When the complete list of nominees for the 84th Annual Academy Awards was released Jan. 25, I could not help but find myself wondering about the decisions that the Academy made this year. I could not figure out what has happened to the categories of Best Picture, Actor in a Leading Role, Directing, Original Score and Original Song.
I like that the adaptation of The Help, the heart wrenching Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, the WWII-era horse movie War Horse, the Parisian golden age returner Midnight in Paris, Scorsese’s Hugo, and The Tree of Life are all nominated in the Best Picture category.
But regarding these nominations, two questions come to my mind: Why are The Ides of March and The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo not nominated? And, in addition, why are David Fincher, George Clooney and Steven Spielberg not nominated in the Directing category?
Maybe Fincher’s new adaptation of Sweden’s acclaimed serial killer novel is too dark and gory for the Academy. Spielberg might not have his rightful place in the category because he directed a movie about horses. Perhaps it is because there can only be one member of the Spielberg-Lucas-Scorsese triad nominated at a time. Why is Clooney only nominated for his role in The Descendants and not for directing The Ides of March?
The Academy does not only have issues recognizing deserving directors and movies but also with recognizing the portrayals of human nature. This can be seen because three actors who should be in the Actor in a Leading Role category this year are not nominated: Leonardo DiCaprio for his portrayal of J. Edgar Hoover; British actor Daniel Craig, who portrayed Mikael Blomkvist in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; and Ryan Gosling for his role in The Ides of March. Again, the Academy has not recognized the work of these very talented actors. The exception of this year is that, at least, it recognized Gary Oldman, who was masterful in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
But as author Paul Auster said, “Opportunity is the music of chance,” and chance has left out clear potential nominees in the Original Score and Original Song categories. Although we do see recognizable names like John Williams (with two nominations) and Howard Shore (with one), we do not see nominations for the new collaboration from NIN’s Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.
Last year, they won this exact award with the score for another one of Fincher’s movies, The Social Network, but they were curiously left out this year. They may be seeking to ‘correct’ their actions and choices from last year, or perhaps they are looking for something new. This is evident in the fact that only two movies were nominated for Original Song: “Man or Muppet” from The Muppets and “Real in Rio” from Rio. Why isn’t grunge god, Soundgarden and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell nominated for “The Keeper” Where is Madonna’s “Masterpiece” for her movie W.E.?
With the Oscars around the corner (airing Sunday, Feb. 26), the only way to answer these questions is to turn on your television and hope that Lady Justice will help before the Academy steps into the same river once again.
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