While there weren't any major upsets at this morning's announcement of this year's Academy Award nominees, there were -- as always -- some titles and performances that were generally snubbed. Here are some of the biggest losers this year. Which of these were you surprised didn't get nominated -- and do you have any of your own to add?
Nine. Given that the creative talent involved (its cast, director Rob Marshall, and co-screenwriter Anthony Minghella collectively have won -- well, nine Oscars, this was highly touted to be this year's Chicago. But withering reviews, hamfisted direction, and the original, unmemorable Broadway score sunk most of its chances. Beyond Penelope Cruz in the Supporting Actress category, Nine has to content itself with nods in the always-exciting costume design, art direction, and original song categories.
Still, this debacle probably won’t negatively affect the careers of anyone connected with it, as it should. Daniel Day-Lewis, Cruz, Judi Dench, and Sophia Loren are untouchable; Marion Cotillard and Fergie can’t be blamed for trying to extend their range; Nicole Kidman’s made so many bombs this can’t hurt her; Marshall’s already working on the next Pirates of the Caribbean; Minghella’s dead.
The Lovely Bones. Another hot property that was expected to be a major player come awards time, Peter Jackson’s noble attempt at filming what’s probably an unfilmable novel – pitched as a cross between his best pure drama, Heavenly Creatures, and the CGI spectacle of Lord of the Rings – ended up satisfying neither camp. The CGI was overblown, and the drama – centered around a nominated Stanley Tucci so obviously villainous that he might as well be twirling a mustache – failed to impress.
Well-regarded young actress Saoirse Ronan has now appeared in two presumed Oscar contenders (along with Atonement) that, through no fault of her own, failed pretty completely. The next Kate Winslet may be in danger of becoming the next Winona Ryder. Jackson, thanks to his involvement with the upcoming Hobbit and Tintin films, may never try a “small” picture again.
(500) Days of Summer. Admittedly a longshot, but its okay box-office performance and handful of Golden Globe nominations (plus the expansion of Best Picture nominations to 10 slots) boded at least something for the cute if somewhat overbearing teen romance between Joseph Gordon-Levitt and this generation’s Parker Posey, Zooey Deschanel, both of whom may well still have Oscar nominations in their futures.
It’s Complicated. Director Nancy Meyers’ latest wealth-porn was obviously going to benefit by the mere presence of Meryl Streep, whose second life as a grinning, genial screen presence is almost as impressive as her initial Watch Me Act phase. There was some talk about twin Streep nominations (along with Julie and Julia) as well as a Supporting nod for Alec Baldwin. Instead, the winter hit was shut out.
Julie & Julia. The “serious” Streep film is still largely a hoot, thanks to her larger-than-life impression of a larger-than-life personality. That nearly everyone who saw the film wanted more of Julia and less – if any – of Amy Adams’ Julie was expected to also benefit co-star Stanley Tucci, who was instead nominated for his inferior work in Bones.
Clint Eastwood. Yes, Invictus stars Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon were both nominated, but that was it for the film, which failed to net expected nods for Picture and director Clint. That its story is utterly predictable and, for a film at least ostensibly about rugby, it makes no effort to explain the game itself or precisely what’s happening in its climactic match didn’t help. As with another ol’ gunslinger, Brett Favre, it just wasn’t happening this year, pardner.
Julianne Moore, A Single Man. Once a seemingly perennial Oscar nominee, Moore’s failure to make the Oscar list for the first time since losing in both the Lead and Supporting categories in 2003 was probably one of this morning’s bigger surprises. As Colin Firth’s pal and sounding board, Moore demonstrates the quiet strength that marks her best performances, avoiding the overplaying that marred her portrayal of a slightly similar character in Savage Grace. Then again, maybe that atrocious Boston accent she’s trotted out for guest spots on 30 Rock cost her here.
Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker. There’s been hardly any talk about Mackie’s supporting of Jeremy Renner in the Iraq bomb-dispensing flick, which is a shame, as he grounded the entire picture. He was also just about the only good thing about that Notorious B.I.G. flick of a few years back. Maybe Night Catches Us will finally give him the attention he deserves.