Oscar Nominations: Who and What Got Left Out

King Kong (Andy Serkis) and Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts)

King Kong (Andy Serkis) and Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) in Peter Jackson's King Kong. Universal Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Universal Pictures

With 44 films nominated in major categories, the Motion Picture Academy cast such a wide net this year that outrage is harder to muster than usual... but let's try.

George Clooney got three separate nominations for two films, so presumably he's happy, but if I were Tommy Lee Jones, and had poured my heart into The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, I’d be seriously annoyed.

Herewith, a few also-rans that might just as well have been in-the-running, listed below in the category in which they could have been nominated:

BEST PICTURE

The Constant Gardener: Pharmaceutical companies run amok — it's right in tune with the year's social-issue trends.

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada: A smart border-Western, and an impressive directorial debut, for Tommy Lee Jones.

Wallace & Gromit: Curse of the Were-Rabbit: If only the Academy hadn’t ghettoized animation.

King Kong: If only the Academy weren't tired of honoring Peter Jackson.

BEST ACTOR

Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Mysterious Skin): Yes, the Third Rock From The Sun alum. He's haunting and haunted as a trick-turning teen.

Jeff Daniels (The Squid and the Whale): The year's least appealing dad, in the year's most overlooked movie.

Ralph Fiennes (The Constant Gardener): Silences that say more than words, as his whole world comes apart.

Andy Serkis (King Kong): Deserves his own non-digital-bones-for-digital-characters category, after leaping from scrawny Gollum to a 25-foot-tall ape.

Gromit (Wallace and Gromit): Everything the others did, he did without words, or even a mouth.

BEST ACTRESS

Claire Danes (Shopgirl): A smile that makes the most improbable romances feel inevitable.

Laura Linney (The Squid and the Whale): Matching Jeff Daniels (see above), quirk for quirk.

Naomi Watts (King Kong): Making inter-species romance seem plausible, while acting opposite a computer program.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Don Cheadle (Crash): Along with pretty much the whole cast.

Ed Harris (History of Violence): Playing a bad guy with one, er, eye tied behind his back.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Maria Bello (History of Violence): Defending a husband she's increasingly convinced she doesn't know.

BEST FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM

Gilles Wife (Belgium): Post-WWII tale of domestic jealousy.

Cache (France): Post-Algeria tale of domestic fury.

Kung Fu Hustle (China): Postmodern tale of martial arts domesticity conventions — if only the Academy would lighten up.

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