Oscar Nomination Thoughts

The 83rd Academy Awards are off and running with the nominations announced this morning (click here for the full nominee list) and to kick things off, I thought I’d drop in a few quick thoughts on each category this morning.

Best Picture

No surprises here, though overall it warms my heart to see that Winter’s Bone really has made it this far. It’s been a long time since Sundance when this tiny indie first started making waves and it outlasted a number of big-budget, major studio Oscar bait to make it here. Well done, Winter’s Bone.

Best Actor

Javier Bardem is the biggest surprise to me. He’s a name the Academy is quite fond of but Biutiful seemed to be falling flat in the buzz department, though I imagine this will change that. I actually think this could be the most competitive major category this year, with Jeff Bridges, Jesse Eisenberg and Colin Firth all having a real legitimate shot at taking home the trophy.

Best Actress

Despite her big name and the recent buzz, I have to call Nicole Kidman’s nomination this year a bit of an upset. The once perennial nominee has gone quiet in recent years and has struggled to find the kind of roles that made her a superstar early on in her career but Rabbit Hole could be a turning point for her. As for the category as a whole, perhaps the most one-sided matchup at the Oscars this year. Anyone other than Natalie Portman taking it home will be a massive upset.

Best Supporting Actor

John Hawkes from Winter’s Bone is officially my biggest pleasant surprise of this year’s nominations. Tremendous and underrated performance from the former “Deadwood” star. I’ll go ahead and say Christian Bale is the odds-on favorite here for The Fighter but don’t count out Geoffrey Rush.

Best Supporting Actress

Two BIG surprises here with Amy Adams and Helena Bonham Carter snagging nominations for performances that frankly didn’t garner a lot of attention. Adams’ role is at least a bit showier (accent work, minimal makeup, etc.) but Carter’s performance, while strong, is certainly not the kind of role you typically think of when you think about Best Supporting Actress, a category known for bombastic, showy performances. This category is wide open, as always, but I’m rooting for Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit.

Best Animated Picture

One word: Blowout.

Best Director

Definitely a bit of a surprise to see Christopher Nolan shutout here but I imagine he was the last man out, probably edged out by either Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech) or David O. Russell (The Fighter) both of whom have the advantage of a more recent release date for their pictures. Truly one of the most compelling Best Director races in years.

Best Original Screenplay

Nolan gets his due here with a screenplay nomination for Inception. My money would be on either Nolan or Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg for The Kids Are All Right but again, a highly competitive category here.

Best Adapted Screenplay

Pretty weird to say this considering the Coen Brothers are among his competition, but Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network) may have as tight a grip on this award as any nominee in any category. You can go ahead and start etching his name in.

Best Documentary Feature

One of the two “is it real?” documentaries from 2010, Banksy’s Exit Through the Gift Shop, picked up a nomination here and I’ll be rooting hard for a win here if only to see what happens when the elusive Banksy is called up to the podium to accept.

Best Original Score

Hans Zimmer did some amazing things with his Inception score but the early favorite has to be considered The Social Network‘s Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Another in a long string of nominations for How to Train Your Dragon, a movie which I guess I’ll be seeing now.