The 2009 Academy Awards nominations are out, and they are every bit as tepid and conventional as we would have predicted.  The small sliver of hope is that, by expanding the field to 10 nominations, one mildly weird film did manage to worm it’s way into Best Picture contention: the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man, which also garnered a well-deserved “Best Original Screenplay” nomination.  The beautiful looking Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus also got mentions for “Best Art Direction” and “Best Costumes.”

A few non-weird titles we covered in the past year got noticed by the Academy.  Coraline received a nomination for “Best Animated Film”: an honor, but a win isn’t in the cards considering the competition it’s Up against.  Stanley Tucci was mentioned for his chilling performance as a child murderer in the otherwise unremarkable The Lovely Bones.  And, to our shock, the musical snoozer Nine gathered a stunning four nominations: a Best Supporting Actress for the lovely and talented (but for this performance, undeserving) Penélope Cruz; one for art direction; one for costume design (corset and fishnet stocking fetishes are obviously common among members of the Academy); and one for the original song “Take it All” (now, which one was that, again?)

With all due respect to the Academy, we’d like to offer this alternative, weirder slate of nominees:


  • Antichrist: torture-porn in the style of Tarkovsky
  • The Box: a confusing sci-fi fable about moral dilemmas
  • Cold Souls: Paul Giamatti misplaces his soul and it winds up on the black market in Russia
  • Dark Country: Noir/horror hybrid about a couple that hit a man on a lonely desert road on the way back from their honeymoon
  • The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus: An ancient mystic with the power to make dreams real in a magic mirror tries to weasel out of a deal with the devil
  • Ink: A mysterious creature kidnaps a young girl and takes her into the world of dreams
  • Ponyo: A goldfish becomes a real live girl
  • A Serious Man: An absurdist retelling of the story of Job embodied by a Jewish physics professor in 1960s suburban Minnesota
  • Thirst [Bakjwi]: A Korean Catholic priest tries and fails to suck blood ethically after he is cursed with vampirism
  • Where the Wild Things Are: A rambunctious boy travels to a storybook land to meet symbolic psychological monsters



  • Daveigh Chase in S. Darko, as Donnie with a vagina
  • Paz de la Huerta in The Limits of Control, as some sort of a spy clad only in glasses
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg in Antichrist, as the grieving mother who goes psycho
  • Ok-vin Kim in Thirst, as a vampiress having relationship problems with her undead priest boyfriend
  • Jordan Ladd in Grace, as a mom with an undead baby


  • The talking fox in Antichrist
  • Charlotte Gainsbourg’s radical cure for her masturbation problem in Antichrist
  • The unconventional water-bed in The Box
  • The man growing out of the basement floor in Growing Out
  • Incubuses in glowing glasses fighting an array of clean-cut multicultural dream warriors in a hospital corridor in Ink
  • The giant crab that crashes into the desert and explodes in Land of the Lost
  • The goldfish-turned-girl running along waves that morph into fish in Ponyo
  • The stabbing of the dybbuk in A Serious Man
  • Whales spouting blood from their blowholes in Thirst
  • Billy Crudp’s giant glowing blue penis in Watchmen

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