So the Academy Award nominations are out there on the table, and...wow, where to begin?
I'll start with a personal peeve: "The Wrestler" by Bruce Springsteen--which has not only been nominated but actually WON just about every major critical award this year for original song in a motion picture--isn't even on the list...AND there's only three songs, so it's not like there was an embarrassment of riches. WTF, Academy?
"Gran Torino," which would have been my personal pick for Best Picture of the Year, isn't even nominated...not in the Picture, Director or Actor categories. I never thought it had a shot at winning at least two out of the three, but I thought it was a shoo-in for nomination in at least a pair of categories. Eastwood's final on-camera performance (according to him) deserves recognition, as astounding as it was, and behind the camera he was no worse. I feel like Springsteen and Eastwood are both suffering from having been Academy favorites so often that the Oscars are trying to appear as though they aren't just giving it to their friends and neighbors--but when they're the best there is at what they do, a snub is a snub.
Having passed over "The Dark Knight" for a Best Picture nomination in favor of niche films like "Milk" and "The Reader," the Academy is abstracting its own viewpoint from that of the moviegoing public ever more. "The Dark Knight" is the second highest-grossing film of all time, and if it's #2, then it's worth noting that #1 and #3 were each not only nominated--but actually WON Best Picture on their release years (that's "Titanic" in 1997 and "Star Wars" in 1977). I'm not saying that being the top grosser of the year is an indicator of quality--popularity is often unrelated to actual cinematic achievement--but most critics have "The Dark Knight" at or near their Best of 2008 lists. On a similar note, we have "Wall-E" continuing the trend of animated films--no matter how great--being ghettoized to the Animated Feature category, failing to capture a Best Picture nomination in spite of the fact that almost everyone I know, having seen the film, acknowledges that it's utterly brilliant.