And the 85th Academy Award nominees are…

Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln has emerged as the front-runner at the 2013 Oscars after receiving 12 nominations from the Academy.

85th Academy Awards Nominations Announcement

It’s closely followed by Ang Lee’s adaptation of the best-selling novel Life of Pi, which nabbed 11 nods.

The two films will compete against David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, Tom Hooper’s Les Miserables, Ben Affleck’s Argo, Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, Michael Haneke’s Amour, and Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild for Best Picture.

Spielberg, Lee, and Russell additionally scored Best Director noms, as did Austria’s Haneke and first-timer filmmaker Zeitlin. The former two shocking inclusions meant Hooper, Bigelow, Tarantino, and Affleck were shut out of the category.

Australians fared well, with erstwhile host and Les Mis lead Hugh Jackman receiving his first nomination for Best Actor, while Naomi Watts (The Impossible), and, remarkably, Jacki Weaver (Silver Linings Playbook) scored their second for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

The nominations were read out in Los Angeles at an early morning press call by host of the 85th Academy Awards, Seth MacFarlane, and Emma Stone. MacFarlane will also attend the event as nominee, having earned a Best Original Song mention for his Ted.

Analysis:

In a season with pack-leaders that have ebbed and flowed for months on end, this batch of Best Picture nominees is the most interesting in eons. I’m particularly pleased to see Amour and Beasts make the cut (only they and ZDK made my personal Top 10 of 2012, though I’m yet to see Lincoln or Silver Linings). Personally, it would have been nice to see The Master and Moonrise Kingdom earn a few more plaudits, though it’s not like they’ve been totally ignore (Master has three noms across the acting categories; Moonrise has one for Original Screenplay).

As Oscar prognosticators will tell you, it’s extremely rare for a movie to win Best Picture without also scoring a Best Director nomination (ask Bruce Beresford, director of 1989’s victor Driving Miss Daisy), and even rarer for one to take the top prize without at least being named for Film Editing. This supposedly narrows the Best Picture field to just Lincoln, Life of Pi, and Silver Linings Playbook. Consider Lincoln your ‘cool, detached, Nate Silver-like’ pick to win.

Other former favourites like Argo and Zero Dark Thirty could upset (they have those precious Film Editing nods), though the game seems all but over for Les Mis (which was snubbed in both categories, and also missed out on a Screenplay commendation).

Pundits wondered if the controversy surrounding Zero Dark Thirty and Django Unchained would help or hinder their Oscar chances; at this stage, it’s still hard to say. As they continue to set the box office on fire – and dominate column inches – who’s to say they won’t edge out the competition?

Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild are precisely what the latter film suggests; wildcards. Still, their nomination is likely their reward.

It is worth considering, however, that major precursors like the Golden Globes, SAG, DGA, and PGA are yet to be handed out. The game can still change.

Highlights:

Silver Linings Playbook has become the first film in 31 years to score nominations in all four acting categories.

Amour’s Emmanuelle Riva, at 85, is the oldest ever nominee in the Best Actress category (she turns 86 on the night of the ceremony). Her category-mate, nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis, is the youngest (she was six during the filming of Beasts of the Southern Wild).

The Best Supporting Actor stable is filled entirely with former winners.

Skyfall scored the most nominations for a flick not in the running for the top prize: 5

Nominations:

Best Picture

Amour
Argo
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Django Unchained
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Director

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

Best Actor

Bradley Cooper, Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
Hugh Jackman, Les Miserables
Joaquin Phoenix, The Master
Denzel Washington, Flight

Best Actress

Jessica Chastain, Zero Dark Thirty
Jennifer Lawrence, Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva, Amour
Quvenzhane Wallis, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts, The Impossible

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

Best Supporting Actress

Amy Adams, The Master
Sally Field, Lincoln
Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
Helen Hunt, The Sessions
Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook

Foreign Language Film

Amour, Austria
Kon-Tiki, 
Norway
No,
 Chile
A Royal Affair, Denmark
War Witch, 
Canada

Best Adapted Screenplay

Chris Terrio, Argo
Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, Beasts of the Southern Wild
David Magee, Life of Pi
Tony Kushner, Lincoln
David O. Russell, Silver Linings Playbook

Best Original Screenplay

Michael Haneke, Amour
Quentin Tarantino, Django Unchained
John Gatins, Flight
Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal, Zero Dark Thirty

Best Film Editing

Argo
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Silver Linings Playbook
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Animated Feature Film

Brave
Frankenweenie
ParaNorman
The Pirates! Band of Misfits
Wreck-It Ralph

Best Documentary Feature

5 Broken Cameras
The Gatekeepers
How to Survive a Plague
The Invisible War
Searching for Sugar Man

Best Documentary (Short Subject)

Inocente
Kings Point
Mondays at Racine
Open Heart
Redemption

Best Original Song

Before My Time – Chasing Ice, J. Ralph
Everybody Needs a Best Friend – Ted, Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane
Pi’s Lullaby – Life of Pi, Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri
Skyfall – Skyfall, Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth
Suddenly – Les Miserables, Claude-Michel Schonberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil

Best Original Score

Anna Karenina, Dario Marianelli
Argo, Alexandre Desplat
Life of Pi, Mychael Danna
Lincoln, John Williams
Skyfall, Thomas Newman

Best Cinematography

Anna Karenina,
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall

Best Production Design
Anna Karenina
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Best Visual Effects
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Life of Pi
Marvel’s The Avengers
Prometheus
Snow White and the Huntsman
Best Sound Mixing
Argo
Les Miserables
Life of Pi
Lincoln
Skyfall
Best Sound Editing

Argo
Django Unchained
Life of Pi
Skyfall
Zero Dark Thirty

Best Costume

Anna Karenina
Les Miserables
Lincoln
Mirror Mirror
Snow White and the Huntsman

Best Makeup and Hairstyling

Hitchcock
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
Les Miserables

Best Animated Short Film

Adam and Dog
Fresh Guacamole
Head over Heels
Maggie Simpson in The Longest Daycare
Paperman

Best Live Action Short Film

Asad
Buzkashi Boys
Curfew
Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
Henry

The winners will be announced at a ceremony on February 24, 2013.

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