Here's a post-Oscars nominations look at who's up, who's down, what the Academy's picks mean—and whether they were mean to Mary J. Blige:
1. Pitt: Once upon a time, Pitt envied Leonardo DiCaprio, who commanded Oscar-nominated biopics (The Aviator) and social dramas (Blood Diamond), while he, Pitt, handled movie-star movies like Troy. "'I want to play more of a man,'" Pitt once complained. Later, he said he realized he had to "live like a man." And so he did. Parenthood followed, as did a different kind of movie. On Tuesday, he was the face of two Best Picture contenders, and a double nominee, for producing Moneyball, as well as for starring in it with a performance that was unadorned by tics and special effects. In other words, he was honored for playing a man, and living like one—and whether Angelina Jolie got him to that place, or the idea of DiCaprio goaded him there, he got there.
2. Rooney Mara: Hers was the nomination The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo needed almost more than Best Picture. Mission accomplished.
3. Oscar Movies: If you ever doubted they existed, then Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close's Best Picture nomination ought to have cleared that up.
4. Early 20th-Century Man and His Quaint Trappings: Last year, the awards were dominated by a movie about a 1930s radio address. This year, they're about to be dominated by one movie about a 1930s boy who reveres early 1900s cinema, and another about a 1920s actor who stars in silents. Ryan Gosling, you and your ultra-modern 1980s Members Only jacket never had a chance.
5. The Screen Actors Guild Awards: Once again, they were the blueprint for the acting categories, with 17 of their 20 nominees going on to Oscar nominations. Only fools, by which we mean us, would discount so many of their picks.
6. Mary J. Blige: The denied songstress for The Help called the Academy "mean." Sorry, Albert Brooks and Patton Oswalt, but that was the non-nomination reaction of the day. And the most authentic, too.
7. The Academy's Music Branch: Sorry, Ms. Blige, but the Original Song category was the most authentic Oscar category of the day. Instead of just penciling in "The Living Proof," Elton John's "Hello Hello" and other, sorry, unremarkable tunes, voters only passed on what they really, really, really liked.
1. The Academy's Music Branch: No "Star Spangled Man" from Captain America?! How could voters not really, really, really like that?
2. The Help: As much as a film can have an off day with a Best Picture nomination, and three acting nods, it had an off day. It seemed poised for even bigger things, but got cut off with shut-outs in the writing, directing and everything-else categories.
3. Comedies: If you ever doubted they are not, ahem, Oscar Movies, then Bridesmaids' Best Picture omission ought to have cleared that up.
4. Motion-capture: Back when he was stumping for Avatar, James Cameron said voters just didn't get the technology, and, judging by the lack of support for The Adventures of Tintin and Rise of the Planet of the Apes' Andy Serkis, they still don't.
5. Rivalries: Pitt's only got nice things to say about Clooney, and vice versa? The same with Viola Davis and Meryl Streep? This kind of level-headed thinking is all good for humanity, but it stinks for the Oscar race.
7. Everybody Nominated for Original Score Except The Artist's Ludovic Bource: Ignoring that it is just an honor to be nominated, it's gotta suck to know you have to lose—have to—to the guy who single-handledly prevented a silent movie from being totally, creepily silent.
SOME TEMPERATURE IN BETWEEN HOT AND COLD
1. Steven Spielberg: He willed War Horse into the Best Picture race; he couldn't impose his will in Animated Feature for Tintin.
2. DiCaprio: He just about leads the league in not getting nominated, so his snub for J. Edgar isn't so much a comment on his juice, or lack thereof, as more of the same. Maybe Pitt, or even Jolie, can give him a pep talk?