Christopher Nolan on the set of The Dark Knight

In my upcoming ranking of all the directors ever nominated for Best Director at the Academy Awards, I was going to be glad to move Christopher Nolan onto the list this year.  First of all, he had already made my top 25 of all-time (coming in at #22) and that was before Inception.  While nominated by the Directors Guild for Memento, he had failed to repeat that at the Oscars.  Then, in 2008, he, along with his brilliant The Dark Knight, got snubbed again at the Academy.  Today, he seemed like a very sure bet.  This time, he didn’t just have the DGA (like in 2001), or the DGA and the BFCA (like in 2008) – he had been nominated for the DGA, the BFCA, the Golden Globe and the BAFTA.  How significant is that?  He just became the third director ever to get all four of those nominations and fail to earn an Oscar nomination – joining Baz Luhrmann for Moulin Rogue and Marc Forster for Finding Neverland.  Even the list of DGA / BAFTA / Globe nominees with a snub is a list of notable Oscar failures – Steven Spielberg for Jaws, Ang Lee for Sense and Sensibility and Peter Jackson for Two Towers.

It’s true that once again he was nominated for his screenplay (like for Memento) and this time his film made the final list.  But again, it is the directors who seem to not be able to acknowledge his talent.  He joins Rob Reiner as the only three time nominee for the DGA to not have an Oscar nomination.

Some more quick tidbits.

  • Again, the major fields are filled with people who have won before.  Only Supporting Actress doesn’t have a former Oscar winner among the acting – and Director, Picture and Adapted Screenplay all have the Coens again.
  • For the seventh time, and fourth in a row, Pixar has a writing nomination.  But this time it’s in the Adapted Screenplay category.
  • The Visual Effects technicians finally remove their collective heads from their asses and nominate a Harry Potter film for the first time in six years and for only the second time among the seven films.
  • Mike Leigh again gets into the mix – and this time he knocks Darren Aronofsky from the Original Screenplay category.
  • Only 4 songs this year – the Academy recognized the weakness of the year and honored Randy Newman yet again.  And they didn’t nominate the Golden Globe winning Song for the sixth time in seven years.
  • Colleen Atwood and Sandy Powell compete against each other in the Costume Design category for the fifth time in the last decade.  They’ve each won twice in that time (Powell also beat Atwood in 1998).  This year, my money is on Atwood for Alice in Wonderland to make it 3 to 3 overall.
  • Rick Baker, already the most honored makeup artist in Oscar history receives his 11th nomination for The Wolfman.  He’s won 6 of those 11 times and has one nomination for Visual Effects.
  • After a six year gap from 2002-2007 where it never happened, for the third year in a row we have a film that is nominated for the five major technical awards: The King’s Speech which is up for Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound and Art Direction.
  • They somehow decided the makeup in Alice in Wonderland wasn’t good enough.  Well, this is the same branch that nominated both Norbit and Click.

Sorry for the update – it’s hard to think of all of this stuff before heading off to work.

  • Jeff Bridges and Colin Firth become the first actors to compete head to head in Best Actor in consecutive years since Pacino and Nicholson in 73-74-75.
  • Firth has a chance to do what hasn’t been done in the Best Actor category since 1937 – avenge a loss.  Since he lost to Bridges last year and is upon against him this year, he would beat him the year after being beaten by him.  The last time this happened was in 1937 when Spencer Tracy, having lost to Paul Muni the year before, beat him in a rematch.
  • The Coens have gone from perennial Oscar snubees (prior to 1996 they made Blood Simple, Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink and The Hudsucker Proxy but earned 0 nominations) to perennial nominees, with 13 nominations each now.  This is the third time they have each received at least three nominations for a film.
  • Aronofsky and Russell now join the Coens in another distinction – they all appeared on my Top 100 Films to Not Receive Any Academy Award Nominations list.  Before they were Oscar-nominated directors, they made the likes of Miller’s Crossing (#19), The Fountain (#13) and Three Kings (#24).  Let’s hope they don’t do what the Coen Brothers did and make another film on the list after receiving their first nominations (Big Lebowski at #43).
  • Now that there are 10 Best Picture nominees, you would think that would end up with more films earning Picture / Director / Screenplay nominations.  But it hasn’t.  Both years have ended up with one of the Best Director nominees ending up out of the Screenplay race – Avatar last year and Black Swan this year.  Ironically, in 2008, all five matched up perfectly when there were only 5 BP nominees.
  • The Social Network becomes the first Columbia Pictures film to get nominated for Best Picture since Sense and Sensibility in 1995.
  • This year’s Best Picture nominees have a much bigger haul – 69 nominations compared to 54 from last year.  The only year to ever have as many is 1939.  Every BP nominee has at least 4 nominations – something that has never happened in a year with 10 nominees.