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There were a lot of mixed feelings about the Oscar nomination presentation yesterday. Most seemed to feel the pre-recorded elements were sleepy and subdued and the energy and crackle of excitement from the press and publicists in the audience were sorely missed. I’m in agreement there. The alphabetized format from the somnambulant announcer gave little in the way of surprise. Only in Best Actress, when Isabelle Huppert (Elle) was announced first (instead of the expected nomination for Amy Adams in Arrival) was there a true ‘moment.’ But it’s done in silence so the lack of instant reaction was missed.
One doesn’t have to look very far for previous Oscar nomination announcements to know what I’m talking about. Salma Hayek, announcing with then Academy President Sid Ganis in 2007, was especially memorable. It was a year of heavy Mexican and Spanish representation at the Oscars and Hayek simply couldn’t hold her pride and happiness in announcing names like Penélope Cruz (Volver) as nominees. It was infectious.
Jennifer Lawrence, announcing with then Academy President Tom Sherak in 2012, gave us one of the most glorious moments – her beat before announcing Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close as the final Best Picture nominee and that huge audience response. Add to that Sherak’s fantastic garbling of names (Ha-zah-vee-cheez-us) and his eye roll over Terrence Malick’s Best Director nomination for The Tree of Life and you have a truly memorable announcement.
But, 2013’s nomination announcement with Oscars host Seth MacFarlane and (then) future Oscar nominee Emma Stone might be the best. Using a non-alphabetized order, the Best Director lineup revealing the shocking snubs percolated throughout the room. The moment immediately after, celebrating the nominations for Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild) and Michael Haneke (Amour) only to realize that it meant Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) had been snubbed was electric.
This year, Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs aimed to avoid a Sherak-level fumble or worse, her own, (Dick Poop will never die), and was joined by Oscar winners Brie Larson (Best Actress for Room), Jennifer Hudson (Supporting Actress for Dreamgirls), Emmanuel Lubezki (The Revenant, Birdman, Gravity), Marcia Gay Harden (Supporting Actress for Pollack) and Dustin Lance Black (Original Screenplay for Milk) and Oscar nominees (Jason Reitman (Up in the Air, Juno), Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow), Demián Bichir (A Better Life), Guillermo del Toro (Pan’s Labyrinth), Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai) and Glenn Close (Albert Nobbs, Dangerous Liaisons, Fatal Attraction, The Natural, The Big Chill, The World According to Garp).
There were a few shining moments with the interstitials between this year’s nominations. Oscar-nominee Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), whose sly wit and comic timing made for a truly funny lead-in to the Film Editing nominations, pretty much saved the day. She should have done the announcement with Cheryl Boone Isaacs in the traditional style, the room would have loved her.
Here are the 2017 Oscar nomination video announcements: