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Lincoln dominates Oscar list short on Brits

A day after the British Film Academy surprised the film world by putting Lincoln at the top of its list but snubbing the director Steven Spielberg himself, its American counterpart – the awards giving body that everyone is most eager to please – has included Spielberg on its shortlist for Best Director – an award he’s won twice before – leaving his eponymous presidential biopic clear at the top of the pile, with twelve nominations.

Ang Lee’s production of the supposedly unfilmable Booker-prize-winning novel Life of Pi is next with eleven nominations, followed by Les Miserables and Silver Linings Playbook with eight and Argo with seven.

In an unusually low profile year for British film-making talent, industry watchers in the UK will be pinning their hopes on Daniel Day-Lewis, for his lead role in Lincoln. He faces competition from Australia’s Hugh Jackman, for the British production of Les Miserables, Bradley Cooper for Silver Linings Playbook, Joaquin Phoenix for The Master and Denzel Washington for Flight.

With Les Miserables’ director Tom Hooper missing out on a nod, the only other British interest in the categories that people follow are Aardman’s animated Pirates! film and Adele’s title song from Skyfall, a film largely ignored, despite hopes that it might have been the first Bond film to feature on a Best Picture list. The franchise will, at least, be getting a mention on Oscar night, in the form of a tribute to celebrate its fiftieth birthday.

In the acting categories, it was Silver Linings Playbook that dominated, becoming the first film to secure a nomination for all four awards for three decades, with Jennifer Lawrence up for Best Actress and Robert De Niro and Jacki Weaver nominated in the supporting categories.

The supporting categories are particularly strong with all the men having won Oscars before; alongside De Niro is Argo’s Alan Arkin, Lincoln’s Tommy Lee Jones, Philip Seymour Hoffman in The Master and Django Unchained’s Christoph Waltz.

The 2013 shortlist will be seen as a year remembered as much for its omissions as for those included, with previous front-runner Ben Affleck – yesterday nominated by BAFTA for his directing and acting in Argo – being completely overlooked by the American Academy here in Los Angeles, while Kathryn Bigelow has also missed out for Zero Dark Thirty. The pair, who’ve been recognised by most other awarding bodies, see their places at the Oscars going to Michael Haneke, for his Palme d’Or winning Amour and Benh Zeitlin, whose low-key Sundance winner Beasts of the Southern Wild is the unforeseen success; it has four nominations, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Actress for Quvenzhané Wallis, who was just six years old when she took the part. The youngest nominee will be up against the oldest, Emmanuelle Riva, the veteran French actress, for Amour, which took a total of five nominations; as well as Best Actress, it’s also up for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay and Best Foreign Film – it was submitted as an Austrian film, so as not to find itself up against competition from this year’s other strong French contenders, Untouchable and Rust and Bone, both of which were nominated by BAFTA and the Golden Globes, but neither of which will feature at the Oscars.

More than in previous years, the Oscar shortlist strays from its rivals, with many awards season favourites – honoured elsewhere – failing to make the cut. Some commentators put this down to the earliest ever date for their release, to ensure that voters aren’t influenced by their rivals. But whether or not the Academy’s six thousand voters were thinking more independently this year than normal and whether their nominees are in-line with others or not, it will always be the Oscars that film-makers crave and the audiences and industry follow, so perhaps it will be other awards giving bodies that will have to modify their own choices in anticipation of the Academy’s shift towards art-house over box office, if they want to remain relevant to the Oscar debate.

THE FULL LIST OF 2013 OSCAR NOMINEES:

Best film

Best actress

Best actor

Best director

Best supporting actor

Best supporting actress

Best foreign film

Best animated film

Best documentary film

Music (original song)

Music (original score)

Adapted screenplay

Original screenplay

Cinematography

Costume Design

Best documentary short subject

Film editing

Make-up and Hairstyling

Production Design

Short film (animated)

Short film (live action)

Sound editing

Sound mixing

Visual effects

 

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