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Here are the biggest Oscar snubs and surprises

Here are the biggest Oscar snubs and surprises. David Lynch and Baz Luhrmann are largely overlooked, and that’s just the beginning of the Academy Awards oversights, says Ty Burr

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Sissy Spacek, Tom Wilkinson, ...

Here are the biggest Oscar snubs and surprises

They just have to do it. And this year they did it twice. I’m talking about the voters of the Motion Picture Academy nominating a movie for Best Picture but failing to nominate the guy who made it for Best Director — and at the same time, honoring a director without putting the movie he made into the Best Picture lineup. One is tempted to cry out, as Billy Crystal did when referencing the similarly abused ”Prince of Tides” director Barbra Streisand, ”Did this film direct itself?”

This year, the conspicuous Best Director absentees are twofold. First off: where the hell is Baz Luhrmann? There’s ”Moulin Rouge” for Best Picture, Nicole Kidman for Best Actress — but, like the movie or not, isn’t it the working definition of a ”director’s film”? Then there’s ”In the Bedroom”’s moving force, director Todd Field. His cast got nominated — Sissy Spacek for Best Actress, Tom Wilkinson for Best Actor, Marisa Tomei for Best Supporting Actress — and the movie’s up for Best Picture. Hell, even his script (cowritten with Robert Festinger and based on the Andre Dubus short story), deemed ineligible for the Writer’s Guild awards, was nominated.

Still, Field can’t be feeling too bad this morning: It’s the actor’s first time behind the camera and he’s potentially surrounded by gold. What do David Lynch’s and Ridley Scott’s response have to be? Both were nominated for director while their films were passed over for best picture. It’s surprising given ”Black Hawk Down”’s recent surge in popularity, and almost shocking given ”Mulholland Drive”’s domination of the year-end award lists. In the end, ”Mulholland Drive” was nominated only for Best Director: No Best Picture, no Best Actress, no Best Original Screenplay for what’s certainly the most original movie of last year (and, if you ask me, the best). It’s a virtual repeat of what happened with ”Blue Velvet” in 1986.

At least Robert Altman picked up a directing nomination AND a Best Picture nod for ”Gosford Park” (it was also nominated for Julian Fellowes’ script, and for both Helen Mirren and Maggie Smith in the Supporting Actress category, which pretty much guarantees they’ll cancel each other out).

Other surprises of the 2001 Oscar nominations?

Marisa Tomei, your vindication has arrived. And, boy, must it taste sweet.
Remember all those nasty rumors when Tomei won her out-of-nowhere Supporting Actress Oscar for 19921s ”My Cousin Vinny” over Vanessa Redgrave, Judy Davis, Joan Plowright, and Miranda Richardson? The whispers that Jack Palance had misread the winner off the card? Stop your sneering: Tomei is a contender again, and this time there are no doubters — even if Jennifer Connelly is an odds-on favorite to win.

Best Animated Feature? Don’t you mean Best Animated Family Feature?
This new category had a chance to honor the whole wide range of non-live action filmmaking — to take note of kiddie fare and grown-up films alike. And voters showed their blinkered refusal to even consider that an animated movie might have more on its mind than amusing the kiddies and selling trinkets at McDonalds by giving Richard Linklater’s groundbreaking ”Waking Life” the cold shoulder. The three nominees were ”Shrek,” ”Monsters, Inc.” — and ”Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius” (??). Yeah, my daughters liked ”Jimmy” just fine, and it was a pain-free 82 minutes for me, but it didn’t exactly push the boundaries of the form, if you know what I mean.

Never underestimate the power of a well-made audience pleaser.
Before they were released, I don’t know that anyone expected ”Lord of the Rings” and ”Black Hawk Down” to be major Oscar bait. Most people were holding their breaths hoping that ”Rings” wouldn’t be a disaster, and ”Down” was, pardon the expression, beneath most folks’ radar. Yet here’s ”Rings” with 13 nominations — one short of ”Titanic”’s record — and here’s director Ridley Scott with a shot at the gold.

There’s always room for the randomly bizarre.
Ethan Hawke nominated for Best Supporting Actor for ”Training Day”? Uh, okay. ”Shrek” for Best Adapted Screenplay? Fine, as long as it didn’t edge out the exemplary ”Ghost World,” which it didn’t. ”Amélie” for Original Screenplay? Well, if you’re going to honor the French film anywhere besides the Foreign category — which it was honored — why not give director Jean-Pierre Jeunet a nod for his creative visual whimsy? Believe me, the Director category is screwy enough already.

Get more: EW.com’s latest Oscar coverage

RELATED SITES: Vote in Moviefone’s American Moviegoer Awards or get additional coverage on Netscape’s Oscar page

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