The Oscar Nominations: Who's In, Who's Out?

  • Publish Date: February 2, 2010
  • Comments: ↓ 15 user comments

Few surprises, but plenty of drama

Films with Most Nominations
1 Avatar 9 noms
1 The Hurt Locker 9 noms
3 Inglourious Basterds 8 noms
4 Precious 6 noms
4 Up in the Air 6 noms

Earlier this morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 82nd Academy Awards.

This year's nominations are most notable for the fact that the Best Picture category includes 10 nominees (instead of five) for the first time in over 60 years. While that expansion was originally expected to lead to some unconventional selections in the category, most Oscar experts managed to successfully predict nine of the nominees.

Also as expected, Avatar and The Hurt Locker led all films with nine nominations apiece, setting up a head-to-head showdown between the year's highest-grossing film and the year's best-reviewed title in a number of categories.

Listed below are this year's nominees in every category.

And the nominees are...

Best Picture
Nominee Metascore   Nominee Metascore
Avatar 84   Inglourious Basterds 69
The Blind Side 53   Precious 79
District 9 81   A Serious Man 79
An Education 85   Up 88
The Hurt Locker 94   Up in the Air 83

There was just one surprise out of the ten nominees: the spot that went to the uplifting sports drama The Blind Side was mostly expected to belong to the uplifting sports drama Invictus. (Blind SIde performed much better at the box office, so in that respect, the choice was not wholly unexpected.) The selection of District 9 would have seemed unbelievable at this time last year -- not only because it is a science-fiction film, but because of its non-Hollywood origins -- but the experts correctly anticipated its inclusion. Other titles likely benefiting from the expansion of the list to 10 titles include Pixar's Up (which was also nominated in the animated feature category), the Coen Brothers' little-seen A Serious Man, and the well-received British drama An Education. One film that was mentioned as a strong possibility for a nomination but was left of the list was JJ Abrams' Star Trek, although that box office hit did receive a handful of technical nominations.

Kathryn Bigelow
The Hurt Locker
James Cameron
Lee Daniels
Jason Reitman
Up in the Air
Quentin Tarantino
Inglourious Basterds

Absolutely no surprises here; the five directors listed above had been considered a lock to get the nominations for weeks. And it is shaping up to be a dramatic two-person contest between Kathryn Bigelow and her ex-husband, James Cameron. Bigelow is just the fourth female ever to receive a directing nod, while Lee Daniels is only the second African American director to be nominated.

Original Screenplay
Mark Boal
The Hurt Locker
Quentin Tarantino
Inglourious Basterds
Alessandro Camon & Oren Moverman
The Messenger
Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
A Serious Man
Pete Docter & Bob Peterson
Adapted Screenplay
Neill Blomkamp & Terri Tatchell
District 9
Nick Hornby
An Education
Jesse Armstrong, Simon Blackwell, Armando Iannucci, Tony Roche
In The Loop
Geoffrey Fletcher
Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner
Up in the Air

The writing nominations went mostly as expected, with a few surprises. The selection of The Messenger for best original screenplay was not anticipated; many pundits felt that (500) Days of Summer would earn a nomination here. In the adapted screenplay category, the nomination of British political satire In The Loop was a major surprise, with many experts expecting Tom Ford to earn a nomination for A Single Man instead.

Lead Actress
Sandra Bullock
The Blind Side
Helen Mirren
The Last Station
Carey Mulligan
An Education
Gabourey Sidibe
Meryl Streep
Julie & Julia
Lead Actor
Jeff Bridges
Crazy Heart
George Clooney
Up in the Air
Colin Firth
A Single Man
Morgan Freeman
Jeremy Renner
The Hurt Locker
Supporting Actress
Penelope Cruz
Vera Farmiga
Up in the Air
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Crazy Heart
Anna Kendrick
Up in the Air
Supporting Actor
Matt Damon
Woody Harrelson
The Messenger
Christopher Plummer
The Last Station
Stanley Tucci
The Lovely Bones
Christoph Waltz
Inglourious Basterds

The acting nominees were also predicted well in advance by most experts, with two exceptions. In the supporting actress category, the selections of Maggie Gyllenhaal and, to a lesser extent, Penelope Cruz were relatively unexpected. Nominated actors ranged from first-timers like Stanley Tucci to Meryl Streep, whose nomination is her 16th.

Other Film Nominees
Animated Feature Metascore   Foreign-Language Film Metascore
Coraline 80   Ajami XX
Fantastic Mr. Fox 83   A Prophet XX
The Princess and the Frog 73   The Milk of Sorrow XX
The Secret of Kells XX   The Secret In Their Eyes XX
Up 88   The White Ribbon 82
Documentary Feature Metascore   Documentary Short Subject
Burma VJ 82   China's Unnatural Disaster: The Tears of Sichuan Province
The Cove 84   The Last Campaign of Governor Booth Gardner
Food Inc. 80   The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant
The Most Dangerous Man in America 67   Music by Prudence
Which Way Home XX   Rabbit à la Berlin
Short Film (Animated)   Short Film (Live Action)
French Roast   The Door
Granny O'Grimm's Sleeping Beauty   Instead of Abracadabra
The Lady and the Reaper (La Dama y la Muerte)   Kavi
Logorama   Miracle Fish
A Matter of Loaf and Death   The New Tenants

By far the biggest surprise out of all the films mentioned above: The Secret of Kells (an Irish adventure yet to be released in the U.S.), nominated for best animated feature in lieu of Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs or Ponyo.

Original Score
James Horner
Alexandre Desplat
The Fantastic Mr. Fox
Marco Beltrami and Buck Sanders
The Hurt Locker
Hans Zimmer
Sherlock Holmes
Michael Giacchino
Original Song
"The Weary Kind"
Crazy Heart
"Take It All"
"Loin de Paname"
Paris 36
"Almost There"
The Princess and the Frog
"Down in New Orleans"
The Princess and the Frog

The original score category featured a number of surprising nominees. While veteran composer Marvin Hamlisch was widely expected to receive a nod for his score to The Informant!, and the scores to Star Trek and A Serious Man were also mentioned as potential nominees, those spots instead went to Hans Zimmer's Sherlock Holmes score, and -- more surprisingly -- the scores to Hurt Locker and Mr. Fox. In the song category, the major omission is Avatar's "I See You," while Nine was expected to receive more than one nomination (instead, the animated The Princess and the Frog -- composed by Academy favorite Randy Newman -- pulled off that feat). The appearance of Paris 36 is also surprising; the French period drama was little-seen and poorly-reviewed.

Other Categories
Art Direction
Avatar The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Nine Sherlock Holmes The Young Victoria
Mauro Fiore
Bruno Delbonnel
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Barry Ackroyd
The Hurt Locker
Robert Richardson
Inglourious Basterds
Christian Berger
The White Ribbon
Costume Design
Bright Star Coco Before Chanel The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus Nine The Young Victoria
Film Editing
Avatar District 9 The Hurt Locker Inglourious Basterds Precious
Il Divo Star Trek The Young Victoria    
Sound Editing
Avatar The Hurt Locker Inglourious Basterds Star Trek Up
Sound Mixing
Avatar The Hurt Locker Inglourious Basterds Star Trek Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen
Visual Effects
Avatar District 9 Star Trek    

More coverage to come

In the next few days, we'll take a closer look at the nominated films and compare them to past years' winners. We'll also see how accurately the experts -- and Metacritic users -- predicted the nominations. Finally, we'll see what factors serve as good predictors of the eventual Oscar winners, and we'll also invite you to predict the winners and match wits with the experts. And then, next month, the big night arrives: the 81st Annual Academy Awards ceremony, hosted by Steve Martin and Alec Baldwin, will air live on ABC on Sunday, March 7th at 8:00p (5:00p PT).

We're sorry, but comments are closed for this article.

Comments (15)

  • Freud  

    Helen Mirren deserves to win an Oscar. She's fantasting in "The Last Station". But I'm nervious about J. Moore not nominated for the performance in "A Single Man".

  • Grant  

    I think overall it was a terrible year to go from 5 to 10 nominations. Take the Blind Side for example, how the hell did that piece of crap Sandra Bullock pile of garbage get nominated. In my opinion the Hurt Locker is the only great movie of the year, sure Avatar looks great but the acting was almost unbearable. I also think Fantastic Mr Fox should win best animated over Up.

  • Chad S.  

    I liked Emily Blunt in "The Young Victoria" a lot. The movie overall, is underrated. The smartest decision among the nominations was Maggie Gylenhaal's "Crazy Heart". She's like the point guard who gives her superstar teammate(Jeff Daniels) a lot to work with. Penelope Cruz deserves an Oscar nod for "Broken Embraces", not "Nine", where she is merely hot, rather than being brilliantly hot in the Pedro Almodovar near-masterpiece.

  • Amir Manraj  

    Correction to above statement! I meant to say Mo'Nique has it in the bag for the Best Supporting Actress category, not Bullock, who will win Best Actress.

  • Amir Manraj  

    I think the biggest disappointment/upset of the year is Julianne Moore not getting her fifth Oscar nomination for A Single Man. Well, maybe that's a good thing, because Sandra Bullock pretty much has it in the bag and I wouldn't wanna see poor Julianne lose for the fifth time.

  • Heywood Jablome  

    Best picture contest is "Avatar" vs. Avatar's-Too-Commercial-Let's-Pick-Something-Else. Best I can figure "The Blind Side" nom was the result of a miscommunication error that the Academy is unwilling to fess up to.

  • Trae  

    I agree with you guys about Zoe Saldana not getting a nod. I truly cared about her througout the entire picture. I do think Avatar should/will win best picture. It's a given that it will at least half of what it has been noninated for. I just truly hope it wins the big one. I also agree with Anonymous about the Hangover. That movie nearly made me split my side. I just had to wath it when the kids were away.

    Also to Josh. Great job on your perspective about the Oscars. That was well thoughtout.

  • Anonymous  

    i hope district wins at least one oscar. shame the hangover wasnt nominated for anything.

  • Mike  

    It's a shame Zoe Saldana hasn't been nominated for Avatar. She did an outstanding job infusing the character with realism and soul. One of the few characters that I have ever continued to care about long after I left the theater.

  • Nick  

    @josh: Loved your explanations and passion, great picks and reasoning.

    I happen to think Up in the Air & Basterds were better, and I still have to see "Hurt Locker" (expecting it to be better) than Avatar. I mean it looked great, but Best Picture? No. That's why they have best visual effects. Best Picture winners usually deserve the award for a mix of acting, screenplay, direction, and technical work, along with the important piece of PLOT. Avatar=stupid ass plot. Plain and simple.

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