Before you can ever delve deep into the nominated fields, you have do the requisite double takes to process the surprises. Herewith the most shocking turns of events this morning. If I haven't included something you found truly eyebrow-raising and faith-shaking ('how can I ever turst the pundits again?!') make sure to share it in the comments.
10 The Supporting Actor List is All Previous Winners
In the entire history of the Oscars, I can't recall any acting category having been composed entirely of men or women who already had Oscars. At least one newbie always manages to join the celebrated. Other than that it's not a surprising list really given that all five of the men had precursor support (typical) and two are leads masquerading as supporting (typical) and all are veterans (typical). This is the kindest category to acting veterans and the most impervious to actual excitement. Year in and year out, it's the dullest major Oscar category even when the field to choose from is brimming with electricity. And to think we could have had a rising star playing an android, a rising star singing and crying his heart out, a rising star shaking what his mama gave him while stoned in Mexico, an A list reaching a career peak with nothing but a G string and a great great performance, and a baker turned actor among the dozens of possibly more thrilling choices.
09 The Dark Knight Rises with Zero Nominations
It's a beautiful symmetry. Batman f***ed Oscar over by sending them into a tizzy of low-confidence voting rule changes after the infamous 2008 snub (presumably to include more populist choices in Best Picture) and now Oscar has f***ed Batman over by ignoring The Dark Knight Rises altogether -- this despite the series being very popular with voters since long before Chris Nolan took over.
Eight more increasingly startling morning alarms after the jump.
08 The Pirates! A Band of Misfits in Animated Feature
Many pundits assumed that this was a locked up studio quintet of Brave, Frankenweenie, ParaNorman, Wreck-It Ralph and Rise of the Guardians and that if anything could squeeze one of them out, it'd be a foreign film like The Painting. But nope. It was Aardman's mild comic adventure about a useless pirate captain and his prized dodo bird that most armchair pundits had totally forgotten about.
07 Lincoln snubbed for makeup and hair
I can't wrap my head around this one. It had everything: old age makeup, prosthetics, wigs galore... and it all looked realistic and of a piece. What went wrong?
06 Benh Zeitlin in for Best Director
...Not that I'm complaining! For the longest time at Oscar functions I would get blank looks if I brought up this beautiful movie so I assumed it was too outsider an option to really hope for. Zeitlin, who is only 30 years old, joins an esteemed list of 15 men nominated for their feature debut that includes powerhouse legends like Orson Welles, Sidney Lumet, and Mike Nichols and contemporary lauded filmmakers like Sam Mendes (Skyfall, who won for American Beauty). He's also now the 8th youngest director ever nominated! John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood, 1991) who was also nominated for his debut, remains the youngest. He was nominated at only 24 years of age.
05 Flight in for Best Screenplay
Sure, I had it just outside the prediction list at #6 but those top five looked set in stone and there are plenty of people who groused about Flight's lack of focus which traces back to the screenplay
04 The Intouchables out of the Foreign Film Competition
We might have called this given that France's crowd-pleaser never really took off in the States (where the bulk of AMPAS voters are from) like it did in virtually every other country it played in. But many people thought it might be the feel good through entertainment alternative to Amour's feel brutalized by truth once it came time to vote for a Foreign Film winner.
03 The Master only loved for its Actors
At first glance this isn't a shocker at all since one might well consider The Master's three principle roles to have plenty of scenery chewing hooks. But when you remember that SAG (made entirely of actors) snubbed both Joaquin Phoenix in lead and Amy Adams in supporting (and it was hardly a late year release they didn't have an opportunity to see) it's strange that the trend was totally reversed come Oscar time with The Master scoring ONLY in acting... and for all three of them no less!
02 Jacki Weaver nominated for Best Supporting Actress
Though Jacki Weaver had zero precursor support during the whole process of Oscar balloting she managed her second nomination in three years (her first was for Animal Kingdom for which she totally deserved the Oscar). While she's wonderful as the concerned mother, the film gives her very little to do other than try to calm her highly excitable husband and son down. To win the nomination she beat Ann Dowd in Compliance (who some were calling the Jacki Weaver of this year ironically), and Globe & SAG nominees Nicole Kidman in Paperboy and Maggie Smith in Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.
Weaver's nomination makes Silver Linings Playbook the first film since Warren Beatty's classic Reds (1981) to win acting nominations in all categories. How about that? This has to equal Playbook being the real threat to Lincoln's presumed "ensemble" win at SAG on the 27th.
01 Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow both snubbed in Best Director.
Many people thought one or both of them was in the fight for the actual win and not vulnerable at all really to the darkhorses. But neither managed a nomination which makes Directing Oscar #3 a super easy get for Steven Spielberg now. It's hard to know what happened with Ben Affleck since so the director's branch is hardly averse to nominated actors who make that crossover. With Bigelow was it the torture controversy, her much-discussed partnership with Mark Boal. One wonders...