2013 Oscar Nominations: Full List and Analysis

  • Publish Date: January 10, 2013
  • Comments: ↓ 12 user comments

Plenty of love, zero Bigelow

Films with Most Nominations
1 Lincoln 12 noms
2 Life of Pi 11 noms
3 Silver Linings Playbook 8 noms

Thursday morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominees for the 85th Academy Awards, recognizing 2012's best films, performances, and filmmakers. While the best picture and acting nominations mostly stuck to advance predictions, it was the director field that provided the morning's biggest surprises.

Leading all films with a dozen nominations, however, was Lincoln, the Steven Spielberg-directed historical drama that was one of the major Oscar frontrunners heading into the announcement. Also performing well were a pair of novel adaptations—Ang Lee's Life of Pi (11 nominations) and David O. Russell's Silver Linings Playbook (8). Just behind those films was Ben Affleck's Argo (with 7 nominations, though none for Affleck himself), while the foreign film Amour (Love) scored an impressive five nominations. Another frontrunner, Zero Dark Thirty, received a much more disappointing five nominations, though it is included among the best picture nominees.

Listed below are this year's Academy Award nominees in all 24 categories.

And the nominees are...

Best Picture
Nominee Metascore   Nominee Metascore
Amour 93   Life of Pi 79
Argo 86   Lincoln 86
Beasts of the Southern Wild 86   Silver Linings Playbook 81
Django Unchained 81   Zero Dark Thirty 95
Les Miserables 63      

For the second straight year, the best picture field includes nine nominees, though the field looks pretty much as expected. The French-language drama Amour and indie Beasts of the Southern Wild are the most surprising entries on the list, with Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master 86 and Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom 84 being the most notable omissions. (And anyone hoping that Skyfall would sneak onto the Oscar list after it earned numerous BAFTA nominations had their hopes dashed.) All but one (Beasts) of these nine nominees are also contending for Golden Globe best picture trophies on Sunday night.

Unlike last year, however, every one of the best picture nominees has a green Metascore indicating positive reviews from critics. In fact, the combined average score of 83.3 for this year's group is a sizeable improvement over last year's 76.6, though it still falls just behind the impressive 84.5 average for the 2011 slate.

As they were heading into the morning, Lincoln, Les Miserables, Zero Dark Thirty, and Argo are the favorites to win this year's trophy among oddsmakers, with the latter three films trailing slightly behind Steven Spielberg's historical drama.

Michael Haneke

Ang Lee
Life of Pi

David O. Russell
Silver Linings Playbook
Steven Spielberg

Benh Zeitlin
Beasts of the Southern Wild

Now this is where things get interesting. Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow, the runaway leader in the best director race this year with 10 wins (and even more nominations) to date from various critic groups and industry organizations, failed to secure an Academy Award nomination despite winning the directing Oscar for her previous film, The Hurt Locker. Also notably absent is another frequent winner this year, Argo's Ben Affleck. And, as in the best picture race, Andersons Wes and Paul Thomas were shut out here. Quentin Tarantino, whose Django Unchained did receive a best picture nomination, continued his trend over the past month of getting ignored for major directing awards, making his absence (unfortunately) rather expected.

As someone once said, the Chinese word for "Oscar snub" also means "opportunity," and stepping into the void are Austrian director Michael Haneke (a first-time nominee) and newcomer Benh Zeitlin, whose Beasts of the Southern Wild represents not only his first Oscar nominations, but his first feature film. David O. Russell's Oscar hopes were somewhat in doubt earlier in the week when the director was omitted from the Directors Guild's list of DGA Award nominees, but he was nevertheless recognized by the Academy (and his inclusion here puts his film back in contention in the best picture race). In fact, three of the DGA nominees—Bigelow, Affleck, and Tom Hooper (Les Miserables)—failed to receive Oscar nominations, with only Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee receiving both honors.

With Bigelow out of the race, Spielberg becomes the favorite to win the award. The veteran filmmaker has two previous directing wins, for Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan.

Original Screenplay
Wes Anderson & Roman Coppola
Moonrise Kingdom
Mark Boal
Zero Dark Thirty

John Gatins

Michael Haneke

Quentin Tarantino
Django Unchained

Adapted Screenplay
Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Tony Kushner

David Magee
Life of Pi

David O. Russell
Silver Linings Playbook
Chris Terrio

While the adapted screenplay field matches most predictions, there were a few surprises among the original screenplay nominees. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the presence of John Gatins for Flight, a film that had not been receiving much buzz in this category over the past month of awards season. Michael Haneke's nomination here is also a bit of a surprise, given that the Academy rarely awards foreign-language films in the screenplay categories (though it did just last year, for A Separation). Rian Johnson's Looper script, as well as Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, are among the omissions in the original screenplay category, as both had been collecting numerous honors elsewhere.

It's hard to pick a favorite in either writing category; the Anderson/Coppola duo and Boal have been alternating victories over the past month in the original screenplay category, while Terrio, Kushner, and Russell also have multiple wins from other organizations under their belts this year. A victory for anyone outside of those names, however, would be an upset.

Lead Actress
Jessica Chastain
Zero Dark Thirty

Jennifer Lawrence
Silver Linings Playbook
Emmanuelle Riva

Quvenzhané Wallis
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Naomi Watts
The Impossible

Lead Actor
Bradley Cooper
Silver Linings Playbook
Daniel Day-Lewis

Hugh Jackman
Les Miserables

Joaquin Phoenix
The Master

Denzel Washington

Supporting Actress
Amy Adams
The Master
Sally Field
Anne Hathaway
Les Miserables
Helen Hunt
The Sessions
Jacki Weaver
Silver Linings Playbook
Supporting Actor
Alan Arkin

Robert De Niro
Silver Linings Playbook
Philip Seymour Hoffman
The Master
Tommy Lee Jones

Christoph Waltz
Django Unchained

While the writing categories deviated a bit from the expected script, the surprise here is that there are few major surprises in any of the acting categories. Jessica Chastain and Jennifer Lawrence are the twin favorites in a lead actress field that features the oldest (Emmanuelle Riva, who turns 86 on Oscar night) and youngest (Quvenzhané Wallis, 9) best actress nominees in Oscar history. (If there's an omission here, it is Marion Cotillard of Rust and Bone.) Meanwhile, despite a strong group of nominees, two-time winner Daniel Day-Lewis is the runaway favorite to win this year's best actor Oscar. Missing from the field is John Hawkes of The Sessions, whose co-star, Helen Hunt, did manage to get a supporting actress nomination.

The biggest surprise in that supporting actress field is the inclusion of Jacki Weaver, who has not been recognized by any other awards groups yet this year. Her presence means that Compliance star Ann Dowd's self-funded Oscar campaign did not pay off, while The Paperboy's Nicole Kidman could not reproduce her SAG Award and Golden Globe nominations. Regardless, the category is Anne Hathaway's to lose; the Les Mis co-star has been dominating the awards season so far. In the supporting actor category, while some experts suggested that Javier Bardem (Skyfall) could get the nod instead of De Niro, the slate doesn't really include any surprises. Nor does it really have an overwhelming favorite; each of the five nominees already has at least one Oscar at home.

Other Film Nominees
Animated Feature Metascore   Foreign-Language Film Metascore
Brave 69   Amour Austria 93
Frankenweenie 74   Kon-Tiki Norway  
ParaNorman 72   No Chile  
The Pirates! Band of Misfits 73   A Royal Affair Denmark 73
Wreck-It Ralph 73   War Witch Canada  
Documentary Feature Metascore   Documentary Short Subject
5 Broken Cameras 78   Inocente
The Gatekeepers 87   Kings Point
How to Survive a Plague 87   Mondays at Racine
The Invisible War 75   Open Heart
Searching for Sugar Man 79   Redemption
Short Film (Animated)   Short Film (Live Action)
Adam and Dog   Asad
Fresh Guacamole   Buzkashi Boys
Head over Heels   Curfew
Maggie Simpson in "The Longest Daycare"   Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)
Paperman   Henry

It wasn't the strongest year for animated films, which means that the same few titles have been coming up again and again in the various award announcements over the past month. Aardman Animations' The Pirates! Band of Misfits, however, has not been one of those names, which makes its nomination the most surprising in its category.

The foreign-language field, as is common, includes multiple films that have yet to open in the United States and thus are largely unfamiliar to American moviegoers. One film that has opened, of course, is Amour, which is the rare foreign-language nominee doing double duty as a best picture nominee. While that might seem to make it a favorite here, the foreign-language category is not one that can be easily predicted, and the Academy has a made a habit of not awarding the best-reviewed film in the group (though last year's winner, A Separation, does set a strong precedent for an Amour victory this year).

In the documentary field, the crowd-pleasing Searching for Sugar Man has been a big winner with other critic groups, while Bully is probably the most recognizable name among the films failing to secure a nomination.

Original Score
Mychael Danna
Life of Pi
Alexandre Desplat
Dario Marianelli
Anna Karenina
Thomas Newman
John Williams
Original Song
"Before My Time"
Chasing Ice

"Everybody Needs a Best Friend"
"Pi's Lullaby"
Life of Pi
Les Miserables

Composer John Williams is now up to 48 total career Academy Award nominations, though he hasn't won since 1993 (for Schindler's List). Contrast him with Mychael Danna, who is a first-time nominee. Desplat, Marianelli, and Newman have prior nominations, though only Marianelli has ever won an Oscar.

Actually, Danna is now a second-time nominee, too; he is also nominated as a co-writer for "Pi's Lullaby." Oscar host Seth MacFarlane is also among the nominees in the original song field, as a co-writer of "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from his summer comedy Ted. Also in that field are Billboard chart-topper Adele (for her Skyfall theme), and a new Les Mis tune written specifically for the film (i.e., specifically to get an Oscar nomination).

Technical Categories
Roger Deakins
Janusz Kaminski
Seamus McGarvey
Anna Karenina
Claudio Miranda
Life of Pi
Robert Richardson
Django Unchained
Costume Design
Anna Karenina

Les Miserables


Mirror Mirror

Snow White and the Huntsman
Film Editing
Argo Life of Pi Lincoln Silver Linings Playbook Zero Dark Thirty
Makeup and Hairstyling
Hitchcock The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Les Miserables
Production Design
Anna Karenina

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Les Miserables

Life of Pi


Sound Editing
Argo Django Unchained Life of Pi Skyfall Zero Dark Thirty
Sound Mixing
Argo Les Miserables
Life of Pi Lincoln Skyfall
Visual Effects
The Avengers

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Life of Pi


Snow White and the Huntsman

In the cinematography field, Anna Karenina's Seamus McGarvey is a somewhat surprising (though deserving) inclusion, probably taking the place of The Master's Mihai Malaimare Jr., who was probably the most notable omission (along, perhaps, with Zero Dark Thirty's Greig Fraser). And if the production design award stands out as unusual, note that the Academy labeled the field "art direction" prior to this year.

More coverage to come

Family Guy's Seth MacFarlane will host the 85th Annual Academy Awards ceremony, which will be broadcast live on ABC on Sunday, February 24th at 7:00p ET / 4:00p PT. In the weeks prior to the ceremony, we'll give you a chance to predict this year's winners, and then we'll compare your picks to those of dozens of critics and industry experts.

In the meantime, what do you think of this year's nominations? What did the Academy get right, and what films and performances did they overlook? Let us know in the comments section below, or check out our 2012 Film Awards Scorecard to see how the Academy's choices compare to numerous other awards handed out this year.

Comments (12)

  • Sweet_Old_Bob  

    I could be wrong about this (I probably am) but it's directors that select the nominations for directors, isn't it? Was this to ensure a win for Spielberg? Did the other directors highly favor Spielberg and were concerned that since the award goes to the voting by the entire membership that Zero Dark Thirty might get it over Lincoln? The other nominees were good, tho I'm not sure Zeitlen deserved a nomination for Beasts of the Southern Wild. I have no qualifications to vote or judge, but now it's easy to chose to vote for Spielberg since Bigelow isn't a choice. If she were, it would have been a tough choice.

  • WiscoJoe  

    "...a new Les Mis tune written specifically for the film (i.e., specifically to get an Oscar nomination)."

    True this song was written partially just to get a nom, but I have a feeling it was also specifically written (and placed in the movie) to give audiences a five-minute bathroom break at the midpoint of the story. I suspect when it's performed at the ceremony, it will serve the same function.

  • jsbraine  

    When three of the top five critically acclaimed movies of 2012 are not nominated, you clearly see the Oscars are an embarrassing joke. I won't be watching.

  • Sir_Brandon  

    The Oscars always have their surprises and snubs, but I feel like this year had quite a few more than usual. I really thought Affleck and Bigelow were guaranteed a nom especially after the DGA nominations.

    And John Hawkes was excellent in The Sessions and deserved a nom. I enjoyed Waltz in Django but I personlly would have rather seen DiCaprio or Samuel L. Jackson get it instead. And why not Javier Bardem?!! Give Bond some love Academy! But I was glad to see Joaquin Phonix get a Best Actor nom for The Master. I didn't care too much for the film, but there is no question Phoenix went to another level with his performance. I'm rooting for him come Oscar night.

  • ChuckPalantine  

    Sorry but I just want to be clear but those 4 asterisks I got was for Alfred...here we go **** HINT: Vertigo

  • ChuckPalantine  

    I don't even know why I bother posting. I ranted last year when these nominations came out. I went on about how Kubrick has only been nominated for special effects, and how **** never even won one. I went on about how Dances With Wolves beat out Goodfellas, and how Forrest Gump beat out Pulp Fiction (I love Forrest Gump by the way). But I'm just going to say that people with the last name Anderson should both have a best picture nod and a director nod. And someone named Paul Thomas Anderson should have an original writing nod. That's fine, but who is left out? BP: Les Miserables and Life of Pi. BD: Spielberg and David O. Russell. OW: John Gatins. My pretentious 2 cents: Amour and The Master will go down as the best films of the year (with The Master being the absolute best).

  • Critic2012  

    The Lead Actor category is going to be close with Hugh Jackman and Daniel Day-Lewis (both performances were outstanding). I hope Jennifer Lawrence wins... she's one of the best young female actresses today and deserves to be recognized. Wreck It Ralph gets my vote for best animated film- its wonderful. And Quentin Tarantino in the race for Best Original Screenplay is going to be tough to beat. Skyfall was a good song... almost typical though so I don't see what the hype is.

  • evergreenOldboy  

    I cannot in good conscience say that The Silver Linings Playbook is one of the best movies the film industry has to offer this year. While having great emotional impact, it very much lies to the audience by completely abandoning the issue at the heart of the movie (that is battling mental disorders) in favor of a happy ending. This is even more upsetting when you take into account that there are other movies that truly deserve the best picture nod, but don't even get any recognition at all (LOOPER).

  • sadrans  

    Cloud Atlas may not be a great film according to some critics, but its exclusion from visual effects, production design, makeup and costume awards is kind of a crime. Seriously, how was The Avengers' visual effects better than Cloud Atlas?

  • riddler645  

    It's great to see the Academy putting a foreign language film and a truly independent film as frontrunners for the Oscars. Here's hoping it will amount to something, but I'm pretty sure Silver Linings is going to be the upset . Damn Wiensteins.

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