Kathryn Bigelow snubbed in 2013 Oscar nominations
The pundits would have you believe otherwise, but when it comes to the Oscars, there's no such thing as a sure thing. That much became clear this morning, when the nominees for the 85th annual Academy Awards were announced. Roundly considered a shoo-in, Kathryn Bigelow—whose CIA manhunt drama Zero Dark Thirty was among the most acclaimed and talked-about movies of last year—failed to secure a spot on the Best Director ballot. Instead, voters rallied around Benh Zeitlin, the first-time filmmaker behind indie sensation—and problematic Hurricane Katrina allegory—Beasts of the Southern Wild. Curious as to how race, gender or politics may have influenced this decision? Expect a rash of think pieces on the subject in the weeks to come.
Given that some were prematurely calling the Director prize Bigelow's to lose, her exclusion has to be considered the most shocking omission of the morning. It certainly hurts ZDT's Best Picture chances, furthering the impression that Steven Spielberg's Lincoln—which picked up 12 nominations, more than any other movie—is the undisputed front-runner in a field of nine.
But there were other snubs, too. John Hawkes, who gave a rich, lively performance as paralyzed poet Mark O'Brien in The Sessions, was pushed out of the Best Actor race after months of destined-to-be-nominated chatter. (His unofficial campaign began last January, when the movie premiered at Sundance.) France's box-office smash The Intouchables couldn't warm its way into the hearts of Foreign Language voters, nor could The Dark Knight Rises—the concluding chapter of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy—secure a single nomination (even in the tech categories).
Less surprising, but still disappointing, was the absence of The Master among the Best Picture nominees. Paul Thomas Anderson's grand, '50s-set character study has divided audiences and critics since it premiered in September, with some regarding it as an unsatisfying misfire while others—like my TOC colleague Ben Kenigsberg—called it the best movie of the year. I falsely assumed the film would squeeze into the big race through the support of a passionate minority, à la The Tree of Life last year. At least it wasn't completely ignored: All three of The Master's most prominent performers—Amy Adams, Philip Seymour Hoffman and the terrific Joaquin Phoenix—managed to score nods.
There were, of course, some pleasant surprises. Though I had heard whisperings of Amour going over well with Academy voters, I still wasn't entirely prepared for AMPAS to full-on embrace a Michael Haneke movie. (The film, which opens tomorrow in Chicago, was cited in the Picture, Director, Screenplay, Foreign Film and—for Emmanuelle Riva's heartbreaking turn as a stroke victim—Actress categories.) And my favorite ensemble cast of the year, that of Silver Linings Playbook, was roundly represented: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence, Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver all scored nods, making David O. Russell's effervescent comedy the first film since 1982's Reds to rack up notices in all four acting categories.