Ups and downs of Best Picture nominees

An analysis of the other Oscar nominations that went to the 10 contenders for Best Picture reveals a great deal about the state of the race. The surprise bids and unexpected snubs show the depth and breadth of support for each of the films in the running for the top prize at the Academy Awards.

“The King’s Speech”
Nominations: 12
Verdict: Met highest expectation.
It was expected to top the nominations and did so with an impressive dozen bids, only two shy of the record. It’s up for awards across a wide range of categories demonstrating broad support across the entire academ. Such an impressive tally has given it momentum and frontrunner status heading into the final stage of the race.

“The Social Network”
Nominations: 8
Verdict: Met lowest expectation.
The film picked up key nominations for directing, writing, acting, editing, cinematography, sound and music. Andrew Garfield was overlooked, perhaps due to vote splitting amongst his co-stars. Coupled with the strong performance by “The King’s Speech,” that snub puts the gap between the two films even higher than forecast. “The Social Network” is now going to need to fight that little bit harder to get ahead.

“True Grit”
Nominations: 10
Diagnosis: Exceeded expectations
Hitting the double digits and having the directors branch bump Christopher Nolan in favor of the Coens has launched this film onto centre stage. Its appeal across the branches positions it to be a potential spoiler. The one key nod missing is for editing, which is usually essential to taking out the top prize. And without bids for SAG ensemble and DGA, it has no chance to build momentum and pass the two frontrunners.

“The Fighter”
Nominations: 7
Diagnosis: Expectations met
Bids for three thespians, director and screenplay demonstate support from the three biggest branches in the academy. The editing nom is also a good sign, but a lack of other technical nods is cause for concern. While Mark Wahlberg was snubbed for his performance, the picture has performed strongly on the guild circuit and a victory for SAG ensemble could put it in a viable position to spoil.

“Toy Story 3”
Nominations: 5
Diagnosis: Underperformed
Five nominations is certainly not a bad outing for an animated film. “The Incredibles”, “Ratatouille” and “WALL-E” all got bids for Best Sound Mixing. Without any guilds to win and an animation category where Oscar voters can reward it, Pixar will need to work overtime to remain viable. (The original version of this item was in error when it stated that the score was snubbed; composer Randy Newman did not submit it for consideration.)

“Black Swan”
Nominations: 5
Diagnosis: Underperformed
While it picked up key bids for director, lead actress, editing and cinematography, it missed out on supporting actress and screenplay and really should have picked up more technical nods. With “The Fighter” and “True Grit” both getting more nominations, this film is not the go-to as a spoiler.


Nominations: 8
Diagnosis: Tanked
Althought eight bids appears impressive, expectations were for the film to land at least 10 nods. It missed out on two biggies —  directing and editing. Those are the linchpins of any successful Best Picture campaign. The Leonardo DiCaprio snub was expected but a nom would have been a big boost. Nolan is going to need a DGA shocker if “Inception” is to get back into the derby.

“127 Hours”; “The Kids Are All Right”; “Winter’s Bone”
Nominations: 6; 4; 4
Diagnosis: Met Highest Expectations
All three of these films not only got into the big race but picked up all expected nominations. However, of the trio, only “127 Hours” has an editing nom and none have a Best Director bid. They have little chance of being a factor for the top prize.

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