Oscar 2011: Spirit Awards Nominations–Surprises, Omissions

The announcement of the Spirit Award nominations confirmed that this awards season is full of uncertainties.  The Oscar nominations, on January 24, should include many surprises.

Variety reports:  A few clues about what the voters of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science (AMPAS) could choose in January have emerged.

Both Alexander Payne’s “The Descendants” (Fox Searchlight) and Michel Hazanavicius’ “The Artist” (Weinstein Company) will get a boost from their Spirit nominations, helping both films remain a significant part of the conversation.

Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” with a terrific lead performance by Elizabeth Olsen, for which Fox Searchlight has high awards hopes, is sure to move up in the ranks of contenders by earning first feature, director and lead actress nominations.

Meanwhile, “Beginners” could be a real Oscar contender now that it adds a Spirit nom to the Gotham Award it won Monday.  Christopher Plummer should get a Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance as the late-coming-out dad.

A few nominated films whose buzz seemed to be quieting probably got a boost from the screeners that recently went out, including “Pariah” (Focus Features), “Take Shelter” (Sony Classics), and “Margin Call.”

Notable omissions among the nominees include Paramount’s “Like Crazy,” a largely improvised film from Drake Doremus that had been getting good buzz heading into the season.

Oscilloscope’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” which has had significant awards push for star Tilda Swinton, also did not make the cut.

Fox Searchlight’s “Tree of Life,” a Terrence Malick film, which won the top award at the Cannes Film Fest, is not on the list.  The film divided critics, but earned a Gotham Award Monday and Brad Pitt won Best Actor for his work in this film from the New York Film Critics Circle..