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Oscar nominations: Oscars anoint 'King's Speech' -- and tap some more unlikely heirs

January 25, 2011 |  1:09 pm


The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its nominations for the 2011 Oscars on Tuesday, throwing some predictable pitches but mixing in plenty of change-ups and curveballs.

The biggest story was both "The King's Speech' and "True Grit" surpassing the tallies for early-season favorite "The Social Network." "Speech" and "Grit" notched 12 and 10 noms, respectively, over the eight for the David Fincher Facebook film.

With "Speech" taking the top award at the Producers Guild on Saturday night, the Tom Hooper-directed period dramedy is in the pole position to land Oscar's top prizes.

But some of the biggest surprises happened far from the front of the pack, with the bubble candidates that did (and didn't) get in. Here are four notable surprises (For full awards coverage and nominee reactions, please check out our Awards Tracker blog.)

-- Javier Bardem. The actor starred in "Biutiful," a difficult drama that hasn't performed well at the box office. But Bardem's turn as a father and small-time con man dying of cancer earned the academy's nod for best actor over Hollywood royalty Robert Duvall, who was snubbed for his performance as an eccentric who holds his own (early) funeral in "Get Low."

-- No Nolan. This was finally the year that Christopher Nolan, overlooked two years ago for his superhero picture "The Dark Knight," was to get a nom. After all, the head-trippy "Inception" was liked by most critics and became a global hit. But when it came time for five directors to be nominated, David O. Russell ("The Fighter") and the Coen brothers ("True Grit") edged in ahead of him.

-- Heartfelt valentines. No one knew how "Blue valentine," a romantic drama lauded for its performances, would fare. It could have notched a few noms; even more likely, it could have come away emptyhanded. In the end, the academy decided to salute it -- but only to a degree. The group shortlisted the film's Michelle Williams for best actress in something of a surprise but neglected to nominate co-lead Ryan Gosling.

-- Bones and limbs. The final couple of spots in the list of best picture candidates have proved, in the two years since the academy expanded the pool to 10 nominees, to contain some of the most interesting drama around. This year, those slots went to "Winter's Bone," regarded by some as a long shot, and "127 Hours," Danny Boyle's canyoneering drama regarded as an even longer shot. They probably won't win, but the best surprises come from the back of the pack.

-- Steven Zeitchik

Photo: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Tom Sherak and 2009 Oscar winner Mo'Nique announce the nominations for the 83rd Academy Awards. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times 

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I don't understand how Inception wasn't nominated for best editing. Four simultaneous stories, each influenced by the one above it, but proceeding at different rates of time.. and it's not even nominated? The King's Speech and The Fighter better have some fucking phenomenal cutting.


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