(article for Neon Tommy, USC's digital news)
As every critics' association and guild deals out awards recognizing the best in 2013 cinema, one opinion is still held above the rest. On Thursday morning, the nominees for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' 86th Oscars were announced live on ABC.
The nomination totals were unsurprisingly led by three films that have continued to dominate the Best Picture discussion. Gravity and American Hustle each scored ten nominations, while 12 Years a Slave came in with nine.
The event itself goes by very quickly. While the Oscars ceremony in March will give as much attention to spectacle as to the winners themselves, the Nominations Announcement presents itself as all business. At precisely 5:38 AM this morning inside the Academy's Wilshire headquarters, Rush-star Chris Hemsworth and new Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs walked onto stage and read the names to a lone camera. The timing of the announcement is such to catch Good Morning America viewers on the east coast, so the entire day remains for analysis and speculation.
As always, the story is found in the films that are snubbed. This year's surprise omission was the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis, which only picked up nominations for cinematography and sound mixing. A number of other contending films were left out of the nominations altogether, including Lee Daniels' The Butler, Enough Said, Monsters' University and Fruitvale Station, while Saving Mr. Banks was only nominated for Original Score. Actors that were left out of the mix included Oprah Winfrey (Lee Daniels' The Butler), Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips and Saving Mr. Banks), Emma Thompson (Saving Mr. Banks), Robert Redford (All is Lost), and the late James Gandolfini (Enough Said).
Films that made a stronger-than-expected performance included the British film Philomena, which picked up four nominations including ones for Best Picture and Supporting Actress Judi Dench, and Her, which gathered five nominations despite speculation that it would feel too new-age for Academy voters.
The acting categories brought a number of familiar names, with American Hustle stars Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, and Jennifer Lawrence all repeating from last year. Lawrence is now the youngest three-time acting nominee at age 23, and Meryl Streep extended her all-time acting nomination lead, receiving her eighteenth nod for August: Osage County. Surprises in the acting categories included a second nomination in three years for both Jonah Hill (The Wolf of Wall Street) and Christian Bale (American Hustle).
The 86th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, March 2nd at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood.