1. Most Conspicuous Snub
Baz Luhrmann, not nominated as best director for Moulin Rouge! If there's a best-picture nominee that is a monument to its director's obsessive vision, it's Moulin Rouge! Very odd omission, as directors nominate directors, and Luhrmann did get a Directors Guild nomination.
2. Biggest Precedent
Halle Berry, Will Smith and Denzel Washington's nominations mark the first time in 30 years that three African-American actors have been nominated in leading-actor categories. Cicely Tyson, Diana Ross and Paul Winfield were nominated in 1971. Given the ferocious buzz around Sissy Spacek's nomination for In The Bedroom, early indications are that Berry will not break the best-actress drought for black performers. Interesting, though, that Berry won her Emmy for playing Dorothy Dandridge, the first black woman to get a best-actress Oscar nomination.
3. Animation Gaffe
Jimmy Neutron, Boy Genius? The Academy passed over Richard Linklater's Waking Life, regarded by many as the most innovative American animation in a decade, for this cute Nickelodeon thingie? On the other hand, it means I still don't actually have to see Waking Life.
4. Not A Comeback, A Return
Widely regarded as having the worst career management skills of any recent Oscar winner, Marisa Tomei snags her second nomination for In The Bedroom.
5. Rare Double
Kate Winslet and Dame Judi Dench pull a rare double, being nominated for playing the older and younger versions of the same character in the film Iris. The last time it happened was in 1996, in Titanic, when Winslet and Gloria Stuart were both nominated.
6. Biggest Surprise
Ethan Hawke for Training Day. While Hawke's co-star, Denzel Washington, is always Mr. Oscar Buzz (this is his fifth nomination) and has won the L.A. Film Critics Award, the Gen X icon is almost never a buzz kind of guy.
7. Dumb Docs
A tradition lives on - Startup.com, one of the year's few commercially successful documentaries, fails to get a nomination for best documentary. As usual, five films that nobody's ever heard of are picked.
8. Simple Facts
Regarding Sean Penn's nomination for I Am Sam - can we please have a ban on honouring actors for doing flashy, "love me, love me" performances as simpletons? No, I suppose not. You'd think people would reject shameless Oscarbation like this out of hand. You'd be wrong.
9. Biggest Sweep Beneficiary
Jennifer Connelly in A Beautiful Mind. Not nominating her would have left room for Cameron Diaz's turn in Vanilla Sky.
10. Second Viewings
Nominated film I most want to see again - The Lord Of The Rings. Nominated film I'd be happy never to see again - Moulin Rouge!
The Academy Awards will take place Sunday, March 25.
A complete list of the nominees can be found at www.oscar.org/74academyawards/index.html
NOW's senior film writer, John Harkness, is the author of The Academy Awards Handbook. The 2002 edition can be purchased at http://chapters.indigo.ca