2007_01_salmhayke.jpgThere is tons of speculation all over the Internet about the Oscar nominations for films released in 2006. As an Oscars fiend, we're not going to digress about the calculus of vote-splitting. Instead, we'll point out a couple things we noticed:

- Best surprise nomination: Ryan Gosling's Best Actor nomination for Half Nelson; Gosling plays a drug-addicted teacher in Brooklyn trying to help one of his students...it'll be on DVD in three weeks - see it
- It's a Best Picture, not a Pretty Picture: None of the Best Picture nominees were nominated for Best Cinematography (the Cinematography nominees were The Black Dahlia, Children of Men, The Illusionist, Pan's Labyrinth and The Prestige)
- September 11 is still a tough subject matter: Yes, United 93 got two nominations (Best Director and Best Film Editing), which we think is more a testament to director Paul Greengrass's technical vision for the film, but there was no Hollywood love for Oliver Stone's World Trade Center
- Big ensemble pictures work sometimes: It worked for Babel, Little Miss Sunshine and The Departed. It didn't work for Bobby, The Good Shepherd or Dreamgirls (yes, it was nominated for 8 Oscars, but not the big ones)
- An Inconvenient Truth had a song? Melissa Etheridge wrote and performed a song that probably ran during the credits; for a moment, we were worried we missed an Al Gore solo
- A musical was nominated for Best Film: Best SHORT Film, that is. West Bank Story, described as "A musical comedy set in the fast-paced, fast-food world of competing falafel stands on the West Bank."
- Great Kate: While Helen Mirren will probably win Best Actress for her steely work in The Queen, we think that Kate Winslet must be the most-nominated young actress of her generation; her nod for Little Children is her fifth - and she's only 31! For reference, Meryl Streep (now the most nominated actor ever, with 14) received her fifth nomination when she was 35, though she had already won two Oscars by then.
- Pooping on screen not so great, but Punking poop off screen is: In what many are either outraged or relieved about, Sacha Baron Cohen was denied a Best Actor nomination for Borat (he was part of a writing team that was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay). Penelope Cruz, as nominated for Best Actress in Volver, and she was great in that (and there were scatological references in the movie). However, we can never forget the time she Punk'd Salma Hayek with a poopy toilet (YouTube clip).

What did you think of this year's Oscar nominations? And for Oscar nomination quarterbacking overload, check out The Carpetbagger, The Envelope, Daily Intelligencer, GreenCine, The Reeler, Hollywood Elsewhere and Defamer, to name a few.

Photograph of Salma Hayek pumping her arms when BFF Penelope Cruz's name was announced by Chris Carlson/AP