This year, no-noms as surprising as noms

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  • Many are called, but only five are chosen.

    When the Academy Award nominations were announced Tuesday, “Shipping” was in dry dock, “Majestic” didn’t live up to its name and a slew of critics award-winners were left empty-handed.

    It’s an understatement to say that this year’s awards race was full of question marks. Even so, there are some surprises in who and what failed to make the short list.

    Though Baz Luhrmann is a DGA nominee and his “Moulin Rouge” is one of Oscar’s five best pic contenders, he was an also-ran in Oscar’s helmer category. Christopher Nolan of “Memento” was also among the Directors Guild’s quintet, but missing from Oscar’s roster. Robert Altman (“Gosford Park”) and David Lynch (“Mulholland Drive”) took their slots in the Oscar derby.

    And director Todd Field saw his “In the Bedroom” earn a best-pic nom, though he (like Nolan) had to take consolation is a script bid.

    Among the performers and individuals who won critics prizes but were bypassed by Academy voters: Brian Cox, “L.I.E.”; Gene Hackman, “The Royal Tenenbaums”; Ewan McGregor, “Moulin Rouge”; Guy Pearce, “Memento”; Thora Birch, “Ghost World”; Tilda Swinton, “The Deep End”; Naomi Watts, “Mulholland Drive” and Cate Blanchett, “The Shipping News.”

    This year’s SAG Award nominees include Kevin Kline and Hayden Christiansen, both of “Life as a House,” and Dakota Fanning of “I Am Sam.” None made the roster on Tuesday. Other admired perfs that were shut out: Steve Buscemi, “Ghost World”; Jude Law, “A.I. Artificial Intelligence”; Eddie Murphy, “Shrek”; and Tony Shalhoub, “The Man Who Wasn’t There.”

    Despite a noble campaign to be considered as a best-film contender, “Shrek” had to be content with two key noms — though it might have made the best-film cut if it weren’t for the existence of the new feature-animation category.

    Academy voters this year bypassed high-profile studio releases that were touted as heavy Oscar favorites even before principal photography began — for example, Miramax’s “The Shipping News,” New Line’s “Life as a House,” Universal’s “K-PAX,” WB’s “The Majestic.”

    Among the pics whose Oscar results did not live up to the studios’ expectations are Buena Vista’s “The Royal Tenenbaums,” Sony’s “Ali,” Paramount’s “Vanilla Sky” and WB/DreamWorks’ “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.”

    Also missing from Oscar’s circle were some arthouse faves that had earned some critics awards, like “The Deep End” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” Acad voters similarly failed to anoint niche pics that had earned favorable reaction from critics and audiences: “American Rhapsody,” “The Others,” “The Business of Strangers,” “Lantana,” “Last Orders” and “L.I.E.”

    Though Renee Zellweger and Maggie Smith were cited for their serio-comic turns, other comedies were no-shows, such as “Legally Blonde” and “The Princess Diaries.”

    The foreign-language film race was especially strong this year, with 51 submissions. Among the highly-lauded pics that couldn’t manage an Oscar slot were Austria’s “The Piano Teacher,” Brazil’s “Behind the Sun,” Colombia’s “Our Lady of the Assassins,” Denmark’s “Italian for Beginners,” Iran’s “Baran,” Italy’s “The Son’s Room,” Mexico’s “Violet Perfume (Nobody Hears You),” Slovenia’s “Bread and Milk,” Sweden’s “Jalla! Jalla!” and Switzerland’s “In Praise of Love.”

    The song race also held many key omissions. David Baerwald’s “Come What May” from “Moulin Rouge” was ruled ineligible. Other singer/scribes who failed to make the cut include Alicia Keys (“Ali”), Sheryl Crow (“K-PAX”), and Wynonna Judd (“Someone Like You”).

    Even the makeup category brought some surprises. Academy voters eschewed the flashy work on such films as “Planet of the Apes,” “Hannibal,” “Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone” and “A.I. Artificial Intelligence.” The trio cited included the relatively subtle work on “A Beautiful Mind” and “Moulin Rouge,” as well as the splashier “Rings.”

    While Oscar has smiled on many great films, this year’s crop of no-shows and underachievers can take solace in the fact that many all-time greats have been similar no-shows or under-achievers: “Frankenstein,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “North by Northwest” and “2001: A Space Odyssey,” to name a few.

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