The big winners at Sunday night's Golden Globes suggested this awards season is about two films: 12 Years a Slave for Best Motion Picture, Drama, and American Hustle for Best Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical.
The Academy Award nominations, announced today, confirmed that number, plus one.
The American slavery drama 12 Years a Slave received nine Oscar nominations and the Abscam comedy-drama American Hustle and the tense low-orbit space drama Gravity picked up 10 apiece, leading the pack of this year's Best Picture nominees: Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Gravity, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, and The Wolf of Wall Street.
This trio of Academy favorites combined for 29 Oscar nominations, while the other six Best Picture nominees combined for 31. Typically, the number of a film's nominations are the best indicator to Academy voter preference and, therefore, its chances at Oscar immortality.
The 86th annual Academy Awards airs locally at 7 p.m. March 2 on WTVG-TV, Channel 13.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in the Best Picture category was the Academy again opting to nominate only nine films instead of a possible 10, double that of any other category.
And while there are a few snubs in this group, the biggest has to be to Inside Llewyn Davis, a critically acclaimed love letter by the Coen brothers to the 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene. The comedy-drama not only missed on Best Picture, but the Coens were noticeably absent in the Best Director and Best Original Screenplay categories. The film did receive two nominations: cinematography (Bruno Delbonnel, the French cinematographer and now four-time Oscar nominee's first pairing with the Coens) and sound mixing for so eloquently capturing the austere live performances of coffee house folk. Breakthrough actor Oscar Isaac, who stars as the titular Davis, a talented but self-destructive folk singer who can't seem to catch a break, failed to pick up a Best Actor nomination.
Davis, however, wasn't the biggest name left out off the Best Actor ballot. Tom Hanks had two shots for an Oscar nomination portraying screen versions of real people: the eponymous hero of Captain Phillips -- and really, Hanks' best work in years -- and as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks. Also missing from this group is Robert Redford, who carried All is Lost in a mostly wordless -- and tour de force -- performance as an accomplished sailor alone on a sinking boat somewhere in the Indian Ocean. The veteran actors can take heart, though, that they most likely would have lost to the category's heavy favorite, Matthew McConaughey (Dallas Buyers Club) as a Texas redneck dying of AIDS who discovers his ability for compassion in his one-man crusade for access to medications to help himself and others. Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), Christian Bale (American Hustle), Bruce Dern (Nebraska), and Leonardo DiCaprio (The Wolf of Wall Street) are the fellow Best Actor nominees.
The Best Actress nominees are Amy Adams (American Hustle), Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine) Sandra Bullock (Gravity), Judi Dench (Philomena), and Meryl Streep (August: Osage County). It's a worthy but nonetheless celebrity-heavy list, which partially explains why the young French actress Adele Exarchchopulous as a new-to-love (and heartbreak) lesbian in the French film Blue is the Warmest Color was noticeably left out. I thought Exarchchopulous's performance was the best this year by an actress, and if you've seen the film you'll understand why. But the film is foreign and controversial (NC-17). The Academy also failed to nominate Blue is the Warmest Color for Best Foreign Language Film. The omission of Emma Thompson as cranky and difficult Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks is the category's biggest surprise.
The Best Supporting Actor nominees are Barkhad Abdi (Captain Phillips), Bradley Cooper (American Hustle), Michael Fassbender (12 Years a Slave), Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street), and Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club). It could be argued for McConaughey's inclusion in this category for his riveting performance in Mud as an escaped and desperate convict who involves two teenagers in his plans. Since he's most likely a lock for a Best Actor Oscar, though, a nomination in Supporting Actor would probably seem to some voters as redundant and overkill. Like McConaughey's transformative performance in Dallas Buyers Club, Leto as a transgender AIDS activist and drug addict who's also dying of AIDS is the heavy favorite, and despite the overall strength of the category, the closest thing to a lock in this year's Oscar race.
The Best Supporting Actress nominations were equally strong: Sally Hawkins (Blue Jasmine), Jennifer Lawrence (American Hustle), Lupita Nyong'o (12 Years a Slave), Julia Roberts (August: Osage County), and June Squibb (Nebraska).
Absent from this category is Scarlett Johansson, though her omission isn't a surprise. Johansson's voice-only performance as a funny, warm, sexy, and utterly irresistible OS named Samantha in Her -- a film about a lonely man who falls in love with his computer -- is the heart of the movie. But the rarely controversial Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences voting bloc is not ready to tackle the intriguing question of voicework as Oscar-worthy over in-the-flesh performances.
The Best Director category often offers tangible clues to a film's Best Picture chances. It's rare that a film receives one Oscar without the other. But there's nothing to be inferred from this year's group. David O. Russell (American Hustle), Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Steve McQueen (12 Years a Slave) all picked up Best Director nominations, along with Alexander Payne (Nebraska) and Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street).
For what it's worth, the Golden Globes opted to award Cuarón a Best Director trophy.
It was the Golden Globes that first suggested it would be a tight race this year for Best Picture. The Oscar nominations just proved it.
Complete list of 86th Annual Academy Award nominations announced today:
Best Picture: “American Hustle,” ‘’Captain Phillips,” ‘’Dallas Buyers Club,” ‘’Gravity,” ‘’Her,” ‘’Nebraska,” ‘’Philomena,” ‘’12 Years a Slave,” ‘’The Wolf of Wall Street.”
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.”
Actress: Amy Adams, “American Hustle"; Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine"; Sandra Bullock, “Gravity"; Judi Dench, “Philomena"; Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County.”
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.”
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.”
Directing: David O. Russell, “American Hustle"; Alfonso Cuaron, “Gravity"; Alexander Payne, “Nebraska"; Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave"; Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Foreign Language Film: “The Broken Circle Breakdown,” Belgium; “The Great Beauty,” Italy; “The Hunt,” Denmark; “The Missing Picture,” Cambodia; “Omar,” Palestine.
Adapted Screenplay: Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, “Before Midnight"; Billy Ray, “Captain Phillips"; Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope, “Philomena"; John Ridley, “12 Years a Slave"; Terence Winter, “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Original Screenplay: Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell, “American Hustle"; Woody Allen, “Blue Jasmine"; Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack, “Dallas Buyers Club"; Spike Jonze, “Her"; Bob Nelson, “Nebraska.”
Animated Feature Film: “The Croods"; “Despicable Me 2"; “Ernest & Celestine"; “Frozen"; “The Wind Rises.”
Production Design: “American Hustle,” ‘’Gravity,” ‘’The Great Gatsby,” ‘’Her,” ‘’12 Years a Slave.”
Cinematography: “The Grandmaster,” ‘’Gravity,” ‘’Inside Llewyn Davis,” ‘’Nebraska,” ‘’Prisoners.”
Sound Mixing: “Captain Phillips,” ‘’Gravity,” ‘’The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” ‘’Inside Llewyn Davis,” ‘’Lone Survivor.”
Sound Editing: “All Is Lost,” ‘’Captain Phillips,” ‘’Gravity,” ‘’The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” ‘’Lone Survivor.”
Original Score: “The Book Thief,” John Williams; “Gravity,” Steven Price; “Her,” William Butler and Owen Pallett; “Philomena,” Alexandre Desplat; “Saving Mr. Banks,” Thomas Newman.
Original Song: “Alone Yet Not Alone” from “Alone Yet Not Alone,” Bruce Broughton and Dennis Spiegel; “Happy” from “Despicable Me 2,” Pharrell Williams; “Let It Go” from “Frozen,” Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez; “The Moon Song” from “Her,” Karen O and Spike Jonze; “Ordinary Love” from “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom,” Paul Hewson, Dave Evans, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen.
Costume: “American Hustle,” ‘’The Grandmaster,” ‘’The Great Gatsby,” ‘’The Invisible Woman,” ‘’12 Years a Slave.”
Documentary Feature: “The Act of Killing,” ‘’Cutie and the Boxer,” ‘’Dirty Wars,” ‘’The Square,” ‘’20 Feet from Stardom.”
Documentary (short subject): “CaveDigger,” ‘’Facing Fear,” ‘’Karama Has No Walls,” ‘’The Lady in Number 6: Music Saved My Life,” ‘’Prison Terminal: The Last Days of Private Jack Hall.”
Film Editing: “American Hustle,” ‘’Captain Phillips,” ‘’Dallas Buyers Club,” ‘’Gravity,” ‘’12 Years a Slave.”
Makeup and Hairstyling: “Dallas Buyers Club,” ‘’Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa,” ‘’The Lone Ranger.”
Animated Short Film: “Feral,” ‘’Get a Horse!,” ‘’Mr. Hublot,” ‘’Possessions", “Room on the Broom.”
Live Action Short Film: “Aquel No Era Yo (That Wasn’t Me),” ‘’Avant Que De Tout Perdre (Just before Losing Everything),” ‘’Helium,” ‘’Pitaako Mun Kaikki Hoitaa? (Do I Have to Take Care of Everything?),” ‘’The Voorman Problem.”
Visual Effects: “Gravity,” ‘’The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” ‘’Iron Man 3,” ‘’The Lone Ranger,” ‘’Star Trek Into Darkness.”
Contact Kirk Baird at: email@example.com or 419-724-6734.