The grandaddy of all awards ceremonies is back and bigger than ever: the nominations for the 86th Academy Awards have been announced. Critical favourites American Hustle and Gravity lead the pack with a whopping 10 nominations each, with 12 Years A Slave coming a close third with 9. The rest of the spoils appear to be spread evenly amongst the year’s finest, but prepare your stomachs: there’s a few surprises on the horizon.
The ‘Best Picture’ category appears strong, sporting nine of 2013’s strongest films including all of BAFTA’s top picks, but shamelessly snubbing the expected trio of Rush, Saving Mr Banks and the Coens’ latest triumph Inside Llewyn Davis in favour of the British sleeper hit Philomena and Spike Jonze’s wacky dramedy Her. Lee Daniels’ civil rights drama The Butler is also no where to be seen. The majority will be looking towards Golden Globe winners American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave as the favourites but I wouldn’t ignore the visual prowess of Gravity either.
Acting nominations usually appear the most controversial, and this year is no exception. Leonardo DiCaprio finally gets a look in for his slimy banker in The Wolf of Wall Street after last year’s snub, whilst Michael Fassbender and Matthew McConaughey earn their first well-deserved nominations. Meryl Streep racks up her record 18th nomination for Tracy Lett’s latest play-adaptation August: Osage County, but all eyes will likely be trained on Academy favourites Cate Blanchett and Judi Dench in the ‘Lead Actress‘ category for their fierce and poignant turns in Blue Jasmine and Philomena. Jennifer Lawrence will no doubt be hungry for a second gong following her win last year, as she stands clear favourite in the supporting actress category and part-time rocker Jared Leto seems just as excited to see recognition for his role as a transvestite in Dallas Buyers Club. Newcomers Barkhad Abdi and Lupita Nyong’o also see nods for their first roles in Captain Phillips and 12 Years A Slave respectively. Missing from the pack seems to be Brit-favourites Idris Elba and Emma Thompson (pictured above), Rush’s excellent Daniel Bruhl and weirdest of all, former Oscar wonder-boy Tom Hanks who appears to be completely ignored for his two terrific turns in Captain Phillips and Saving Mr Banks. For shame Academy, for shame.
Game-changing Mexican visionary Alfonso Cuarón will look to follow up his Golden Globe for ‘Best Director’ with an Academy award of similar sorts, but will be matched alongside other critical favourites and Oscar virgins Steve McQueen and David O. Russell. Legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese and Nebraska helmer Alexander Payne round off another set of nominations that again neglects BAFTA favourite Captain Phillips, ignoring director Paul Greengrass’ best effort to date.
The writing groups seem stronger than ever, with freethinking former-Jackass star Spike Jonze leading the ‘Original Screenplay’ category with his critically favoured Her standing as a clear front-runner, and the tremendous trio of Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke looking to finally secure an award in the ‘Adapted Screenplay’ category for their third collective effort Before Midnight. Other nominees include cinematic legend Woody Allen for his latest Blue Jasmine, as well as scripting nods for the likes of Dallas Buyers Club, Nebraska, 12 Years A Slave, Philomena, American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street and, strangely enough Captain Phillips (finally).
In the smaller categories, ‘Best Picture’ snubs Prisoners and Inside Llewyn Davis lead the ‘Best Cinematography’ category, with Frozen and Despicable Me 2 the likely leaders for ‘Best Animated Feature’. Cannes favourite Blue Is The Warmest Colour misses the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category due to being ineligible for nomination, leaving The Hunt and The Great Beauty to grab the gong, whilst revolutionary documentary Blackfish also misses out on a nomination after making a big splash with its anti-SeaWorld campaign.
Being one of the biggest years in cinema in recent memory, there was always likely to be some cast aside in favour of others, but has the Academy gone too far this time? The full list of nominees can be seen here.
The 86th Academy Awards will be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres and will take place on Sunday 2nd March.