Decoding the Oscar nominations, 2012
While decoding the 84th Academy Award nominations that were announced yesterday, Raja Sen feels this edition could easily be labelled as the most contentious nominations we've seen in the past few years.
62. That's the average age of a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Perhaps, I then assume, they're mostly hard of hearing. Which would explain why a silent throwback to the pre-talkie walks away with every nomination in sight, while the most sonically groundbreaking music score in recent cinema history gets left out in the cold.
The Oscar nominations were announced yesterday and the list has been a perplexing one, almost as if the Academy intended solely to confound.
To be fair, however, there are a fair number of talking points, and what are awards about anyway if not to argue about?
Image: Oscar trophy
Photographs: Reuters/Gary Hershorn
The frontrunners were always obvious:
The Artist: The silent French film that has been winning nearly every award on its way to the top.
Hugo: A joyous celebration of cinema from Martin Scorsese that gives 3D cinema a shot in the arm
The Descendants: Alexander Payne's latest film has left everyone enraptured
Moneyball: A wonderful sports drama featuring Brad Pitt might be the dark horse this year simply because it's safe enough to be everyone's second-choice film.
Image: A scene from The Artist
Photographs: Reuters/Gary Hershorn
The acting nominations have been the most surprising, mostly because the Academy has, as the inevitable pun goes, displayed neither Drive nor Shame.
Michael Fassbender hasn't been nominated for his stellar performance in Steve McQueen's Shame, though he was never likely to win the award -- playing a serial masturbator wouldn't quite go down well with the staid Academy -- and left out Albert Brooks and Ryan Gosling for Drive, though Gosling fans who were left reeling after he was snubbed for last year's tremendous Blue Valentine are probably numb with pain already.
We Do, however, Need To Talk About Tilda Swinton. That one is a miss that lets the whole awardshow down.
Image: Movie poster of Shame
Best musical score
The most insane omission this year is, as said before, musical.
Best Score is an award that should be handed straight to Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross for their work in The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, a highly polished and rarefied piece of aural sophistry that just proves my position about Oscar voters suffering from tinnitus.
Or perhaps they didn't want to pat the Nine Inch Nails man on the back again so soon after giving him a prize for The Social Network?
Either way, their loss. (And we must now root for Alberto Iglesias, whose music stitched Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy together seamlessly.)
Image: A scene from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The surprise entries
Some of the surprises have, indeed, been pleasant.
Woody Allen's Midnight In Paris is up there for Best Picture, Best Director and Screenplay, and, in my book, deserves all three.
Rooney Mara's nominated for Best Actress (for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) and I do hope the young woman beats Meryl Streep's Maggie Thatcher.
And the Best Animated Film, by leaving out the overbudgeted Cars 2 and Tintin, has done us all a service by bringing to light beautiful films like A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita, though Rango must be thrilled about its Pixar-less odds for that trophy.
All in all, it's a more contentious list of nominees than we've had in years. And enough cinema to chew on for the next month before the awards are out on February 26.
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Image: Movie poster of Midnight In Paris