Kristen Meinzer is the producer of The Sporkful podcast, culture producer for The Takeaway, and co-host of The Takeaway's Movie Date podcast.
Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder once sang that there's good and bad in everyone. And that applies to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as much as it does to the rest of us. When I tuned in to this morning's Oscar nominations announcement, I kept this in mind.
First and foremost: I am thrilled that, after being shut out by the Golden Globes, "True Grit" received a hefty ten nominations (only "The King's Speech" received more, with 12 total), including best picture, director, adapted screenplay, actor (Jeff Bridges) and supporting actress (Hailee Steinfeld, and yes, we all know she was really a lead, but the Academy, as we know, is funny when it comes to kids and newcomers).
Second, some underdogs got some big props, namely "Winter's Bone." The movie about a teenage girl from the Ozarks tracking down her drug-dealing father earned nods for best picture, best actress (Jennifer Lawrence), and best supporting actor (John Hawkes).
Speaking of best supporting actors, the category this year had some unexpected names, and not just John Hawkes. Jeremy Renner, from "The Town" also got a surprise nod, and who doesn't like a few surprises when the Oscar nods are announced?
One last good thing worth mentioning: "Toy Story 3." It received a nomination not only for best animated feature, but also for best picture. It's nice to see that the Academy isn't completely above giving big nominations to animated films now and then (last year, "Up" also received a best picture nomination, but prior to that, "Beauty and the Beast" was the only other animated feature to receive this honor), especially considering their traditional disregard for non-dramatic films.
"Burlesque" received no nominations.
It's hard to be a naysayer about this year's Oscar nods, especially after listing off the many ways that they made my morning. But I do have one issue with the Academy that I just can't ignore, and it goes back to the beginning of this piece — and yes, I'm talking about Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder again.
There's good and bad when it comes to the Oscars, but what about ebony and ivory (or maybe some Asian, for that matter)? Obviously, I'm not asking everyone to live together in perfect harmony, but it sure would be nice if some non-whites were honored with a few nods. And yes, I know that one Latino received a nod for acting (Javier Bardem in "Biutiful" — but that's one nod and I'll say it: the movie was lousy).
I'm trying to console myself with the fact that a great gay story was honored ("The Kids are All Right" received four nods). And I like that a story about poor rural people was honored as well ("Winter's Bone"). But this is still the whitest Oscar roster in at least a decade, and what a shame that is. I'm not really sure if this is Oscar's fault or Hollywood's, but come on. We can do better than this.
All right. Rant over. I'm going to listen to some Wings now.
UPDATE: We originally said the song "Ebony and Ivory" was by Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson. Of course, it was Paul Mccartney and Stevie Wonder. Apologies for the error.