King Kong (Andy Serkis) and Ann Darrow (Naomi Watts) in Peter Jackson's King Kong.
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:
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.
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.
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.