The Academy Has Spoken: Lars Von Trier Shut Out of Oscar Race, Four Adaptations Vie For 'Best Picture'

Kirsten Dunst in
Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia"/Image © 2011 - Magnolia Pictures

It's a scandalous year at the Oscars. Despite being recognized as one of the year's best films by ... pretty much everyone, Lars Von Trier's "Melancholia" earned zero nominations, not even for Kirsten Dunst's bravura performance as a clinically depressed newlywed with a penchant for global cataclysm. Meanwhile, two actors who we typically associate with ridiculous comedies -- Jonah Hill ("Moneyball") and Melissa McCarthy ("Bridesmaids") -- both got the nod. And once again, Glenn Close and Meryl Streep will fight to the death over that Best Actress statuette.

Nice to see that four adaptations made it into the Best Picture category: "War Horse," "The Descendants," "The Help," and "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close." It's a bit of a shock to see that last one among them, since it got incredibly mixed reviews from anyone who matters. But that's why studios release these movies right before the nominations -- all the fresh publicity short-circuits Academy voters' brains.

Speaking of, I'll bet you anything that this time next year we'll be having the same conversation about "The Normal Heart," which "Glee" director Ryan Murphy has already populated with an all-star cast including Julia Roberts, Alec Baldwin, Mark Ruffalo, and Jim Parsons. It seems he's eyeing Viggo Mortenson as well. Can this delicate fabric of this incandescent drama (based on the play by AIDS-awareness activist Larry Kramer) withstand the credulity-straining sight of Julia Roberts in a wheelchair? It all depends on when you release it.

Meanwhile, many stars (including the Best Actor-nominated George Clooney) have been voicing their disapproval over Hollywood's dedication to churning out "an unending number of CGI blockbusters and mindless sequels," many of which become huge financial failures. Actors increasingly chase smaller pictures and accept smaller fees to avoid the humiliation of being upstaged by giant robots or exchanging fart-jokes with animated chipmunks.