Home > Acting, Industry, Movies > Up for an Oscar: Great Nominations and How They Got There

Up for an Oscar: Great Nominations and How They Got There

It’s easy to look at the Oscar nominations list and talk about the favorites; who should win and who will win.I thought it would be fun to look at some of the unconventional nominations from this year’s field, and talk a bit about why they deserve to be there. This is by no means an exhaustive list; I’ll be the first to admit that I haven’t seen all the movies and performances in the running. These are just a few of my favorite nominations, and why I feel they deserve to be in the running.

Melissa McCarthy, Bridesmaids (2011) – Actress in a Supporting Role

What a run it has been for Melissa McCarthy. Before 2010, McCarthy was probably best known for her role as Sookie in TV’s Gilmore Girls (2000-2007). In the last two years, that has all changed. In 2010 her new series Mike & Molly (2010-Present) premiered and became a hit. In 2011 she stole the show in the hilarious Bridesmaids as Megan. People gave Bridesmaids credit with convincing Hollywood that, yes, women can be funny. But that’s a topic for another article.

The focus here needs to be on how a comedic performance ended up nominated for an Oscar, especially when The Academy tends to reward dramatic performances over comedic ones. The first thing that needs to be noted is the pure comedic value of McCarthy’s performance. There are a lot of comedic performances that pay homage to  earlier performances, but McCarthy created a truly original character that struck home with audiences. But I believe she got the nomination based on her character, and not just the comedic performance. In a brief moment of exposition, Megan explains how she was an outcast as a child. She rose above it to become the overconfident and sexually agressive woman she is today. This doesn’t become just a small detail. All the humor McCarthy portrays is deeply rooted in her overcoming her childhood problems and becoming confident in who she is now.

The character of Megan can also be used as a microcosm as to why the original screenplay for Bridesmaids, penned by Annie Mumolo and Kristin Wiig, is also up for an Oscar.

Animated Feature Film

While it’s no real surprise considering their entry this year, it’s important to note the growth of animation as a genre. This will be the first time since 2007 that Pixar will not win the Oscar for Animated Feature Film, and the first time ever that Pixar has not even been nominated since the category was introduced in 2001. This fact shows the growth of the industry internationally, with nominees from all over the world making the cut. Pixar will have it’s work cut out for them when Brave (2012) is released this year.

Gary Oldman, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) – Actor in a Leading Role

Best Actor Oscars have a tendency to go to period pieces and overt displays of emotion. This isn’t to say overacting, but instead to congratulate an actor on being able to tap into difficult emotions and display them in a believable sense. This is why Gary Oldman’s George Smiley from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy is such an incredible nomination.

Instead of an overt display of emotion, Oldman has to carefully control his emotions to play the introverted Smiley. Many times you can actively see Smiley’s internal emotions fighting to come to the surface, only to be pushed back down by his cold and calculating demeanor. Smiley’s struggle with the corruption of the spy organization he was a critical member of, is subtlely portrayed throughout. His final triumph is recognized by Smiley allowing himself a small, smug smile at the end of the film. In an era of overt emotions, it’s great to see an incredibly subtle performance get a nomination.

The Artist (2011) – Best Picture

The Artist, at first glimpse, seems to be an incredible triumph for a silent film. In an era of 3D, action, and explosions, a film that’s soundtrack consists of only music (for the most part) and has special effects that are nearly nonexistent, it’s incredible how The Artist has grabbed a hold of audiences and The Academy.

But on closer look, The Artist is a tremendously made film that speaks to the very culture that drives The Academy. Instead of a revolutionary or risque story in any way, The Artist compiles a greatest hits of Hollywood look and feel. Films ranging from Vertigo (1958) to Citizen Kane (1941) have visual and audio cues throughout, giving the film a legitimate feel. The Artist doesn’t have to fake its way through Hollywood’s golden era, it’s well versed enough to live in Hollywood’s golden era. Because of the incredibly well educated performances, cinematography, writing, and direction, The Artist fits right in as a Best Picture nominee.

How about you? What are your surprise nominations this year? How about all-time? Leave your thoughts and comments in the comments section below!

Zac Hogle is a writer/director who has worked on several nationally broadcast series and documentaries. You can follow him on Twitter at Twitter.com/zhogle.

All images and videos are the copyright and property of their respective holders. No infringement is intended.

The Oscars air February 26th, 2012 at 4PM PST on ABC

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Categories: Acting, Industry, Movies
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