Academy Awards nominations announcement at 5:38 AM PST today. The film industry's equivalent of Christmas morning has inevitably left some kiddies disappointed while many others are gleeful today.
In general, I'm pleased with this year's contenders. I was very happy about the unexpectedly strong showing made by Winter's Bone in addition to The Social Network, The King's Speech (the leader with 12 nominations) and Inception, all of which were among my top 10 of 2010. I was also pleasantly surprised by Nicole Kidman's well-deserved Best Actress nomination for the affecting Rabbit Hole as well as the inclusion of Javier Bardem, who has been largely shut out of other awards this year, in the Best Actor category for his raw, haunting performance in Biutiful, which was also nominated as Best Foreign Language Film.
The Kids Are All Right, 2010's big GLBT-themed release, garnered a number of nominations and cemented its status in my mind as last year's most overrated movie. Annette Bening and Mark Ruffalo were deservedly honored, but the nods it received for Best Original Screenplay and Best Picture are excessive. More strained domestic drama than ballyhooed comedy, The Kids Are All Right fell way short for me despite its excellent cast.
Also highly overrated in my opinion is True Grit. While technically proficient, very well-acted (the amazing, 14-year old Hailee Steinfeld received a deserved nomination for Best Supporting Actress), and a definite improvement on the original movie version, it's also a fairly routine achievement for Joel and Ethan Coen. The brothers' latest nomination for Best Director is unjust, especially when one realizes Christopher Nolan was left out of the category for his extraordinarily creative work on Inception!
But my disappointment with the high praise heaped upon these two films is tempered by some nominations in "lesser" categories: the song "I See The Light" from Tangled as Best Song (although "You Haven't See the Last of Me" from Burlesque was somewhat surprisingly omitted, so we won't have the prospective thrill of seeing and hearing Cher sing it live during the awards ceremony); composer John Powell's Best Music Score nomination for How to Train Your Dragon; the Best Costume Design nod for the sumptuous I Am Love, our Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association pick as Best Film of the Year; and the inclusion of the hand-drawn, Jacques Tati homage The Illusionist among the Best Animated Feature contenders (alongside Dragon and Toy Story 3).
We'll have to tune in to the 83rd Academy Awards presentation on February 27 to see how everything plays out, but I'm expecting Bening and Colin Firth (Best Actor nominee for The King's Speech) at least to have continued reason to celebrate after that night.
See the comments section below for a quick look at all of this year's Oscar nominations.
By Rev. Chris Carpenter, resident film critic of Movie Dearest and the Blade California.