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10 Biggest Surprises of the 2013 Academy Award Nominations

Written by on January 10, 2013 

With the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences unveiling their 2013 nominations this morning, there were many surprises to be had. From some of our favorites getting recognized to a few sure-fire snubs, there is much to discuss, so we’ve rounded up the biggest shocks from the full list of nominees. Dive into a few of the bombshells revealed this morning by checking out the rundown below and let us know if any of our picks similarly surprised you.

Best Director Finds Zeitlin and Haneke, Ignores Affleck and Bigelow

The moment Argo came out it was decided to be a top-tier contender for all things Oscar. It had the right look (period), the right subject (Hollywood) and the right director in Ben Affleck, the comeback kid. Now, with Affleck sitting somewhere Best Director nomination-less, Argo plays as one of those other 4 films nominated for Best Picture, pretty much relegating its accolades to be placed on top of its future Blu-Ray cover, nothing more. The same goes for Zero Dark Thirty. Though it attracted some serious love from critics, it apparently didn’t swing with the Academy enough to get Kathryn Bigelow her second nomination. Perhaps it came out just too late in the game?

On the flip side, Benh Zeitlin’s little-movie-that-could, Beasts of the Southern Wild, is now a contender in this Best Picture race, riding its Sundance glory strong throughout the year. And while any chance of wins for the small film remain slim, just its inclusion is a strong victory for the indie world. The same goes for Amour and the world of foreign film, Michael Haneke earning his first Oscar nomination after a long career of making masterful films that feel specifically designed not to be nominated by the Academy. – Dan M.

Best Actress Field Features Youngest & Oldest Nominees In Oscar History

A shock for myself, due in large part to the fact that I didn’t care for Wallis’ stare-ahead-like-you-mean-it work in the slightest. Even to other, non-miserable folk, this is the sort of thing that, really, just doesn’t happen in the acting categories. The film came out of nowhere, for one thing, and most of the discussion has centered on direction, cinematography, or score, with performers trailing behind. For something like, I don’t know, Silver Linings Playbook — not that people talk about its cinematography or score, nor do they ignore the actors; play along — that wouldn’t be a problem. The performers in Playbook are still big and mainstream enough to snag something. There were some other actresses I would have predicted for the fifth spot (Marion Cotillard), and, while I’m not actually in that game, Quvenzhané Wallis never sprang to mind — which I may not be alone on. Should anything about this seem positive or, at least, less-than-dull, it’s that we now have the youngest- and oldest-ever acting nominees — the latter would be Emmanuelle Riva, obviously, who will celebrate her 86th birthday in the Dolby Theatre — occupying the actress category at once. Mathematically, I guess the vote would have to be split and land for Naomi Watts. Is that how the decisions are made? With math? – Nick N.

The Intouchables Doesn’t Make Foreign-Language Film Cut

We all expected Amour to be one of the five movies nominated for Best Foreign Language Film, but it was a shock when the Academy turned a cold shoulder to France’s drama The Intouchables, a massive international hit which has grossed over $400 million worldwide. While there has been some contention regarding the actual quality of the film, its crowdpleasing nature certainly seemed to fit with Academy’s taste, but perhaps they are simply holding off the love until The Weinstein Company releases the remake in a few years. – Jordan R.

Amour Surprises In Major Fields, Including Best Picture and Director

Some of this morning’s major snubs (see: Affleck, Bigelow) are sure to ignite their fair share of confused controversy, but one thing most people can calmly and safely agree on is that the widespread recognition for Michael Haneke’s Amour represents a huge feather in the Academy’s cap. Nominations for Best Foreign Language Film, Best Original Screenplay and even Best Actress (for the stunning Emmanuelle Riva) were always legitimate possibilities, and while the same could be said of Best Picture and Best Director, it was hard not to assume that Oscar voters would pass up the film, which by conventional standards is still a chilly, austere piece of formalism. (That the film was released so late in the year by Sony Pictures Classics was another cause for concern: Were voters even going to see it in time?) But the Academy, in a stroke of great promise, carved out spots for Amour in the top category, as well as for Haneke himself (his first-ever Oscar nod). That’s a commendable gesture any way you look at it. – Danny K.

Silver Linings Playbook Nabs Nominations In All Four Acting Categories

After playing like gangbusters at TIFF last year, David O. Russell’s character piece appeared to be losing some steam with critics and audiences alike. Now it’s looking more like this year’s Ordinary People, which surprised with a Best Picture win in 1981. The first film in over 30 years (since Reds, also in 1981) to earn an acting nomination in all four available categories, Silver Linings Playbook could similarly surprise by taking down Lincoln, which has emerged as the clear frontrunner. – Dan M.

Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman Battle For Costume Design

Remember these movies? Neither do we. The Academy apparently did. The battle of the Snow White properties continue, joining Anna Karenina, Les Miserables and Lincoln in the Best Costume Design category. No doubt the clothes in both films are fascinating in their own ways; the late, great Eiko Ishioka’s fashion flare is the major stand-out in Tarsem’s innocent farce, while dirt and grime soil anything and everything worn by everyone (save Charlize Theron’s queen) in Huntsman. Are they Oscar-worthy? We will find out Sunday, February 24th. – Dan M.

Check out five more surprises on the next page >>

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