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Oscar Nominations

Oscar Nominations: The Predictable, the Surprises and the Snubs

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Oscar Nominations

The nominations for the 85th annual Academy Awards, the “mother lode” of movie awards as Helen Mirren once described them to me, was announced today (check out the full list of nominations), and there were some surprises and shockers.

The ten movies nominated for best motion picture are:

  • “Amour,” nominees to be determined
  • “Argo,” Grant Heslov, Ben Affleck and George Clooney, producers
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” Dan Janvey, Josh Penn and Michael Gottwald, producers
  • “Django Unchained” Stacey Sher, Reginald Hudlin and Pilar Savone, producers
  • “Les Misérables,” Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward and Cameron Mackintosh, producers
  • “Life of Pi” Gil Netter, Ang Lee and David Womark, producers
  • “Lincoln” Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy, producers
  • “Silver Linings Playbook,” Donna Gigliotti, Bruce Cohen and Jonathan Gordon, producers
  • “Zero Dark Thirty” Mark Boal, Kathryn Bigelow and Megan Ellison, producers
Although “Lincoln,” a film with the kind of gravitas the Academy likes to reward, is a heavy favorite for best film, “Silver Linings Playbook” could be the surprise winner. It’s a Harvey Weinstein film, and the heavy-weight producer knows something about campaigning for Oscar. In 1999, Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” looked like a lock, but then “Shakespeare in Love” swept in and took home the little gold statuette.

The all-important best actress category nominees are:

  • Jessica Chastain in “Zero Dark Thirty”
  • Jennifer Lawrence in “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Emmanuelle Riva in “Amour”
  • Quvenzhané Wallis in “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Naomi Watts in “The Impossible”

On the red carpet at the National Board of Review gala Tuesday evening, Chastain said she was headed to L.A. for the Golden Globes and would be on the plane when Oscar nominations were announced. It’s only when she turned on her phone and if she saw loads of messages than she’d know if she was nominated. Imagine what her phone looked like when she powered on!

There were also surprise omissions in the group, notably Marion Cotillard, heavily favored to get a nod for “Rust and Bone,” and Helen Mirren for “Hitchcock.”

For best actor, the noms were predictable:

  • Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
  • Hugh Jackman, “Les Misérables”
  • Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”
  • Denzel Washington in “Flight”

Day-Lewis is the frontrunner, although Cooper has a real chance. It was thought by many Oscar prognosticators that Phoenix would lose his chance in this spot when early in the season he badmouthed awards shows. He’s also done few appearances or interviews to promote the film.

Best supporting actress nominations are:

  • Amy Adams, “The Master”
  • Sally Field, “Lincoln”
  • Anne Hathaway, “Les Misérables”
  • Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
  • Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Field is the frontrunner, although Hathaway could also win. Hunt, and especially Weaver, are surprises in this list and long shots.

The best supporting nominees are:

  • Alan Arkin, “Argo”
  • Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
  • Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”
  • Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

That Waltz was on this list instead of Leonardo DiCaprio is a real surprise.  Javier Bardem for “Skyfall” was also considered a likely contender, and his omission is glaring.

The big shocker today was Kathryn Bigelow’s snub for best director. She has topped every awards list since early in the season. She was just included in the Directors Guild of America list announced the other day.

Her omission from the Oscar list may also be a result of the earlier voting deadline for Academy nominations, which was last Friday, before the Directors Guild of America announced their list. This was pushed ahead from previous years because the Oscars are two weeks earlier this year than last year.

The directors who made the cut are:

  • Michael Haneke, “Amour”
  • Benh Zeilin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”
  • Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
  • Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
  • David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

The other important name left off the director’s list is Ben Affleck, who also scored with the all-important Directors Guild.

There are only five spots for best director and ten films nominated for best picture, so some heavy hitters were bound to be omitted. But consensus among most Oscar prognosticators was that Russell’s name would be one left off the director’s list, but that he would get nominated for adapted screenplay. Instead, the happy news for Russell was that he got nominated for both.

The “Silver Linings Playbook” director must be a happy guy indeed. His film received eight nominations. Only Tuesday at the National Board of Review, on the red carpet he said, “I’m extremely grateful” and “it’s really a blessing” to receive all the accolades the intensely personal film has received.

Russell credits his son, who struggles with mental disabilities, as the reason he made the funny and touching family drama. He’s promoted the film tirelessly in Q&A’s and special screenings,  and it has paid off.

“Silver Linings” tied with “Les Misérables” with 8 nominations, which picked up noms for star Hugh Jackman and co-star Ann Hathaway, who played the tortured Fantine.

But the leader of the pack with 12 nominations is Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln.” The Honest Abe actor Daniel Day-Lewis picked up a best acting nomination, while Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones were in the supporting actor category. Pulitzer-Prize winning playwright Tony Kushner was also nominated for best-adapted screenplay.

Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” was close behind with 11 nominations, including for director Ang Lee, as mentioned above, and for editor Tim Squyres, as well as adapted screenplay by David Magee.

But the happiest man in America today must be Benh Zeitlin for his feature-film debut, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which picked up 10 Oscar nods. This included Zeitlin for best director, for best motion picture, film, and for adapted screenplay, which was based on a play by Lucy Alibar, who co-wrote the screenplay with Zeitlin.

The big surprise nominee is the film’s star, Quvenzhané Wallis, a non-actor in her first role, who has just been nominated for best actress. Only Tuesday, the adorable little girl carried a stuffed animal poodle bag and had a ball giving interviews on the red carpet at the National Board of Review, who named her the year’s breakthrough actress.

If Wallis is the youngest nominee at nine, the oldest actor is Emmannuelle Riva, the 85-year-old star of Michael Haneke’s “Amour.” Riva has picked up accolades from the Los Angeles Film Critics, as well as this week from the New York Film Critics Circle but still, her nomination is a happy surprise.

“Argo” picked up seven nominations that should make Affleck happy, even if his name was left off the director’s list. “Django Unchained” and “Zero Dark Thirty” tied with five nominations. That they scored so few is also a shocker, especial “Zero Dark Thirty,” which topped every awards list this season.

Tarantino should be happy for his best picture nod and for best screenplay. He said he writes his screenplays as though they were novels.

“Skyfall” may not have been the first Bond film to make the best film list, but it did score five nominations, which is impressive.

Joe Wright’s “Anna Karenina,” a movie left off in all the Oscar chatter since early in the season, received four below-the-line nominations. Although this under-rated film received no recognition for its actors, it scored big in cinematography (Seamus McGarvey), costume design (Jacqueline Durran), music (Dario Marianelli) and production design for the excellent sets of long-time Wright collaborator Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer.

Another big surprise is that “The Intouchables” was left off of the best foreign film list. The movie was a blockbuster in France. This made room for “Kon-Tiki” from Norway, “No” from Chile, “A Royal Affair” from Denmark and “War Witch” from Canada.

Seth McFarlane, who was the first Oscar host in 40 years (since Charlton Heston) to help announce the nominations, learned that his song from “Ted” received an original song nomination. His competition is the songs from “Les Miserable,” “Chasing Ice,” “Life of Pi” and “Skyfall.” “Skyfall” by Adele will most certainly be the first Bond theme song to ever pick up an Oscar.

The Academy deadline for voting is Feb. 19. The Oscars take place Feb. 24, 2013.

Paula Schwartz

Paula Schwartz is a veteran journalist based in New York who is passionate about the movies. Her idea of heaven is watching three movies in a row. She’s written for various outlets, including the New York Times, Showbiz411.com, More.com and MovieMaker Magazine. For five seasons, she contributed to the New York Times seasonal movie blog, Carpetbaggers, where she covered major awards events and interviewed stars like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Gary Oldman and Helen Mirren.

Paula Schwartz has written posts on Reel Life With Jane.


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