2012 Oscar Nominations: Full List and Analysis

  • Publish Date: January 24, 2012
  • Comments: ↓ 8 user comments

Hugo tops The Artist to lead all nominees

Films with Most Nominations
1 Hugo 11 noms
2 The Artist 10 noms
3 Moneyball 6 noms
  War Horse 6 noms

Early Tuesday morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 84th Academy Awards, recognizing the best films and filmmakers of 2011.

Each of the two top nominees this year is a film about films. Most experts predicted Hugo to wind up with numerous nominations, and it did that and more; Martin Scorsese's family film bested all other contenders with 11 total nominations. Meanwhile, frontrunner The Artist finished in second place with a total of 10 nominations. The black-and-white French film is hoping to become the first silent movie in 85 years to win best picture honors, and we can't begin to tell you how strange it was to type that sentence.

War Horse, one of two Steven Spielberg releases last year, finished tied for third with six nominations, though most of those were in technical categories; baseball drama Moneyball was also nominated six times. Another strong contender for best picture—Alexander Payne's The Descendants—underperformed in fifth place overall with five nominations, while The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo also earned five (but not a best picture nomination). There were also several people receiving multiple nominations this year, including George Clooney (writing and acting), Woody Allen (directing and writing), Brad Pitt (acting and producing), and Michel Hazanavicius (directing, editing, and writing).

Listed below are this year's Academy Award nominees in all 24 categories.

And the nominees are...

Best Picture
Nominee Metascore   Nominee Metascore
The Artist 89   Midnight in Paris 81
The Descendants 84   Moneyball 87
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close 46   The Tree of Life 85
The Help 62   War Horse 72
Hugo 83      

For the first time in Oscar history, the field for best picture includes nine nominees. (A change in the rules this year meant that the total would fall between 5 and 10, with any film receiving at least 5% of the first place votes getting in.) Interestingly, the ninth slot appears to have gone to the little-seen and relatively poorly reviewed Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close—a film ignored by most other awards and critic groups this year—rather than a more crowd-pleasing yet acclaimed film like Bridesmaids 75 (a film that received more overall nominations than Loud, though it lacked the latter's Tom Hanks, apparently a necessary ingredient). Of course, it is certainly not the only time the Academy has nominated a mediocre film for best picture, but it managed to avoid doing so last year, when no nominated film scored lower than 74 ... even with one extra nominee.

Otherwise, the best picture field matches most experts' predictions coming into the day, and includes films that have been nominated (and awarded) frequently by other organizations. It would have been nice to see the much-lauded Melancholia 81 or Drive 79 sneak into the group, but both films were longshots (and a bit too edgy for Academy voters), so their omission was expected, as was that of the Iranian drama A Separation 94, the year's best-reviewed film. (That latter film, however, did earn a few nominations, as we shall see in a moment.)

Best picture nominees like The Help and War Horse that were shut out of the directing and writing categories would seem to have little chance at winning, leaving The Artist and The Descendants as the frontrunners (as they were coming into today), with Hugo and Midnight in Paris in the second tier.

Woody Allen
Midnight in Paris
Michel Hazanavicius
The Artist
Terrence Malick
The Tree of Life
Alexander Payne
The Descendants
Martin Scorsese

Hazanavicius is a first-time nominee (though still the likely frontrunner despite formidable competition), while Malick and Payne are nominated for the second time as directors and Scorsese and Allen were each nominated on six previous occasions. Even without Drive's Nicholas Winding Refn, Melancholia's Lars von Trier, or Dragon Tattoo's David Fincher, it's an excellent field and one of the more interesting Oscar races of the year.

Original Screenplay
Michel Hazanavicius
The Artist
Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
JC Chandor
Margin Call
Woody Allen
Midnight in Paris
Asghar Farhadi
A Separation
Adapted Screenplay
Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
The Descendants
John Logan
George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
The Ides of March
Steven Zaillian & Aaron Sorkin and Stan Chervin
Bridget O'Connor & Peter Straughan
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Everyone in the original screenplay category is a first-time Oscar nominee, save for Woody Allen, who has 13 previous nominations for writing alone (and 23 nominations overall, second among all living persons). The most surprising name here is Asghar Farhadi, writer of the brilliant A Separation; foreign-language films rarely get nominated in the screenplay categories (and a film written in Farsi never has before), though a handful—most recently, Pedro Almodóvar's 2002 film Talk to Her—have won. Missing from the original screenplay category, among others, are Will Reiser's 50/50, Tom McCarthy's Win Win, and Mike Mills' Beginners, which all had been considered possibilities by experts prior to today.

The most notable snub in the adapted screenplay category was Tate Taylor for The Help (likely losing out to The Ides of March, a film otherwise unrecognized by the Academy today), though it likely doesn't matter; The Descendants and Moneyball were and still are the two leading contenders to win the Oscar. Steven Zaillian also missed out on a chance to be a double nominee when his adaptation of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo failed to make the cut.

Lead Actress
Glenn Close
Albert Nobbs
Viola Davis
The Help
Rooney Mara
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Meryl Streep
The Iron Lady
Michelle Williams
My Week with Marilyn
Lead Actor
Demián Bichir
A Better Life
George Clooney
The Descendants
Jean Dujardin
The Artist
Gary Oldman
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Brad Pitt
Supporting Actress
Bérénice Bejo
The Artist
Jessica Chastain
The Help
Melissa McCarthy
Janet McTeer
Albert Nobbs
Octavia Spencer
The Help
Supporting Actor
Kenneth Branagh
My Week with Marilyn
Jonah Hill
Nick Nolte
Christopher Plummer
Max von Sydow
Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

The first question that jumps out after hearing the acting nominees is: where's Albert Brooks? The veteran actor has been a runaway favorite in other awards contests this year for his supporting performance—an against-type role as a murderous criminal—in Drive, yet was neglected by the Academy today and stands out as probably the biggest snub of the morning. (At least he didn't lose out to a dog.) That would seem to make second-time nominee Christopher Plummer, another popular choice elsewhere, the favorite to take home the Oscar in the supporting actor category. Jonah Hill is a first-time Oscar nominee, while Max von Sydow (who, like Plummer, is 82) was last nominated in 1988, a decade before Nick Nolte's last nomination.

In the lead actor category, the inclusion of Demián Bichir for Chris Weitz's all but ignored drama A Better Life is the major surprise. Bichir, Oldman, and Dujardin are all first-time nominees, while pals Clooney and Pitt—probably the two favorites—have been nominated in the category before. Whose place did Bichir take? Michael Fassbender (Shame) and Michael Shannon (Take Shelter) are the lead actors most often nominated by other groups who are missing from the Academy's list, while Ryan Gosling somehow couldn't get nominated for any of his three excellent 2011 performances.

Missing from the supporting actress category is young Shailene Woodley from The Descendants, despite the fact that, like Brooks, she had been collecting honors at a rapid clip over the past few months. And the Academy didn't neglect her because she's a newcomer; every supporting actress nominee save Janet McTeer is a first-timer, and McTeer's only previous nomination was in 1999.

Rooney Mara's first Oscar nomination (though well deserved) is the least unsurprising of what was a relatively predictable (and strong) field of best actress nominees. The other four nominees have 24 previous nominations between them, though Meryl Streep is mostly to blame for that; this is her record 17th nomination (and 14th as lead actress). While Streep rarely wins when she's nominated, she does have a pair of Oscar statuettes at home, which is two more than any of her competitors. Streep's most recent Academy Awards win, by the way, was in 1982, for Sophie's Choice, so it's fair to say she's due for another, though The Help's Viola Davis is also an early frontrunner. Who didn't get a nomination in the category? We Need to Talk About Kevin's Tilda Swinton was probably the biggest omission, while Melancholia's Kirsten Dunst or Young Adult's Charlize Theron could have also snuck in.

And if you haven't been following the year's film awards prior to today, you may be puzzled by the twin nominations for Albert Nobbs; the reason you haven't heard of the Glenn Close drama is that it hasn't opened yet, aside from a brief Oscar-qualifying run in December, when it earned middling reviews. Expect it in theaters this weekend. (Coincidence? We think not.)

Other Film Nominees
Animated Feature Metascore   Foreign-Language Film Metascore
A Cat in Paris     Bullhead Belgium  
Chico & Rita     Footnote Israel  
Kung Fu Panda 2 67   In Darkness Poland 74
Puss in Boots 65   Monsieur Lazhar Canada  
Rango 75   A Separation Iran 94
Documentary Feature Metascore   Documentary Short Subject
Hell and Back Again     The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front 65   God Is the Bigger Elvis
Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory 85   Incident in New Baghdad
Pina 82   Saving Face
Undefeated     The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom
Short Film (Animated)   Short Film (Live Action)
Dimanche/Sunday   Pentecost
The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore   Raju
La Luna   The Shore
A Morning Stroll   Time Freak
Wild Life   Tuba Atlantic

Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin 68 is the glaring omission from the animated feature category, especially given that the field includes a full five nominees this year, up from three a year ago. It's also a rare year that a Pixar film gets released but not nominated, but then again Cars 2 57 is the rare Pixar film that wasn't very good. DreamWorks, however, had a pair of nominees in Puss in Boots and Kung Fu Panda 2, while the Johnny Depp-starring Rango has been the favorite with other awards-issuing organizations. The (fairly major) surprises in the category are the imports A Cat in Paris and Chico & Rita, which hail from France and Spain, respectively; neither has screened in the U.S.

Among the foreign films, the heralded A Separation would seem to be the frontrunner, though three of the films have yet to open in the U.S. and are thus wildcards. And Wim Wenders' daring Pina is the most notable of the shortlisted entries that failed to make the final cut, though it did earn a nomination in the documentary feature category. Missing from the latter category is the shortlisted Project Nim 83, which is the most awarded documentary feature of the year, at least by other organizations. Other lauded docs like Cave of Forgotten Dreams, Into the Abyss, Senna, and Tabloid failed even to qualify for the 15-film shortlist, so their omissions were known in advance.

Original Score
John Williams
The Adventures of Tintin
Ludovic Bource
The Artist
Howard Shore
Alberto Iglesias
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
John Williams
War Horse
Original Song
"Man or Muppet"
The Muppets
"Real in Rio"

Sorry, Nine Inch Nails fans. There's no nomination for Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross this year; the pair won last year for The Social Network but failed to get recognized this time for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. In fact, none of the nominees in the original score category are repeats from 2011, though five-time winner John Williams added two more nominations to his collection; his all-time total of 47 is second only to Walt Disney's 59. Ludovic Bource, on the other hand, is the sole first-time nominee in the group.

The song category, meanwhile, featured a record-low two nominees (one of which was written by Flight of the Conchords member Bret McKenzie), which, at the very least, should make for a shorter awards show. (Though we'll allow some time for a Muppet performance.)

Technical Categories
Art Direction
The Artist Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Hugo Midnight in Paris War Horse
Guillaume Schiffman
The Artist
Jeff Cronenweth
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Robert Richardson
Emmanuel Lubezki
The Tree of Life
Janusz Kaminski
War Horse
Costume Design
Anonymous The Artist Hugo Jane Eyre W.E.
Film Editing
The Artist The Descendants The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Hugo Moneyball
Albert Nobbs Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 The Iron Lady    
Sound Editing
Drive The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Hugo Transformers: Dark of the Moon War Horse
Sound Mixing
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo Hugo Moneyball Transformers: Dark of the Moon War Horse
Visual Effects
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Hugo Real Steel Rise of the Planet of the Apes Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Well, you can't say the Academy completely ignored Drive; there's that sound editing nomination. In the cinematography category, Emmanuel Lubezki's stunning imagery in The Tree of Life has earned him nearly a clean sweep in awards from other organizations and critic groups; perhaps that domination will extend to Oscar voting as well. The Artist, by the way, is just the 10th black-and-white film to earn a cinematography Oscar since the separate black-and-white category was eliminated in 1967.

More coverage to come

The 84th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, hosted by Billy Crystal, will air live on ABC on Sunday, February 26th at 7:00p ET / 4:00p PT. In the weeks leading up to the ceremony, we'll give you a chance to predict this year's winners, and then we'll compare your guesses to those of the experts.

What do you think of this year's nominations? What did the Academy get right, and what films and performances did they overlook? Let us know in the comments section below, or check out our 2011 Film Awards Scorecard to see how the Academy's choices compare to other awards handed out this year.

Comments (8)

  • Critic2012  

    A Few Predictions:

    Best Picture: The Artist
    Best Director: Michel Hazanavicius
    Best Actor: George Clooney (The Descendants)/Brad Pitt (Moneyball)
    Best Supporting Actor: Christopher Plummer (Beginners)
    Best Adapted Screenplay - Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin (Moneyball)
    Best Actress: Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
    Best Supporting Actress: Octavia Spencer (The Help)

    Hopefully the Oscars this year won't be a total flop, as compared to the 83rd Award Ceremony.

  • Christopher_G2  

    Not a great year for the Academy nominations. Last year I was largely satisfied with the nominees which had few notable missteps in my opinion (Andrew Garfield not getting nominated for supporting actor for instance). This year it's all over the place from no Tin Tin for Animated film, to no Albert Brooks for supporting actor, to the Academy once again blowing a shot at giving a worthy Best Picture nomination to a more mainstream film like Harry Potter or Bridesmaids. I was happy to see Malick for Best Director, and to finally see Oldman get a nomination for Actor. I will definitely watch the broadcast especially with Crystal hosting. But I'd respectfully give the Academy a B- for this years noms, while last year they were a solid A in my book.

  • moviekretik  

    Another disappointing year in the Academy....
    DRIVE & Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was snubbed for Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close??? And The Help??? duhh....

  • ryfleman  

    OK this is a prime example of something I've been saying for a long time. Lets look at the nominations for best film. The Help, War Horse and some crap movie with a 47 are on the nominations. Now, lets look at another movie to come out in 2011, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Now, I am not saying that this is the best movie of the year (I haven't seen every movie on the list) but are the people seriously trying to say that the three listed before are better than that? I mean, Christ, look at how well received Harry Potter has been, its got a 87 here, 96 on Rotten Tomatoes and has been praised by audiences everywhere. To say The Help, a good but nowhere near great movie is better than this is insulting. This backs up what I have been saying for a while, Harry Potter gets discredited all the time, and its either for being perceived as some kind of kids movie (people need to learn the difference between 'kids movie' and 'appropriate for all ages') or for being to mainstream (sounds a little hipster-ish, I know). Those are the only 2 reasons I can think of because the latest and final installment in the HP series was better than most movies that I have seen that are on that list. Really, the only thing in the same ballpark would be Moneyball (and YES, pun intended )

  • DolceWilliams12  

    I am no longer surprised when great films and performances get snubbed. Sorry DRIVE.............

  • BKM  

    The Oscars are always out of step with what is both critically and commercially successful. Their snub of The Dark Knight for a best picture nomination in 2008 is still unforgivable. Enough said.

  • ChuckPalantine  

    Film is subjective. That's one of the many inspiring qualities about any medium attempting to resemble art. Once completed, the finished work belongs to every individual who had the opportunity to experience it. Even if a person sees something different than the creator intended, their view isn't wrong; just different. Having said that, and understanding that everyone's opinion (vote) is credible in their own right, the Oscars are a complete joke.

    How do movies like The Help and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close earn a spot in the Best Picture category over films such as: Beginners, Drive, Melancholia, Shame, Take Shelter, or Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy to name only a few. Please, I would be very interested to hear/read a logical argument for the former films to earn a spot over the latter. I can't honestly be too upset with the Best Director category as all of the nominees were well deserving, but can somebody give me a nod for Steve McQueen please? His work is unbelievable, but as I said I can't complain too much. It just would have been nice to hear people talk about him. The Best Actor category though is case in point. George Clooney and Brad Pitt over people like Michael Fassbender or Michael Shannon? Clooney and Pitt were great, no question, but the powerful performances of Fassbender and Shannon have to be recognized; they were clearly superior. Lead Actress was alright, and I suppose Supporting Actress was as well although it annoys me that Jessica Chastain earned her nod for The Help as opposed to Take Shelter or Tree of Life. She was just better in them. But in the Supporting Actor category I do need to mention how undeserving Jonah Hill is. Look, he gave a great turn in Moneyball and I thought he was perfect in that role. That film deserves to be in the Best Picture category and he's part of the reason for that. But his performance was not elite enough to be named among the best. Blah, blah, blah Albert Brooks yeah he probably should've been included, but personally I didn't think his turn was as spectacular as others were saying. But you can't tell me that John Hawkes, Ben Kingsley or Patton Oswalt weren't just as good as (and I'm arguing if not better than) Hill.

    The rambling of words displayed in the above paragraph were overtly opinionated if not completely pretentious. Because as I stated earlier, film is subjective and who's to actually be upset that one person liked Hill's performance over Hawkes? You can't be really, because the beauty of it is there's no such thing as better or worse, or right or wrong. My issue arises when the nominations begin to look like they're based on politics, not art. Did Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close get nominated for the right reasons? What about these other nominations? Does it really come down to who campaigns for these nominations? Can we please have something that isn't politicized? Can we have something that actually does everything in its power to appreciate people who deserve to be recognized? Recognized for their work, not for who they know. If the Oscars aren't ridiculous for the reasons stated above, then it's because Hitch, Kubrick or Welles never won Best Director. It's because 2001: A Space Odyssey, The Searchers, Touch of Evil and Vertigo weren't even nominated for Best Picture. So let's stop treating the Oscars as if they're actually a big deal (if people even do). Regardless though I'll tune in and watch on February 26th. Because after the frustration in writing this inarticulate rambling, I could use a good joke.

  • evergreenOldboy  

    Here I was thinking that the academy awards were the serious awards show, until i saw how bad Drive got snubbed, looks like I wont be watching this year.

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