"The Dark Knight" and Bruce Springsteen get snubbed amongst other confusing choices as the Academy weighs in on the years best.
Unlike the world of science-fiction, it appears as though the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences doesn't believe in a new status quo as this years Oscar nominations read like a hopeful list of predictions from one year prior. With a massive 13 nominations, including best picture, actor (Brad Pitt) and director (David Fincher), "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" leads the pack of nominees despite a tepid reaction from critics and a shut out at the Golden Globe Awards earlier this month. Both fans and critics alike are left scratching their heads as the hugely anticipated best picture nod for Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" was nowhere to be found, instead, many feel its spot was taken by the Kate Winslet vehicle, "The Reader," which also under performed with critics.
The absence of "The Dark Knight" from the best picture race isn't the least bit surprising, but in a year where there is no clear front runner a nod to the Batman flick could have shown that the typically self-aware Academy was both in touch with critics and audiences alike, as well as a lack of fear to show respect towards a genre film much as they did with Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which swept the Oscars in 2004 with "The Return of the King." The Academy is well-known for some infamous snubs, but its notorious lack of recognition for science-fiction is well documented. Most famously, both Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" and Ridley Scott's "Alien" were nominated for Academy Awards yet denied best picture nominations, despite being two of the most influential films of all time. Likewise, the Batman won't be without statues as "The Dark Knight" is up for eight awards including the eventual best supporting actor award for the departed Heath Ledger.
Even the boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, isn't invincible from the scorn of Oscar as his acoustic track for "The Wrestler" was not honored by the Academy despite its Golden Globe victory and two nominations for "Slumdog Millionaire" in the same category. In other bizarre Oscar nods, Kate Winslet made the leading actress cut for her performance in "The Reader," but not for her better received role opposite Leonardo DeCaprio in "Revolutionary Road." The British comedy and Golden Globe favorite, "Happy-Go-Lucky" also came out relatively short, only earning one nomination for original screenplay.
If you're looking for the silver lining in what is ultimately an uninspired list of nominees, here it is: Robert Downey Jr. has been nominated for best supporting actor for his performance as Kirk Lazarus in the comedy "Tropic Thunder." Granted, his victory is a long-shot, but at least its something to smile about.