Woody Allen directing a scene in Midnight in Paris

Woody Allen made his first Oscar appearance in the Best Director race since 1994 and Martin Scorsese made it four of his last five feature films this morning.

Martin Scorsese making a cameo in Hugo

I only have to add one director to my all-time Oscar Best Director ranking list, since the other four have all been nominated before, and conveniently, Michel Hazanavicus’ last two films, his French spy farces, are available on Watch Instantly on Netflix.

As usual, I jotted down quick predictions for the major categories (except Picture, since we didn’t know how many nominees there would be) and generally went 4 for 4.  Surprisingly, I went 5 for 5 on Best Director, correctly getting the inclusion of Terrence Malick.

So here are the various notes from today’s nominations:

  • There are an incredible 41 feature films nominated this year.  That’s the most since 1996 and the second most since 1956.
  • This is the third year since they expanded Best Picture.  This year, with the new fluctuating number, they went with 9 films.  But, just like the last two years, we still don’t have 5 films nominated for Picture, Director and Screenplay.  The first year, it was Avatar that didn’t get a Screenplay nom, last year it was Black Swan and this year it’s Tree of Life.
  • Woody Allen and Martin Scorsese are tied for third all-time in nominations, with seven.  William Wyler has 12, Billy Wilder has 8 and David Lean and Fred Zinnemann have 7 each.  They are tied for 7th in points (with Spielberg, who wasn’t nominated) and if one of them wins, they will move into a tie for 3rd with Lean, Zinnemann, Frank Capra and John Ford.
  • Director, Screenplay, Actor and Actress all have former winners among the nominees.  But of the five Supporting Actor nominees, none have an Oscar and only Nick Nolte has more than one previous acting nomination.  In Supporting Actress, only Janet McTeer has been nominated before.
  • But Glenn Close, after earning five nominations in seven years in the 80’s, has her first nomination in 23 years.
  • Many prognosticators will point out that Hugo has the most nominations and that puts it in the best spot to win.  But, five times previously, Martin Scorsese had a film nominated for Best Picture.  Two of those times – 2002 with Gangs of New York (1o noms) and 2004 with The Aviator (11 noms), his film had the most nominations.  Once, in 1980 with Raging Bull (8 noms), his film was tied with the most.  Those all lost.  But, in 2006, when two other Best Picture nominees had more nominees, his The Departed won Best Picture and Director.
  • Hugo also marks the fourth year in a row that a film has been nominated for the big five technical awards (Editing, Cinematography, Score, Sound, Art Direction) after a five year gap with no film doing it.  It’s the first time Scorsese has done it (Gangs of New York and Aviator both had ineligible Scores).  But, of the previous three only King’s Speech won Best Picture, while Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Avatar both lost.
  • The Artist is already in the pole position for the Oscars.  It has won the Broadcast Film Critics and the Producers Guild.  Of the previous 9 films to win both, only Saving Private Ryan and Brokeback Mountain failed to go on to win the Oscar.
  • George Clooney is the Bret Saberhagen of actors – saves his best stuff for odd years.  This is the fourth time Clooney has received Oscar nominations (and the second he has received multiple Oscar nominations, but for different films) – all of them in the last four odd numbered years.
  • After only twice in the first 29 years of its existence, this is the third time in the last eight years that the winner of the LA Film Critics Best Actor award (in this case, Michael Fassbender for Shame and three other performances) is not nominated for an Oscar.
  • Albert Brooks had already become the only person to win four critics award for Best Supporting Actor and not earn a SAG nomination (for Drive).  But he also just became the only one not to get an Oscar nomination either.
  • Interesting mix with Screenplay.  In the previous two years combined, with 10 Picture nominees each, only three Picture nominees didn’t get Screenplay nomination.  This year, with only 9 nominees, there were four: The Help, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, Tree of Life and War Horse.  Since, of those four, only Tree of Life got a Director nomination, we have three Best Picture nominees with no directing or writing nomination – or, as many as the rest of the century combined (the only other three so far since 2000 are Moulin Rogue, Two Towers and Blind Side).
  • War Horse was nominated but Spielberg wasn’t – making him now the only director since the Studio Era to have that happen to him three times (Jaws, The Color Purple).
  • The power in Best Foreign Film has shifted.  Prior to 1993, there had never been back-to-back years with no nominee from either France or Italy (hell, there had never been back-to-back years without a nominee from France).  But after happening for the first time in 93-94, it has now happened in 06-07 and 10-11.  On the other hand, while we have three fairly newcomers (Belgium’s first nominee in 11 years, Iran’s first in 13, Poland’s second in the last 30 years), we have two new powerhouses.  After only two nominations prior to 2003, Canada has its fourth nominee in 9 years, and after a 23 year gap between nominations, Israel has its fourth in 5 years.
  • A Separation is by far the front-runner to win Best Foreign Film, but be prepared for an upset.  Since Foreign Film was made a competitive category in 1956, 33 previous films have received a nomination in Foreign Film and a nomination in another category.  Of the first 9 (up through 1972), the only film that didn’t win Best Foreign Film was up against another film with multiple nominations.  But of the 24 films since then, only 9 have won the Best Foreign Film Oscar and none since 2004.  The list of films to lose Best Foreign Film while having multiple nominations include Amelie, Pan’s Labyrinth, White Ribbon and Biutiful.
  • Rango was the front-runner for Best Animated Film until Tintin won at both the Globes and PGA.  With no nomination for Tintin, it’s safe to say the animators hate motion-capture films.
  • The Best Picture race seems to indicate that the BFCA is still the best pre-cursor.  While Tree of Life and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close both got ignored by the guilds and Globes, they both had BFCA nominations.
  • With its one piddly nomination for Sound Editing, Drive just barely avoided becoming, by far, the biggest film in awards points history to get blanked at the Oscars.
  • Only two nominations for Original Song?  We knew that they couldn’t agree with the Globes, yet again (7th time in 8 years the Globe winner gets no Oscar nom) because Madonna’s song wasn’t eligible.  But only two?  It’s a slap in the face to all the eligible songs.
  • It might have happened, but I’m hard-pressed to think of a film like Tree of Life, where both stars were nominated for Oscars, but for other films.
  • History says Sandy Powell won’t win Best Costume Design for Hugo.  Why?  Both she and Colleen Atwood have 9 previous nominations.  In six different years (98, 02, 04, 05, 09, 10), they competed against each other.  In all six of those years, one of the two won.  Neither has won an Oscar when not competing against the other and Atwood isn’t nominated this year.  But this nomination does make Powell the most nominated costume designer who wasn’t part of the Studio Era.
  • Stuart Craig gets another Art Direction nomination for Harry Potter.  This ties him for 21st all-time in points.  All 20 of the art directors above him are from the Studio Era and he is the only person that high on the list to have a nomination since 1974.
  • After a five year gap, John Williams is back with two nominations for Original Score (Tintin and War Horse).  How strange was the five year gap?  The last time Williams went five years without a nomination was before his first nomination in 1967, when he was primarily a television composer.  These also mark his 15th and 16th nominations as Spielberg’s composer.  This also makes the sixth decade in which Williams has earned a nomination.
  • Thelma Schoonmaker has just tied Michael Kahn for all-time points for Editing and tied William H. Reynolds for first all-time with her 7th nomination, six of them with Martin Scorsese (including this one for Hugo).
  • Woody Allen already owned the all-time records for nominations (15 now) for Screenplay and points (680 now).  This just extends those records.
  • Pixar is shut out.  For the first time, they have no film in the Best Animated Film race (twice before they had no film competing) and Cars 2 is their first film since the first Cars not to get a Screenplay nomination.
  • It’s the Academy’s last chance to reward the amazing visual effects from the Harry Potter films.  They better do it.
  • The Descendents, Hugo and The Artist are in it for Picture.  All of them have Director, Screenplay and Editing nominations.  Only one film since 1932 has won Best Picture without a Director nomination (Driving Miss Daisy in 1989), only three films have won since 1933 without a Screenplay nomination (Hamlet in 1948, Sound of Music in 1965, Titanic in 1997) and no film has won it without Editing since 1980.
  • It’s the first nomination for Gary Rydstrom since 2003 and the first for Richard Hymns since 2002, but the two War Horse sound editors move up to second place all-time in the category with 220 points each.
  • On the other hand, Rydstrom is also nominated for Best Sound for the first time since 1999.  Also nominated this year for Sound are Andy Nelson (War Horse), Michael Semanick (Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) and Greg P. Russell (Transformers: Dark of the Moon).  Since Rydstrom’s last nomination, the three of them have earned a collective 27 Oscar nominations.  The Sound Mixers like their same people.  There are fewer first-time nominees (4) then nominees who were nominated last year (7).
  • Woody Allen has 14 previous writing nominations.  The other 17 writing nominees have 10 previous nominations between them.  Ironically, though, they have more writing Oscars than Allen.  Allen has 2 (Annie Hall, Hannah and Her Sisters), while Steven Zaillian won for Schindler’s List, Alexander Payne for Sideways and Aaron Sorkin for The Social Network.
  • Even though it got a Best Picture nomination, Tree of Life has still earned almost 80% of its points from the critics, a percentage unheard of for a film with that many awards points.
  • On the flip side, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close has 206 total awards points and had only 135 going into the Oscars – the lowest amounts for a Best Picture nominee since Three Coins in the Fountain had nothing going into the Oscar nominations back in 1954.