but amazing ! Kids Are Alright was overrated .. good but really .. Mark Ruffalo a nominee .. hes always plays the same person .. droopy .. kinda Eyore-esk ..

  • cirkusfolk | February 28, 2011 4:34 AMReply

    In hindsight, I'm actually glad David Fincher didn't win Best Director. Why? Because now the two best directors working today (Nolan and Fincher as awarded by EW, and which I personally agree with) remain Oscarless. In Nolan's case, he remains nominationless. I just find it humorous that the Academy can be that out of touch.

  • fadskjldfs | February 28, 2011 3:50 AMReply

    "Let’s face it for the first 30 minutes of the show, viewers were going, ‘“WTF is going on?”"
    So true.

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