Actors and filmmakers in Hollywood woke up bright and early this morning to a variety of thrilling fulfilled expectations; as well as more than a few unexpected surprises, snubs and dashed hopes. The mix of emotions came as a result of today's announcement of the nominees for the 85th Annual Academy Awards ceremony.
The list of nominees for what many see as the most coveted prize of the event, "Best Picture" include the critically acclaimed favorite "Lincoln", "Beasts of the Southern Wild", "Zero Dark Thirty", "Argo", "Les Miserables", "Life of Pi", "Silver Linings Playbook", "Les Miserables","Amour" and "Django Unchained".
However, it's the list of nominees for Best Director that has surprised many, including this writer. The surprises come not so much for those nominated; but rather for those directors who were omitted from the list who's films are among the "Best Picture" nominees.
Among those nominated for "Best Director" is Steven Spielberg for "Lincoln", which puts the acclaimed director on track for his possible third Academy Award for best director. Rounding out the field of nominees are Ang Lee for "Life of Pi", David O. Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook", Michael Haneke for "Amour" and Benh Zeitlin for "Beasts of the Southern Wild".
However, some of the apparent front runners for nomination in the "Best Director" category were left unrecognized this morning. Missing from the list are Kathryn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty", Tom Hooper for "Les Miserables" and Ben Affleck for "Argo". The snubs were all the more surprising because the three were recently nominated for the Directors Guild of America Award - long considered a leading Oscar indicator.
In the opinion of this writer and critic, the exclusion of Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty" is an outrageous move. Her direction of this film was phenomenal in every way and more than deserving of recognition. In recent weeks, Bigelow found herself in the position of defending her inclusion of a water boarding scene in this film about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. Some media and political pundits, again in my opinion, misguidedly accused Bigelow of portraying the scene in a "pro-torture" light. A position that is ludicrous, given the film is very apolitical in it's approach.
One wonders if Bigelow was a victim of political correctness run amok in Hollywood via this snub for a "Best Director" nomination.
Also surprising was the exclusion of director Quentin Tarantino for his film "Django Unchained" given the critical acclaim it has also received, as well as a "Best Picture" nomination. With the exclusion of Bigelow, Affleck and Tarantino for recognition of their films which are included in the "Best Picture" category, one is left to ponder the question, "Does the Academy think a Best Picture nominee directs itself?"
If the issue is a matter of the limited number of slots available in the category, then the simple solution is to either lower the number of "Best Picture" nominees from the current 10 - or, expand the number of nominees for "Best Director" to be on par with the "Best Picture" category.
In the coveted Best Actor category, Daniel Day-Lewis was nominated for his riveting performance in "Lincoln". Joining Lewis in this category, Bradley Copper for "Silver Linings Playbook", Hugh Jackman for "Les Miserables", Joaquin Phoenix for "The Master" and Denzel Washington for "Flight".
The Best Actress Nominees are Jessica Chastain for "Zero Dark Thirty", Jennifer Lawrence for "Silver Linings Playbook", Emmanuelle Riva for "Amour" and Naomi Watts for "The Impossible".
The Best Supporting Actor list includes Tommy Lee Jones for "Lincoln", Alan Arkin for "Argo", Robert De Niro for "Silver Linings Playbook", Philip Seymour Hoffman for "The Master" and Christoph Waltz for "Django Unchained".
Best Supporting Actress nominees include Sally Field for "Lincoln", Amy Adams for "The Master", Anne Hathaway for "Les Miserables", Helen Hunt for "The Sessions" and Jacki Weaver for "Silver Linings Playbook".
It will indeed be interesting to see how the Academy nominees, and the obvious ( and outrageous ) snubs, stack up against the results from the several big profile awards events to come, which include the televised Critics Choice Movie Awards on January 10, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
A complete list of the Oscar nominees can be found at this link.
Tim Estiloz is a member of The Broadcast Film Critics Association and The Boston Online Film Critics Association. Follow Tim on Twitter @TimEstiloz and at www.TimEstiloz.com. - Be sure to LIKE his page on Facebook at: Tim Estiloz Film Reviews.