The biggest surprise of this morning’s Oscar nominations was that Kathryn Bigelow was not nominated for best director, raising some speculation that all of the controversy surrounding “Zero Dark Thirty” hurt its chances.
But if that were the case, it doesn’t explain the movie’s best picture nomination and, more importantly, the nomination for screenwriter Mark Boal, who has been just as prominent as Bigelow in criticism of the movie and responding to it.
There’s the prospect that this year’s early voting may have tempered the nominations for movies released late in the year, as also snubbed was Tom Hooper, director of “Les Miserables.” We will never really know, save for a next-to-impossible poll of Oscar voters, or even a release of the vote totals, which the Motion Picture Academy does not do.
Also not nominated was Ben Affleck for “Argo,” which earned rave reviews and has not had the same level of criticism of “Zero Dark Thirty,” even though it also takes license in telling the story of how six Americans were smuggled out of Iran in the midst of the hostage crisis.
And as usual, the documentary feature category had its own share of movies that surprised in not making the final cut, including Lee Hirsch’s “Bully,” Eugene Jarecki’s “The House I Live In,” Alison Klayman’s “Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry,” and Alex Gibney’s “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.” Instead, voters selected Kirby Dick’s “The Invisible War,” David France’s “How to Survive a Plague,” Dror Moreh’s “The Gatekeepers,” Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s “5 Broken Cameras” and Malik Bendjelloul’s “Searching for Sugar Man.”