Big surprise: Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave does not lead the Oscar nominations list. But it did end up in third place in Thursday’s Academy Award announcements, just one behind the co-leaders American Hustle and Gravity (which scored 10 each).
Big shock: The Coen Brothers got stiffed with their highly acclaimed musical, Inside Llewyn Davis, crawling along with just two noms. Neither is for best picture or best actor or best director(s) or best original screenplay.
It is easy to assume that Inside Llewyn Davis placed 10th in the best picture voting by the estimated 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. But tenth place obviously did not qualify this year, because only nine films made it. Nominees are restricted to those that get at least 5 percent of the total vote. So-called “marginal” films such as Inside Llewyn Davis and Fruitvale Station, Lee Daniels' The Butler, August: Osage County and Woody Allen’s overrated Blue Jasmine were left on the outside.
Click on the boxes for film trailers and information on the nominees.
So was the Disney animation, Frozen, which was vying to get into the best picture race, although it is nominated as best animated feature. Otherwise, Walt Disney’s Hollywood legacy was ignored: Saving Mr. Banks, in which non-nominee Tom Hanks plays Walt, got just one nom. Hanks was also shut out of the best actor race for Captain Phillips.
On the plus side, the big trio of American Hustle, Gravity and 12 Years a Slave show a remarkable range of genres and tastes and they are all worthy films to sit at the top. Add in the other six best picture nominees and you have a cross-section of one of the best years in American cinema in decades.
The other six rivals, with their nominations total, are: Captain Phillips (six), Dallas Buyers Club (six), Nebraska (six), Her (five), The Wolf of Wall Street (five) and Philomena (four). Clearly, when you scan through the numbers, the Academy voters were high on the quality of all these films, from the artistic categories through several of the craft categories. On Oscar night, expect the Academy Awards to be liberally spread around. No one film is likely to dominate.
In acting categories, all the best actor and best supporting actor nominees are seen in films nominated for best picture. Some years, the Academy plucks out performers from more “obscure” films to honour great work, without giving those films much else. Only two films are in that odd category this year. Blue Jasmine earned Cate Blanchett a best actress nom, while Sally Hawkins is up for best supporting actress in the same film. Ditto for the much-hyped August: Osage County. Meryl Streep is vying for best actress, while Julia Roberts is up for best supporting actress, probably for the infamous on-screen catfight in which Roberts goes after Streep in a mommie dearest moment.
Speaking of Streep, she gets her 18th nomination — a staggering number and a growing record in the acting categories. Surprisingly, Streep has won only three times. She cites “Streep fatigue,” and even thought that might doom her chances this year. But quality is quality and she has number 18.
There is some racial diversity in the acting categories, with Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita Nyong’o up for 12 Years a Slave, and Barkhad Abdi in for Captain Phillips. But no Idris Elba for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, nor either of Forest Whitaker or Oprah Winfrey for The Butler.
Canada missed out in several categories where there was at least some optimism. Sarah Polley’s feature-length documentary, Stories We Tell, did not make it. Neither did the Quebec film Gabrielle in the best foreign language category. Nor did Quebec filmmakers Jean-Mac Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club) and Denis Villeneuve get into the best director race. But two members of Montreal’s Arcade Fire — William Butler and Owen Pallett — are in the running for best musical score for Spike Jonze’s Her.
Following is a list of nominees in leading categories.
"Dallas Buyers Club"
"12 Years a Slave"
"The Wolf of Wall Street"
Christian Bale in "American Hustle"
Bruce Dern in "Nebraska"
Leonardo DiCaprio in "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Chiwetel Ejiofor in "12 Years a Slave"
Matthew McConaughey in "Dallas Buyers Club"
Amy Adams in "American Hustle"
Cate Blanchett in "Blue Jasmine"
Sandra Bullock in "Gravity"
Judi Dench in "Philomena"
Meryl Streep in "August: Osage County"
David O. Russell for "American Hustle"
Alfonso Cuaron for "Gravity"
Alexander Payne for "Nebraska"
Steve McQueen for "12 Years a Slave"
Martin Scorsese for "The Wolf of Wall Street"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Barkhad Abdi in "Captain Phillips"
Bradley Cooper in "American Hustle"
Michael Fassbender in "12 Years a Slave"
Jonah Hill in "The Wolf of Wall Street"
Jared Leto in "Dallas Buyers Club"
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Sally Hawkins in "Blue Jasmine"
Jennifer Lawrence in "American Hustle"
Lupita Nyong'o in "12 Years a Slave"
Julia Roberts in "August: Osage County"
June Squibb in "Nebraska"