Serious Makes The Cut

The Best Picture nomination of Joel and Ethan Coen‘s A Serious Man was the only whoo-hoo! among this morning’s officially announced Oscar contenders. Even I, one of the film’s biggest supporters, had lost hope that it would be included among the ten because so few seemed to share my feelings. After a while you just give up. But good sense prevailed among enough Academy members — thank the Movie Godz and the better angels of their nature.

Let it be loudly proclaimed and fully understood here and now that the Gurus of Gold who said that A Serious Man had no chance whatsover were Suzie Woz, Sasha Stone, Pete Hammond, David Poland, Dave Karger, Peter Howell, Eugene Hernandez and Gregory Ellwood.

The Hangover wasn’t nominated…yes! Everyone had declared early on that Crazy Heart was a performance movie, and so it didn’t make it this morning.

Why didn’t A Single Man make the cut? It certainly should have, being a far more impassioned, thematically distinctive and exquisitely shaped drama than The Blind Side. Was it the charge that it seemed too fashion-spready? That was one of the reason it should have been nominated — it gave the film a sense of visual harmony and expressed the tasteful tidiness in Colin Firth‘s character. Did some people have a problem with a preponderance of “Gay-O-Vision,” to borrow a term from David Poland?

Everyone knew that Invictus was second-tier Eastwood and most accepted the fact that it didn’t have a snowball’s chance, and yet nine Gurus of Gold contributors placed it among their ten, and in fact thought it was more likely to make the cut than A Serious Man. The Invictus/Guru brigade included Ellwood, Hammond, Howell, Karger, Mark Olsen, Poland, Steve Pond, Sean Smith, Stone and Woz.

If we were living in Stalinist Russia in the 1930s the above Gurus would be looking over their shoulders, changing the locks on their doors just in case, and wondering whether to plan extended vacations at the dachas or stay inside the Kremlin and wrangle it out with their enemies.

  • Bilge

    Speaking of which, can all the “AN EDUCATION is screwed, how could they screw up Carey Mulligan’s Oscar campaign so badly” grousers also hang their heads in shame or something?

  • Sam

    Jeff forgive me, I just watched TGE a half hour ago (just out on disc in Oz) and I’ve gotta crash this thread:

    @glenn Kenny… I just watched TGE tonight. holy smokes to everyone involved. your scene was terrific. you can be very proud of that. ‘it’s sounds like a white slave ring… but it’s not’. 10/10.

    but why did SS leave in the double narration stutter?? Early on SG is obviously reading her VO land gets the intonation on the line wrong twice in a row. it’s the bit where she’s talking about her outfit.

    leaving the double stuff-up in makes her sound like, umm… a dumb porn hooker… as in real


    I don’t want to sound harsh, I just don’t get it.

  • Floyd Thursby

    BRIGHT STAR was robbed.

  • Balthazar

    Thank God the Serious Man was nominated, because the Serious Man we put in the White House in 2009 is bloody flop.

  • Rob Ross

    IMO, Invictus was one of the worst movies of 2009. Bad acting, corny storylines, terribly shot, etc. Thank the heavens it wasn’t one of the ten, but how the hell did Damon and Freeman get nominated?

    Also, I would have loved to have seen The Blind Side and District 9 replaced with A Single Man and Moon.

  • NightWriter

    Star Trek’s ommission was a snub but The Blind Side’s boffo b.o. stirred up the voters. That said, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the b.p. nominees. Also, swapping The Messenger in for The Hangover in the Orig. Screenplay category was an upgrade.

    The SAG awards have definitely stolen the suspense from this early morning reveal ritual. This year, 19 of 20 SAG-nominated actors got Oscar noms. Maggie G. for Diane K. was the only change, I think.

    March 7 might be a snoozer even with the Bigelow v. Cameron face-off.

  • Eloi Manning

    Yeah, forgot all about Bright Star. Just the one nomination, for costumes? Bit of a snub to Cornish. But she’ll have plenty more chances in the future.

  • Gordon27

    “The Best Picture nomination of Joel and Ethan Coen’s A Serious Man was the only whoo-hoo! among this morning’s officially announced Oscar contenders.”

    If you didn’t woo-hoo when they announced ‘In The Loop’ for adapted screenplay, you have no soul. But at least you didn’t say anything overtly racist.

  • barryegan

    Hey Jeff, if we were living in Stalanist Russia, would you be feeling good about that Oscar Balloon 09 box that’s a couple posts down? The one where you went 1 for 8 in Best Supporting Actor, where you say Saoirse is getting a Best Actress nod, Cara Seymour a supporting actress nomination, and Crazy Heart’s in for Best Pic? Just wondering if you’re looking over your shoulder too.

  • Balthazar

    “March 7 might be a snoozer even with the Bigelow v. Cameron face-off.”

    And the Director’s Guild announcement will take the suspense out of that, too. … I predict no surprises for the Oscars. .. They were right when they tried making them earlier a few years back. This year’s ceremony will be awfully predictable.

  • Gordon27

    barry – being fair, he hadn’t updated that in more than a month (the funny part is looking at several of his lower-tier predictions for movies that weren’t even eligible).

  • MrTribeca

    Just to also throw in your previous comment “The only Inglourious Basterds Oscar nomination that’s going to happen is Christoph Waltz for Best Supporting Actor — end of story.”

    That’s be 8 Oscar nominated “Inglourious Basterds”, then.

  • raygo

    I watched Bright Star last week. Really dull, and I like Jane Campion and usually find costume biopics interesting. The structure was a little too repetitive … poor boy writes poetry, girl swoons, many discussions on why poor boy can’t marry girl, repeat until boy dies. I was disappointed. Paul Schneider was excellent, though.

  • Josh Massey

    I long for the days of no Oscar bloggers, when I wouldn’t go at least 4-for-5 in predicting every single category. There’s no drama left in it.

  • mccool

    You’ve really got this romantic vision of “Stalinist Russia” built up in your head, don’t you? So odd.

    The contrast between the real best five and next best five is striking….almost like two different categories … “best” picture and “favorite” picture. I wonder how long this experiment will last … afterall, there are no Lady Gaga-like spectacles to draw in viewers and boost the ratings like the Grammy’s…

  • K. Bowen

    Well, someone has already covered BRIGHT STAR being robbed. But I’m still amazed Viggo Mortensen isn’t on the list. Or Melanie Laurent.

    But not a bad roster of movies, on the whole.

  • Floyd Thursby

    “afte rall, there are no Lady Gaga-like spectacles to draw in viewers and boost the ratings like the Grammy’s”

    Please don’t give them any ideas.

  • Jonathan Spuij

    I’m happy to see Zimmer getting a nod for Sherlock. A little sad Star Trek didn’t make the cut (even though I knew better, but the hype was just too overbearing).

  • Josh Massey

    Melanie Laurent, that’s right. I never saw Nine, but can’t imagine a universe in which Cruz was better.

    Ok, now I’m mad about something. Thank God.

  • Eloi Manning

    Yeah, Laurent was snubbed. She was great.

    It’s a shame District 9 has to come up against Avatar in the visual effects category. Any other year it’d have walked it.

  • Gordon27

    Josh – didn’t they push Laurent as Best Actress and the other girl as supporting?

  • ManhattanMadcap

    Laurent was the victim of category confusion all season long. A Kate Winslet can survive being pushed in one category to get nominated in another. A relative unknown cannot, especially when the more likely category has another contender being pushed by the Weinsteins.

  • MikeSchaeferSF

    Whatthehell is “The Secret of Kells” ? Anyone actually seen it?

  • Phatang!

    The 10 noms thing kinda works. That’s the real shocker of the day.

  • Josh Massey

    No idea what they campaigned for, but every performance in that movie – Pitt’s included – should have been deemed supporting.

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    Considering how anal the Academy is about their rules (THE BAND’S VISIT, anyone?), how is it that INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS is being nominated as an ORIGINAL screenplay?

  • sutterkane

    How about a little enthusiasm for just one tech nom for Transformers 2? And that for mixing and not visual effects! Obviously box office got Blind Side in there, but nods for The Messenger, In the Loop, and A Serious Man show that, even in these ratings-challenged times, a lot of Academy members are paying attention to more than just the money.

    All hail the triumphant return of Woody Harrelson! With the commercial success of Zombieland and the critical reception of his Messenger performance, this is the year he reestablished himself after taking all that time off to smoke pot and drive around the country in a hemp-powered bus. I was sure he was finished.

    And the Damon and Freeman nods are just the Academy catering to Clint pretty much no matter what. Nothing terribly wrong with that – Freeman’s in the twilight of his career, and hopefully it’ll encourage Damon to keep doing good work. Invictus wasn’t the best out of either of them, but I don’t begrudge them the good press.

    Oh, and good for Stanley Tucci, too. That guy’s been working his ass off for a long time.

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    “Even I, one of the film’s biggest supporters, had lost hope that it would be included among the ten.”

    So what’s the point of the rest of the post, the whole “nah-na-nah-na-nah-na, you were wrong!” finger pointing at others who also missed the boat? It’s never about what should be nominated, but what WILL be nominated. You are either right or wrong, no middle ground.

    In the logic of Jeffrey Wells World, doesn’t that meant to blatantly push films that have no chance in the belief that by doing so you might influence voters should mean that while the others are looking over their shoulders, the black sedan with the hard looking men should go straight out to snatch you back to a kangaroo court in the bottom of the Kremlin, find you guilty, march you out into a narrow courtyard, unceremoniously shoot you without preamble and finally dump your body into a radioactive waste container about to be buried in a nameless field?

  • Deathtongue_Groupie

    “All hail the triumphant return of Woody Harrelson! ”

    Okay, sure. But we’re here to talk about current movies, not events from 2007. Yeah, he was great in NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and THE WALKER…

    And while we’re at it, Tucci getting nominated this year is a throwaway. As someone who I’ve admired going all the way back to the “Wiseguy” days, at least give him a nod when there’s even a sliver of a chance he might win. It’s almost cruel to give it to him this year.

  • reverent and free

    Michael Moore is another loser this morning as Capitalism: A Love Story was not nominated for Best Documentary Features.

  • The Winchester

    Agreed with Massey’s sentiment, I’ve been reading Oscar blogger’s predictions for so long that I feel I knew everyone for a long time coming. The lack of drama, on top of the extended season (stupid Olympics) just makes this a ho-hum event.

    Honestly, the only award I’m excited to see turn out is Best Animated Feature, to see if Wes Anderson or Henry Selick can knock down Pixar)

    That being said, it’s most pleasing to see Serious Man love up there. (Although how many people do you think nominated Serious Man mistaking it for Single Man, after Harvey’s campagining?)

    I still wish for Sam Rockwell and Zoe Saldana recognition.

    And if Horner wins best score, then there’s no point anymore. It’s okay to reward Avatar for its “game changing” elements, not for the elements that have plagued every movie scored by Horner in the past 25 years.

  • longrunner

    Jeffrey, your continued petulance about not being invited to be a Guru Of Gold is really pretty hilarious. I remember when I was 10 years old, too.

  • lipranzer

    The nominees that made me the happiest were the Best Pic nods for AN EDUCATION and A SERIOUS MAN, and the screenplay nod for IN THE LOOP, none of which I thought was going to happen.

    As for the bad: I know WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE was disqualified for Best Score, but they were eligible for Best Song, no? Cause any of Karen O’s songs were better than most of the nominees, with the exception of the song from CRAZY HEART.

    Also, while I adore Maggie Gyllenhaal, I don’t think she had a great role in CRAZY HEART.

  • TM

    This is Gyllenhaal’s make up nomination for being overlooked for Secretary and Sherrybaby. Plus she’s one of the “sons of the pioneers” as a screenwriter I knew used to say. Her father has a DGA award (albeit for TV work). Her mother’s been nominated, her brother’s been nominated, so why not throw a little love her way. Plus her husband was overlooked as well, so it’s a make up to him (she’s married to Peter Sarsgaard for those who don’t know.)

  • Gordon27

    Yeah, Gyllenhaal’s slot was between her and J.Moore and S.Morton, and the other two have been nominated before, whereas MG has been snubbed before.

  • K. Bowen

    Laurent was the lead, to me. IB is more her story than anyone else’s. Except maybe Landa.

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