Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Oscar dropped a few surprises with its nominations announcement
Thursday, but the biggest shocker may come between now and the Feb. 24
ceremony: actual competitive races.
The Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences recognized political stumping, stage singing and films
that have been burning up earlier awards programs, including Lincoln, Les Misérables and Argo.
analysts note that none has become the year's "water cooler" film, the
picture you recommend to others. That could open the door for a
dark-horse candidate, a few of which also cropped up, including the
low-budget art-house film Beasts of the Southern Wild and the Austrian-German Amour.
Still, it was a day for heavyweights. Steven Spielberg's Lincoln
led the field with 12 nominations, including best picture, director,
actor for Daniel Day-Lewis and supporting actress for Sally Field.
Ang Lee's adaptation Life of Pi
received 11 nominations, a surprise for some of the publicists and
media in attendance at the pre-dawn ceremony in Beverly Hills. Pi, based on Yann Martel's best-selling novel, earned nominations for director for Lee and picture.
BEST PICTURE: Films run the gamut
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NOMINEES: See the full list
Les Misérables saw a big morning and a surprising snub. The musical earned eight nominations (tying it with the romantic comedy Silver Linings Playbook),
including picture, actor for Hugh Jackman and supporting actress for
Anne Hathaway. But director Tom Hooper didn't make the cut.
Among other snubs: Ben Affleck, who was considered a front-runner for a director nomination for Argo
(though his story of the Iran hostage crisis did collect seven
nominations, including best picture). Also ignored in the directing
category were Zero Dark Thirty's Kathryn Bigelow and Django Unchained's Quentin Tarantino, both of whom are Oscar winners.
Surprise nominees included the elderly love story Amour, which nabbed nominations for picture, director (Michael Haneke) and actress (Emmanuelle Riva).
The Louisiana bayou fairy tale Beasts of the Southern Wild
collected big nominations as well, including picture, actress for
9-year-old neophyte Quvenzhané Wallis, director for Benh Zeitlin and
If there was an overall winner Thursday, it would be David O. Russell'sSilver Linings Playbook,
a $21 million film that has earned $35 million and scored nominations
in almost every major category: picture, director, adapted screenplay
and every acting category.
The 85th annual show is scheduled to air Feb. 24 on ABC (4 p.m. PT/7 p.m. ET).
nominations follow a strong year at the turnstiles for the industry,
which hit a record $10.8 billion in ticket sales in 2012.
More importantly: Attendance spiked 5% over last year, increasing possible viewership.
Louis Giannetti, emeritus film professor at Case Western Reserve University and author of Understanding Movies,
says the academy's selections represent a good-if-not-great year
artistically for movies. The current crop lacked "that one big film that
everyone acknowledges is a masterpiece and is the overriding favorite."
Of the slate of movies, "I'd give it a B+," Giannetti says. "I'm not sure we had a movie that just knocked your socks off."
flip side, he says, is that without a heavyweight, the competition
could be riveting. Oscar hasn't seen an upset for best picture since
2006, when Crash upset Brokeback Mountain.
Although films like Lincoln, Les Misérables and Argo
have been scoring well with smaller film circles, "there is really no
front-runner for Oscar," he says. "Even the director's race is up for