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Reaction: 2012 Oscar nominations

January 24, 2012|Matt Pais | RedEye movie critic

Extremely foolish and incredibly upsetting.

That's my diagnosis of the surprising inclusion of "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close,"  one of the year's worst films, in both the Best Picture race and the Supporting Actor category (Max Von Sydow). BTW: In case you think I'm alone here, the movie has only a 46 score on Metacritic, including an F from the Onion A.V. Club.

And that's not the only travesty from Tuesday morning's Oscar nominations. How can the Academy omit Michael Fassbender from the Best Actor race for his role in"Shame," which was the best performance of the year? Oh, right, because the explicit movie was NC-17 and featured Fassbender naked. That sort of thing is sorta necessary in a movie about sex addiction! OK, now I'm getting worked up.

Let's try to stay positive. What made me happy about the Oscar nods, besides for all the expected (and justified) love for "The Artist":

-- Rooney Mara, nominated for Best Actress for "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." She's terrifying and complicated in the role, and she's one of the reasons the English-language version bests the Swedish version.

-- Nick Nolte, Best Supporting Actor nominee for "Warrior." Maybe now people will finally give the wildly underrated movie a chance?

-- "Man or Muppet" from "The Muppets"scores a Best Original Song nomination. Too bad the entire movie couldn't be nominated; it's packed with Best Original Songs.

-- Both "Pina"  (a brilliant 3-D movie about dance) and "Undefeated"  (a riveting depiction of high school football), the year's two best documenataries, receive nominations. You're all going to go out and see them, right?

-- Gary Oldman earns his first-ever nomination in the Best Actor category for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." The movie's low on stakes, but his performance is high on expert subtlety. Not in the category: Leonardo DiCaprio of "J. Edgar." It's a shaky performance in a mediocre movie, and voters were right to leave him out.

--"A Separation"  gets the call for both Best Foreign Language Film and Best Original Screenplay  (Asghar Farhadi). You may not normally seek out films from Iran; now you should.

And then those pesky little things that we'll call Oscar disappointments:

-- "Drive"  is left out of six categories in which it deserved to be included: Best Picture, Best Director (Nicolas Winding Refn), Best Actor (Ryan Gosling), Best Supporting Actor (Albert Brooks), Best Adapted Screenplay (Hossein Amini) and Best Original Score (Cliff Martinez). Can you see me shaking my head in disbelief yet?

-- Best Actress nominee Glenn Close and Best Supporting Actress nominee Janet McTeer get in for attempting to save the unconvincing "Albert Nobbs," but the fantastic Shailene Woodley ("The Descendants") misses out on the supporting category, while Best Actress omits far more deserving candidates like Kirsten Dunst ("Melancholia"), Elizabeth Olsen ("Martha Marcy May Marlen"), Kristen Wiig ("Bridesmaids"), Anna Paquin ("Margaret"), Keira Knightley ("A Dangerous Method") and expected nominee Tilda Swinton ("We Need to Talk About Kevin"). I just don't get it.

 -- Terrence Malick should have taken more time to shape the Best Picture-nominated "The Tree of Life" into something that held together, and yet he earns a Best Director nod over David Fincher ("The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," left off the Best Picture list). Both long movies, only one that's worth sitting through.

-- "War Horse"gets the Best Picture call, "Bridesmaids" doesn't. The funny latter film isn't brilliant, but many thought it could land a nomination. It's certainly better than Steven Spielberg's corny, laughable bore.

-- I don't necessarily mind Demian Bichir scoring a surprise Best Actor nod for"A Better Life," but it's just another slot that could have gone to Fassbender--who, at the least, is almost guaranteed to be nominated in the future.

-- It was a really weak year for animation, and yet the wonderful"Winnie the Pooh"is ignored in favor of junk like "Kung Fu Panda 2"and"Puss in Boots."If the Academy truly prefers loud and generic to clever and gentle and family friendly, Oscar and I may need to stop hanging out.

Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7:30 a.m. on WCIU, the U @mattpais

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