If you were following our awards season, you may be wondering, “What the heck happened?” upon hearing the Oscar nominations this morning. While there were some solid choices by the Academy, there was some mind boggling ones as well, which resulted in surprises, snubs, and the usual suspects.
Let’s get started shall we? The huge contender that no one can seem to touch is Spielberg’s Lincoln. Throughout the whole awards season, from the Director’s Guild Awards, to the Golden Globes, it seems like everyone wants back in on that love affair with director Steven Spielberg. Today his film Lincoln lead the pack like expected with a total of 12 nominations. However there were some surprises in the director category. Ben Affleck (Argo) and Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) were considered to be huge contenders that would have given Spielberg a real run for his money in huge categories like Best Director and Best Film. Sadly even though critics and fans raved about the pulsating, tension-filled dramas, their respective directors failed to impress the Academy even though both nabbed Best Picture.
Awards Watch was predicting that this year would be Ben Affleck’s year, at least in the directing category. If not Affleck, then we were pretty sure that the honor would go to Kathryn Bigelow who was sure to pull big nominations off with Zero Dark Thirty. In the end the Bin Laden manhunt only pulled in a measly four, which isn’t a lot considering it was a favorite to win Best Picture. We would now say that its chances along with Argo’s are futile. In the end, we think Argo and Zero Dark Thirty might have been too similar for the Academy and canceled each other out. That’s the only excuse we have at this point.
However, in the most interesting twist, the film that some award shows gave up on, Silver Linings Playbook is holding strong in a solid 8 categories. If the Academy wants to go for a shocking tale, a la Crash, Russell could very much win Best Picture, with a split for directing to Spielberg for an old school versus new school win. This way everyone would win, except for Affleck and Bigelow that is. As it is Russell defied the odds against him by knocking Tom Hooper (Les Miserables) right out of that competition for Best Director.
Another shocker from the Academy is the life that Ang Lee’s Life of Pi has earned out of nowhere. Lee’s Life of Pi wasn’t favored by critics, or buzzed about like Silver Linings Playbook, but it still held some attention, or enough to pick up nominations from the Golden Globes and the Academy. Will it win best picture? Who knows at this point! Right now though, it looks like it’s Lincoln’s to lose, unless the Academy splits in favor of Silver Linings Playbook. Either way, don’t count Lee or Russell out just yet.
The acting categories were less of a mixed bag of nuts, though there were some surprises there. The fact that Marion Cotillard who has been nominated for Rust and Bone throughout the whole season was skipped in favor of Naomi Watts (The Impossible) is a huge surprise, and a bit of a head scratcher. The Academy tends to love the foreign actors, but her snub suggests that maybe it was too soon since she won the Best Actress category for La Vie En Rose in 2007. Another surprise but a well deserved one comes from a stunning performance by 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis (Beasts of the Southern Wild). Before Wallis, Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), and Watts entered this race, we were pretty sure Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) would take this, with Jennifer Lawrence (Silver Linings Playbook) as a good runner up to snag it. Now after Silver Linings reigns in the nominations, we’re not too sure about Chastain’s chances against Lawrence, who has been buzzed about throughout the whole award season. We wouldn’t completely count Chastain out of the race though.
In terms of Best Actor, the only real surprise but deserved nomination comes from Bradley Cooper (Silver Linings Playbook). He doesn’t have it in the bag, and we’re pretty sure that we’re still going to see Daniel Day-Lewis take it all throughout the season, but it’s still pretty nice to see his name up there with Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), and Hugh Jackman (Les Miserables). Noticeably missing in favor for Cooper is Richard Gere (Arbitrage) and John Hawkes (The Sessions) who both garnered Golden Globe nominations.
For the Best Supporting Actor category we’re a little surprised (but not really) about the lack of a nomination for Leonardo DiCaprio for his villainous role in Django Unchained. Like always, DiCaprio delivered a formidable performance, seething through his dialogue, but he had Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained) to contend with whom in the end pulled a nomination off instead. They could have left Robert De Niro off the list and had given a double nomination for Best Supporting to both DiCaprio and Waltz, but if one thing is certain it’s that the Academy likes the mix of old school with new school from David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook. Enough that it also garnered a surprising Supporting Actress nomination for Jacki Weaver. We don’t expect Weaver to take the win, it’s been said across the board that Anne Hathaway will take it, although if the Academy is feeling hunky dory for Lincoln, and wants to give Sally Field one last run, they may just give it to her.
So rounding it all up, from the surprises to the inevitable snubs, in total Lincoln is our predicted leader of the pack with 12, Silver Linings Playbook with a surprising but deserved 11, Life of Pi came out of nowhere, and the Academy still doesn’t love Ben Affleck or Leonardo DiCaprio nearly enough as they should. Our bet for now is that Steven Spielberg is likely to sweep it this year if the conservative voters have anything to do with it, but hey, your guess is as good as ours at this point.
Who do you think will take home the big award? Are we looking at Silver Linings Playbook to take home half? Where does Life of Pi fit into everything? Sound off here!