MOVIES: Gunfight at the Oscar Corral

The first shots have been fired … and this year’s Gunfight at the Oscar Corral is under way.

Tuesday morning’s nomination announcement triggers a process that continues through February’s end; we’ll know who survived after the actual Academy Awards ceremony Feb. 26.

There’ll be plenty of time to scope out all the winners and losers as the shootout continues, but here are a few first-round observations/reactions:

The Good: Happy to see my favorite movie of 2011, Woody Allen’s "Midnight in Paris," score three of its four nominations in major categories; writer-director Allen’s 22nd and 23rd nominations (for best original screenplay and best direction) move him out of a tie with the legendary Billy Wilder, making him Oscar’s all-time most nominated writer-director. I’m also happy to see Gary Oldman score an at-long-last best actor nomination, his first (?!) for "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy." 

The Bad: Two electrifying leading men had vintage years in 2011: Both Michael Fassbender (in "Shame") and Ryan Gosling (In "Drive") deserved best actor nominations but neither one made it to the starting gate. At least they’re in good company, with "Take Shelter’s" Michael Shannon and others. And speaking of "Drive," Albert Brooks seemed like a supporting shoo-in for his against-type performance as a sleazy underworld figure; guess again.

The Ugly: Under new best picture voting rules, a movie must receive 5 percent of the votes to earn a spot in the best picture competition … which means I’m shocked, shocked, that anyone would list a manipulative mediocrity like "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" as one of the year’s best movies.

There’s plenty more where those came from, of course; watch for the full roundup in the Review-Journal’s annual Terry Awards, which salute those who coulda (and shoulda) been Oscar contenders.

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