Oscar ‘Best Picture’ surprise nominations

When the Oscar nominations were announced on Thursday, Jan. 16, thousands were eagerly awaiting to see who made the cut and who was snubbed.

Like most years, there were sure things and a few surprises along the way.

Perhaps the biggest surprise came when the nominations for Best Actor were announced. Regardless of the outcome, someone was going to brutally lose out. This year included some outstanding performances by leading men, and with only five spots, it was really anyone’s game.

Of course, there were sure things, such as Bruce Dern for “Nebraska” and Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club.” Leonardo DiCaprio managed to sneak in for his dizzying portrayal in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and Chiwetel Ejiofor was no surprise for “12 Years a Slave.” The coveted fifth spot seemed to belong to Tom Hanks or iconic cinema star Robert Redford. However, both famous actors were shut out in favor of honoring Christian Bale for his leading turn in “American Hustle.”

Bale’s nomination was the first in series of nods for David O. Russell’s newest film, which include Amy Adams for Best Actress, Jennifer Lawrence for Best Supporting Actress, Russell for Best Director and Bradley Cooper for Best Supporting Actor. A strong showing in the nomination field, plus a pivotal win at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, catapults “Hustle” to the front of the list to win another coveted award for which it is nominated for: Best Picture.

Each year there is a possibility of having 10 Best Picture nominations, and this year we got nine. Some were completely expected: “American Hustle,” “12 Years a Slave,” “Her,” “The Wolf of Wall Street” and “Gravity.” A few others, however, came as a bit of surprise: “Captain Phillips,” “Nebraska” and “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Perhaps the most shocking — but entirely deserved — nomination was “Philomena,” claiming the ninth spot. The charming movie, led by Best Actress nominee Judi Dench, has one of the most original and powerful stories of the year. Clearly the Academy has taken note of just how important this film is.

Some categories this year have very little competition. Despite fierce performances from all of the ladies in the category of Best Actress (Amy Adams, Meryl Streep, Judi Dench and Sandra Bullock), this one is Cate Blanchett’s to lose. Blanchett played the powerful leading role in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine,” and has been the frontrunner since the movie premiered early last summer.

The Oscar nominations shock and deliver. (AP Photo)
The Oscar nominations shock and deliver. (AP Photo)

The Best Supporting Actor field also includes a sure-thing frontrunner: Jared Leto, for his emotional portrayal of an AIDS-positive transgender woman. Despite strong showing from Jonah Hill (“The Wolf of Wall Street”) and Michael Fassbender (“12 Years a Slave”), Leto has this one on lockdown.

For more Oscar news, including an in-depth analysis of every major category, be sure to check out my weekly blog at tcnjsignal.net.