Kathryn Bigelow's best director snub suggests Hollywood wants no part of the political controversy over torture SLIDE SHOW
Topics: slideshow, Movies, Academy Awards, Oscars, Movie Awards Season, Zero Dark Thirty, Lincoln, django unchained, amour, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Editor's Picks, Oscar snubs, Kathryn Bigelow, Entertainment News
On one hand, it sure looks as if Hollywood is getting skittish about “Zero Dark Thirty” and the continuing political controversy around its portrayal of torture and links to the CIA. As expected, the film was among the nine best-picture nominees in Thursday morning’s Academy announcements. But Kathryn Bigelow was denied a best-director nomination in a category many (myself included) thought she might well win.
If Bigelow’s omission was the biggest surprise of this morning’s announcements, it wasn’t the only one. Ben Affleck was denied a directing nomination for his Iran-hostage drama “Argo,” and Tom Hooper, who won the directing prize two years ago for “The King’s Speech,” was similarly rejected for “Les Misérables.” Also missing from the directing category was Quentin Tarantino of the bloody slave-revenge western “Django Unchained,” but that’s arguably less of a surprise given the academy’s traditional allergy to any and all material tinged with racial controversy. (Consider the fate of “The Help” in last year’s Oscar season.) All three films were nominated within the promiscuous best-picture category, but are now far less likely to be regarded as serious contenders.
But we can also choose to view what happened this morning as an embrace rather than a set of rejections. Once again the academy has skewed in a more adventurous and indie-friendly direction than most observers expected. Both the riveting old-age drama “Amour” and the magical-realist bayou allegory “Beasts of the Southern Wild” were nominated for best picture, and their creators – severe Austrian genius Michael Haneke and first-time New Orleans filmmaker Benh Zeitlin – were both nominated for best director. If the first outcome is not an enormous surprise, the second one definitely is. Personally, I never imagined I’d see the Oscars honor Haneke, one of the most rigorous and demanding cinema artists of our time, and I’ll gladly trade Bigelow, Affleck and anybody else for that.
This year’s Oscar nominations also feature the oldest best-actress nominee in history (Emmanuelle Riva of “Amour,” who is 85) and the youngest (Quvenzhané Wallis of “Beasts,” who is now 9 – but was 6 when most of the film was shot). Neither is likely to win, in a category that’s expected to be a close race between Jennifer Lawrence of “Silver Linings Playbook” and Jessica Chastain of “Zero Dark Thirty.” Similarly, every man nominated in the best-actor category who isn’t named Daniel Day-Lewis – for the record, they were Bradley Cooper, Hugh Jackman, Joaquin Phoenix and Denzel Washington — is likely to remain an afterthought.
If we assume that neither “Beasts” nor “Amour” is a likely best-picture winner, and further assume that the directing category offers the best guide to what will actually win (as is usually the case), then this year’s Oscar race sets up as a three-way battle between “Lincoln,” Ang Lee’s 3-D CGI fantasy “Life of Pi” (which garnered 11 nominations overall), and David O. Russell’s realist rom-com “Silver Linings Playbook,” which was nominated in every major category. To put it mildly, “Lincoln” is the overwhelming favorite. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Day-Lewis, Steven Spielberg, writer Tony Kushner, supporting actor Tommy Lee Jones and the film itself sweep the big awards on Oscar night. (Sally Field is perhaps an underdog for supporting actress, given the consensus that Anne Hathaway’s rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” in “Les Miz” has guaranteed her a statuette.)
If there were no other snubs as notable as those of Bigelow, Tarantino and Affleck, there were plenty of other big names and prominent films that went unmentioned. Wes Anderson’s gorgeous and charming “Moonrise Kingdom” was denied any major nominations, which is really too bad. Many people thought that John Hawkes would be nominated for his role as a severly disabled man seeking to lose his virginity in “The Sessions,” but the mild-mannered film underperformed at the box office. Previous best-actress winner Marion Cotillard probably deserved a nomination for her role in Jacques Audiard’s “Rust and Bone” – but perhaps “Amour” was enough French film for this year.
Leonardo DiCaprio got no supporting nod for his role as a nefarious slaveowner in “Django Unchained,” and Matthew McConaughey – recently honored by the New York Film Critics Circle for his winning role as captain to a team of male strippers in “Magic Mike” – also found no love from Oscar. There was a last-minute push to get a best-picture slot for “Skyfall,” which is the highest-grossing James Bond film of all time, in a year when the academy plans a special presentation to honor the long-running franchise. But even with only nine of the potential 10 nominations filled, it didn’t happen.
Oscar nominations: Actorsclose X
- 1 of 21
- Best Actor: Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook" (The Weinstein Company)
- Best Actor: Denzel Washington, “Flight" (ImageMovers, Paramount Pictures)
- Best Actor: Hugh Jackman, "Les Miserables" (Working Title Films)
- Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln” (DreamWorks Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox)
- Best Actor: Joaquin Phoenix, “The Master” (The Weinstein Company)
- Best Supporting Actor: Robert DeNiro, "Silver Linings Playbook" (The Weinstein Company)
- Best Supporting Actor: Alan Arkin, "Argo" (Warner Bros. Pictures)
- Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained" (The Weinstein Company)
- Best Supporting Actor: Philip Seymour Hoffman, “The Master” (The Weinstein Company)
- Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones, “Lincoln” (DreamWorks Pictures, Twentieth Century Fox)
- Best Actress: Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty" (Columbia Pictures)
- Best Actress: Naomi Watts, “The Impossible” (Summit Entertainment, Telecinco Cinema)
- Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook" (The Weinstein Company)
- Best Actress: Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour" (Canal+)
- Best Actress: Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
- Best Supporting Actress: Amy Adams, "The Master" (The Weinstein Company)
- Best Supporting Actress: Helen Hunt, "The Sessions" (Fox Searchlight Pictures)
- Best Supporting Actress: Sally Field, "Lincoln" (DreamWorks)
- Best Supporting Actress: Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook" (The Weinstein Company)
- Best Supporting Actress: Anne Hathaway, "Les Miserables" (Working Title Films, Universal Pictures)
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 21
Oscar nominations: Best Pictureclose X
- 1 of 10
- "Argo" (AP Photo/Warner Bros., Claire Folger)
- "Silver Linings Playbook" (The Weinstein Company)
- "Lincoln" (AP Photo/DreamWorks and Twentieth Century Fox, David James)
- "Django Unchained" (The Weinstein Company)
- "Les Miserables" (AP Photo/Universal Pictures, Laurie Sparham)
- "Amour" (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Classics, File)
- "Beasts of the Southern Wild" (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight Pictures, Jess Pinkham)
- "Life of Pi" (AP Photo/20th Century Fox)
- "Zero Dark Thirty" (AP Photo/Sony - Columbia Pictures, Jonathan Olley)
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 10
More Related Stories
- "Girls Gone Wild" creator Joe Francis to jury: "You should be euthanized"
- Ai Weiwei releases heavy metal music video
- Actually, Beyoncé is a feminist
- Marc Maron and Michael Ian Black's epic Twitter battle
- Cannes: Directing 101 with James Franco
- Welcome to the jungle: The definitive oral history of '80s metal
- Burt Bacharach opens up on daughter's suicide
- Steven Spielberg to produce "Halo" television series
- Amazon set to launch fine-art gallery
- Twitter torches Dan Brown's "Inferno"
- Brad Pitt keeps breaking his silence on how boring marriage to Jennifer Aniston was
- Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac" to use porn star body doubles
- New Beyoncé single leaked
- The sweet, sure to be short-lived "The Goodwin Games"
- Damon Lindelof admits barely-clothed scene in "Star Trek" was "gratuitous"
- Justin Timberlake: I'm a mediocre folk singer!
- Ray Manzarek, founding member of The Doors, dies at 74
- Beware of book blurbs
- Did a Salon excerpt ruin Penn Jillette's chance to win "Celebrity Apprentice"?
- Zach Galifianakis to take formerly homeless woman to "Hangover 3" premiere
- Seth MacFarlane will not host Oscars again
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11