According to a broad consensus of Oscar prognosticators, four of the five Best Pictures nominees announced this morning were virtual locks: The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, Milk, Frost/Nixon, Slumdog Millionaire. The fifth slot was the one that had everybody guessing: Could it be Kate and Leo’s domestic melodrama Revolutionary Road? Would Clint Eastwood sneak in with Gran Torino? Or maybe, just maybe, would two of the most acclaimed and popular films of the year, The Dark Knight or Wall-E, have a chance at getting a little recognition?
Well, how about Option H? Proving yet again that mediocre Holocaust dramas will always be recognized over pop entertainments of infinitely greater complexity and ambition, the Academy decided to fill that fifth slot with The Reader, the sexy illiterate Nazi movie. With a little of that old Harvey Weinstein black magic, The Reader not only snuck into the Best Picture slot against the expectations of many, but also earned Steven Daldry a nod for his pedestrian direction. (How’s this for journalistic objectivity?) The other surprise winner this morning was earnest Sundance favorite Frozen River, which took a Best Original Screenplay nomination for writer-director Courtney Hunt and a Best Actress nod for Melissa Leo, who’s earned the recognition after years of underappreciated work as a character actress. (Ditto Richard Jenkins, a Best Actor nominee for The Visitor.)
Overall, Benjamin Button won the highest number of nominations with 13, including Picture, Actor (Brad Pitt), Director (David Fincher), and Supporting Actress (Taraji P. Henson), as well as a wealth of technical nods. But whatever. The full list of nominees can be found here. Sound off on your pleasant surprises and bitter disappointments below.
Update: We’re just noticing that Bruce Springsteen’s song for The Wrestler got snubbed, and that there are only three songs nominated total. WTF?