Suraj Sharma in a scene from the Academy Award best picture nominee 'Life of Pi.'(Photo: Peter Sorel, Twentieth Century Fox)
Political stumping and stage singing were the order of the day as The
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences handed down nominations for
the 85th annual Oscars.
Steven Spielberg's Lincoln led all
films with 12 nominations, including best picture, best director, best
actor for Daniel Day-Lewis and best supporting actress for Sally Field.
Ang Lee's adaptation Life of Pi
received 11 nominations, a surprise for some of the publicists and
media in attendance at the pre-dawn ceremony in Beverly Hills. Pi earned nominations for best director for Lee and best picture.
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saw a big morning and a surprising snub. The film earned eight
nominations, including best picture, actor for Hugh Jackman and
supporting actress for Anne Hathaway. But director Tom Hooper didn't
make the cut.
Among the snubs: Ben Affleck, who was considered a
front-runner for a best-director nomination, though his story of the
Iran hostage crisis Argo did collect seven nominations, including best picture.
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Surprise nominees included the elderly French love story Amour, which nabbed nominations for best picture, best director (Michael Haneke) and best actress (Emmanuelle Riva).
The low-budget bayou fairy tale Beasts of the Southern Wild
collected surprise nominations as well, including best picture, best
actress for Quvenzhané Wallis and best director for Benh Zeitlin.
The 85th annual show is scheduled for Feb. 24 on ABC.
nominations follow a strong year at the turnstiles for the industry,
which hit a record $10.8 billion in ticket sales in 2012.
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More importantly: Attendance at the cineplex spiked 5% over last year, increasing possible viewership.
Louis Giannetti, emeritus film professor at Case Western Reserve University and author of Understanding Movies, says the academy's selections represent a good-if-not-great year artistically for movies.
He says 2012 lacked "that one big film that everyone acknowledges is a masterpiece and is the overriding favorite."
the slate of movies, "I'd give it a B-plus," Giannetti says. "I'm not
sure we had a movie this year that just knocked your socks off."
flip side, he says, is that without a heavyweight, the match-ups could
be riveting. Oscar hasn't seen an upset for best picture since 2006,
when Crash upset Brokeback Mountain.
Although films like Lincoln, Les Misérables and Argo have
been scoring well with smaller film circles, "there is really no
front-runner for Oscar," he says. "Even the director's race is up for