The nominations for the 85th Academy Awards were announced this morning and it would be safe to say that there were more surprises than usual, regarding not only the films that were recognized, but also the filmmakers that were not.
As was expected, Steven Speilberg’s Lincoln led the pack with 12 nominations and if there is a front runner for Best Picture and Best Director, this is it. While many thought it would be the film to beat, it gained momentum through the omission of three other filmmakers. That Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty), Ben Affleck (Argo) and Tom Hopper (Les Miserables) were snubbed in the Best Directing category points to the fact that the academy voters perhaps don’t find their films as well-crafted as Lincoln, thus hurting their chances in the Best Picture category.
These omissions were the most stunning surprises and left the door open for two long-shots to walk through the door to be nominated. Michael Haneke was recognized for his work on Amour, a film that chronicles the deterioration of a long-time marriage when one of the couple becomes ill. Benh Zeitlin was also nominated in this category for Beasts of the Southern Wild, which became the little movie that could with nods for Best Actress, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture.
The rule change two years ago regarding the Best Picture category, which now allows for ten nominees, left the field wide open and the academy members responded by nominating nine films for the top honor. The three movies that picked up the most momentum by being recognized in this category were Amour, Beasts and Life of Pi, Ang Lee’s existential, special effects-laden epic that seemingly dropped off the radar after making an initial splash. It’s back in the running with 11 nominations in total. The other leaders were Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook with eight.
Some interesting side notes – Linings received a nomination in each of the four acting categories, while Best Actress nominee Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), at 85 years young, is the oldest nominee ever to get a nod for this award, while fellow nominee Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts) is the youngest, at the ripe old age of nine.
Among the shutouts and oversights in major categories were The Hobbit, The Dark Knight Rises, Skyfall and Bernie, all of which had an outside chance of getting Best Picture nominations but failed to make the cut. John Hawkes seemed to be a sure thing in the Best Actor category for The Sessions but somehow fell to the wayside, as did Matthew McConaughey who was being touted for Magic Mike. And woe to DreamWorks Rise of the Guardians which was not recognized in the Best Animated Film category.
The awards will be given out of February 24.