The 85th Annual Academy Awards: Nomination Snubs & Surprises

After months of preliminary critic group and guild awards, Oscar host Seth McFarlane and actress Emma Stone finally revealed the nominees for the 85th Annual Academy Awards this morning. Up until 8:35am (or 5:35am for you West Coasters), the time when the pair announced who would be duking it out for Oscar gold, the Oscar nominees were still a big question mark, with only a few definite films being locks in particular categories. As expected, Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln dominated the playing field with 12 nominations, followed by Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, which surprised with a lofty 11 nominations; both films clearly have passionate fans within the Academy and should be considered the heavyweights at this point. Elsewhere, the Oscar nominations celebrated award favorites like Django Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty, SIlver Linings Playbook, Les Miserables, and Argo, and were their typical blend of deserving (Beasts of the Southern Wild gets major love!) and maddening (did Zero Dark Thirty direct itself?); take a look below for both a full list of nominees for the 85th Annual Academy Awards as well as Reel Reactions’ Surprise & Snubs list:


Best Picture:
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Zero Dark Thirty”
“Les Miserables”
“Life of Pi”
“Django Unchained”

Best Supporting Actor:
Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”
Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master”
Robert De Niro, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Alan Arkin, “Argo”
Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln”

Best Supporting Actress:
Sally Field, “Lincoln”
Anne Hathaway, “Les Miserables”
Jacki Weaver, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Helen Hunt, “The Sessions”
Amy Adams, “The Master”

Best Director:
David O. Russell, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Ang Lee, “Life of Pi”
Steven Spielberg, “Lincoln”
Michael Haneke, “Amour”
Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Best Actor:
Daniel Day Lewis, “Lincoln”
Denzel Washington, “Flight”
Hugh Jackman, “Les Miserables”
Bradley Cooper, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master”

Best Actress:
Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”
Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Jennifer Lawrence, “Silver Linings Playbook”
Emmanuelle Riva, “Amour”
Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Best Original Screenplay:
“Zero Dark Thirty”
“Django Unchained”
“Moonrise Kingdom”

Best Adapted Screenplay:
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Life of Pi”
“Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Best Animated Film:
“The Pirates! Band of Misfits”
“Wreck-It Ralph”

Best Foreign Feature:
“A Royal Affair”
“War Witch”

Best Visual Effects:
“Life of Pi”
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
“The Avengers”
“Snow White and the Huntsman”

Best Cinematography:
“Anna Karenina”
“Django Unchained”
“Life of Pi”

Best Costume Design:
“Anna Karenina”
“Les Miserables”
“Mirror Mirror”
“Snow White and the Huntsman”

Best Documentary Feature:
“Searching for Sugar Man”
“How to Survive a Plague”
“The Gatekeepers”
“5 Broken Cameras”
“The Invisible War”

Best Documentary Short:
“Open Heart”
“Kings Point”
“Mondays at Racine”

Best Film Editing:
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“Life of Pi”
“Zero Dark Thirty”



SURPRISE: Beasts of the Southern Wild – You never know how the Academy will honor independent movies, especially those released all the way back on Memorial Day Weekend, but Benh Zeitlin’s fantastical Beasts of the Southern Wild shocked everyone with major nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Actress for the little titan known as Quvenzhané Wallis, who, at age 9, is the youngest nominee ever in the category. Whereas Wes Anderson’s equally-as-great Moonrise Kingdom had to settle for an Original Screenplay nom, Beasts showed it has some pretty strong support in the Academy with these 4 major nominations.

SURPRISE/SNUB: Best Director – Wow! It’s not every year the Academy truly shakes things up, but in the Best Director category they did just that. In giving Beasts’ Benh Zeitlin a surprise nomination for his impressive debut work, plus acknowledging the work of David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook) and Michael Haneke (foreign language film Amour), the Academy snubbed two of what seemed like the biggest locks of the year: Ben Affleck, for his assured and tense direction of Argo, and Kathryn Bigelow, for her powerhouse work in Zero Dark Thirty. Bigelow, in particular, swept many of the preliminary awards and her snub here is a jaw dropping surprise. If anything, the Best Director nominations confirm the overall trend of the 2012 awards season: every category is wide open! Now this is exciting!

SNUB: John Hawkes (The Sessions), Best Actor – Despite being on nearly every nomination list thus far, John Hawkes was still snubbed for his tour-de-force work as polio stricken poet Mark O’Brien in the touching dramedy, The Sessions. Though Daniel Day Lewis already has this category on lockdown, the field still feels incomplete without Hawkes, despite the fact that Bradley Cooper, Hugh Jackman, and Denzel Washington all gave strong performances as well. At least Joaquin Phoenix got a spot for his stirring work in The Master! Who knew you could bash the Academy and still get some love?

SURPRISE: Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook), Best Supporting Actress – While the Best Supporting Actress race has been the most ambiguous and up-for-grabs in terms of nominees, Jacki Weaver still surprised everyone with her last minute inclusion in the race for her sweet and tender work as the matriarch in Silver Linings Playbook (with this nom, SLP has recognition in EVERY major category, making it another heavy power player). Though she doesn’t stand a chance against frontrunner Anne Hathaway or even Helen Hunt, Sally Field, and Amy Adams (thank god they didn’t snub the tremendous Adams!), Weaver is still a humble surprise.

SNUB: Best Original Score – The minor categories are always fishy, but how in gods name did the Academy manage to snub three of the year’s most emotional original scores? In some ways, the snub of Johnny Greenwood’s hypnotically menacing The Master score is expected (with the exception of its three actors, the Academy largely ignored Paul Thomas Anderson’s polarizing masterpiece), but the omission of scores from Cloud Atlas (so stately and full of pathos) and Beasts of the Southern Wild (so rambunctious and authentically adventurous) is truly shocking.

SURPRISE/SNUB: Christoph Waltz/Leonardo DiCaprio (Django Unchained) – Up until now, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained was a big question mark in terms of Oscar nominations, and while the Academy definitely showed this Blaxploitation revenge western some major love, they couldn’t give Waltz and DiCaprio both some recognition. Whereas the Globes nominated both talented gentlemen for Best Supporting Actor, the Academy chose Waltz’ scene stealing work over DiCaprio’s truly shocking turn as a ruthless plantation owner, a move many will consider to be a huge snub (as for me, I’m not too heated, Waltz is still a great choice and, at the end of the day, he owned every scene of Django Unchained)

SNUB: Best Cinematography – While it’s great to see a nomination for Roger Deakins’ gorgeous work in Skyfall, the Best Cinematography field feels somewhat uneven without the dreamlike work of Ben Richardson in Beasts of the Southern Wild (how Zietlin managed a Best Director nom without Richardson getting a Cinematography one makes no sense at all!) and the absolutely stunning craft of Mihai Malăimare, Jr. in The Master

SNUB: Rian Johnson (Looper), Best Original Screenplay – Though Rian Johnson was gaining traction during the preliminary awards for his inventively mind-bending Looper screenplay, he couldn’t manage an Oscar nomination, and the Academy went with John Gatnis’ character study, Flight, instead. At least Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained found love here, for both have two of the most rich and powerful screenplays of the year.

SURPRISE: Wes Anderson/Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom), Best Original Screenplay – Though Looper was left out, you got to give the Academy some major props for honoring the whimsical and heartwarming screenplay of Moonrise Kingdom, Wes Anderson’s masterpiece that was ignored pretty much everywhere else.

SNUB: Stephen Chbosky (The Perks of Being a Wallflower), Best Adapted Screenplay With the likes of Oscar favorites Lincoln, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Life of Pi, Argo, and Silver Linings Playbook all in play, I guess it was unlikely that Stephen Chbosky’s lovingly nostalgic adaptation of his own best-selling novel would get nominated, but after scoring a coveted Writer’s Guild nomination, many thought that Chbosky could sneak in with the Academy and what a wonderful surprise it would have been!

SURPRISE: Naomi Watts (The Impossible), Best Actress – What a deserving nominee! The Best Actress field has been a two-way race all season long between Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence, but the remaining three spots have been a big toss up, with many pundits believing Marion Cotillard would be nominated for her emotional work in the under-seen Rust and Bone. However, the Academy sided with Naomi Watts, who has been on the bubble for months now, and it’s hard not to appreciate the nomination; in the tragic The Impossible, Watts was an emotional revelation and a powerhouse conveyer of fear and despair. Nice work, Naomi!

SNUB/SURPRISE: The Master – We are big admirers of Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master here at Reel Reactions, and the lack of major love for this polarizing epic has us truly disappointed, despite the fact that it has been on the bubble all season long. While we could not be more thrilled that all three of the film’s leads were nominated in the acting categories (especially Phoenix and Adams, who were previously on the fence despite giving the best performances of their careers), we can’t help but mourn the lack of nominations in the Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay categories. Since the equally-as-dividing Tree of Life got nominated for Picture and Director last year, part of us thought The Master could similarly sneak in, but alas, maybe next time PTA!

Over the next 45 days, we’ll be endlessly debating who will win and who should win in all of the categories for the 85th Annual Academy Awards, so make sure to stick with Reel Reactions as the race to the Oscars turns into a flat out spring; any snubs killing you this morning? Any surprise making you truly happy? Let us know!

Article by Zack Sharf


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