updated 01/10/2013 AT 12:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/10/2013 AT 1:05 PM ET
Today might be the only day any of us will ever feel sorry for Ben Affleck. The nominations for the 85th annual Academy Awards were announced Thursday morning and the Argo director shockingly didn’t make the cut.
But here’s who did – and who should have:
The shock: Two huge snubs! Not only did Argo’s Affleck get dissed, even though he had one of the best-reviewed films of the year, but so did Zero Dark Thirty’s Kathryn Bigelow, a previous Best Director winner for The Hurt Locker – which I’d argue isn’t nearly the accomplishment that Zero Dark Thirty is. Both of the films about terror made the cut for Best Picture, however. But then, that was expected.
What that means: While it’s likely a race between Hollywood machers Steven Spielberg (Lincoln) and Ang Lee, whose Life of Pi stormed through with 11 nominations, it’s great to see newcomer Benh Zeitlin on the list, whose $1.8 million Beasts of the Southern Wild picked up four nominations. Though their films made strong showings, Amour’s Michael Haneke and Silver Linings Playbook’s David O. Russell have far less buzz than the buzzed-out Affleck.
The shock: Three former Oscar winners – including two who picked up their golden guys in this very category – couldn’t muscle their way in this year. Marion Cotillard, the emotional heart of the gritty romance Rust and Bone, and Helen Mirren, who was the best thing about Hitchcock, playing the great director’s wife, Alma, won’t be repeating as Best Actress next month. Rachel Weisz, 2006 Best Supporting Actress winner for The Constant Gardener, also didn’t get quite enough momentum for her role as a lovelorn judge’s wife in the murky period drama The Deep Blue Sea.
What that means: It’s likely a three-way battle between the beloved French cinema vet Emmanuelle Riva (Amour), who would be the oldest Best Actress winner at 86 (Oscar Sunday is her birthday), Jessica Chastain, who gave a riveting performance in Zero Dark Thirty, and my personal favorite, Jennifer Lawrence, who showed incredible range and humor in Silver Linings Playbook. Still, Naomi Watts (The Impossible) and the Academy’s youngest-ever nominee for Best Actress, 9-year-old Quvenzhané Wallis (Beasts), could still take it in a squeaker.
The shock: It may not qualify as a “shock” that John Hawkes, truly wonderful in The Sessions, and Jack Black, who did his best work last year in Bernie, didn’t get nods. But this was easily the year’s toughest category, with brilliant performances from a dozen actors who could have filled the slots.
What that means: I’m still sticking with my prediction that Daniel Day-Lewis will stroll home victorious for his role in Lincoln, which, including his, picked up 12 nominations this morning, the most of any film. If anyone can challenge him, though, it’s Hugh Jackman. Les Misérables may have divided critics, but Jackman gives such a well-rounded performance as Jean Valjean, and he’s such an inherently likable guy, Academy voters could decide to share the love – particularly since Day-Lewis already has Best Actor bookends. Bradley Cooper impressed in Silver Linings, but given that it’s such a tough year for the fellas, I’m betting that he, Denzel Washington (Flight) and Joaquin Phoenix (The Master) will be applauding politely from their seats.
Best Supporting Actor/Actress
The shock: There are no jaw-droppers in either category, though it would’ve been nice to see Javier Bardem nominated for his deliciously sinister blond baddie in Skyfall.
What that means: Anne Hathaway can stop dreaming her dreams, as she’ll likely wake up the morning after the Oscars a winner for Les Mis, while five veteran actors fight it out for Best Supporting Actor. Sentimental love may go toward Alan Arkin, so cuttingly funny as a producer helping in Argo, but truly, it’s anyone’s game when you’ve got Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln), Christoph Waltz (Django), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings) and Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master) playing to win again.
The shock: None really. If it still blows your mind that there are nine nominees, then take it as a reflection that last year was such a great one for movies. But yes, in a perfect world Moonrise Kingdom, Skyfall and even The Avengers would have found a place on the red carpet.
What that means: If we go by the numbers, then this looks like a showdown between Lincoln (12 nominations) and Life of Pi (11 nominations). But I don’t think it’s that simple. Life of Pi’s nods are largely technical, with no acting notices in the bunch. Silver Linings, though, is a far stronger contender than Pi, with four acting nominations, plus its director and editor (an often overlooked harbinger of Oscar gold) also picked up nods.
And don’t count out Les Mis or even Amour, which has real momentum behind it. I would hope that the director snubs haven’t knocked Argo and Zero Dark Thirty out of their frontrunner spots, either, but that certainly doesn’t bode well for either of them. Like I said, it may seem strange to feel sorry for Affleck on a day his movie gets a Best Picture Oscar nomination, but I do.
We’ll all find out the results when the Academy Awards air live Sunday, Feb. 24, on ABC from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.