On early Thursday morning in the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, California, a relaxed Seth MacFarlane stepped onstage and introduced Hollywood "it" girl Emma Stone. Together, the duo delivered the good and bad news to the entertainment industry in the form of an Oscar nomination.
Each year, the press gets up early to cover the big event and there are usually a few snubs and surprises. This year, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences decided to deliver those snubs to some of Hollywood's biggest names and many who were expected to be guaranteed nominations.
The category that elicited the biggest reaction in the room was for Best Directing. Directors such as Ben Affleck for Argo, Tom Hooper for Les Misérables, Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained, and Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty were high on the priority list for a nomination by many in the industry. When two other names were read, Michael Haneke for Amour and Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild, the room of reporters gasped.
Some other interesting choices came in the Best Actress category. Instead of Marion Cotillard being a lock for Rust and Bone or Helen Mirren for Hitchcock, little 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis for Beasts of the Southern Wild became the youngest nominee ever in the category.
In the Best Supporting Actress race, Jacki Weaver snuck in to replace other possible contenders such as Ann Dowd for Compliance, Nicole Kidman for The Paperboy, and Dame Maggie Smith, who was a favorite for Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Weaver's nomination helped clinch a nomination in all four acting categories for Silver Linings Playbook. It was expected that fellow co-stars Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper, and Robert De Niro would be honored for their performances, which is exactly what happened.
For the men, two strong performances were left off of the list, Richard Gere for Arbitrage and shockingly John Hawkes for The Sessions. Hawkes has consistently been in the mix of nominations all season long including the SAG Awards, the Golden Globes, and the Critics' Choice Awards. Joaquin Phoenix took the fifth spot for his work in The Master. His performance lost a bit of steam during the nomination process, but the Academy brought him back into the loop.
The supporting category didn't hold any surprises with five veteran Oscar winners nominated in this category. The favored underdog, Javier Bardem, for his turn as the villain in Skyfall was overlooked, but Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson for Django Unchained were long shots at best with so many strong performances in this category in 2012.
Once Stone and MacFarlane reached the Best Picture category, there weren't many surprises left in store for the media. The Academy chose to recognize nine out of a possible 10 films, with Lincoln leading the way with 12 nominations and Silver Linings Playbook offering some serious competition in the acting categories to the Spielberg film.
The winners will be announced on Sunday, Feb. 24, with Seth MacFarlane helming the ship, not only as a host, but also as a nominee for Best Original Song from the movie, Ted. It should be a night to remember, and hopefully one filled with a surprise or two.
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