It’s all happening too fast. Eeek!

Nominations for the 85th Academy Awards® will be announced by the show’s host, Seth MacFarlane, and actress Emma Stone on Thursday, January 10. This will be the first time since 1972 that an Oscar show host has participated in the nominations announcement.

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  • unlikely hood

    Now is the winter of our full content. Well, it ought to be. We’ve got one of the most amazing crops of awards-worthy contenders in memory. At this point, it’s pretty much a fait accompli that Argo, Lincoln, Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings Playbook, and Les Miserables will be nominated for Best Picture. Life of Pi is a somewhat safe #6, with Django Unchained not far behind. Just those seven films getting all that Oscar glory is, or should be, pretty darn cockle-warming.

    And yet, and yet…some of us keep asking questions. And the biggest one is: who else is going to make the Best Picture cut?

    If we were still playing by the five-nominee Best Picture rules that existed as recently as four years ago, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Instead the question would be which of the seven already-named films will be left out. But now we breathe a sigh of relief – or we think we do – that we can more or less rely on these seven. We tell ourselves that the Cold Mountain and Dreamgirls snubs of the past wouldn’t have happened in an expanded field. We may be kidding ourselves. But that’s a topic for another day.

    Today’s topic begins with: other than those seven, who is most likely to get in?

    Great cases are to be made for The Master, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Amour, Moonrise Kingdom, Flight, and The Dark Knight Rises.

    However, today we make a case for another film – based on the recent past.

    Since the Best Picture-field expansion of 2009, the so-called experts have been, ahem, blindsided by exactly two films, one from 2009, one from 2011. In 2010, in a year where ten nominees were guaranteed, there was an almost-universally-agreed upon crop of 11 potential nods. Everyone pretty much knew the Top 8, and disagreement congealed around three others – Winter’s Bone, 127 Hours, and The Town. Everyone agreed that two of those three would make it; when The Town was left off, it surprised a few people, but was hardly in the nature of a blindside.

    The Blind Side and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close were different. The experts told us no. The Academy told us yes.

    Granted, two films is a sample size of exactly two. Their respective rises to the Best Picture nominee ranks could have been highly random, contingent situations. But let’s see what these two films have in common anyway – with the goal of shedding light on this year.

    Both The Blind Side and ELIC are stories about the past decade. You could almost say they were both ripped from the headlines – granted, very different headlines. They hover near Lifetime-movie quality, and they meet most of the definitions of melodrama. Neither film shies away from a few harsh realities, and audiences may have even squeezed out a few tears, but both come to happy endings.

    Right, they both have Sandra Bullock. Well, she’s not on the ballot this year. But what about her type?

    At the core of The Blind Side and ELIC is a mother-son relationship. Specifically, the son – foster son in the case of The Blind Side – is forced to grow up rather quickly while missing a parent. The mother does her best to play the roles of both parents to the child, but she sometimes comes up short. The films show her doing her best, failing, experiencing child ingratitude, and then receiving some hard-won validation as the son finally seems to have matured beyond his years. If Dead Poets Society and Mr. Holland’s Opus were every teacher’s dream come true, it’s not crazy to suggest that The Blind Side and ELIC played on the guilt and fantasies of – yes – soccer moms. (The term “soccer mom,” now also called “hockey mom” in the north, dates from the 1996 election, and basically means suburban, middle-class mothers who give everything to their kids and are as likely to vote Democratic as Republican.)

    Does any film this year meet these “criteria”? Yes, one does. That one is called The Impossible.

    While you roll your eyes, remember: most Oscar “experts” aren’t soccer moms. Most critics don’t hear from a lot of soccer moms. Many awards bloggers seem barely aware of something that studio executives know – if soccer moms like a film, it doesn’t need to make $20 million in its opening weekend. Because as a group, soccer moms wait for their friends’ word-of-mouth, and they’re happy to turn up at the theaters for the right film’s fourth or fifth or sixth weekend (unlike, say, horror fans). They may not post on internet boards like this one. They may not make a big fuss on chat shows. But they are probably the reason that The Blind Side and ELIC gob-smacked the experts three and one years ago. (Had The Help and ELIC not siphoned so many #1 votes, Bridesmaids might well have been a BP nominee last year.)

    Perhaps Beasts of the Southern Wild – also ripped from the last decade’s headlines – is also in the soccer mom wheelhouse. Perhaps. But the main parent isn’t a mom. And though our lead child does eventually deal with a missing father, many of the other contours of the story are rather different. It’s far more of a poem than a standard melodrama. And let’s face it, Beasts has no stars in it, and thus is less likely to be watched by your Aunt Gladys driving her Suburban around Iowa.

    The Impossible is not exactly the “type” of The Blind Side and ELIC. It isn’t based on a best-selling book. It isn’t an American-set story, doesn’t star American actors, and the characters don’t even have American accents. The boy at the center of The Impossible does have a living father who wants to see him, and at the end, they are reunited. But then, there are reunions that conclude The Blind Side and ELIC as well – Leigh Anne Tuohy (Bullock) with her family, and the grandfather (Max Von Sydow) with the grandmother.

    Despite Naomi Watts’ late surge, The Impossible is still improbable. Other films (like Master and Beasts) should have better odds. But isn’t that what they said three years ago, and last year?

    One thing is certain: after reading this, if The Impossible somehow gets a Best Picture nomination, you’re going to shrug your shoulders and say:

    “Soccer moms.”

  • JimG.

    I was just wondering who was announcing. When’s the last time there wasn’t at least a previous nominee announcing? Although Seth could be a nominee by that day’s end.

  • Christophe

    @unlikely hood
    The Impossible is a great film in so many ways. Sure it’s cheesy and sentimental, but bring it on! The direction and performances are spectacular including watts, mcgregor but especially that of Tom holland, so mature and intense for a young first time film actor. So I’d say if it gets in (very unlikely) it won’t just be thx to soccer moms.

  • Yogsss

    The day before the noms is the only day of the year were I go to sleep early. Unfortunately, I still don’t know at what time we get to watch these on my country (Chile) 🙁

  • Zooey

    Why no Academy president to announce the nominations? Call me a snob but I needed a bigger name. And some Academy official. When it comes to Oscars, I’m one of these people who really support traditions.

  • Presenters not previously winners.
    Rare thing…

  • Zooey

    @ Yogsss
    tell me what time it is in Chile now and I’ll tell you what time the nods will be announced : ))))

  • Zooey


  • Christophe said:
    “of Tom holland, so mature and intense for a young first time film actor.
    I agree whit every word.
    Holland is brilliant.
    For me, except for Seymiur Hoffman, he’s the frontrunner.

  • Fabio

    Jennifer Lawrence announced the nominations last year and she’s yet to win an Oscar.

  • I was thinking the host usually isn’t involved in the nominations. I guess Seth wants to be the first to know. 🙂 I think he’s going to do a great job. He seems to be taking it seriously.

    And let’s face it, Beasts has no stars in it, and thus is less likely to be watched by your Aunt Gladys driving her Suburban around Iowa.

    My mom, Gladys, watched it and she liked it. 😛 Besides what are you making cases for now? The ballots are in. It’s all over but the crying.

  • Alice

    Emma Stone nom. next year?

  • Jerry

    I like Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone just fine but really they couldn’t find past Oscar nominees or winners to announce the most prestigious award ceremony in the business? Seems very Golden Globe.

  • Fabio, you’re right.
    I’d like to say winner or nominee.

  • Christophe

    oh my, I almost forgot to make a bad joke about how cool it is to have Sasha’s daughter announcing the oscars nominations. I sure hope you won’t ask her to replace all Les Mis noms by Middle of Nowhere…

  • Evandro Lannuci Rêgo Magalhães

    Sasha, please, what time will be this annoucement?

  • The strangest part is that I can’t find any evidence that either one of them are even MEMBERS of the Academy — at least not yet.

    All of Emma Stone’s work has been post-2004, and yet she hasn’t shown up on any of the Academy’s invitation lists since that time.

    Seth McFarlane did have a few short films before 2004, but was mostly working in tv at that time.

    Hopefully if they’re good enough to announce this year’s nominees, they’ll also be considered good enough to make the Academy’s invite list next June!

  • Yogsss

    @Zooey right now is 12:28 am. Thank you! 😀

  • Zooey

    I checked yesterday and I believe it’s 10:38am (if the world clock website is right)
    you can use world clock (or google current time Los Angeles to be sure).
    the announcement is 5:38am (even though MacFarlane wrote on twitter they’ll do it 5am, which can’t be true because they have to do it 5:38am because of the morning news live..

  • Yogsss

    Thank you so much Zooey 😀

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