The Oscar Nominations Are Here

The Academy Award Nominations were announced in the wee hours of this Tuesday morning. There were some ups (Hugo has the most nominations!) and downs (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close for Best Picture?!?!) and quite a few surprises. Here’s a list of the nominees with some predictions and commentary.


Best Picture

  • “The Artist”
  • “The Descendants”
  • “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”
  • “The Help”
  • “Hugo”
  • “Midnight in Paris” 
  • “Moneyball”
  • “The Tree of Life”
  • “War Horse” 

Who Will Win: The Artist has had the heat ever since it debuted at Cannes. The film also has the Weinstein brothers behind it, a pair of producers notorious for their ability to snatch the gold from more deserving films. This film is a lock for the win.

Who Should Win: I’ve made no secret of my love for Hugo, and if the Academy is buying into the fact that The Artist pays homage to old Hollywood, they would do well to remind themselves that Hugo does that too, and does it better. Hugo also has the most nominations of any film this year with nods in 11 categories, so maybe a groundswell of support will get it to come out on top. But I won’t get my hopes up.

Snubbed: I really hoped Drive would get a little more love on the Awards circuit this year, but the film never got the support it deserved. It’s a shame.


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

Who Will Win: After his disastrous speech at the Golden Globes I don’t think the Academy wants a Frenchman on the stage, so Hazanavicius is out. I’m thinking they’ll lean towards Alexander Payne, a beloved director that hasn’t won yet.

Who Should Win: Martin Scorsese, simply because he did the best job. He changed up his game by switching genres and shooting in 3D, proving it could be used for more than just flash and razzle dazzle.

Snubbed: I’d have liked to see Steven Spielberg’s work in War Horse recognized, particularly over Hazanavicius’ obvious and mediocre work.

Actor in a Leading Role

  • Demián Bichir in “A Better Life”
  • George Clooney in “The Descendants”
  • Jean Dujardin in “The Artist”
  • Gary Oldman in “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”
  • Brad Pitt in “Moneyball”

Who Will Win: My bet’s on George Clooney. He’s beloved, and he had a good year with both The Descendants and Ides of March.

Who Should Win: Clooney. He deserves it.

Snubbed: Andy Serkis was robbed. His work as Caesar in Rise of the Planet of the Apes demands to be acknowledged.

Actor in a Supporting Role

  • Kenneth Branagh in “My Week with Marilyn”
  • Jonah Hill in “Moneyball”
  • Nick Nolte in “Warrior”
  • Christopher Plummer in “Beginners”
  • Max von Sydow in “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close”

Who Will Win: Christopher Plummer gave a nice little performance in Beginners, the kind that the Academy likes to throw gold at as something of a Lifetime Achievement Award. This is his year to get the honor.

Who Should Win: Nick Nolte’s nomination for Warrior is a surprise, and one I welcome. His performance worked as an important fulcrum for Tom Hardy and Joel Edgerton to work from. Without Nolte, Warrior wouldn’t be nearly as good as it was.

Snubbed: Albert Brooks gave a great performance in Drive, but it seems like I’m the only one who noticed.

Actress in a Leading Role

  • Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Viola Davis in “The Help”
  • Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”
  • Meryl Streep in “The Iron Lady”
  • Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn”

Who Will Win: Viola Davis has been the major rallying point for those who love The Help, and this is where those folks will get their recognition.

Who Should Win: I can’t believe I’m saying this, but Rooney Mara. Out of those contenders, she had the most difficult job and had to go to some truly dark places. This is a weak group, so Mara wins in my book by default.

Snubbed: Shailene Woodley gave a great performance in The Descendants, and I’m shocked she didn’t get a nod, considering all the love that film is getting elsewhere.

Actress in a Supporting Role

  • Bérénice Bejo in “The Artist”
  • Jessica Chastain in “The Help”
  • Melissa McCarthy in “Bridesmaids”
  • Janet McTeer in “Albert Nobbs”
  • Octavia Spencer in “The Help”

Who Will Win: Octavia Spencer has a lot of heat behind her, so don’t be surprised to hear her name on Oscar night.

Who Should Win: Jessica Chastain technically had the meatier role from The Help, so I’ll go with her.

Snubbed: No Carey Mulligan nomination for either Drive or Shame? What?!

Animated Feature Film

  • “A Cat in Paris” Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli
  • “Chico & Rita” Fernando Trueba and Javier Mariscal
  • “Kung Fu Panda 2” Jennifer Yuh Nelson
  • “Puss in Boots” Chris Miller
  • “Rango” Gore Verbinski

Who Will Win: The shocker here is the absence of The Adventures of Tintin. In it’s absence, Rango seems like the lock.

Who Should Win: I’m going to go with Kung Fu Panda 2, because more people need to like those movies.

Snubbed: I don’t feel like Cars 2 was snubbed, but everyone else will be surprised to see this not on the list. This is the first Pixar film to not get nominated for Best Animated Feature. It’s also the first Pixar film to miss out on a Best Picture nomination ever since they opened the field up from five films to ten. The Cars franchise has become a major embarrassment for the studio.

And now here are the rest of the nominees.

Art Direction

  • “The Artist” Production Design: Laurence Bennett; Set Decoration: Robert Gould
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 Production Design: Stuart Craig; Set Decoration: Stephenie McMillan
  • “Hugo”  Production Design: Dante Ferretti; Set Decoration: Francesca Lo Schiavo
  • “Midnight in Paris”  Production Design: Anne Seibel; Set Decoration: Hélène Dubreuil
  • “War Horse”  Production Design: Rick Carter; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales


  • “The Artist” Guillaume Schiffman
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Jeff Cronenweth
  • “Hugo” Robert Richardson
  • “The Tree of Life” Emmanuel Lubezki
  • “War Horse” Janusz Kaminski

Costume Design

  • “Anonymous” Lisy Christl
  • “The Artist” Mark Bridges
  • “Hugo” Sandy Powell
  • “Jane Eyre” Michael O’Connor
  • “W.E.” Arianne Phillips

Documentary (Feature)

  • “Hell and Back Again” Danfung Dennis and Mike Lerner
  • “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”  Marshall Curry and Sam Cullman
  • “Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory”  Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs
  • “Pina”  Wim Wenders and Gian-Piero Ringel
  • “Undefeated”  TJ Martin, Dan Lindsay and Richard Middlemas

Documentary (Short Subject)

  • “The Barber of Birmingham: Foot Soldier of the Civil Rights Movement”  Robin Fryday and Gail Dolgin
  • “God Is the Bigger Elvis”  Rebecca Cammisa and Julie Anderson
  • “Incident in New Baghdad” James Spione
  • “Saving Face”  Daniel Junge and Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy
  • “The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom”  Lucy Walker and Kira Carstensen

Film Editing

  • “The Artist” Anne-Sophie Bion and Michel Hazanavicius
  • “The Descendants” Kevin Tent
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  • “Hugo” Thelma Schoonmaker
  • “Moneyball” Christopher Tellefsen

Foreign Language Film

  • “Bullhead” Belgium
  • “Footnote” Israel
  • “In Darkness” Poland
  • “Monsieur Lazhar” Canada
  • “A Separation” Iran


  • “Albert Nobbs” Martial Corneville, Lynn Johnston and Matthew W. Mungle
  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” Edouard F. Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng
  • “The Iron Lady” Mark Coulier and J. Roy Helland

Music (Original Score)

  • “The Adventures of Tintin” John Williams
  • “The Artist” Ludovic Bource
  • “Hugo” Howard Shore
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Alberto Iglesias
  • “War Horse” John Williams

Music (Original Song)

  • “Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” Music and Lyric by Bret McKenzie
  • “Real in Rio” from “Rio” Music by Sergio Mendes and Carlinhos Brown Lyric by Siedah Garrett

Short Film (Animated)

  • “Dimanche/Sunday” Patrick Doyon
  • “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore” William Joyce and Brandon Oldenburg
  • “La Luna” Enrico Casarosa
  • “A Morning Stroll” Grant Orchard and Sue Goffe
  • “Wild Life” Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby

Short Film (Live Action)

  • “Pentecost” Peter McDonald and Eimear O’Kane
  • “Raju” Max Zähle and Stefan Gieren
  • “The Shore” Terry George and Oorlagh George
  • “Time Freak” Andrew Bowler and Gigi Causey
  • “Tuba Atlantic” Hallvar Witzø

Sound Editing

  • “Drive” Lon Bender and Victor Ray Ennis
  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” Ren Klyce
  • “Hugo” Philip Stockton and Eugene Gearty
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Ethan Van der Ryn and Erik Aadahl
  • “War Horse” Richard Hymns and Gary Rydstrom

Best Sound Mixing

  • “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Bo Persson
  • “Hugo”  Tom Fleischman and John Midgley
  • “Moneyball” Deb Adair, Ron Bochar, Dave Giammarco and Ed Novick
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”  Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush and Peter J. Devlin
  • “War Horse” Gary Rydstrom, Andy Nelson, Tom Johnson and Stuart Wilson

Best Visual Effects

  • “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”  Tim Burke, David Vickery, Greg Butler and John Richardson
  • “Hugo” Rob Legato, Joss Williams, Ben Grossman and Alex Henning
  • “Real Steel”  Erik Nash, John Rosengrant, Dan Taylor and Swen Gillberg
  • “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” Joe Letteri, Dan Lemmon, R. Christopher White and Daniel Barrett
  • “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” Scott Farrar, Scott Benza, Matthew Butler and John Frazier

Best Adapted Screenplay

  • “The Descendants” Screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash
  • “Hugo” Screenplay by John Logan
  • “The Ides of March” Screenplay by George Clooney & Grant Heslov and Beau Willimon
  • “Moneyball” Screenplay by Steven Zaillian and Aaron Sorkin  Story by Stan Chervin
  • “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” Screenplay by Bridget O’Connor & Peter Straughan

Best Original Screenplay

  • “The Artist” Written by Michel Hazanavicius
  • “Bridesmaids” Written by Annie Mumolo & Kristen Wiig
  • “Margin Call” Written by J.C. Chandor
  • “Midnight in Paris” Written by Woody Allen
  • “A Separation” Written by Asghar Farhadi

The Academy Awards will air on ABC on Sunday, February 26th.

Special thanks to Melissa Sheets for the banner image for this article.

John Shannon

John Shannon studied Creative Writing at the University of Maine where he also served as a film critic for the Maine Campus Newspaper. He currently resides in the greater Portland area of Southern Maine where he works by day and watches film by night. He can be reached via email at and followed on Twitter @JohnWShannon


  1. Your obvious hate for The Artist is a bit ridiculous. Besides, you seem to imply they won’t give the Best Direction award to Michel Hazanavicius because he gave a terrible speech at the Golden Globes? Even more ridiculous. English is not everybody’s mother tongue, mind you. You’d rather be glad he did his best to speak in English. Ah, Americans… come and visit the rest of the world, someday.

    1. I agree that the idea of him not getting the award because of his trouble with English is ridiculous. THAT ISN’T MY PERSONAL OPINION. At the Golden Globes you could feel the awkwardness in the room, and the AMPAS pride themselves on class and dignity. These people base everything on appearances, they don’t want a stuttering man getting the award when a well spoken man can get it instead. I suppose I should have made the distinction clearer: I’m not saying what I think, I’m saying what the Academy thinks.

      As for my hatred of THE ARTIST, that’s my critical opinion, which I am perfectly entitled to have. I’m curious what you saw in THE ARTIST that was so wonderful.

      The irony is that I don’t even think THE ARTIST is the worst film on the list of nominees. That would go to EXTREMELY LOUD AND INCREDIBLY CLOSE, and I guess I focused so much on making that hatred seep through as little as possible I forgot to reign in my distaste for THE ARTIST.

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