86th annual Academy Awards “American Hustle,” “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave ” received the most nominations.

LOS ANGELES – Conventional wisdom held true on Thursday for the 86th annual Academy Awards as the comedic drama “American Hustle,” the space adventure “Gravity” and the searing historical drama “12 Years a Slave” received the most nominations.

“American Hustle” received 10 nods, including best picture, best director, for David O. Russell, and for four of its actors: Christian Bale (best actor), Amy Adams (best actress), Bradley Cooper (best supporting actor) and Jennifer Lawrence (best supporting actress.)

“Gravity,” also a best picture nominee, tied with 10, including for best direction and best actress, but more of its overall attention came from some of the more technical categories.

“12 Years a Slave” was right behind with nine nominations, including Steve McQueen as director, Chiwetel Ejiofor as best actor and Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o in supporting acting categories.

In all, nine films received best picture nominations in a field that can include as many as 10 or as few as 5, depending on how voters from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences spread their hand. Rounding out the field are “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

“The Wolf of Wall Street” was one of the year’s most divisive pictures because of its depiction of sex and drug use that pushed the boundaries of the R rating. But it came away a big winner on Thursday morning with five nominations. Martin Scorsese was nominated for his direction, and the film also received nods for actor (Leonardo DiCaprio), supporting actor (Jonah Hill) and adapted screenplay (Terence Winter).

Joining Ms. Adams in the best actress category were Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine’’ ; Sandra Bullock for “Gravity’’; Judi Dench for “Philomena’’ and Meryl Streep for “August: Osage County.’’ It was Ms. Streep’s 18th nomination.

Along with Mr. Bale, Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. Ejiofor, the other best actor nominees were Bruce Dern for “Nebraska’’ and Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyer’s Club.’’

“I don’t think it ever stops being an absolute thrill, but I do have an immediate leveler,” said a groggy Sandra Bullock, reached by telephone. “I still have to get up and make lunch for a little person, and pray – please, dear God – that he eats something I put in his lunchbox today.”

Perhaps reflecting the strong year in film, there were more perceived slights this year. Hollywood immediately deemed Robert Redford a major snub; he was expected to be nominated in the best actor category for “All is Lost,” a largely silent lost-at-sea picture. Tom Hanks also failed to get an acting nomination for his role in “Captain Phillips.’’

Paul Greengrass was overlooked for his direction of “Captain Phillips,” with his slot likely going to Alexander Payne, nominated for “Nebraska.”

Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks” failed to win any nominations in the major categories – Emma Thompson was considered a strong candidate for best actress attention – and Oprah Winfrey was snubbed as best supporting actress in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” Pixar failed to make the animation category cut with its “Monsters University.”

In fact, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” a Weinstein Company movie that was counted among the early favorites after its release in August, was completely shut out. Harvey Weinstein, known for his aggressive Oscar campaigns, came up relatively light, with nine nominations, though he edged into the best picture race with “Philomena.”

“Inside Llewyn Davis,” from Joel and Ethan Coen, aggressively backed for best picture by CBS Films, failed to make the cut, but it did receive two nominations in smaller categories – sound mixing and cinematography

A few of the bigger surprises came in the documentaries category, where Sarah Polley’s “Stories We Tell,” a personal yarn about her own dysfunctional family, and Gabriela Cowperthwaite’s “Blackfish,” about claimed abuse of animals and trainers at the SeaWorld parks, were left out. Both films appeared on list after list of favorites.

Woody Allen received his 16th screenplay nomination, for “Blue Jasmine.” Joining that film in the original writing field are “American Hustle,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her” and “Nebraska.” Adapted screenplay nominees are “Before Midnight,” “Captain Phillips,” “Philomena,” “12 Years a Slave” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

“Gravity” caught up with American Hustle by scoring heavily in the less prominent categories, with nominations for its score, sound editing, sound mixing and visual effects. Those nominations could speak to the film’s strength as a best picture contender — large numbers of Oscar voters work in Hollywood’s so-called “below-the-line” crafts, and pay close attention to the finer points of film assembly when picking their ultimate winner.

“August: Osage County,” another big Weinstein bet, had two nominations — fewer by one than Warner’s “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” which took three, including those for sound mixing, sound editing and visual effects.

The Academy did spread its love round, at least when the broader categories were considered. Even “The Lone Ranger,” a summer blockbuster that flopped, picked up two nominations: one for visual effects, and another for make-up and hairstyling, though it wasn’t clear in which of those categories the bird on Johnny Depp’s head scored the most points.

Chris Hemsworth, best known as “Thor” but also a star of Ron Howard’s “Rush,” which received no nominations, read the list of nominees at 5:38 a.m. Pacific time in a televised news conference at Academy headquarters. He was joined by Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the organization’s president.

Hollywood was hoping Oscar voters would add some clarity to a puzzling awards season. No one ever said a movie season should be orderly, but the only pattern to the current awards race is the lack of one. There is no underlying theme that made 2012—with films like “Argo,” “Lincoln,” and “Zero Dark Thirty” — the year of political discourse, for instance. And guilds, critics’ groups and the Golden Globes have so far failed to deliver any kind of consensus, at least in some categories.

On Thursday morning, the Academy cleared up some questions while it created others. “Her” finally moved from fingers-on-the-ledge status to full-fledged contender. Some contenders — Octavia Spencer of “Fruitvale Station,” “The Great Gatsby” and Mr. Hanks — officially ended their hopes (and campaigns).
.
The best picture nominees surely gave a modicum of vindication to at least two ousted studio executives. Jeff Robinov, formerly the movie chief at Warner Brothers, played a major role in “Gravity” before his unhappy departure. James Schamus, the former chief executive of Focus Features, saw his “Dallas Buyers Club” get in — making it three gay-themed pictures that he managed to push into that rarefied circle. (He was also behind “Milk” and “Brokeback Mountain.”)

Of all the nominees, “12 Years a Slave” has perhaps the clearest shot at making history. If it were to win the best picture Oscar, it would become the first film by a black director to win the Academy’s highest honor.

This year’s ceremony, to be held on March 2 and broadcast on ABC, will amount to a do-over for the producers Neil Meron and Craig Zadan. Last year, the pair drew harsh criticism for putting together what some people saw as a tacky and, at times, misogynistic show that also seemed to hide a great year for film behind nonstop musical numbers.

A 3 percent climb in total viewers, to 40.3 million — ratings for younger adults increased 20 percent — got Mr. Meron and Mr. Zadan invited back, but it promises to be a very different ceremony this time around. Ellen DeGeneres will be the host and has said she wants a classy show. Seth MacFarlane hosted in 2013.

Instead of musicals, the producers will highlight heroes on screen. If an accompanying exhibition at Academy headquarters is any guide, expect the superhero variety (“Man of Steel”), the literary kind (“To Kill a Mockingbird”), real-life ones (“Gandhi”) and some animated folks (“The Incredibles”). “We wanted to unify the show with an entertaining and emotional theme,” the producers said in a statement.

“There may also be a few musical surprises along the way,” they added.

Oscars ratings tend to bounce up and down depending on the popularity of nominated films. To date, only one of the best picture nominees, “Gravity,” with over $670 million in worldwide box-office receipts, has been a mega-hit. “Frozen,” a nominee for best animated movie and best song, has taken in about $715 million.

The rest are mostly still looking for a bump from their Oscar nominations, and some of the most lauded films — including “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” — have yet to make a serious dent in foreign markets.

A PARTIAL LIST OF NOMINEES

Best Picture
“American Hustle”
“Captain Phillips”
“Dallas Buyers Club”
“Gravity”
“Her”
“Nebraska”
“Philomena”
“12 Years a Slave”
“The Wolf of Wall Street”

Best Actor
Christian Bale, “American Hustle”
Bruce Dern, “Nebraska”
Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Chiwetel Ejiofor, “12 Years a Slave”
Matthew McConaughey, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Actress
Amy Adams, “American Hustle”
Cate Blanchett, “Blue Jasmine”
Sandra Bullock, “Gravity”
Judi Dench, “Philomena”
Meryl Streep, “August: Osage County”

Best Supporting Actor
Barkhad Abdi, “Captain Phillips”
Bradley Cooper, “American Hustle”
Michael Fassbender, “12 Years a Slave”
Jonah Hill, “The Wolf of Wall Street”
Jared Leto, “Dallas Buyers Club”

Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine”
Jennifer Lawrence, “American Hustle”
Lupita Nyong’o, “12 Years a Slave”
Julia Roberts, “August: Osage County”
June Squibb, “Nebraska”

Martin Scorsese, “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Best Director
David O. Russell, “American Hustle”
Alfronso Cuarón, “Gravity”
Alexander Payne, “Nebraska”
Steve McQueen, “12 Years a Slave”

www.newyorktimes.com

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About Martin Myers
Music Supervisor / Artist and Talent Manager / Publicist / Music Exchange Founder / Owner Triple M Entertainment

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