The Oscar Nomination Snubs That Have Fans and Industry Insiders Baffled (Analysis)
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When the Academy announced its 85th Oscar nominations this morning, the best picture nominees turned out to be the least controversial of all. Sure, they left out a few films that some thought had a shot -- Skyfall, which would have become the first Bond film to score a best pic Oscar nom after grossing a billion bucks and scoring a PGA nom; Moonrise Kingdom and The Master, indies that had two of the the highest per-theater opening weekends of the year and were both Critics' Choice nominees for best pic; The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, the all-star British cast of which received a SAG ensemble nom; and the blockbusters The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which made a fortune in the summer and winter, respectively. But their nine (out of a possible 10 nominees) covered all of the usual suspects that have shown up in the top category with other awards-dispensing bodies.
But the best director category that the Academy unveiled matched none that has been seen anywhere else, least of all from the Directors Guild of America, whose DGA Award nominees usually are a strong predictor of what the Academy will do, missing on one or at most two in most years. This year, three DGA nominees -- all directors of films that were thought to be among the most serious contenders to win best picture -- were snubbed by the Academy's directors branch: Ben Affleck (Argo), Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Tom Hooper (Les Miserables). They were replaced by the directors of three other best picture nominees, David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook), whose film also scored noms in all four acting categories -- something that hasn't happened in 31 years -- and now looks like the strongest challenger to Lincoln; Benh Zeitlin (Beasts of the Southern Wild), whose film now looks like a much stronger contender as well; and Michael Haneke (Amour), who became the first director of a foreign language film to score a best director nom in a decade.
In the best actor category, John Hawkes (The Sessions) became the rare Golden Globe, SAG and Critics' Choice nominee not to repeat with an Oscar nom, booted out by the star of another indie film, Joaquin Phoenix (The Master), who had scored Globe and Critics' Choice nominations but had been left out in the cold by the best acting nomination predictor of all, SAG. Joining Hawkes on the bench are several other veterans who gave career-best perfs this year: Golden Globe nominees Richard Gere (Arbitrage), who is still in search of his first Oscar nomination, and Jack Black (Bernie), an indie fave this year; Jean-Louis Trintignant (Amour), the French octagenarian whose scene partner was nominated in the best actress category; and two previous winners in this category, Anthony Hopkins (Hitchcock) and Jamie Foxx (Django Unchained).