The sun hasn’t even thought of coming up yet here in Los Angeles, but the Oscar race has officially opened. At precisely 5:38 A.M. PST, Academy President Tom Sherak and a slimmed-down looking Mo’Nique (last year’s Best Supporting Actress winner for the soul-crusher, Precious) took the stage at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater to announce this year’s nominees.
Up until recently, Aaron Sorkin’s ultra-modern look at the invention of Facebook, The Social Network, looked to be the handy winner—taking all the major early season awards. But this morning, The King’s Speech—the humorous and moving story about the relationship between England’s unexpected, stammer-plagued, WWII-era King George VI and his unorthodox speech therapist—took the most nominations with twelve to The Social Network’s eight. Couple that with last weekend’s upset bestowal of the Producer’s Guild Award for Best Motion Picture to The King’s Speech with the ten nods for Joel and Ethan Coen’s fabulous western remake, True Grit (which has been snubbed in other earlier competitions this year), and the race is on.
Aside from the fact that the West Coast-based Academy persists in playing to the East Coast time zone with its choice of nomination hour—and that people can look so alert and perky at this ungodly hour—there were a few other surprises in store, nominee-wise. Early favorite and summer buzz-machine Inception didn’t make the Best Director list; Javier Bardem found his way onto the Best Actor list for the Mexican foreign-language film, Biutiful (he won in 2007 for his portrayal of the killer Anton Chigurh in No Country For Old Men); nearly unheard-of Australian actress Jacki Weaver made it onto the Best Supporting Actress list for the equally nearly unheard-of Animal Kingdom; and Ben Affleck’s engaging heist flick, The Town, was almost shut out with only a Best Supporting Actor nom to speak of. As a Bostonian (and The Town fan), this last one saddens me the most. I mean, they shot right in front of my old apartment for God’s sake! That has to be worth something! (Also: it was good.)
At least in LA, the ceremony was immediately followed up with a commercial break featuring smart ad buys for The King’s Speech and The Fighter. It’s gonna be a busy month.
For the complete list of this year’s Oscar nominees, click here.