No matter how much one follows the trends of the current award season, one can always count on the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to throw some curveballs come Oscar nomination time. And boy, did they this morning.
We'll start with Best Picture nominees: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, Frost/Nixon, Milk, The Reader and Slumdog Millionaire. That's right, no The Dark Knight, a fact that will be bemoaned by fanboy bloggers now 'til doomsday. The director nods match the top five exactly, including out filmmakers Gus Van Sant and Stephen Daldry.
The surprises continue in the acting categories, where indie faves Richard Jenkins (The Visitor) and Melissa Leo (Frozen River) were in, Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino) and Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) were out. Meanwhile, Golden Globe double-winner Kate Winslet was only nominated for Best Actress (and for The Reader, not Revolutionary Road as campaigned).
And the shocks went all the way down the line, such as no Woody Allen's Vicky Cristina Barcelona for Original Screenplay and (my "guilty pleasure" category) the oft-maligned Best Original Song limited to only three tunes (WALL-E's "Down to Earth" and two from Slumdog; you can hear them in full at the Official Movie Dearest MySpace page). For a quick look at all the nominees in every category, see the comments section below.
The 81st Annual Academy Awards will be presented Sunday February 22 on ABC. Let the predictions, nay saying and second-guessing begin ...