In the words of Sally Field, the Academy likes David O. Russell. It really likes him. On Thursday, Russell's American Hustle co-led (with Gravity) Thursday's Oscar nominations with 10, while Russell carved out a piece of Oscar history for himself: He's now the only director to have two films garner acting nominations in all four categories. Those weren't the only shockers though.
American Hustle, Gravity lead Oscar nominations
Oscars do the Hustle: Just like last year, a David O. Russell film over-performed on nomination day. And just like last year, a Russell film landed nods in all four acting races. Jennifer Lawrence, who won Best Actress last year for Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, was the only shoo-in for supporting actress, while Golden Globe winner and four-time Oscar loser Amy Adams and Bradley Cooper had outside chances of making it into lead actress and supporting actor, respectively, but the biggest shocker was Christian Bale's inclusion in the lead actor lineup, making the cut in a stacked year. Hustle is the 15th film to score acting nods in all four races and Russell, once infamous for his on-set feuds with actors, has prided himself on being an actor's director in his second act, directing his stars to 11 nominations since 2010's The Fighter. With no Argo-type narrative this year, the snazzy romp has officially become the Oscar front-runner. Ironically, Explosion at the Wig Factory Hustle did not receive a hairstyling and makeup nomination.
Jonah Hill: Who would've ever thought seven years ago that the guy from Superbad would be a two-time Oscar nominee? Hill, who was up two years ago for Moneyball, has suddenly transformed himself into a respected dramatic character actor and despite no major precursor nominations, deservedly made the supporting actor shortlist for his hilarious turn in Wolf of Wall Street. At 30, he is the second youngest to be nominated for supporting actor twice after Sal Mineo (22).
Sally Hawkins: Five years after she was snubbed for her breakthrough film Happy-Go-Lucky (it was the first time in eight years that the Golden Globe comedy/musical actress winner was not Oscar-nominated), Hawkins snuck into the supporting actress lineup, possibly at Oprah's expense (see: below). The Academy is notorious for makeup nominations and wins, but it's like when the "Oops! Sorry, our bad!" nod is justified: Hawkins, excellent and understated as Ginger in Blue Jasmine, stands toe-to-toe with lead actress favorite Cate Blanchett.
Dallas Buyers Club: The Ron Woodroof biopic also quietly exceeded expectations — it landed six nods, one more than The Wolf of Wall Street — as it's been doing all awards season (see: its Screen Actors Guild ensemble nod, Producers Guild Awards nod and Writers Guild Award nod). The most surprising of its six nominations came in film editing, which is historically a great harbinger for Oscar success. Only nine films have won Best Picture without an editing nomination, the last being 1980's Ordinary People. Dallas Buyers Club is not a Best Picture favorite (not yet at least), but the tremendous industry support bodes well for lead actor nominee Matthew McConaughey and supporting actor front-runner Jared Leto, who at an ageless 42 is the oldest nominee in the typically senior citizen-populated supporting actor race.
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Tom Hanks: It wasn't that long ago when pundits were penciling in the two-time champ for two nominations this year (lead actor for Captain Phillips and supporting actor for Saving Mr. Banks). On Thursday, however, Hanks got a big fat goose egg, getting bumped from the lead actor race by Bale after snagging Critics Choice, Golden Globe, SAG and BAFTA nods (his Saving Mr. Banks co-star Emma Thompson and Rush's Daniel Bruhl also missed at the Academy with those same nominations too). It's a bittersweet awards-season end for the actor after one helluva comeback performance in Phillips (just watch those last 10 minutes). Hanks has not been nominated since 2000's Cast Away. Fellow A-lister Robert Redford (All Is Lost), who has a directing Oscar but not one for acting, was also MIA, but he did not hit the same or as many precursors as Hanks did.
Rejecting Mr. Banks: The Academy did not fall for the Disney-fied Mary Poppins historical (and shamelessly baity) flick at all, giving it only one nomination for original score. Even Thompson, the film's safest bet for a big nomination, was dropped from the lead actress category. Perhaps the rest of Hollywood feels the same as Meryl Streep does about Walt Disney?
Blackfish: The scathing Sea World documentary has been buzzed-about since July, but it's conspicuously, head-scratchingly absent from the Oscar shortlist. Also AWOL is Sarah Polley's moving familial doc Stories We Tell. But she's cool with it.
Inside LLewyn Davis on the outside: Oscar favorites Joel and Ethan Coen got no love for their critically acclaimed drama. The poignant, critically acclaimed but bleak film is a slight departure from the usual Coens fare, but the two couldn't even make the original screenplay cut. The film only received two minor nominations — and not even in the music categories. Ouch. Some might view this as karma after the brothers "stole" Christopher Nolan's spot in the director's lineup for True Grit three years ago.
Oprah: You DON'T get a nomination! Her SAG nod notwithstanding, Oprah, who was nominated for The Color Purple, was never a lock in supporting actress for her boozy turn in Lee Daniels' The Butler, but it was very possible for her to get in on her name alone. Voters, however, chose to leave her and the overstuffed movie out to dry. In hindsight, everyone should've seen it coming, since the star-crazy Golden Globes didn't nominate Lady O either.
What were you most surprised by?
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