The Dark Knight Rises did not receive a single nomination. I open with that in a pitiful attempt to make fans of The Master feel a little better. Batman starred in a rather underwhelming film this year, although it has its moments. At least The Master went three-for-three in the expected acting categories. The bad news is that those are its only nominations — no Best Picture (it was a long shot), no Cinematography, no P.T. Anderson for directing. Again, it can only be faintly comforting that Les Misérables didn’t get nominated in the latter two categories either. Tom Hooper was expected to pick up his second nomination in three years. We dodged a bullet there (sorry, Tom). Still, it’s a pretty significant snubbing for Anderson’s film. Meanwhile, Moonrise Kingdom only gets mentioned for its original screenplay, a category with three Best Picture nominees vying. But hey, things could have been much worse.
The headline, which I’ve just buried, is that Lincoln leads the field with twelve nominations. Suddenly it’s the clear front-runner, a consensus choice with little controversy attached to it and a bunch of positive reviews. In my opinion it’s a much better film than the last two winners, so it wouldn’t be a disappointment. On the other hand, it’s still too early to call the race. Life of Pi got eleven nominations, although most of them are for categories that the rank and file don’t particularly care about. Silver Linings Playbook, however, was nominated in all four acting categories as well as Best Director. Argo and Zero Dark Thirty may also still be contenders, but they got snubbed in the directing category. Here’s the full list of Best Picture nominees:
- Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Django Unchained
- Les Misérables
- Life of Pi
- Silver Linings Playbook
- Zero Dark Thirty
For the second straight year, the new system for awarding Best Pic nominations produced nine selections, which again leaves people wondering how many more votes their film of choice would have needed to earn the tenth spot. Also for the second straight year, the Palme d’Or winner at the Cannes Festival earned a nomination. Not many people were expecting Amour to break through. It lends gravitas to the list, just as Django and Silver Linings Playbook add a sense of humor. I’ve only seen four of these so far, but I’m planning on seeing Zero Dark Thirty this weekend and will probably see at least Beasts of the Southern Wild before February 24. We have a pretty good crop this year; I wouldn’t have minded a shocking Les Mis snub in favor of Moonrise Kingdom or The Master, but we can’t have everything.
- Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
- Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
- Hugh Jackman, Les Misérables
- Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
- Denzel Washington, Flight
That’s a wonderful group of gentlemen. It’s almost too bad that Day-Lewis has this pretty well sewn up, but he’s the clear choice. Thanks for playing, everyone else. Remember, fans of The Master, Phoenix’s nomination wasn’t a sure thing. The Academy threw you a bone.
- Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
- Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
- Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
- Quvenzhané Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Naomi Watts, The Impossible
Records have been broken. We have our oldest-ever nominee in Riva and our youngest-ever in Wallis. And we also have three actresses in their primes, one of whom will most likely win. Even though I haven’t seen the film yet, I’m already rooting for Chastain, because she’s always terrific.
Best Supporting Actor
- Alan Arkin, Argo
- Robert De Niro, Silver Linings Playbook
- Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master
- Tommy Lee Jones, Lincoln
- Christoph Waltz, Django Unchained
If The Master wins anything, it’ll be in this category. Among these men, seasoned performers all, he has a solid chance. Waltz gets his second nomination for a Tarantino film. I’m always happy to see him recognized, although I think I would have chosen DiCaprio this time around. Tommy Lee Jones has a shot.
Best Supporting Actress
- Amy Adams, The Master
- Sally Field, Lincoln
- Anne Hathaway, Les Misérables
- Helen Hunt, The Sessions
- Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
Like Best Actor, this acting category has an obvious front-runner: Hathaway. She does sing that song very well, and emotionally. I can’t speak for the strengths of the last two picks, but Sally Field was just okay, and Amy Adams was crazy and amazing, but far too evil to have a chance.
- Michael Haneke, Amour
- Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
- Ang Lee, Life of Pi
- Steven Spielberg, Lincoln
- David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook
A whole slew of snubs in this category: Affleck, (P.T.) Anderson, (Wes) Anderson, Bigelow, Hooper, Tarantino. Of the actual picks, none of whom we should begrudge, I’m pulling for Lee. Spielberg is probably the favorite. Zeitlin and Haneke were surprises, the former a first-time director and the latter doing exceptionally well with a foreign film. Amour‘s Best Picture nod alone makes the other Best Foreign Language Film nominees easy to forget.
Best Animated Feature Film
- The Pirates! Band of Misfits
- Wreck-It Ralph
This was the year of stop-motion animation — three of the five nominees. I’ve seen three of these so far and definitely want to catch up with the other two, if only to give me something to root for. The three I’ve seen were all a little disappointing.
Miscellaneous Other Awards (see the full list here)
I’m glad Skyfall got a cinematography nod. I’ve seen four of the five movies in that category, and they’re all beautiful. Once again, I don’t have much to say about the picks for documentary, foreign language or short films because I haven’t seen almost any of them. The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey got nominated for its visual effects and its beards. The Avengers and Prometheus were also nominated in the visual effects category, but Life of Pi should win that one. Anna Karenina picked up four nominations; it might have a chance for production design. It was also nominated for costume design, sharing that honor with both “Snow White” movies made this year. I would bet on Les Mis in that category. I don’t have a strong opinion about Best Original Score. All told, the group of nominees this year is actually pretty satisfying. People will still be talking about The Master decades from now. An Oscar nod or lack thereof isn’t going to change that.