The 2012 Academy Awards: And the Nominees Are …

Awards season is off and running, and on the heels of Ricky Gervais’s tamer-than-usual antics at the Golden Globes this year come the nominations for the eighty-fourth annual Academy Awards. Often, the Oscars mirror much of the goings-on of the Globes, but this year there are a few notable additions to the movies and names in the spotlight.

Book-based films once again have a heavy presence in the roundup of award nominees, with “The Descendants,” “The Help,” “Hugo,” “Moneyball,” and “War Horse” making the cut, but the Academy has also added to its nominations for Best Picture “The Artist,” “Midnight in Paris,” “The Tree of Life,” and the recently released adaptation “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.” “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,”  based on the 2005 bestselling novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, follows young Oskar Schell (Thomas Horn) on a quest to discover the purpose of a key belonging to his father, played by Tom Hanks, who perished on September 11, 2001. The film’s Max von Sydow is up for an Oscar for supporting actor, but these two categories are the only ones in which “Extremely Loud” makes an appearance.

George Clooney (“The Descendants”) and Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”) once again go head to head in the category for best actor in a leading role, and from the adaptation “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” which was based on the book by John Le Carré, the academy pulled in Gary Oldman. In the race for best actress in a leading role, four of the five nods went to females starring in movies based on books: Glenn Close in “Albert Nobbs,” based on the short story by George Moore; Viola David in “The Help,” based on the novel by Kathryn Stockett; Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo,” based on the novel by Stieg Larsson; and Michelle Williams in “My Week with Marilyn,” based on the books My Week with Marilyn and The Prince, the Showgirl and Me by Colin Clark. The fifth nomination went to Meryl Streep for “The Iron Lady.”

In the category for best supporting actor, Albert Books for “Drive” and Viggo Mortensen for “A Dangerous Method” fell out of the running to make room for two surprises: Jonah Hill for “Moneyball” and Nick Nolte for “Warrior.” Jonah Hill has certainly been entertaining to watch over the last few years in such screwball comedies as “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Get Him to the Greek,” and “Superbad,” but he’s also caught our deeper attentions in films like “Cyrus” and, now, “Moneyball.” But who would have thought the Academy would send recognition his way so early into the it’s-time-to-be-taken-seriously arm of his career? Kudos, Jonah. As for Nick Nolte, it’s been more than a decade since the actor has been up for recognition of the respectable sort, so we’re glad for his appearance here.

In the category for best supporting actress, adaptations were represented by Jessica Chastain and Octavia Spencer for “The Help” and Janet McTeer for “Albert Nobbs.” We were also glad to see Bérénice Bejo nominated for her role as Peppy Miller in “The Artist,” a film that wasn’t entirely understood by some, but was lauded by most. Melissa McCarthy for “Bridesmaids” bumped Shailene Woodley for “The Descendants” off the list. Quite surprising, no? McCarthy was hilarious in the Kristen Wiig-written comedy, but Woodley turned in a performance in “The Descendants” that didn’t just reveal her knack for humor – but also her penchant for heartbreak without hokeyness and tragedy without triteness. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when that decision was being made.

What else is missing from the 2012 nominations? We can’t help but notice that “Drive,” based on the book by James Sallis, didn’t make it into any of the Academy’s categories. And Ryan Gosling, the film’s star, certainly didn’t receive a nod for his work on this Nicolas Winding Refn-directed noir masterpiece, nor for his work on “The Ides of March,” which was based on the play Farragut North by Beau Willimon. Guess his two noms from the Globes will have to keep him cozy until next year. “The Ides of March” did, however, make it into the running for best adapted screenplay, alongside “The Descendants,” based on the book by Kaui Hart Hemmings; “Hugo,” based on The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick; “Moneyball,” based on the book by Michael Lewis; and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”

And finally, for best director, "The Descendants," made its way onto the podium, with Alexander Payne at the helm. Also from the world of adaptations, Martin Scorsese received a nod with "Hugo," for which he took home the Globe for best director. And for movies not based on books (the horror!), the academy recognized Michel Hazanavicius for “The Artist,” Woody Allen for “Midnight in Paris,” and Terrence Malick for “Tree of Life.”

So? Anything you find appalling? Shocking? Well-deserved? Glaringly absent? Weigh in below with your thoughts.

Check out the complete list of nominations for the eighty-fourth Academy Awards here.

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