Interesting piece. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is pretty bleak--at least that was represented.I think it had to do with the topics and the directors of each "bleak" film. Lars Von Trier will probably never receive Oscar recognition (and his Nazi comments at Cannes certainly didn't help). The Academy was probably never going to award a film rated NC-17 about sex addiction. In my view, Martha Marcy May Marlene was a flawed film (despite Elizabeth Olsen's great performance). I think another reason is that we don't usually have so many old-fashioned films in a given year, and I do believe the Academy, at its core, is self-congratulatory. So, a silent film--yes, let's nominate it! A film that celebrates cinema, like Hugo? Let's nominate it! War Horse, which could win Best Picture of 1947...yes, let's nominate it. It strikes me that the Academy is an old-fashioned bunch, and they had an embarrassment of riches from which to choose Best Picture nominees this year.
Good points, Jennifer. You're right–this was definitely a year full of old-fashioned films that relied heavily on nostalgia. All three of those movies–Hugo, War Horse, and The Artist–were nominated for Best Picture. It tells you a lot about both 1.) the preferences of the Academy members, and 2.) what exactly it takes for a film to do well with them. Between the wide array of old-fashioned films and bleak films, it was probably inevitable that the latter would take a bit of a hit.I still remain surprised that the Academy dismissed so many of these bleaker films in the other categories, primarily Actors, Actresses, Screenplay, Music, Cinematography and Sound Design. At the very least, I figured at least ONE of these movies would find something somewhere. The fact that Take Shelter, Rampart, Martha Marcy May Marlene, Melancholia, We Need to Talk About Kevin, Shame AND Drive were all practically ignored across the board in every category astounds me. Of course, maybe I shouldn't be surprised at this point with what the Academy chooses to vote for. You're right to mention The Girl with Dragon Tattoo–that one completely slipped my mind. At least that film had David Fincher on board–that had to have helped its cause vote-wise.