Five Thoughts On the Academy Award Nominations

1. Most obviously, this is a deeply conventional list of nominees. Shame is a daring movie, but given its critical acclaim, Putting it somewhere in the mix wouldn’t have been so hard. The best director list is all dudes. And seriously, War Horse for best picture?

2. That said, if the Academy was going to take a risk with acting nods, I’m thrilled that it did so with Demian Bichir, whose performance as a immigrant father who risks deportation to get his truck and gardening equipment back after they’re stolen was one of the movies that moved me most deeply last year.

3. I’m glad to see the love for Bridesmaids, but frustrated by the lack of attention for Young Adult, which may lack toilet humor, but pushes into vastly different and more difficult places than the former. It’s very hard to watch Charlize Theron play the wildly selfish Mavis Grady, but she’s a much more daring and challenging so-called difficult woman than Lisbeth Salander or Maggie Thatcher.

4. Margin Call‘s Best Original Screenplay nod is fantastic news. It’s not just that this nervy, restrained financial thriller is a great, timely movie. It’s that the movie scraped forward on a combination of theatrical distribution and VOD, a triumph for a new model that could help more movies get to the audiences they deserve. Next to this, the nods for Ides of March for Adapted Screenplay is a disgrace.

5. Rise of the Planet of the Apes gets nominated in visual effects, rather than acting (not that it doesn’t deserve that nod, too) and Hollywood avoids a pressing question about its future yet again? At this point, I think another actor needs to give an undeniable performance in motion capture before the Hollywood community will come to consensus about how to define this new form.