Movie Maniac

Academy Award nomination surprises were mostly pleasant

The Academy Award nominations were announced early Thursday morning, and as usual, there were some big (mostly nice) surprises.

Front-runners were the technological wonder “Gravity” and scam artist tale “American Hustle” with 10 nominations each. “12 Years A Slave” followed with nine. Here are major nominees and my reactions:

Best Picture

“American Hustle”

“Captain Phillips”

“Dallas Buyers Club”





“12 Years a Slave”

“The Wolf of Wall Street”

All great choices. I predicted all might get in except “Dallas,” but I’m really glad it did. The only glaring omission is “Saving Mr. Banks,” which surprisingly got little love from Oscar all around.

Lead actor

Christian Bale, “American Hustle”

Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”

Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”

Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Bale sneaked in, riding a wave of Oscar love for “American Hustle,” but it’s a great choice. I predicted DiCaprio might sneak in and he did. But that means Tom Hanks and Robert Redford didn’t make the cut, which is too bad. They were both career-high performances.

Lead actress

Amy Adams, “American Hustle”

Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”

Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”

Judi Dench, “Philomena”

Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

Adams sneaked in on the “American Hustle” wave, but it’s wonderful Oscar voters recognized her work, which was beautifully controlled. Hers might have been a role that wasn’t “lead” enough, but she was victorious, probably edging out Emma Thompson for “Saving Mr. Banks.”

Supporting actor

Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”

Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”

Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”

Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

I predicted all but Hill, which means he probably took Daniel Bruhl’s slot for “Rush,” which is too bad because it was a great, roiling performance and Bruhl’s first English-speaking role.

Supporting actress

Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”

Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”

Lupita Nyong'o, “12 Years a Slave”

Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”

June Squibb, “Nebraska”

I predicted all but Hawkins, and, again, it’s a wonderful choice. Her performance opposite Cate Blanchett was just as masterful if not as showy. She probably edged out Oprah Winfrey for “The Butler,” who I’m sure has other things to keep her busy.


David O. Russell, “American Hustle”

Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity”

Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”

Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”

Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

I predicted all but Payne, but his recognition is more than deserved, probably edging out Paul Greengrass for “Captain Phillips.”

The Academy Awards will be handed out March 2 in Hollywood.

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