Melanie Laurent (Inglourious Basterds)- In a film powered by raw, unforgiving violence, Laurent was the true heart of “Basterds.” Her emotional performance as a Jew hiding in Nazi-Occupied France truly brought sympathy for this lady vengeance. By the end, when she’s become nothing but a hovering, etherial cloud of smoke, her human presence is never gone. No, it’ll live on in “Too Good for the Oscars” immortality.
Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man)- If voters were actually paying attention, Stuhlbarg would be the frontrunner for Best Actor. Of course, they weren’t, because his brilliant performance was layered in deep, hilarious subtlety. For example, look closely as he waddles down his roof like a chicken as he spies on the woman of his dreams. The Coen Brothers couldn’t have found a more perfect man to portray awkward, Jewish angst.
(500) Days of Summer- How could one of the most inventive comedies in years be totally snubbed, not even scoring in the Best Original Screenplay category? You know you’ve got a special romantic comedy when it seems easier to compare it to “Memento” than “It’s Complicated.”
Peter Capaldi (In the Loop)- Here is a man who deserves to be one of the most famous actors in the world. Capaldi let comedic sparks fly high with the handling of his character’s incessant cursing. While his character is far from a joyous one, he doesn’t seem to curse out of anger, but rather out of involuntary obligation. His impeccable line delivery helped make this dark comedy as dark and funny as a dark comedy can be.
Lance Acord (Where the Wild Things Are)- Technical work saves a tepid screenplay. Acord’s cinematography, deeply observing the beauty of nature, becomes a story of its own. It’s one of those films where you could turn down the volume, and just enjoy the incredible imagery.
Other Glaring Snubs: Matt Damon (The Informant!), Fantastic Mr. Fox (Best Adapted Screenplay), Brad Pitt (Inglourious Basterds), Neil Blompkamp (District 9), Alfred Molina (An Education), “Stu’s Song” (The Hangover)