Awards Season

Six Things To Watch For In The Oscar Nominations Tomorrow Morning

Ryan Gosling probably won't be nominated for Drive — or for either of his other highly praised performances this year. i i

hide captionRyan Gosling probably won't be nominated for Drive — or for either of his other highly praised performances this year.

Richard Foreman, Jr./FilmDistrict
Ryan Gosling probably won't be nominated for Drive — or for either of his other highly praised performances this year.

Ryan Gosling probably won't be nominated for Drive — or for either of his other highly praised performances this year.

Richard Foreman, Jr./FilmDistrict

Tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. Eastern time, the Oscar nominations will be announced. As usual, there are some nominations you can safely assume are forthcoming (it's about as likely that Meryl Streep won't be nominated for Best Actress for The Iron Lady as it is that Adam Sandler will be nominated for Best Actress for Jack And Jill). But there's no crystal clear Best Picture frontrunner, and we don't even know how many Best Picture nominees there will be, let alone what they'll be. So here's a quick guide to some of what should be interesting to watch.

1. How many Best Picture nominees? There could be anywhere from five Best Picture contenders to ten, depending on how the voting breaks down. Some seem like obvious good bets — The Help, The Artist, The Descendants ... probably some combination of Midnight In Paris, Hugo and War Horse out of respect (for, respectively, Woody Allen, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg) if nothing else. But there could be others — Moneyball is lightweight, but it's an Aaron Sorkin script. The Tree Of Life was polarizing, but won a load of year-end critics' awards. And what about Bridesmaids?

2. Yeah, what about Bridesmaids? It's an interesting idea, but people were speculating this time last year about a nomination for The Hangover, too. That didn't happen, and there were ten guaranteed nominations that time. It would be a stunner if Bridesmaids actually were nominated for Best Picture, but substantially less surprising to see the screenplay nominated, and not surprising at all to see Melissa McCarthy nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

3. Clooney, Pitt. Pitt, Clooney. Hollywood's most A-list-iest bromance, George Clooney and Brad Pitt could each wind up nominated for either one of two films. Pitt could be nominated for Moneyball or The Tree Of Life; Clooney will probably be recognized for The Descendants, but could theoretically go up for The Ides Of March. There are actually several possible Clooney/Pitt variations. Don't you feel a tingle?

4. Speaking of The Ides Of March, what about Gosling? Ryan Gosling made considerable splashes last year in the worlds of dark, violent drama (Drive), light romantic comedy (Crazy, Stupid, Love) and political thriller (The Ides Of March). He doesn't seem likely to be nominated for any of them, just as he was aced out for last year's Blue Valentine. But his Oscar future (and remember, he was nominated for best Actor for Half Nelson in 2007) seems awfully bright. Just maybe not this year.

5. Are people mad about the score for The Artist? Ludovic Bource's score for The Artist contains sections that were (with permission) taken from the score of Vertigo. As you may have heard, this made Kim Novak very upset, despite the fact that Kim Novak did not actually write the score of Vertigo. On the one hand, the film has been criticized for the borrowing; on the other, its score is probably presented more prominently than any other prospective nominee this year, for the simple reason that it's largely a silent film. I expect to see it on the list of Original Score nominees, controversy aside.

6. And speaking of The Artist, just how tiny can a movie be and be a Best Picture frontrunner? There's not much question that The Artist will be nominated for Best Picture tomorrow morning. At the same time, its expansion this weekend to 662 theaters didn't go particularly well, box-office-wise, and it's going to enter the hardcore Oscar season as a little-seen film, having grossed about $12 million total. Now, nominated films have made less: last year's Winter's Bone was nominated for Best Picture, and it made a total of $6.5 million over a theatrical run that, including the time after its Oscar recognition, lasted almost a year. Even the James Franco vehicle 127 Hours only grossed $18 million and change. You can be a small movie and be nominated.

But those films weren't frontrunners. The King's Speech and The Social Network, which fought it out last year, had both made substantially more money (and thus been seen by substantially more people) by the time they were nominated. (Note: I have been reminded on Twitter of the example of The Hurt Locker, which was similarly low-earning, so it's not unheard of.) The Artist picked up the Producers Guild Award this weekend, which, unlike a lot of other awards, actually does have some history of predicting Best Picture. But at a time when the Academy has been trying to make the awards more accessible, they may have found in a black-and-white silent film the limitations of the awards bump.

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