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The 10 Biggest Surprises of the 2013 Oscar Nominations

The 10 Biggest Surprises of the 2013 Oscar Nominations

The 2013 Oscar nominations are here! And they sure did come with some surprises. While “Lincoln” leading the lot with 12 nominations was not one of them, here are 10 things few people saw coming with respect to this morning’s big announcement:

1. The best director category. Absolutely nobody predicted the remarkable triple snub of Kathryn Bigelow, Ben Affleck and Tom Hooper (not to mention Quentin Tarantino) in the best director category. Arguably the most notable news among the entire Oscar nomination list (particuarly Bigelow and Affleck’s snubs, which likely left every Oscar prognosticator in the world’s mouth gaping for a good few minutes), the best director category consisted of the expected Steven Spielberg and Ang Lee, but they were joined by David O. Russell (minor surprise), Michael Haneke (minor surprise) and Benh Zeitlin (huge shocker). Not since “Driving Miss Daisy” has a film won best picture without a director nod, suggesting it’s “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings” or “Life of Pi” for the win?

2. A general rejection of both the DGA and SAG Awards as reliable Oscar predictors. The Directors Guild and Screen Actors Guild award nominations took a big hit in terms of their reliability at predicting the Oscar nominations.  With Bigelow, Affleck and Hooper out, only two (Lee and Spielberg) got both Oscar and DGA nominations.  They usually go for four for five, and only once six times in history have the winners not lined up (most recently in 2002 when Roman Polanski won the Oscar over Rob Marshall). As for the SAG Awards, only 14 of the SAG nominees got one of the 20 Oscar acting noms (the previous two years it was 17, while the year before that it was 19). Replacing the snubbed likes of John Hawkes, Marion Cotillard, Helen Mirren, Javier Bardem, Nicole Kidman and Maggie Smith (all SAG nominees) were Quvenzhané Wallis, Emmanuelle Riva, Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, Jacki Weaver and Christoph Waltz (over his “Django” co-star Leonardo DiCaprio). Weaver and Wallis both remarkably did so without SAG, Globe or BAFTA nominations.

3. Wallis and Riva both make the cut, this becoming the oldest and youngest best actress nominees ever. Riva and especially Wallis were not exactly sure things for the best actress category, and the idea of both of them nominated together seemed a long shot. But much to the chagrin of Marion Cotillard and Helen Mirren, this indeed ended up being the case (this Oscar prognosticator’s favorite part of all of the nominations).  What’s more, 85-year-old Riva (who turns 86 on Oscar night!) and 9-year-old Wallis are now the oldest and youngest best actress nominees of all time (Jackie Cooper still holds the record for the youngest Oscar nominee ever at age eight).

4. “The Intouchables” snubbed in best foreign language film. Riva’s “Amour” might have given French language film a huge boost with nominations for actress, picture, director, screenplay and foreign film (a truly impressive and deserved haul), pundits predicting it could actually lose the latter award to France’s submission “The Intouchables” (“Amour” was submitted by Austria) are officially mistaken: It didn’t even get nominated! Second to Bigelow and Affleck both being shut out, this was the morning’s most shocking omission. 

5. Joaquin Phoenix makes it after all… and it’s John Hawkes who’s out. There were six men vying for the five best actor slots, and only Daniel Day-Lewis seemed like an absolute lock. Most expected — given his SAG snub and public statements against Oscar campaigning — that Joaquin Phoenix would lose out for his work on “The Master.” But he deservedly made it in, though at the unfortunate expense of John Hawkes (personally, I would have much preferred Hugh Jackman or Bradley Cooper missing out).

6. Paul Thomas Anderson, on the other hand, is completely shut out. “The Master” might have managed to get all three acting nominations it was bidding for (like Phoenix, Amy Adams was shaky for her nod but pulled it off, while Phillip Seymour Hoffman expectedly got his as well), but that was it. No production design, no cinematography, no original score (what a shame, seriously), and nothing for Paul Thomas Anderson. Though nobody really expected him to pull of a best director nomination, he was much less expectedly snubbed for best original screenplay (in favor of “Flight,” which was a surprise inclusion).

7. Jacki Weaver sneaks in over Dench, Kidman, Dowd and Smith. While many folks predicted Riva, Wallis, Phoenix and Adams, the one Oscar acting nomination very few folks expected was Jacki Weaver’s in the best supporting actress category despite basically no mentions whatsoever from any of the precursors. She beat out Judi Dench (“Skyfall”), Nicole Kidman (“The Paperboy”), Ann Dowd (“Compliance”) and Maggie Smith (“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”), helping give “Silver Linings Playbook” an impressive quartet of acting nominations, the first film to get noms in all four acting categories since “Reds” over 30 years ago.

8. “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” gets a best animated feature nod. The animated feature race gave us four films most were pretty sure would pop up in “Brave,” “Frankenweenie,” “ParaNorman” and “Wreck-It-Ralph,” and then a fifth that no one saw coming: “The Pirates! Band of Misfits,” the Aardman Animations film that grossed only $31 million in North America (though it did find fairly positive reviews).  “Rise of the Guardians” was left out at its expense. Also of note in the animated short film race, “The Simpsons” got an Oscar nomination.

9. Seth MacFarlane, Oscar host and nominee. For co-writing the lyrics for the song “Everybody Needs a Best Friend,” Seth MacFarlane becomes the first Oscar host since, well, James Franco two years ago to be nominated and to serve as host in the same year. But unless starts a serious smear campaign against Adele, it’s unlikely that he’s going home with a trophy.

10. All this love for “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” but no nomination for best original score? Benh Zeitlin’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild” did extraordinarily well this morning, taking aforementioned nods for actress and director along with both best picture and best adapted screenplay. But what gives with the best original score snub? Zeitlin beautifully co-scored the film with Dan Romer, and to me it was the film’s most likely (and certainly one of its most potentially deserved) nominations. But instead, John Williams got his 48th Oscar nomination for “Lincoln.” As you were…

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i am still angry Mary Elizabeth Winstead wasn't nominated for SMASHED


I can't believe Jennifer Lawrence & Jessica Chastain have now two nominations while Cotillard, only one! The day Lawrence or Chastain deliver half of what Cotillard delivers in La vie en Rose, Nine or Rust & Bone CALL ME! It's so unfair! I'm so ashamed to be american right now! The whole world laugh at us thanks to the academy and their stupid choices! A freaking 9 years old girl !




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2000 – Gladiator won Best Picture, Soderbergh Best Director (for Traffic).

Salty Bill

Beasts Of The Southern Wild is a little overrated, methinks. Bigelow or Tarantino really deserved that Director's slot more than Zeitlin. Beasts certainly deserves an Independent Spirit Award, but not an Oscar.


You forgot to mention that it is also possible for Benh Zeitlin and Beasts to both win. This is a movie that took creative risks of the most extraordinary kind, (and at a low cost) and they paid off. I would argue that none of the other nominated movies took equivalent risks and were ordinary in comparison. If the academy has real courage they will give Zeitlin and Beasts both oscars.

Joe Bilancio

I do not understand the love for The Intouchables…it was pure fluff. I did not dis-like it, but given the other contenders it was certainly not of the caliber. It was not even the best film from France. The film that should have gotten the submission was Rust and Bone. While the Director snubs were shocking..John Hawkes not getting nominated was the biggest surprise.

Des Brown

Certainly an Oscar list full of surprises. No Tarantino or Afleck in the Best Director list.

I am thrilled that The Pirates! has been nominated for Best Animated Feature. The funniest movie I saw in 2012. Congratulations to Ardman. And no one was tipping it.

Les Miserables has no Best Director or Best Screenplay nomination, so it has almost no chance of winning Best Film

For a uniquely British perspective on the nominations and awards season, check out my blog at


The nomination of Benh Zeitlin a "huge surprise?" Beasts of the Southern Wild is an amazing film. Highly original. It looks and acts like no other film this year. Just the fact that Zeitlin got such brilliant performances out of the non-actors in the cast makes him worthy.


I thought Shakespeare in Love got it for movie, but Spielberg got the nod for "Saving Private Ryan" for director.

No 2 Kon

A little correction there for number 10, the very last sentence… This is John Williams´48th nomination!
Other than that – I am sooo happy both Chile and Norway got nominated. My two countries!


Justin Henry is actually the youngest nominee of all time (for KRAMER V. KRAMER)


I still can't get over a few of those nominations! The saddest is Marion Cotillard for me. She so deserved it. The biggest shocks is no noms for Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck. I also thought Quentin Tarantino would get in. No DiCaprio, while Christoph Waltz is nominated is kind of shocking too, they're equally great. Nom for Jackie Weaver is WTF moment, seriously? I also thought John Hawks was in, and it was between Phoenix and Jackman to miss. And I'm not surprised The Intouchables didn't make it, it was too easy film for AMPAS.


I was SHOCKED to see The Intouchables wasn't nominated. It was such a wonderful film, and it was in my 10 of 2012. Oh well, there were many shocks this year. Nothing we can do about it.

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