Each Oscar branch voted for nominations in individual categories (foreign is chosen via various voting committees); this was the first year that the Oscar nominations for best picture were determined via a new vote-counting method that could yield from five to ten nominees. 5,783 voters used a ballot with five best picture slots; their top choices wound up with nine nominations.
Surprises included two nominations for raunchfest "Bridesmaids," for Supporting Actress (Melissa McCarthy) and Original Screenplay; the inclusion of SAG nominee Damien Bichir (LA immigration drama "A Better Life") and Gary Oldman (BAFTA fave "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy") as Best Actor over Leonardo DiCaprio (badly reviewed "J. Edgar") and Michael Fassbender (NC-17-rated "Shame"); Supporting Actor Max Von Sydow (late-breaking "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close") over Albert Brooks (R-rated "Drive"); and Best Actress Rooney Mara (Guild-favored "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") over Tilda Swinton (art film "We Need to Talk About Kevin"). Iranian Asghar Farhadi earned not only an expected foreign nomination for critics' rave "A Separation," but an original screenplay nod as well. Rookie writer-director J.C. Chandor was another surprise nominee in that category, for $3.5 million Sundance hit "Margin Call." Of all the surprises, only Farhadi has a real shot at winning--in the foreign language category.
Studio entries from Steven Spielberg ("War Horse," six nominations), Bennett Miller ("Moneyball," six), writer-director Tate Taylor ("The Help," four) and Stephen Daldry ("Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close," two) made it into the top nine, although not Best Director. David Fincher did not score in the director category either; neither "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (five) nor "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" (three) landed Best Picture slots.
While writer-director Alexander Payne's "The Descendants" earned five nominations, for Best Picture, Director, Best Actor, Adapted Screenplay and Editing, young actress Shailene Woodley did not earn a nod. And popular front-runner George Clooney unexpectedly lost the SAG and then the BAFTA award to Dujardin. Veteran Oscar-winner Woody Allen's "Midnight in Paris" earned four nominations--for Picture, Director, Original Screenplay and Art Direction--but no acting nods, and lost the BAFTA to "The Artist." On the other hand, "The Help," which earned three acting nominations--and won Best Ensemble at SAG--could take home two Oscars: for Viola Davis and Octavia Spencer, although Meryl Streep did take the Best Actress BAFTA for the UK's homegrown "Iron Lady."
Terrence Malick's "The Tree of Life," which had not been favored by the Guilds, landed a director nomination as well as nominations for Best Picture and Cinematography, which ASC-winner Emmanuel Lubezki could win. The animation branch did not give Spielberg's performance capture "The Adventures of Tintin" a nomination, and Pixar's "Cars 2" was also snubbed--the Academy tends to frown on sequels. Short "La Luna" will have to carry the Pixar flag, but may lose to Wiliam Joyce's "The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore."
Historically, the movie with the most nominations ("Hugo") is favored to win Best Picture, but that does not always happen. This year the beloved black-and-white French silent romance "The Artist" has built unstoppable winning momentum. And SAG winner Dujardin could be the first of three past French nominees (Maurice Chevalier, Charles Boyer, Gerard Depardieu) to win Best Actor. For the last seven years, the SAG winner has also won the Oscar. But Clooney is a nominated writer ("The Ides of March") and respected proeucer-director as well as a popular figure in Hollywod. That could make the difference in the one race no one can call. I've changed my vote repeatedly. And I'm not the only one.
My UPDATED picks for the win in each category are marked in bold.
The nine Best Picture nominees are:
"The Artist" Thomas Langmann, Producer
"The Descendants" Jim Burke, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor, Producers
"Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close" Scott Rudin, Producer
"The Help" Brunson Green, Chris Columbus and Michael Barnathan, Producers
"Hugo" Graham King and Martin Scorsese, Producers
"Midnight in Paris" Letty Aronson and Stephen Tenenbaum, Producers
"Moneyball" Michael De Luca, Rachael Horovitz and Brad Pitt, Producers
"The Tree of Life" Nominees to be determined
"War Horse" Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, Producers"The Artist"
Actor in a Leading Role
Demián Bichir in "A Better Life"
George Clooney in "The Descendants"
Jean Dujardin in "The Artist"
Gary Oldman in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy"
Brad Pitt in "Moneyball"
Actor in a Supporting Role
Kenneth Branagh in "My Week with Marilyn"
Jonah Hill in "Moneyball"
Nick Nolte in "Warrior"
Christopher Plummer in "Beginners"
Max von Sydow in "Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close"
Actress in a Leading Role
Glenn Close in "Albert Nobbs"
Viola Davis in "The Help"
Rooney Mara in "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"
Meryl Streep in "The Iron Lady"
Michelle Williams in "My Week with Marilyn"
Actress in a Supporting Role
Bérénice Bejo in "The Artist"
Jessica Chastain in "The Help"
Melissa McCarthy in "Bridesmaids"
Janet McTeer in "Albert Nobbs"
Octavia Spencer in "The Help"
Animated Feature Film
"A Cat in Paris" Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
"Chico & Rita" Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
"Kung Fu Panda 2" Jennifer Yuh Nelson
"Puss in Boots" Chris Miller
"Rango" Gore Verbinski
"The Artist" Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
"Hugo" Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
"Midnight in Paris" Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
"War Horse" Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
"The Artist" Guillaume Schiffman
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Jeff Cronenweth
"Hugo" Robert Richardson
"The Tree of Life" Emmanuel Lubezki
"War Horse" Janusz Kaminski
"Anonymous" Lisy Christl
"The Artist" Mark Bridges
"Hugo" Sandy Powell
"Jane Eyre" Michael O'Connor
"W.E." Arianne Phillips
"The Artist" Michel Hazanavicius
"The Descendants" Alexander Payne
"Hugo" Martin Scorsese
"Midnight in Paris" Woody Allen
"The Tree of Life" Terrence Malick
"Hell and Back Again" Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
"If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
"Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory" Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
"Pina" Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
"Undefeated" TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas
Documentary (Short Subject)
"The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement" Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
"God Is the Bigger Elvis" Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
"Incident in New Baghdad"James Spione
"Saving Face" Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
"The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom" Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen
"The Artist" Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
"The Descendants" Kevin Tent
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
"Hugo" Thelma Schoonmaker
"Moneyball" Christopher Tellefsen
Foreign Language Film
"In Darkness" Poland
"Monsieur Lazhar" Canada
"A Separation" Iran
"Albert Nobbs" Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
"The Iron Lady" Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland
Music (Original Score)
"The Adventures of Tintin" John Williams
"The Artist" Ludovic Bource
"Hugo" Howard Shore
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Alberto Iglesias
"War Horse" John Williams
Music (Original Song)
"Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets" Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
"Real in Rio" from "Rio" Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett
Short Film (Animated)
"Dimanche/Sunday" Patrick Doyon
"The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore" William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
"La Luna" Enrico Casarosa
"A Morning Stroll" Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
"Wild Life" Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby
Short Film (Live Action)
"Pentecost" Peter McDonald and Eimear O'Kane
"Raju" Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
"The Shore" Terry George and Oorlagh George
"Time Freak" Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
"Tuba Atlantic" Hallvar Witzø
"Drive" Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" Ren Klyce
"Hugo" Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
"War Horse" Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom
"The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
"Hugo" Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
"Moneyball" Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
"War Horse" Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson
"Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2" Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
"Hugo" Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
"Real Steel" Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
"Rise of the Planet of the Apes" Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier
Writing (Adapted Screenplay)
"The Descendants" Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
"Hugo" Screenplay by John Logan
"The Ides of March" Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
"Moneyball" Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin. Story by Stan Chervin
"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" Screenplay by Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan
Writing (Original Screenplay)
"The Artist" Written by Michel Hazanavicius
"Bridesmaids" Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
"Margin Call" Written by J.C. Chandor
"Midnight in Paris" Written by Woody Allen
"A Separation" Written by Asghar Farhadi