Oscars 2011 Update: Oscar Nominations Ballots Mailed

Right now, the check actually is in the mail.

Nominations ballots for the 84th Academy Awards are out. This means that, between now and January 14th at 5 pm, Academy members will be able to fill out their ballots and nominate what they thought were the best films in their respective categories.

A quick breakdown as to how this works: All categories, save three, are voted on by their respective members. That is — actors nominate actors, directores nominate directors, etc. The only three categories that do not adhere to this method are Best Picture, Best Animated Feature, and Best Foreign Language Film. Best Picture is something everyone can vote on. And the other two — they are nominated best on subcommittees. Basically — they get a bunch of people from each branch and screen the films for them. And they’re the ones who nominate films. (Foreign Language Film is always like this. In order to vote on the category, you need to have seen all the films.)

Okay, that’s all taken care of. It’s pretty straightforward. And there’s not much here in terms of that except — things are happening. Soon we’ll have nominations. But in the meantime, I figured, why not go and cast my own ballot for the proceedings? So that’s what I’m doing.

Keep in mind, I haven’t seen all the films yet (still working on that. Full disclosure: I haven’t seen Shame, My Week with Marilyn, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, War Horse (past the first 50 minutes) and The Iron Lady yet. The last one isn’t out until Friday, so that’s out of my hands. But the others — I haven’t gotten to them yet. I can see War Horse and Dragon Tattoo easily enough. And I will. Chances are I might even have done so by the time this goes up. If I did, and remembered, you won’t ever see this. My Week with Marilyn is also doable. I just need to get out there. And Shame — slightly harder, but also possible. That’s one of those — I’m gonna wait until the absolute last second on that one. Just because, if I wait until next Tuesday, I may be able to borrow a screener).

The way I’m gonna do this is — regardless of whether or not I’ve seen the films, I’m just going to nominate what I would like to see. I know pretty much all the major players anyway. And there are a finite number of things that could be nominated. (I’m basing this solely on what’s in the running. I generally (and by that I mean, I did it last year, so I’m gonna do it again) put my actual “nominations” the day before the nominations are announced. That’s where I just list everything I liked best. Last year I put on shit like Chloë Moretz as Best Supporting Actress for Kick-Ass. Shit like that. I know I should be doing it the opposite way — crazy stuff now, but I feel it’s better, since I’ll have seen everything by then, and — fuck it, I don’t have to explain myself. This is how it’s being done.)

Basically, if I nominate something even though I haven’t seen the film, it’s because the nomination would make me feel better than seeing another nomination in its place. It’s all about perception. Some nominations I just don’t want to see, for whatever reason. (Like last year. I didn’t want to see The Kids are All Right get all those nominations. So if I were doing this, I wouldn’t nominate it. But, last year, I hadn’t seen Blue Valentine come the time this specific article would have theoretically went up. But I’d still have nominated Michelle Williams, because seeing her get nominated would have made me feel better than seeing Annette Bening and/or Julianne Moore on there. Ya follow?)

So this is what we’re doing. All the categories. What I’d nominate.

Also, keep in mind, now I’m not tainted by anything now. I don’t know what was nominated elsewhere or anything. So, for the other categories, like Sound Mixing and Costume Design, I’m gonna pull from what I saw. Might as well, right?

Let’s just get started. No more talk.

BEST PICTURE

This one’s tough because — we don’t know how many are gonna get nominated. So what we’re gonna do is, I’m gonna nominate 5. We’re guaranteed to have 5. Then, I’ll put 6-10, and those will be the ones I want to see get on after those first five, in that order. So if there are only 8 nominees, we’ll take the first 3 off the 6-10 list, and those will be the 8 I’d like to have seen. It’s a dry run for what I’ll be doing come nominations morning.

Here are the first five:

The Artist

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

War Horse

6-10:

6. The Descendants

7. Moneyball

8. Drive

9. The Tree of Life

10. The Ides of March

I had a tough time with #10. Thought about Shame, but I just don’t know what that’s gonna be. I loved Midnight in Paris, but I don’t really want to see that get on. I mean, instead of The Help, great. Go right the fuck ahead. But basically that was an elimination play. Didn’t love J. Edgar enough, and 50/50, while I loved it, I feel Ides of March should go on instead. Not sure why.

Also, the reason Descendants isn’t on is because I don’t see it as a lock Best Picture nominee, even though it is for them. Tinker, Tailor is my Descendants. I’m not slighting it, since it will be on. If anything, I’m showing my support for a film that’s failed to get notice so far. (And if Dragon Tattoo isn’t that great, you best be sure I’ll swap it out. But right now, my perception on Dragon Tattoo is warmer than my perception of Descendants, probably because I see a scenario where it wins a bunch of awards, and I just can’t have that happen. It might be acceptable come February, but right now, it’s not.)

Also, my winner at the moment is The Artist.

BEST ACTOR

Oh man. This is a tough one. Stuck on a #5.

George Clooney, The Descendants

Jean, Dujardin, The Artist

Michael Fassbender, Shame

Ryan Gosling, The Ides of March

Gary Oldman, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Went with Gosling over Leo and Shannon because — he just had a better year than those two. Gosling was this year’s all star. They like when that happens. Sadly, I see Oldman potentially getting majorly snubbed here in favor of Leo. Though maybe the older Academy doesn’t see the Gosling appeal and Oldman gets on. That would be nice. (You know Leo’s on. That’s not even a question. And the first two are totally locked. Fassbender is also on shaky ground, so it’s possible he doesn’t get in, but he’s also had a solid year.)

My winner for this at the moment is Gary Oldman. (The reason I’m not going Clooney is because he has one, and because he’ll have another chance. This is (probably) Oldman’s only chance to be here. And it’s not a very competitive year. So I think this is an easy win for him. They gave it to fucking Jeff Bridges for that performance. Come on, now. Let’s not pretend this is sacred.)

BEST ACTRESS

Do I have to? Am I really gonna have to nominate three performances I haven’t seen?

Keira Knightley,  A Dangerous Method

Rooney Mara, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Meryl Streep, The Iron Lady

Charlize Theron, Young Adult

Michelle Williams, My Week with Marilyn

It’s really the Meryl and Michelle show. Swinton has a decent chance of making it on, but it seems like Viola Davis is all but guaranteed a nomination. Mara was always a strong presence, so Swinton being the #5 would bump off someone like Glenn Close, who also seems to be something of a lock (even though I really don’t see what all the fuss was about with that performance. I like her, so seeing her here would be okay, but take off Swinton or Davis (more so Davis) and not Mara, please).

Also, I put on Theron at the last second over Tilda Swinton for We Need to Talk About Kevin. I liked her performance a lot, but I just love Keira more. Had to do it. I don’t feel bad. Tilda right now is in the running for the #5 spot on the list. Keira has no shot and Charlize will probably be left off. Also, this is my way of keeping myself away from that, “Oh my god, Tilda Swinton should win the Oscar” outcry from the internet that’s happening. Whether the performance is good or not — this shit turns me off. I hate that.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

Kenneth Branagh, My Week with Marilyn

Albert Brooks, Drive

Ben Kingsley, Hugo

Christopher Plummer, Beginners

Max von Sydow, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

I haven’t really loved any supporting male performance this year. Here’s how I decided this one — Kingsley and Brooks were my favorite. They were terrific. I also loved Max von Sydow’s performance. Then, Plummer, while I didn’t love the movie, or the performance, he’s a dude that should be nominated. He’s awesome, he’s put on great work over the years. I’m cool with the nomination, and possibly even the win. (Oh, wait a minute… could we nominate him for Dragon Tattoo instead? I know it’s basically a cameo, but that film instead of the other one would make that list appeal to me so much more.) And then Branagh — based on everyone else, I just think him playing Olivier is the option that appeals most to me. Patton Oswalt was the other option for me. But Olivier tips the scales.

Also, I don’t see the fascination with Viggo as Freud. I like Viggo, but if we’re nominating him, let’s just be honest and say we’re nominating him and not the performance. I didn’t think Jonah Hill needed to get nominated. He was fine. That’s all. Nick Nolte — I don’t get that one. He’s great, but a nomination for that film would be weak. And Armie Hammer — again, I just didn’t love that film enough. (And the Andy Serkis thing — no comment.)

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

Berenice Bejo, The Artist

Sandra Bullock, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Jessica Chastain, The Tree of Life (or Take Shelter)

Carey Mulligan, Shame (or Drive)

Shailene Woodley, The Descendants

I honestly didn’t have a #5 here. If Sony had pushed Keira Supporting, she’d have been a shoo-in. But, all these other performances for #5 — Octavia Spencer, Janet McTeer, Melissa McCarthy… even Judi Dench! — I just don’t see them as good enough to nominate. Even I have standards.

The reason I went with Sandra Bullock here (and I know some people just went, “Whoa!”) is because — of all the female supporting performances of the year (that are remotely in contention), hers actually impressed me the most. I actually had no one else, is the other thing. Not to take away from the performance, but there actually was no one else. That’s how bad this year has been.

BEST DIRECTOR

David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Martin Scorsese, Hugo

Steven Spielberg, War Horse

Nicolas Winding Riefn, Drive

Let’s face it — Alexander Payne — he didn’t do all that much by way of directing The Descendants. (In terms of Oscars. Look at the effort as compared to Hugo.) So I don’t see him as someone I need to nominate.  Tomas Alfredson just missed with me, but I felt Drive had more pulse to it. (That and, everyone else got in on a technicality. Spielberg had two films this year and Fincher should have won last year, so that makes him auto-on.) I’m so intrigued by what they do here, because apparently Woody Allen can sneak on (and weaken it considerably by taking out a leg), Terrence Malick being who he is — interesting shit is afoot here.

BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

Telling you right now, I’m having a tough time with #5. It’s between (just so you can see which way I went when you look down), Shame, Like Crazy, Another Earth, The Tree of Life — and, that’s it. I guess The Muppets doesn’t really have a shot there, does it? (Also, if it were my own personal ballot — Hanna. Fucking loved that script.) My worry, though, about those four films, is how much of them were ad-libbed and improvised. I think I’m down to two, based on that. Which means…

Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris

Mike Cahill, Brit Marling, Another Earth

Diablo Cody, Young Adult

Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist

Will Reiser, 50/50

Watch The Artist not get nominated because it’s a silent film.

Also, let us all pause to show that I did, in fact, willingly nominate Woody Allen for an Oscar. (That’s two “Whoa!”s so far.) To be fair, all the really good stuff is Adapted this year.

The reason I didn’t go Shame is because I thought the central conceit and execution of Another Earth was too good to not vote for. (Also, the other two seem clearly improvised, by and large.)

BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon, Jim Rash, The Descendants

John Logan, Hugo

Bridget O’Conner, Peter Straughn, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Aaron Sorkin, Steve Zaillian, Moneyball

Steve Zaillian, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Obviously The Help will be here. And War Horse might also get on, even though it doesn’t really seem like something that requires a Screenplay nomination. (Ides of March was also pretty strong.)

Though, actually, I’m not really sure why I automatically went with Dragon Tattoo, sight unseen (though check out the double Zaillian nominations. That might actually happen). Then again, that feel sounds better to me than other choices there. So we’ll leave it. I have a month before I need to pick for real.

BEST EDITING

The Artist

Drive

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Hugo

War Horse

Pretty self-explanatory.

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY

The Artist

Hugo

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

The Tree of Life

War Horse

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 seems assured a spot here. The last few have been nominated for this. Drive also has a shot. Outside of that, and maybe Dragon Tattoo, this might be your actual list.

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE

Ludovic Bource, The Artist

Trent Rexor & Atticus Ross, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Alexandre Desplat, The Ides of March (or Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close)

Howard Shore, Hugo

John Williams, War Horse

(Note: Drive was ineligible. For those wondering. Not that it would have necessarily affected my votes, it’s just — I knew going in, so I never had to deal with it.)

Moneyball is a strong contender here come Oscars, I believe. The reason I didn’t nominate it is just because that film is more molded to the film, whereas Ides of March was more melodic. (Also, I know nothing about music except what I hear.)

Also, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy is my #6 here. I liked that score a lot, but Desplat had two good ones, so he went on. Plus Reznor’s score has so much personality. I had to put that on.

And watch out for The Iron Lady. I’ve seen many-a-film get nominated for acting and for Score. It’s a weird pairing, but for me to have recognized a pattern — it’s possible.

BEST ORIGINAL SONG

Oh hey. I just talked about this a few days ago.

“Coeur Volant,” Hugo

“Life’s a Happy Song,” The Muppets

“Pictures in My Head,” The Muppets

“Bridge of Light,” Happy Feet 2

“So Long,” Winnie the Pooh

“Hello Hello,” from Gnomeo and Juliet almost made it, but I really wanted to see The Muppets get on there. Honestly, I’d be cool with this getting on there instead of “Pictures in My Head.” I also just think that “So Long” is so goddamn joyous that I had to put it on. That probably will never get on at all. Still, I love it.

(Apologies to “Taking You with Me,” from Our Idiot Brother. I like it a lot, but, in terms of what I’d actually like to see performed at the ceremony, it didn’t make the cut. It will, however, go in my iTunes library, so that’s a nice consolation prize.)

BEST ANIMATED FILM

The Adventures of Tintin

Arthur Christmas

Cars 2

Rango

Winnie the Pooh

Self-explanatory. If any sequel was getting on, it was Pixar. And I want something new like Rango on over something like Kung Fu Panda 2.

BEST ART DIRECTION

The Artist

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2

Hugo

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

War Horse

Also, just so we’re clear — this means sets. And you have a silent film, a full recreation of a Paris train station (and Geroges Méliès’s films), Hogwarts, Britain in the 70s, and the trenches of World War I. I would be shocked to see anything else get in here.

(Other possibilities, from a month out: J. Edgar, Midnight in Paris, Tree of Life.)

BEST VISUAL EFFECTS

They narrowed it down to these films so far:

Captain America: The First Avenger
Cowboys & Aliens
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Hugo
Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
Real Steel
Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
Sucker Punch
Super 8
Thor
Transformers: Dark of the Moon
The Tree of Life
X-Men: First Class

And they’ll narrow it down to ten pretty soon. I’m just picking my five now. Oh, this sucks. It means one film I like will be left off. Oh well. C’est la vie.

Hugo

Real Steel

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

The Tree of Life

Best Costume Design, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, Best Makeup — I don’t really know what the hell to nominate. I can’t really pick five. I can pick like, three, that I liked. (And Makeup — the joke there is that J. Edgar will be nominated. And did you see what he looked like in that? It was like Dustin Hoffman in Little Big Man.)

Best Foreign Language Film, Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short, Best Live-Action Short and Best Animated Short — crap shoot. I only randomly pick winners. No way can I nominate anything.

3 responses

  1. Michael

    I have a few questions about your lists. I can understand you not including certain films on Best Picture. If I nominate Harry Potter it will only be for the entire franchise. My issue is that you list Moneyball at #7 and yet you don’t nominate Brad Pitt for Best Actor. You don’t even mention him when talking about alternate nominees. Other than that, I really like the choices. I agree that Gosling should get in over Leo because of the strength of his year. I also feel that the same applies to Fassbender. I haven’t seen him in Shame, but he gave probably the best dramatic performance I’ve ever seen in a “superhero” movie in X-Men. For Best Actress, I disagree with 2-3 of your choices, but if you didn’t like a film, I can’t really argue with that. I like that you kept Rooney Mara on there, though. She was really good and brought a humanity and relatability to the role that I didn’t feel with Noomi Rapace, as good as she was. For Best Supporting Actor, I really like the list, Especially Max von Sydow. The only thing I might change would be not nominating Ben Kingsley for Hugo. I would prefer seeing Hunter McCracken for The Tree of Life since I thought that he was incredible and there is no way in hell that he is ever going up for lead. My other two possibilities would be Viggo Mortensen for A Dangerous Method or Alan Rickman for Harry Potter (especially if it doesn’t get the Best Picture nomination). If more than one of those were to make it, I would probably take off Albert Brooks. For Best Supporting Actress, I loved Bridesmaids, thought it was hilarious, and really liked The Help, so I would probably put in both Octavia Spencer and Melissa McCarthy over Sandra Bullock and Carey Mulligan. For Best Director, my personal choice for both that and Best Picture are Terrence Malick and The Tree of Life. I loved that movie so much. Outside of that, I’d probably say Scorsese and Spielberg just because Hugo was beautiful and Spielberg was doing a movie who’s main character is a damn horse for Christ sake. I’d then probably go with Fincher. His direction on TGwtDT was superb. I would then have to choose between Payne for The Descendants and Refn for Drive. For Best Original Screenplay, I would prefer to see The Tree of Life and Bridesmaids over Another Earth and 50/50, though I could stand not having Bridesmaids if 50/50 were in its place. The Tree of Life is just necessary for me to give it Best Picture. If anything else gets on for Best Adapted Screenplay it’s going to be War Horse or The Help over Hugo. I’m more likely to think War Horse instead of The Help just because The Help glossed over some pretty key social issues in the book. I will be furious if The Tree of Life doesn’t win Best Cinematography. I’ll decide later on if I want to formulate opinions on any of the other categories.

    December 27, 2011 at 8:47 pm

  2. Man, why you getting on my case? I wrote this at like, 2 am last night.

    Plus, nominations aren’t for almost a month. This is like attacking a first draft of a book. Most of the time, that shit isn’t even spelled correctly.

    I understand the Potter thing, but — it’s a Part 2 of a final film. If it was all one big three and a half hour movie, a la Return of the King, then I’d be down with it. The franchise doesn’t need Oscars. Without everything readers brought in from those books, those movies would be nothing. Rings at least stood on their own. Potter isn’t like that. So I really don’t see it as a necessity, especially with the other strong stuff out there. (Though, if it must come down to that or The Help, by all means, let it get on.) Plus, it’ll never win, so what’s the point of nominating it to be like, “Oh, we respect this”? It’s made a billion dollars. And that’s just this one! So I don’t really understand that, especially when the studio is treating it as a business and not as something artistic (which is what the Oscars should stand for. Should being the key word).

    The reason I don’t mention Pitt is because honestly — I want to see if it happens first. If he gets on, that’ll be one of the greatest tricks in the history of cinema. Getting on by doing nothing. I mean — he did fine, but let’s not call him a “must nominate.” I wouldn’t care if he was nominated, but, to me — the film was more of an ensemble. Plus, it’s my preferences. Are we really nitpicking my personal preferences?

    Also — did you say that Fassbender gave the best dramatic performance in a superhero film? Didn’t some other person win an Oscar for doing that a couple years ago?

    I have some discrepancies and disagreements with some stuff you said, but honestly, it all comes down to personal preference, and it would just devolve into a war of “I liked this better,” and then attacking the other stuff, and that never leads anywhere constructive. I’m just some schmuck writing his opinion. I can see if this were what we thought the Academy was gonna nominate, but this is literally a preliminary list of what I liked this year. This has nothing to do with anything? This is like, “If I got to draft a Fantasy Football team, here’s who I’d put on it.”

    December 28, 2011 at 1:15 am

  3. Michael

    Sorry if I was a little too attacking with what I wrote. Honestly, I was so tired that I totally forgot about Ledger when I wrote the thing about Fassbender. Maybe I should have said the greatest superhero performance as Ledger was a villain. Even then, I say that with some trepidation as I haven’t seen a few performances. I didn’t mean to make it seem like a critique. It was more to point out some things I liked and some others I didn’t like so much. I look forward to reading more of your stuff as it gets closer and closer to Oscar nomination and ceremony season.

    December 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm

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