‘American Hustle,’ ‘Gravity’ lead Academy Award race

Oscar Nominations
“American Hustle” was nominated for 10 awards, including an Academy Award for best picture. (Courtesy of AP)

It’s not often that we see some of Hollywood’s finest awake before the rooster, but in the early hours of Thursday, Jan. 16, not a restful eye was seen as actor Chris Hemsworth and Academy President Cheryl Boone Isaacs announced the nominations for the 86th Annual Academy Awards, the movie industry’s most prestigious trophy.

David O’Russell’s star-studded crime comedy “American Hustle” and Alfonso Cuaron’s visually pioneering “Gravity” scored the most nominations with 10 a piece while Steve McQueen’s gripping “12 Years A Slave” was a close second with nine. All three films are up for the Oscar’s biggest award, Best Picture, along with “Philomena,” “Dallas Buyer’s Club,” “Captain Phillips,” “Her,” “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and “Nebraska.”

Oscar-commonplaces like Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Leonardo DiCaprio each scored acting nominations. Streep and Roberts were nominated for their work in “August: Osage County” and DiCaprio for his turn as a slimy wall-street executive in “Wolf of Wall Street.” 23-year-old Jennifer Lawrence is looking to repeat last year’s Academy Award win for Best Actress with a Supporting Actress trophy for her unforgettable role as Rosalyn in “American Hustle.” If Lawrence were to take home the Oscar, the young starlet would be joining a small list of actresses who’ve done so, including the likes of Audrey Hepburn.

While familiar names pepper the nomination list, a slue of newcomers earned their first nominations as well, most notable being “12 Years A Slave” actress Lupita Nyong’o. Nyong’o was discovered out of Yale’s storied theater department and made her first film appearance in “12 Years a Slave.” While Nyong’o was an early front-runner for the supporting actress awards, Jennifer Lawrence’s Golden Globe win over the actress has made the race neck-and-neck. Other newcomers include Sally Hawkins for her supporting work in “Blue Jasmine” and Nyong’o’s castmate Chiwetel Ejiofor for his starring role in “12 Years a Slave.”

Matthew McConaughey continues his career renaissance with a Lead Actor nomination for his work in “Dallas Buyer’s Club.” McConaughey, a former rom-com mainstay, lost more than 40 pounds for the role of HIV-positive Ron Woodroof. McConaughey will need to beat DiCaprio to pick up his first Oscar, but the same can’t be said for McConaughey’s costar Jared Leto. Leto will more than likely pick up the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his work in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

As with all Academy Award nominations, this year featured a fair share of snubs. Oprah Winfrey, arguably the most powerful woman in media, didn’t get an expected nomination for her work in Lee Daniels’ “The Butler.” In fact, Daniels’ film was snubbed all together. Robert Redford, who was leading most Oscar predictions for Best Lead Actor, also got snubbed for his work in “All is Lost.” Tom Hanks was snubbed twice, one for his work in “Captain Phillips” and again for his turn as Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks.” Hanks’ “Saving Mr. Banks” costar Emma Thompson also failed to make the Academy Award cut for her work in the film.

However, the most interesting omission comes from the animated film category as Pixar’s “Monster’s University” failed to score a nomination for Best Animated Film. Pixar has won nine Oscars for its animated work since the category’s induction in 2002. However, the Disney camp can remain calm as the winter box-office juggernaut “Frozen” is slated to pick up this year’s trophy.

For a complete list of nominations, visit oscars.org.

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