2012 Oscars: Oscar loves ‘The Descendants’

Jan. 24, 2012 | 0 Comments
"The Descendants," based on Kaui Hart Hemmings' novel of the same name" captured five Oscar nominations, including a best actor nod for George Clooney, left. Missing the cut from Shailene Woodley, right. (Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight)

"The Descendants," based on Kaui Hart Hemmings' novel of the same name" captured 11 Oscar nominations, including a best actor nod for George Clooney, left. Missing the cut from Shailene Woodley, right. (Photo courtesy Fox Searchlight)

BY ROGER MOORE / McClatchy-Tribune News Service

Martin Scorsese’s love poem to the movies and film preservation, “Hugo,” led the pack with a whopping 11 Oscar nominations when the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced the contenders for the 84h Academy Awards Tuesday morning in Beverly Hills.

Though almost all of the pre-Oscar favorites picked up their expected nominations, there were surprises. Nine films were nominated for best picture, but not “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.” Five films are up for best animated feature film, but not “The Adventures of Tintin.”

Movies that hadn’t made a ripple this awards season, such as “Tinker Tailer Soldier Spy,” “Bridesmaids,” “Albert Nobbs” and “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close,” made Oscar noise in spite of that lack of buzz.

Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" received 11 nominations. (Photo courtesy Paramount)

Martin Scorsese's "Hugo" received 11 nominations. (Photo courtesy Paramount)

Glenn Close and Janet McTeer, both playing women living disguised as men in 19th century Ireland, got best actress and supporting actress nominations for “Albert Nobbs.”

The same two pictures that have dominated the pre-Oscar awards — “The Artist” and “The Descendants” — still look like favorites, collecting nine and five nominations, respectively. “Hugo” and “War Horse” (six nominations) set themselves up to be Oscar’s night’s biggest losers, collecting lots of nominations in categories they have little chance of winning.

Meryl Streep collected her 17th nomination for her brilliant impersonation of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady”. Though she is a favorite to take home the best actress Oscar (she hasn’t won since 1982’s “Sophie’s Choice,” despite collecting new nominations every couple of years), she struck a modest tone on hearing the news.

“I am honored to be in company with such beautiful artists, and touched deeply by my fellow actors for their generosity in giving me this acknowledgment,” Streep said in a statement.

For once, the Academy remembered a few movies from earlier in in the year — the March animated smash “Rango” and early summer’s “The Tree of Life” (nominations for director Terrence Malick and for cinematography), “Bridesmaids” (nominations for screenplay and for supporting actress Melissa McCarthy) and Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” (three nominations, including director and original screenplay). Demian Bichir from this summer’s little-seen “A Better Life” scored a surprise nomination in for best actor. He’s competing against heavy favorite George Clooney (The Descendants“), Jean Dujardin (”The Artist“), Brad Pitt (”Moneyball“) and Gary Oldman, a first-time nominee for his performance as an aged, meticulous spy master in ”Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.“

“You may have heard this before, but it has never been truer than it is for me today; it is extremely humbling, gratifying, and delightful to have your work recognized by the Academy, and to join the celebrated ranks of previous nominees and colleagues,” Oldman, 53, said from Berlin. “Amazing.”

Best actress pits favorites Streep and Viola Davis (“The Help”) against Close (“Albert Nobbs”), Rooney Mara (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”) and Michelle Williams (“My Week With Marilyn”).

Best actress nominee Viola Davis in "The Help." (Photo courtesy Touchstone)

Best actress nominee Viola Davis in "The Help." (Photo courtesy Touchstone)

“This role has been the challenge and privilege of a lifetime,” Williams said of her performance as Marilyn Monroe during the period when Monroe worked in Britain on the comedy “The Prince and the Showgirl.” “I would like to think that the recognition our film as received by the Academy is a testament to Marilyn’s legacy.”

Oscar night will be packed with sentimental favorites, with Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”), Nick Nolte (“Warrior) and Max von Sydow (”Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close“) fighting it out in the best supporting actor category. The oft-nominated Close, onetime British boy wonder Kenneth Branagh (”My Week With Marilyn“) and Viola Davis (”The Help“) all give this year’s nominations a sense of history, of long and fruitful careers.

“It’s a shot in the arm for a young kid of 82 to receive an Academy Award nomination this morning,” Pummer joked.

The two acting nominations for “Moneyball” — Brad Pitt for best actor, Jonah Hill for supporting actor — and best picture nomination lift that fall film’s chances.

Best animated feature is a truly international category this year, with the French film “A Cat in Paris” and a Spanish one “Chico & Rita” seemingly taking spots that might have been reserved for “The Adventures of Tintin,” “Rio” or “Arthur Christmas.” The mainstream hits “Puss in Boots,” “Rango” and “Kung Fu Panda 2” will compete against the European films.

“The Adventures of Tintin” and Steven Spielberg (no best director nomination for “War Horse” or “Tintin”) were the early consensus on nomination day’s biggest losers. Albert Brooks (“Drive”), director David Fincher (“The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo”), Jim Broadbent (“The Iron Lady”) and Ryan Gosling, not nominated for either “Drive” or “The Ides of March,” also were left out in the Oscar cold.

The 84th Academy Awards will be handed out Feb. 26 and televised on ABC.

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