If there was a theme in Tuesday’s nominations, it was a fondness for old Hollywood and for comfy, familiar faces. The only picture to take more nominations than “The Artist” was “Hugo,” Martin Scorsese’s tale of an orphan living in a 1930s Paris railway station who finds comfort at the movies (now there’s a sweet box office message). With 11 nominations, including best picture, “Hugo” made appearances in many of the technical fields as well as earning Scorsese his seventh directing nomination. “Deeply honored,” Scorsese said in a statement. “Every film is a challenge, and this one — where I was working with 3D, HD and Sacha Baron Cohen for the first time — was no exception.”
“Hugo” did not, however, receive any nominations in the performance categories.
Who did? Why, a whole high school yearbook-full of your old friends. Meryl Streep was there, hoovering up her 17th performance nomination for her steely channeling of Margaret Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” George Clooney swept up his third leading actor nomination in four years for his role as a cuckolded soon-to-be widower in “The Descendants,” also on the best picture list.
The leading actress nominations were rounded out by Michelle Williams as Marilyn Monroe (“My Week With Marilyn”), Glenn Close as a woman playing a man (“Albert Nobbs”), Viola Davis as a strong Southern maid (“The Help”) and Rooney Mara as a pierced and piercing girl with a dragon tattoo. In addition to Clooney and Dujardin, the other leading actor nominees were Brad Pitt for “Moneyball,” Demian Bichir for “A Better Life” — a bilingual father-son drama — and Gary Oldman for “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.”
Gary! Can this really be your first Oscar nomination? We’ve so enjoyed watching you flounce around with a wand in Harry Potter and with a mustache in Batman, but it will be nice to see you in a tuxedo again, properly decked out and ducking down a red carpet.
Many actors this year will be engaging in the ritual de-mothballing of the tuxedos. Take the supporting actor corps, a grizzled brigade of I-know-you’s from yesteryear. “Sleep is too precious at 70,” Nick Nolte said, explaining why he’d learned of his nod for “Warrior” from his publicist, rather than waking up for the 5:30 a.m. announcement. He sounded all hoarse and phlegmy and delightfully Nolte-ish. “I’ve known all those other guys for a long time.”