Jan. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” about the 16th U.S. president’s battle to end slavery, was nominated for 12 Academy Awards, including best picture, director and actor, to lead the annual race for Oscars.
“Life of Pi,” Ang Lee’s fantasy about a boy trapped on a lifeboat with a tiger, followed with 11, including best picture and director, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced today in Beverly Hills, California. The musical “Les Miserables” grabbed eight, including nods for best picture, lead actor Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in a supporting role.
Some talked-about director hopefuls missed out even as their films won nominations. The academy overlooked Ben Affleck for “Argo,” the Iran hostage drama, and Kathryn Bigelow, who made “Zero Dark Thirty,” about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Quentin Tarantino, director of “Django Unchained,” and Tom Hooper of “Les Miserables” were also left out. Best-picture winners are often nominated for best director as well.
“It radically reduces their chances to win best picture,” said Tom O’Neil, founder and editor of the GoldDerby.com industry website, which publishes Oscars odds. “That category was the big jaw-dropper.”
The academy nominated nine films for best picture. They include the romantic comedy “Silver Linings Playbook” with Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” about a Louisiana delta community threatened by flooding, and the French-language drama “Amour,” about a woman whose marriage is tested when she suffers a stroke.
The nominations will especially help films that have been in limited release, including “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Amour” and “Silver Linings Playbook,” said Phil Contrino, chief analyst for BoxOffice.com. “Zero Dark Thirty” will jump to 2,400 locations from 60, he said. The movie also opens in Austria, Switzerland, Germany and Italy this weekend.
“‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is just timed perfectly,” Contrino said. “And with ‘Silver Linings,’ you have a movie that’s just been hanging in there waiting for the Oscar nominations, essentially.”
“Lincoln” gives Spielberg a chance for his third best director Oscar, following “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” “Life of Pi” marks the second director nomination for Lee, who previously won for “Brokeback Mountain,” released in 2005.
Other best director nominees include Michael Haneke for “Amour,” Benh Zeitlin for “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook.”
Daniel Day-Lewis, nominated as best actor for his portrayal of Lincoln, is 8-to-5 favorite in the category at GoldDerby.com. Jackman, the No. 2 favorite at 9-to-2, played the lead role of Jean Valjean in “Les Miserables,” Victor Hugo’s novel about a bitter ex-convict’s path to redemption.
Other best actor nominees include Cooper as the mentally disturbed young man in “Silver Linings Playbook,” Joaquin Phoenix as a war veteran recruited by a charismatic cult leader in “The Master” and Denzel Washington as an alcoholic airline pilot in “Flight.”
Lawrence, nominated for her role as a troubled young woman in “Silver Linings Playbook,” is the 2-1 favorite for best actress, according to GoldDerby.com
The category includes the youngest and oldest women ever nominated, according to the academy. Quvenzhane Wallis, 9, won a nod for “Beasts of the Southern Wild” as the girl whose Louisiana is threatened by flooding. Emmanuelle Riva, 85, was nominated for her role in “Amour.”
Jessica Chastain was nominated for her portrayal of the CIA agent who doggedly pursued Bin Laden in “Zero Dark Thirty” while Naomi Watts was acknowledged for her portrayal of a mother caught with her family in the 2004 Asian tsunami.
Three Walt Disney Co. films, “Brave,” “Frankenweenie,” and “Wreck-It-Ralph,” were nominated for best animated picture. Other nominees were “ParaNorman,” from NBC Universal’s Focus Features and Sony Corp.’s “The Pirates! Band of Misfits.”
Counting feature films with two or more nominations, News Corp.’s Fox studios had the most, collecting 15 for “Life of Pi” and “Beasts of the Southern Wilds” and sharing in Lincoln’s 12 with Disney. “Lincoln” was produced by Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios.
Weinstein Co. was second with 16 for “Silver Linings Playbook,” “Django Unchained” and “The Master.”
The 85th Academy Awards will be held Feb. 24 in a ceremony broadcast live on Walt Disney Co.’s ABC network. The show will be hosted by comic Seth MacFarlane, who announced today’s nominees with Emma Stone, appearing in the crime drama “Gangster Squad” opening this weekend.
Many of the nominees also stand to collect statuettes at the Golden Globe awards telecast on Jan. 13 on NBC.
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