"Lincoln" led the pack of Oscar nominees Thursday morning, picking up 12 nods, including one for Best Picture.
Director Steven Spielberg and stars Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones were among the historical drama's nominees, as was the screenplay by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner.
The film's strong showing seems to improve its chance of dominating the Oscars in several top categories, as does the snub of "Argo"s' Ben Affleck and "Zero Dark Thirty"s' Kathryn Bigelow in the Best Director category.
Bigelow and Affleck had been considered locks for their work on the two Middle East-set political thrillers, but were edged out by Michael Haneke ("Amour") and Benh Zeitlin ("Beasts of the Southern Wild") in a crowded field. In the case of Bigelow, the snub comes on the heels of the controversy surrounding "Zero Dark Thirty"s' depiction of torture as being a critical element in the killing of Osama bin Laden. "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty" did score Best Picture nominations, however.
Scoring the second most nominations was Ang Lee's 3D adventure "Life of Pi," which earned 11 nominations, including for Best Picture and Best Director.
Also coming on strong were "Silver Linings Playbook" and "Les Misérables," both of which earned 8 nominations including nods for Best Picture. Though David O. Russell scored a Best Director nod for "Silver Linings Playbook," Tom Hooper did not make the shortlist for his work on "Les Misérables."
Nine films in total were nominated for Best Picture, with the other contenders for the top prize consisting of "Amour," "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Django Unchained."
Other surprises included a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Jacki Weaver for her work as a supportive mother struggling with a mentally ill son in "Silver Linings Playbook" and Christoph Waltz, who scored a Best Supporting Actor nomination his portrayal of a bounty hunter in "Django Unchained."
In the Best Actor category, Day-Lewis will contend with Denzel Washington for his portrayal of an alcoholic pilot in "Flight," Bradley Cooper for his work as a bipolar man in "Silver Linings Playbook," Hugh Jackman for his all-singing performance in "Les Misérables" and Joaquin Phoenix for his role as a disturbed acolyte in "The Master."
Phoenix, who has shunned Oscar-campaigning, was not expected to make the short-list, and his inclusion may have come at the expense of John Hawkes, who was considered a front-runner for his work in the sex drama "The Sessions."
Vying for Best Actress will be Jennifer Lawrence for her role as a grieving widow in "Silver Linings Playbook," Jessica Chastain for her performance as a driven CIA analyst in "Zero Dark Thirty" and Naomi Watts as a mother struggling to survive a devastating tsunami. In a nice bit of symmetry, the category also includes Emmanuelle Riva ("Amour"), who at 85 becomes the oldest Best Actress nominee in history, and Quvenzhané Wallis ( "Beasts of the Southern Wild"), a nine-year-old, who will rank as the youngest Best Actress contender ever.