What do Bart Simpson, John Travolta and Iraq-themed movies have in common?
All were no-shows in the Oscars noms.
In a wide-open year, there were lots of possibilities and few certainties. Many names seemed likely contenders, in a variety of categories, but with Oscar, somebody’s got to come in sixth.
An entire subgenre was pretty much shut out: Aside from Tommy Lee Jones’ surprise nom for “In the Valley of Elah” and Philip Seymour Hoffman for “Charlie Wilson’s War,” the slate of Mideast-topical movies were ignored by Academy voters. That list includes “Rendition,” “Lions for Lambs,” “A Mighty Heart,” “The Kingdom” and “Redacted.”
In other matters, Sean Penn was the only Directors Guild nominee not to receive Oscar attention (Jason Reitman took his slot). Penn and James Vanderbilt (“Zodiac”) were also Writers Guild nominees but were MIA Tuesday.
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Joe Wright, of “Atonement,” saw his film reap seven noms, including best pic, but none for him as helmer. Tim Burton (“Sweeney Todd”) and Sidney Lumet (“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”) had also been helming hopefuls.
The acting casualty list is an all-star gathering, including Angelina Jolie (“A Mighty Heart”), Denzel Washington (“American Gangster,” “The Great Debaters”), Ryan Gosling (“Lars and the Real Girl”), Emile Hirsch (“Into the Wild”), Helena Bonham Carter (“Sweeney Todd”), Tang Wei (“Lust, Caution”), Paul Dano (“There Will Be Blood”), Frank Langella (“Starting Out in the Evening”), Ben Foster (“3:10 to Yuma”) and the “Atonement” trio of Keira Knightley, James McAvoy and Vanessa Redgrave.
Judd Apatow was not recognized for his “Knocked Up” screenplay. Scripters Bill Kelly (“Enchanted”), Steve Zaillian (“American Gangster”), Kelly Masterson (“Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead”), John Logan (“Sweeney Todd”), James Schamus and Hui-Ling Wang (“Lust, Caution”) and Aaron Sorkin (“Charlie Wilson’s War”) were also bruited.
“Shrek the Third” and “The Simpsons Movie” were also-rans in the animated feature category.
The biggest list of heavyweight casualties is in the song category. There were 59 eligible tunes, including many written by big names, such as Clint Eastwood and Carole Bayer Sager (“Grace Is Gone”), Sheryl Crow (“Grace is Gone”), Eddie Vedder (“Into the Wild”), Kate Bush (“The Golden Compass”), Rufus Wainwright (“Meet the Robinsons”), the Eels (“Shrek the Third”), Rob Thomas (“Meet the Robinsons”) Aimee Mann and Zach Gill (“Arctic Tale”), John Legend (“August Rush”), Marc Shaiman and John Mayer (“The Bucket List”) and Roger Waters and Howard Shore (“The Last Mimzy”).
And the foreign-language race already raised some eyebrows when France’s “Persepolis” and Romania’s “4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days” failed to make the shortlist. Among the pics that did make the shortlist but did not get a nom were Brazil’s “The Year My Parents Went on Vacation” (Cao Hamburger), Canada’s “Days of Darkness” (Denys Arcand), Italy’s “The Unknown” (Giuseppe Tornatore) and Serbia’s “The Trap” (Srdjan Golubovic).