It’s Oscar Nominations 2009 Day!

The Oscar nominations were released this morning for the 81st Annual Academy Awards. Already, we’re seeing feedback and debates over this year’s picks, much of relating to the most popular movie of 2008: The Dark Knight.

The Dark Knight – the most talked about and hyped movie of the year… possibly even of the last decade – is noticeably absent from two important categories many felt it deserved being a part of. These are of course: Best Picture and Best Original Score. Also of note is that Christopher Nolan was not nominated for Best Director, but I never expected him to for this so we won’t discuss that.

Approaching the nominations seasons, Warner Brothers made a strong effort to market The Dark Knight for a big push at the Oscars – for 28 people in 15 different categories to be precise. While they were very successful in earning eight nominations, the heavy supporters and fans of the film are sure feeling the emptiness of not being awarded a Best Picture nomination.

And therein lays the question.

Does The Dark Knight deserve a Best Picture nod at this year’s Academy Awards?

This prestigious honor of the best picture nomination instead went to:

  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • Frost/Nixon
  • Milk
  • The Reader
  • Slumdog Millionaire.

Browsing around the movie blogosphere, it seems the people are split on the question of The Dark Knight’s deservedness. Even behind the scenes here at Screen Rant we have a bit of a for-or-against discussion occurring and I hope we get a lot of discussion on this here as well.

Where do I stand on this? Well, I can go either way so the easiest answer would be that I am not upset that it was snubbed in this category but I do think it is a missed opportunity. For its purposes, The Dark Knight did not perfectly do what it was supposed to story-wise in my opinion (it still did it very well though). While it is one of my favorite movies of the year… one of my favorite movies ever – I did have some minor issues with it. The obvious counterpoint is that the argument can be used against the other nominees, but I’ve not seen some of them so it’s hard to say. But that is another argument for another day.

It would have been awesome to see a superhero/comic book film make it into the Best Picture category, especially nowadays with the ever-increasing popularity and success of these genre films. This year alone we had several amazing movies of the sort (Iron Man anyone?).

At the same time, many hold angst against the Academy for how it awards its prizes and see it as more of a personal lobbying type of popularity contest. It seems it is nearly impossible for the main categories to be loaded with movies everyone has seen – instead we see the tendency of the art-house type flicks of a more serious nature.

A big problem for me (and we see it here with the five nominees for Best Pic), is that no matter how good these films are, as soon as we see information about the movie or promotional materials, people and critics see it and can easily label it as “Oscar bait.” Right there is the problem: This sort of approaches pretty much “locks out” certain genres of ever having a real shot, or at least presents them with a very large uphill battle. For example: Comedies, Fantasy films, Sci-Fi movies and yes, even superhero films.

That tells you that the Academy is locked into this tradition and I think it prevents younger folks from caring about the biggest film awards event in the world. Movies are such a big part of so many people’s lives that it’s too bad for their sake that more mainsteam films are not recognized at this event. I guess that’s what the MTV Movie Awards are for.

It would have been a good year for the Academy to give more praise to the industry-leading mainstream films – in this case the most popular film, since they are trying so hard to increase ratings and popularity of the televised event. As I said earlier, I think this is a lost opportunity for them in regards to the Best Picture. They could have made the Oscars more mainsteam, and broke new ground having this type of movie in the running for that award. However, it’s very good to see Iron Man getting a few nods and better yet, to see Robert Downey Jr. getting nominated for his performance in Tropic Thunder.

The other category The Dark Knight was skipped over where it was arguably deserving was for Best Original Score. The funny thing about this snub is how originally, The Dark Knight was disqualified from this category because there were too many composers listed on the music cue sheet. This was a bit of a blow as many thought score of this film is pretty epic and helps create that feel of the movie right from the opening minute up till the end.

Strangely enough, a month later, that decision to disqualify The Dark Knight from this category was reversed and Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard were all of a sudden back into the running for Best Original Score. I bet when that happened, the other hopefuls were worried. Long story short, The Dark Knight didn’t even get nominated for this and all that controversy was for naught.

I wonder if that mess had anything to do with the voting in this category that ultimately ended with a snub for the beloved Batman and his background beats. I think this is one category most can agree on where The Dark Knight excels and is deserving – less debate there, I’m sure.

On the bright side, the nominations today for The Dark Knight are a huge improvement over the recognition it received at the Golden Globes – where is was awarded only one nomination. That nomination of course, was for Heath Ledger as Best Supporting Actor, where he easily won.

To make a push at gaining some Oscar attention, The Dark Knight is being re-released in many theaters tomorrow. For those of us who need to celebrate the nominations or get away from the rage of the snubs, you can spend that time watching Batman, Joker and Two-Face again on the big screen.

Enough talking, here are all the nominees:

Best Picture
‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
‘Frost/Nixon’
‘Milk’
‘The Reader’
‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Best Director
Danny Boyle, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
Stephen Daldry, ‘The Reader’
David Fincher, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Ron Howard, ‘Frost/Nixon’
Gus Van Sant, ‘Milk’

Best Actor
Richard Jenkins, ‘The Visitor’
Frank Langella, ‘Frost/Nixon’
Sean Penn, ‘Milk’
Brad Pitt, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Mickey Rourke, ‘The Wrestler’

Best Actress
Anne Hathaway, ‘Rachel Getting Married’
Angelina Jolie, ‘Changeling’
Melissa Leo, ‘Frozen River’
Meryl Streep, ‘Doubt’
Kate Winslet, ‘The Reader’

Best Supporting Actor
Josh Brolin, ‘Milk’
Robert Downey Jr., ‘Tropic Thunder’
Philip Seymour Hoffman, ‘Doubt’
Heath Ledger, ‘The Dark Knight’
Michael Shannon, ‘ Revolutionary Road’

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams, ‘Doubt’
Penelope Cruz, ‘Vicky Cristina Barcelona’
Viola Davis, ‘Doubt’
Taraji P. Henson, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Marisa Tomei, ‘The Wrestler’

Best Animated Feature Film
‘Bolt’
‘Kung Fu Panda’
‘Wall-E’

Best Foreign Film
‘The Baader Meinhof Complex’ (Germany)
‘The class’ (France)
‘Departures'(Japan)
‘Revanche’ (Austria)
‘Waltz With Bashir’ (Israel)

Best Original Screenplay
Dustin Lance Black, ‘Milk’
Courtney Hunt, ‘Frozen River’
Mike Leigh, ‘Happy-Go-Lucky’
Martin McDonagh, ‘In Bruges’
Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon, Pete Docter, ‘WALL-E’

Best Adapted Screenplay
Eric Roth, Robin Swicord, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
John Patrick Shanley, ‘Doubt’
Peter Morgan, ‘Frost/Nixon’
David Hare, ‘The Reader’
Simon Beaufoy, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Best Documentary Feature
‘The Betrayal’
‘Encounters at the End of the World’
‘The Garden’
‘Man on Wire’
‘Trouble the Water’

Best Original Score
‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
‘Defiance’
‘Milk’
‘Slumdog Millionaire’
‘WALL-E’

Best Original Song
‘Down to Earth,’ WALL-E
‘Jai Ho,’ ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
‘O Saya,’ ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Best Film Editing
Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Lee Smith, ‘The Dark Knight’
Mike Hill, Dan Hanley, ‘Frost/Nixon’
Elliot Graham, ‘Milk’
Chris Dickens, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Best Documentary – Short Subject
‘The Conscience of Nhem En,’ Steven Okazaki
‘The Final Inch,’ Irene Taylor Brodsky, Tom Grant
‘Smile Pinki,’ Megan Mylan
‘The Witness – From the Balcony of Room 306,’ Adam Pertofsky, Margaret Hyde

Best Cinematography
Tom Stern, ‘Changeling’
Claudio Miranda, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Wally Pfister, ‘The Dark Knight’
Chris Menges, Roger Deakins, ‘The Reader’
Anthony Dod Mantle, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’

Best Costume Design
Catherine Martin, ‘Australia’
Jacqueline West, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Michael O’Connor, ‘The Duchess’
Danny Glicker, ‘Milk’
Albert Wolsky, ‘Revolutionary Road’

Best Sound Mixing
David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce, Mark Weingarten, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick, ‘The Dark Knight’
Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke, Resul Pookutty, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
Tom Myers, Michael Semanick, Ben Burtt, ‘WALL-E’
Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño, Petr Forejt, ‘Wanted’

Best Sound Editing
Richard King, ‘The Dark Knight’
Frank Eulner, Christopher Boyes, ‘Iron Man’
Tom Sayers, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’
Ben Burtt, Matthew Wood, ‘WALL-E’
Wylie Stateman, ‘Wanted’

Best Live Action Short Film
‘Auf der Strecke (On the Line),’ Reto Caffi
‘Manon on the Asphalt,’ Elizabeth Marre, Olivier Pont
‘New Boy,’ Steph Green, Tamara Anghie
‘The Pig,’ Tivi Magnusson, Dorte Høgh
‘Spielzeugland (Toyland),’ Jochen Alexander Freydank

Best Animated Short Film
‘La Maison de Petits Cubes,’ Kunio Kato
‘Lavatory – Lovestory,’ Konstantin Bronzit
‘Oktapodi,’ Emud Mokhberi, Thierry Marchand
‘Presto,’ Doug Sweetland
‘This Way Up,’ Alan Smith, Adam Foulkes

Best Makeup
Greg Cannom, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
John Caglione, Jr., Conor O’Sullivan, ‘The Dark Knight’
Mike Elizalde, Thom Flout, ‘Hellboy II: The Golden Army’

Best Art Direction
James J. Murakami, Gary Fettis, ‘Changeling’
Donald Graham Burt, Victor J. Zolfo, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Nathan Crowley, Peter Lando, ‘The Dark Knight’
Michael Carlin, Rebecca Alleway, ‘The Duchess’
Kristi Zea, Debra Schutt, ‘Revolutionary Road’

Best Visual Effects
Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton, Craig Barron, ‘The Curious Case of Benjamin Button’
Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber, Paul Franklin, ‘The Dark Knight’
John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick, Shane Mahan, ‘Iron Man’

There you have it. What do you think of the nominations and The Dark Knight‘s faring?

The Dark Knight returns to the big screen tomorrow, January 23, 2009 and The Academy Awards presentation airs February 22nd, 2009.

Source: The Oscars