“Gravity,” “American Hustle” and “12 Years a Slave” will face off against one another at the 86th Annual Academy Awards this year.
Nominations for Hollywood’s highest honor were announced in the wee hours of Thursday, and along with those three, buzzed about productions, it was a very good morning for “Wolf of Wall Street.” The Martin Scorsese picture about a stock fraudster has been the subject of controversy, with critics claiming it glamorizes immorality, but it managed to score nominations for best picture, director and acting nods for Leonardo DiCaprio and Jonah Hill.
See Photos: Oscar Nominees in Pictures
In terms of bragging rights, “Gravity” and “American Hustle” lead the pack with 10 nominations apiece, followed closely behind by “12 Years a Slave” with nine nominations.
Among the nine films vying for best picture will be “Her,” “Captain Phillips,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena” and “Dallas Buyers Club.”
In addition to Scorsese, best director will be a race between “12 Years a Slave’s” Steve McQueen, “Gravity’s” Alfonso Cuaron, “Nebraska’s” Alexander Payne” and “American Hustle’s” David O. Russell. Paul Greengrass was widely expected to earn inclusion in that list for his work overseeing “Captain Phillips,” but did not make the final cut.
Also read: Oscar Nominations: The Complete List
There was also a bit of history-making on display. For the second year in a row, “American Hustle’s” Russell directed a picture that scored acting nominations in all four acting categories — earning nods for Christian Bale (best actor), Amy Adams (best actress), Bradley Cooper (best supporting actor) and Jennifer Lawrence (best supporting actress). The director’s “Silver Linings Playbook” achieved that milestone last year.
This has been one of the most competitive Oscar races in recent memory, with no clear front-runner emerging from the early awards shows.
Nowhere was the intensity of the race more pronounced than in the best actor category, where DiCaprio’s pilfering stock broker will head off against Bruce Dern’s aging midwesterner in “Nebraska,” Bale’s con man in “American Hustle,” Chiwetel Ejiofor’s wrongfully enslaved man in “12 Years a Slave” and Matthew McConaughey’s AIDS activist in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Among the omissions in that category were Tom Hanks and Robert Redford, who earned some of the strongest reviews of their careers for their performances in “Captain Phillips” and “All is Lost,” but were passed over by Oscars voters.
Also among the snubbed were Oprah Winfrey, who was shut out of the best supporting actress race for her work as an alcoholic housewife in “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” and Emma Thompson, who had factored into the early best actress races for portraying brittle Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers in “Saving Mr. Banks.”
Winfrey wasn’t the only casualty from the Civil Rights drama. Despite an intense awards campaign and a strong showing at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” was shut out entirely from the race.
There were happy surprises, as well. Among them, Bale, whose comb-over earned him a slot in the best actor race for “American Hustle,” and Sally Hawkins, who shouldered her way into the best supporting actress contest for her performance as the bubbly sister of Cate Blanchett in “Blue Jasmine.”
Blanchett is the favorite to earn her second acting Oscar this year for playing a demented former trophy wife in “Blue Jasmine.” She will square off in the best actress contest against Sandra Bullock’s grieving astronaut in “Gravity,” Meryl Streep’s pill-popping matriarch in “August: Osage County,” Adams’ classy crook in “American Hustle” and Judi Dench’s mother on a quest in “Philomena.”
Hawkins will compete against “Hustle’s” Lawrence, newcomer Lupita Nyong’o in “12 Years a Slave,” Julia Roberts as Streep’s daughter in “August: Osage County” and June Squibb as Dern’s fed-up wife in “Nebraska.”
On the male supporting acting side, Cooper will compete against “Captain Phillips” hijacker Barkhad Abdi, Michael Fassbender’s rage-filled plantation owner in “12 Years a Slave,” Hill in “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Jared Leto’s cross-dressing AIDS patient in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
The awards will be handed out during the Oscars telecast on March 2.