Movie Maniac

January 10, 2013

Oscar nominations have a few surprises

Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday with some big surprises.

Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday with some big surprises.

“Lincoln” led the pack with 12 nominations, followed by “Life of Pi” with 11. Following are nominees in major categories with my reaction.

Best Picture



“Beasts of the Southern Wild”

“Django Unchained”

“Les Miserables”

“Life of Pi”


“Silver Linings Playbook”

“Zero Dark Thirty”

All were about as predicted, though it’s especially great for “Beasts” to make the list. A rare feat for a small, little-seen independent film.

Otherwise, it’s a little surprising to see “Django” do so well (with five nominations overall), given its wildly mixed reviews. The French film “Amour” is also a surprise here (it’s also nominated for best foreign language film, and is only the fifth film to be nominated in both categories, joining the ranks of “Z,” “The Emigrants,” “Life Is Beautiful” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).

Actor in a leading role

Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”

Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”

Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”

Denzel Washington, “Flight”

All solid choices, and I’m glad to see Phoenix get in with his maniacally explosive performance. The only glaring omission is John Hawkes as a paraplegic in “The Sessions.” Phoenix probably took his slot. Cooper and Jackman are the only first-time nominees here; Day-Lewis and Washington are previous winners.

Actress in a leading role

Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”

Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”

Quvenzhane Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”

I had a suspicion that Wallis was going to sneak in, and it’s wonderful that she did. At 9 years old, she becomes the youngest person ever nominated in this category. On the other hand, Riva is the oldest person to be nominated here, at age 85.

Chastain, Lawrence and Watts (who have all been previously nominated) were as predicted, with strong performances from each.

Supporting actor

Alan Arkin, “Argo”

Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”

Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”

Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

The only nice surprise here is Waltz, but his funny and colorful turn as a dentist-turned-bounty hunter was the best thing about “Django.”

All are previous Oscar winners.

Supporting actress

Amy Adams, “The Master”

Sally Field, “Lincoln”

Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”

Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”

Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Weaver’s choice was unexpected, although it’s a deserved nod for her performance as a mother trying desperately to keep her combustible family together.

All are previous nominees, with Field and Hunt previous winners.


Michael Haneke, “Amour”

Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”

Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”

David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”

Now this is where things really got shaken up. Glaringly — and disappointingly — missing from the list are Ben Affleck for his top-notch work in “Argo,” Kathryn Bigelow for her riveting work in “Zero Dark Thirty,” and Tom Hooper for his lush adaptation of “Les Miserables.” Their nominations were thought to be practically guaranteed (they were nominated for the Director’s Guild award). But not so, and the Twitter universe was rocking Thursday with rants and raves about it. Their films’ omission from the directing category now seriously hurts their chances to win best picture.

It is encouraging, though, to see Zeitlin sneak in with the dream-like “Beasts” — it’s his first nomination and his debut feature, an astounding feat.

Haneke (pronounced “han-uh-keh”) is a surprise, but he’s a masterful director, and I’ve admired his past work (“Funny Games,” “Cache”). “Amour” has yet to open in Wichita.

Lee’s sweeping narrative was entrancing, while Spielberg managed a talkative script and massive cast. Russell masterfully guided his cast to nab nominations in all four acting categories. All three are previous nominees; Lee and Spielberg are previous winners.

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