There really isn't much of a point griping or rejoicing over Oscar nominations; every year the Academy picks mostly from a handful of preapproved awards-designated movies, which are often good but usually not the best of the year. Still, the nominations, announced today, are a big deal, so here's my quick take on a few pleasant surprises and disappointing omissions.
I wasn't as big a fan of The Visitor as some, but it was a nice, low-key drama, and lead actor Richard Jenkins has been toiling away in character roles for years, so I'm happy to see him finally get some recognition, regardless of the movie.
I loved Robert Downey Jr.'s turn as a narcissistic actor overly committed to his role in Tropic Thunder, and the Academy rarely recognizes full-on comedy, so it's great to see Downey get the attention he deserves for what is a really multilayered performance.
Not that the actual nominees for Best Picture are all that great, but I don't think the overrated The Dark Knight deserved to be on the list; at least the Academy managed not to give in to relentless fanboy hype.
I could put at least half of my top 10 list from 2008 on here, but my main complaint is that Sally Hawkins, so wonderful in Happy-Go-Lucky, and the recipient of many other nominations and awards, was left out of the Best Actress category, and the movie itself scored only one nomination (for Best Original Screenplay).
The whole Best Original Song category is a joke; only three nominations, including that dopey Peter Gabriel song from WALL-E, and nothing for Bruce Springsteen's title song from The Wrestler, or songs like "Rock Me Sexy Jesus" from Hamlet 2 and "Dracula's Lament" from Forgetting Sarah Marshall, which are actually important to their film's plots.
Revolutionary Road was flawed, but clearly the better Kate Winslet movie and performance than the dull The Reader, which got way more nominations. The Academy can't even figure out how to nominate the correct boringly tasteful prestige movie.
The Oscars air February 22 at 5 p.m. on KTNV Channel 13.