‘Lincoln’ elected Oscar frontrunner with 12 nominations

Today, Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone announced the Academy Awards nominations, and they said “Lincoln’ a buncha times. (Luckily, it’s far easier to pronounce than the name of "Beasts of the Southern Wild" star Quvenzhane Wallis.)

Steven Spielberg’s biopic scored a whopping twelve nominations. That was hard news for those in the “Zero Dark Thirty” camp (5 noms and no kudos for director Kathryn Bigelow).  Best Picture nominee “Argo” didn’t overwhelm either (no love for Ben Affleck as either director or star).

While there were no surprises in the nine movies picked for best picture, some movies came out of the nominations supercharged and others wobbles. Here’s how we’re calling it:

Frontrunners

  • “Lincoln”: They love him, they really love him. While the critics ignored him, Steven Spielberg in their mix, he’s now on top of the world with a DGA and Oscar nomination. Add in Daniel-Day Lewis's nomination for best actor, Tommy Lee Jones' for best supporting actor, Sally Fields' for best supporting actress and Tony Kushner’s adapted screenplay and we have a clear frontrunner.
  • “Silver Lining Playbook”: Not since “Reds” in 1982 has a movie had a nomination in all the major categories, including all four acting races. Best picture; David O. Russell (snubbed by the DGA), best director; Bradley Cooper, best actor; Jennifer Lawrence, best actress; Robert DeNiro, best supporting actor; Jacki Weaver, best supporting actress; and best adapted screenplay. This news is definitely a silver lining for the comedy, particularly after the DGA snubbed Russell yesterday in favor of “Les Miserable’s” Tom Hooper.
  • “Amour”: While Michael Haneke’s Austrian entry for best foreign language film seemed like the frontrunner in that category, when it landed among the best picture and director nominees, as well as receiving a nomination for 85-year-old star Emmanuelle Riva it became a major contender among the English-language films, too.
  • “Life of Pi”: We’ve been calling this the energizer bunny of Oscar contenders. No one we’ve talked to has this at the top of their list, but it got eleven nominations including Best Picture and Best Director. Chock it up to a love for Ang Lee. And note that it’s only the fifth 3-D movie to make the top grade. (Also remember how well “Avatar” did on Awards night.)
  • “Beasts of the Southern Wild”: This is the indie darling first feature that charmed the Academy, earning the only true surprise in the bunch: a best director nom for newcomer Benn Zeitlin. Add to that a nomination for star Quvenzhane Wallis and best adapted screenplay for a total of four.

Stalled

  • “Zero Dark Thirty”: Sure, the drama about the hunt for Osama bin Laden got five total nominations including best picture, which isn't too shabby. But it’s a big disappointment compared to the twelve received by its major dramatic rival “Lincoln.” And it’s also a sign of things to come that the Academy snubbed director Kathryn Bigelow. Yesterday, she was riding high on a DGA nomination. The day before she received the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director. And, now, nothing. It’s a bad omen for the movie’s best picture chances, although Jessica Chastain remains in the power position for best actress.
  • “The Master”: The critics’ darling failed to crack the best picture and the Academy super-snubbed director Paul Thomas Anderson. By recognizing the three major performances – Joaquin Phoenix in lead and Philip Seymour Hoffman and Amy Adams in supporting – it seems as if these actors directed themselves. Impossible!
  • “Les Miserables”: The Oscars won’t have much impact on this pop-musical at the box office. Still, despite seven nominations, including a supporting nom for Anne Hathaway and a best actor nom for Hugh Jackman, it’s not looking like the first movie musical to get win best picture since “Chicago” a decade ago.
  • “Argo”: With seven nominations, including best picture, best supporting actor for Alan Arkin, and best adapted screenplay, it still has to sting for Ben Affleck that he didn’t get recognized as a director or lead actor.
  • “Moonrise Kingdom”: There was clearly only room for one indie darling and that went to “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Wes Anderson’s most popular live-action movie in years, with its star-studded cast, got a single nomination for best original script. Sunset on this quirky film.

Sunk

And then there are the many hopefuls that seemed promising earlier in the season and have fallen off the Hollywood Oscar star map. These include “Skyfall,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “The Impossible” and “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.”