The Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and the list of nominees in the major categories is mostly unsurprising (see the list). Even with 10 movies in the race, the Best Picture field doesn’t seem falsely puffed up as it did last year—enough quality movies were released this year that there is nothing like The Blindside or Avatar in the running. Unless you’ve been drinking the Ben Affleck Kool-Aid and think The Town deserved to be in there, it’s a fairly noncontroversial list of the year’s best films. (I personally breathed a huge sigh of relief when I saw that Winter’s Bone hadn’t been knocked off the list. Seriously, if you haven’t heard of it or haven’t seen it, go find a DVD.)
Something more controversial, at least for industry non-insiders, is that Hailee Steinfeld was nominated as a Supporting Actress category rather than Best Actress for her role in True Grit. Shuffling young leading actors and actresses into the supporting category is the norm, but it’s starting to seem a little silly. Despite Lea Yardum (Paramount’s “award consultant”) assertion to the Los Angeles Times back in December that "Hailee is part of an ensemble cast,” no one who saw True Grit will deny that Steinfeld carries the film just as much as Jeff Bridges.
"Whenever you're working with a child, it's more about honoring her place in the industry as a kid, and she's still a kid,” Yardum says. “To put that much pressure on a kid would be a bit much.”
Well, some might argue that the role itself was a lot of pressure, and Steinfeld proved she could do it. Dismissing her as “a child” seems to negate everything that the Coen brothers spent time crafting—that toughness, talent and “true grit” exists under the unlikeliest exteriors.