Top 5: Things you need to know about the Oscar nominations

The 2012 Oscar nominees were announced last week, with possibly one too many surprises. Here’s the lowdown on what you should know.

 

The Artist takes over

Even though “Hugo” has the most nominations at 11, the black-and-white silent movie “The Artist” is the front-runner for Best Picture. It has been sweeping up awards left and right, and nothing is going to stop it now.

 

The Academy likes awkward numbers

This year we have an uncomfortably-odd nine nominees for Best Picture. This is due to a rule change in the preferential voting system, made to encourage greater passion for the films and a slate more representative of the strength of the year. This experiment seems to have failed with “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” getting a best picture nomination with a paltry 46 percent on Rotten Tomatoes.

 

Best Actor is up for grabs…

There are two acting categories that have inevitable winners and two with very large question marks. Christopher Plummer (“Beginners”) and Octavia Spencer (“The Help”) have won every precursor award out there and should repeat their wins in the supporting categories on Oscar night. Best Actor is a three-man race between George Clooney (“The Descendants”), Brad Pitt (“Moneyball”) and Jean Dujardin (“The Artist”). It’s anyone’s game.

 

…and so is Best Actress

Best Actress has been neatly divided between Viola Davis (“The Help”) and Meryl Streep (“The Iron Lady”). Don’t count either lady out yet. Meryl hasn’t won since 1982 and Viola Davis was viciously snubbed a couple of years ago for her supporting role in “Doubt,” in which Meryl Streep also starred.

 

Oscar nominations mean nothing

There were three big omissions from the acting categories this year. Just last week I lauded Tilda Swinton in “We Need to Talk About Kevin” and she had every precursor nomination for Best Actress in the bag, but was one-upped by Rooney Mara in “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.” Michael Fassbender was also overlooked for “Shame” and Albert Brooks just barely missed for “Drive.” Just because they didn’t get Oscar nominations, you should still go check out these incredible films and hold your favorite movie of 2011 dear to your heart, whether it’s “The Tree of Life,” “Super 8” or “Mr. Popper’s Penguins.”