Though most of the nominees were already predicted, or at least on the "maybe" list, the biggest snubs and surprises came in who didn't make the cut as Emma Stone and Seth MacFarlane announced the nominees for the upcoming 85th Academy Awards.
- While neither were necessarily frontrunners, both The Master and Moonrise Kingdom were considered favorites to possibly include in Best Picture. While both still received a handful of nominations, they will not compete for the main prize.
- The two people everyone seems to be talking about are Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck, neither of whom made the cut in the Best Director category. Both had received nominations in all pre-cursor awards. Out of the two, Affleck's snub for Argo is the bigger slap in the face. The actor, who has made a better name for himself with his last few directing outings, possibly couldn't detract from his other tabloid fame to be taken completely seriously by the Academy. Bigelow, who won two years ago for The Hurt Locker, could have missed her mark for Zero Dark Thirty recognition due to the film's current controversy around torture; or, the Academy could be wanting to spread the wealth. Either way, people are up in arms. A few are upset about Les Miserables's helmer, Tom Hooper, not making the cut, but the race was crowded and he always seemed like the name to get the bump. It doesn't necessarily mean either film is out of the Best Picture race, but it doesn't help their cause at all.
- As far as blockbuster films go, The Avengers made the cut (with a visual effects nod), but The Dark Knight Rises will walk away empty-handed. The third film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy was tipped by some to be the recipient of some farewell nods, in the vain of the last Lord of the Rings film. But, The Dark Knight Rises will go down as the first Nolan film in over ten years to not receive some sort of Academy recognition.
- The Best Actor category was pretty set with names that have been thrown around in predictions for a while. John Hawkes, though, received the earliest Oscar buzz last year when The Sessions premiered at Sundance (under the title The Surrogate). While his co-star, Helen Hunt, will be named Oscar night among the Best Supporting Actress nominees, Hawkes (who's been nominated before) will not be. It was a packed year full of brilliant performances, so someone had to get the boot.
- Leonardo DiCaprio can't catch a break with Oscar. The multiple-nominee was expected to nab a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his work in Django Unchained, but got pushed over by co-star Christoph Waltz. DiCaprio, known to many as one of this generation's most talented actors, will hopefully have better luck next year with The Great Gatsby.
- Marion Cotillard has been a name floating around since the Cannes Film Festival last May for her turn in Rust and Bone. The role, which required her to "lose her legs" was garnered for its honesty. She was expected to make the cut, but lost out to some history makers (see below).
- The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a critical success story, with a huge rating on both IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, plus a decent limited release box office, but the film wasn't able to win its Best Adapted Screenplay that most people had predicted.
- The Austrian film Amour was expected to be a frontrunner for the Foreign Language award, but no one saw it becoming a frontrunner for other major awards. The film about two octogenarian lovers barged into the race by garnering some coveted nominations: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, among others.
- The Best Actress race made history this morning as Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhane Wallis were nominated for Amour and Beasts of the Southern Wild, respectively. Riva is 85, making her the oldest Best Actress nominee in history. Wallis is 9, making her the youngest. While neither are expected to win, it makes for an exciting group of performers, and will mix up the events on Oscar night. It's been a while since we've seen a child actor nominee.
- Speaking of Beasts of the Southern Wild, the indie had lost some steam over the past few months, and was expected to only get a handful of nominations, if anything at all. But, the modern fairytale surprised everyone when its director, Benh Zeitlin, was nominated over the likes of Kathryn Bigelow (Zero Dark Thirty) and Ben Affleck (Argo) for Best Director.
- While not a huge surprise, Joaquin Phoenix's nomination for The Master wasn't 100% expected. While he deserve the nomination for his bare-bones performance, his recent comments to Interview magazine about the Oscars being "the stupidest thing in the world" could have been enough to warrant some backlash.
- Life of Pi is giving Lincoln a run for its money. The two films were the most nominated, with Pi receiving 11 and Lincoln receiving 12. Pi is believed to have some of the technical awards in the bag, but Lincoln's acting and director nominations could put it on top. Either way, it's great to have two very different films at the top of the race.
- In Best Supporting Actress, Silver Linings Playbook's Jacki Weaver surprised everyone by getting added to the category. Her role lacks a lot of the meat most nominated roles have (no big speech or dramatic scene), but I guess the fact that the Australian native (who's been nominated before) completely delved into her Philadelphia housewife role was enough to get the Academy's notice.
Overall, it was a great year for movies and great year for these awards. Like I said, there's no real frontrunner in any category. It really is anyone's game and most of those nominated deserve to win. Check back soon to see me predictions updated. And watch the Oscars on Sunday, February 24 LIVE on ABC.