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2009 Oscar nominations

Shutouts and surprises: who defied the odds

Clint Eastwood doesn't make the list while 'The Reader' makes an unexpected score.

January 23, 2009|Chris Lee

Each year, the Oscar nominations result in a pleasure-pain split in Hollywood. There's the "You like me, you really like me!" jubilation for those whose work gets honored. Then there are the bruised egos of those who early on had been touted as Oscar shoo-ins but whose work wound up unheralded by academy voters.

No different this year: The '09 nominations remain noteworthy for a list of snubs that includes a rock icon, a couple of beloved Oscar eminence grises and the A-list marquee stars of an Oscar-bait drama. Some surprising honorees, meanwhile, cover the spread from journeyman actor to tabloid queen.

After Bruce Springsteen collected a Golden Globe earlier this month for the emotional title song he wrote for "The Wrestler," many industry observers were shocked to discover the singer-songwriter had not been nominated in the original song category Thursday.

Likewise, actor-director Clint Eastwood was shut out of the Oscars despite releasing two movies last year -- "Gran Torino" and "Changeling" -- and after indicating that "Gran Torino" would be his swan song for in front of the camera. As well, 21-time Oscar nominee Woody Allen was left off the roster Thursday even though the romantic comedy he wrote and directed, "Vicky Cristina Barcelona," was generally well-received by critics.

Reuniting on-screen for the first time since the blockbuster success of 1997's "Titanic" wasn't enough to net "Revolutionary Road" stars Leonardo DiCaprio or Kate Winslet nominations for their powerful performances in the adaptation of Richard Yates' acclaimed 1961 novel. (Winslet did get a lead actress Oscar nod for her performance in "The Reader," however, bringing her career total to six.)

Although Warner Bros. marketers carried out an aggressive "for your consideration" campaign for "The Dark Knight," the film's co-writer and director Christopher Nolan did not get any academy love. And after collecting a Golden Globe for best actress in a movie comedy or musical this year, effervescent British actress Sally Hawkins failed to receive a nod for "Happy-Go-Lucky." That outcome shocked and confused the film's writer-director Mike Leigh.

"I'm very disappointed, frankly," Leigh said Thursday. "Without taking anything away from anyone else nominated, it's hard for me to see how anybody could be a better actress than her."

At the other end of the spectrum, Angelina Jolie's turn in "Changeling" hadn't been exactly enveloped in a hive of Oscar buzz. But after being passed over for her acclaimed performance in last year's "A Mighty Heart," she landed a best actress nomination Thursday.

And even though it opened to many more negative reviews than positive ones in December, the Holocaust drama "The Reader" caught Oscar handicappers unaware by snagging nominations in the heavyweight categories for picture and director Stephen Daldry.

However, this year's standout dark-horse nominee has to be Richard Jenkins. The star of "The Visitor" -- a little-seen indie drama that has grossed just $9.5 million at the box office -- he has appeared in dozens of movies and TV shows dating to the mid-'70s but has never come close to landing the mother of all acting awards.

"I'm so happy Richard Jenkins got nominated," said another surprise acting nominee, Michael Shannon, whose role as an unstable neighbor in "Revolutionary Road" had been virtually ignored by other awards groups.

"His performance in 'The Visitor' this year is the one thing I saw that flabbergasted me."


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