So what exactly does Christopher Nolan have to do to get an Oscar nomination for best director? The Inception mastermind was snubbed for the third time Tuesday. But that wasn't the only egregious snub or biggest surprise.
Third time is not the charm: Already overlooked for Memento and The Dark Knight, Nolan seemed to be a shoo-in for director for Inception. Surely, they would not snub him again. Alas, they did. This is the third time Nolan's missed Oscar's short list after garnering a Directors Guild Award nomination — one of the most reliable Oscar precursors. Inception also missed in the film editing race — usually a must-need nod for a film to even have a chance to win best picture. We'll try to look on the bright side: Nolan's up for original screenplay and as a producer for Inception in the best-picture race.
Black Swan takes a hit: Despite robust box office and tons of buzz, Darren Aronofsky's psychological ballerina thriller underperformed, managing a meager five nominations. Mila Kunis, who garnered a slew of precursor nominations, was snubbed, as was Barbara Hershey, who earned a BAFTA nomination last week. Perhaps Natalie Portman vs. Annette Bening is closer than we think?
No academy friends for Andrew Garfield: Batman (The Fighter's Christian Bale) made the supporting-actor cut, but the new Spider-Man didn't. The Social Network's Garfield, who's had his share of precursor mentions, was left off in favor of Winter Bone's John Hawkes. But that's not too surprising considering Garfield was also passed over for Hawkes by the Screen Actors Guild awards — voted by actors. Who votes for the Oscar acting nominees? Actors.
Another snub: Devastating in Mike Leigh's little-seen Another Year, Lesley Manville, who won the National Board of Review's award, failed to get into the best-actress race. This could partially be attributed to category confusion (she's borderline supporting), but it's the second time in three years the academy overlooked one of Leigh's ladies: Golden Globe winner Sally Hawkins (Happy-Go-Lucky) was snubbed two years ago.
The Town: It was always a longshot outside of supporting actor (Jeremy Renner did get in), but Ben Affleck's taut action flick got no love in any other major race, missing out on best picture, director for Affleck and adapted screenplay.
Still Waiting for "Superman": Davis Guggenheim's expose on the education system just won the Producer's Guild Award for documentary feature Saturday, but was curiously left off Oscar's list.
The King's Speech tops Oscar nominations
It's a Biutiful day: So cruelly snubbed by a majority of the precursors (except for you, BAFTA!), Javier Bardem earned a much deserved best-actor nomination for Biutiful, taking what was widely predicted to have been Robert Duvall's spot for Get Low. The signs were there for a nod, though: Such stars as Sean Penn and Ben Affleck had voiced their support for Bardem. His Eat Pray Love co-star, Julia Roberts, even held a special screening for the film recently.
True Grit shows grit: If Black Swan underperformed, then Ethan Coen and Joel Coen's True Grit overperformed, nabbing a second-highest 10 nominations — more than perceived front-runner The Social Network (eight). Jeff Bridges will most likely not duplicate John Wayne's win for the remake, but his 14-year-old co-star, Hailee Steinfeld, serves as formidable competition in the supporting-actress race, as her ample screen time (there was a chance she could've shown up in the lead actress category) helps her out.
Jacki Weaver: The snubs for both Black Swan ladies left room for Animal Kingdom's Weaver, who stuns as the fierce matriarch of an Aussie crime family in the film. After a topsy-turvy season in which the supporting-actress category was the most in flux, it's nice to see the 63-year-old veteran get her first nomination.
Michelle Williams: Raise your hand if you thought during Dawson's Creek's heyday that Williams would be the most successful alum of the bunch. The erstwhile Jen Lindley earned her second nomination in five years, this time in lead actress for Blue Valentine. Though Steinfeld's inclusion in supporting instead of lead may be category fraud, we're glad Steinfeld missed here so Williams could make it in for her heartbreaking turn. Only downside: Her co-star, Ryan Gosling, didn't make the lead actor cut.
What are your biggest snubs and surprises?