Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and though lots of the slots went to the expected titles — Gravity, American Hustle and 12 Years A Slave led the pack — there were certainly some surprises.
Pre-nomination favorites for the acting awards included Tom Hanks as the skipper of a commercial freighter in Captain Phillips, Emma Thompson as the creator of Mary Poppins in Saving Mr. Banks, Oprah Winfrey as the wife of the title character in The Butler, and Robert Redford in a shipwrecked (and largely wordless) performance in All Is Lost.
What do all these critically acclaimed performances now have in common? Not one of them was nominated. NPR's Bob Mondello joins All Things Considered host Audie Cornish to talk about the surprises — and the no-brainers.
Among his takeaways: "If I were an actor, and I got a call from David O. Russell right now, I'd take it." His drama American Hustle, after all, pulled off another impressive feat in the acting awards, earning nominations in all four acting categories — just as his Silver Linings Playbook did last year.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and there were some surprises. Now, pre-nomination favorites for acting awards included Tom Hanks as the skipper of a commercial freighter in "Captain Phillips."
(SOUNDBITE FROM FILM "CAPTAIN PHILLIPS")
TOM HANKS: (As Captain Phillips) We have been boarded by four armed pirates.
CORNISH: Emma Thompson as the author of "Mary Poppins" in "Saving Mr. Banks."
(SOUNDBITE FROM FILM "SAVING MR. BANKS")
EMMA THOMPSON: (As P.L. Travers) I won't have had time to do one of your silly cartoons.
CORNISH: Oprah Winfrey as the wife of the title character in "The Butler."
(SOUNDBITE FROM FILM "THE BUTLER")
OPRAH WINFREY: (As Gloria Gaines) Everything you are, and everything you have, is because of that butler.
CORNISH: And Robert Redford in a shipwrecked and largely wordless performance in "All Is Lost." So what do all these critically acclaimed performances now have in common? Not one of them was nominated. NPR movie critic Bob Mondello joins us now and Bob, let's go through the actual nominees for a few of the big awards. Who got nods?
BOB MONDELLO, BYLINE: OK. Well, let's start with Best Picture. There were nine nominees, and three of them are considered front-runners - "American Hustle" and "Gravity," each of which got 10 nominations; and "12 Years a Slave," with nine. The AIDS drama "Dallas Buyers Club," the piracy thriller "Captain Phillips" and the father-son comedy "Nebraska" all got six nominations each; followed by Martin Scorsese's "Wolf of Wall Street" and Spike Jones' computer romance "Her," with five; and the British drama "Philomena" rounded out that category with four nominations.
CORNISH: So lots of great choices there. But people are still focused on the snubs. What got left out?
MONDELLO: Well, a lot of people thought that the Coen Brothers' folk music story "Inside Llewyn Davis" would be a Best Picture contender, but it was barely mentioned. It did no better than "The Lone Ranger," and nobody liked that one. "Saving Mr. Banks" was also widely mentioned, though I didn't like it much. And personally, I'd love it if a foreign film like Iran's "The Past" got nominated.
If you look at the Oscars, you'd think that, you know, American pictures were the only thing in the world, and they really aren't.
CORNISH: All right. Well, let's talk about directors because while there are nine nominees for Best Picture, there are only five nominees for Best Director: Alfonso Cuaron, for "Gravity", Steve McQueen, for "12 Years A Slave"; Martin Scorsese, for "Wolf of Wall Street"; David O. Russell, for "American Hustle"; and Alexander Payne, for "Nebraska."
I mean, there's no nominations here for "Captain Phillips" or "Her" or "Dallas Buyers Club."
MONDELLO: I think the Academy voters might argue that those films are all dominated by performances, rather than directing flash. I have to say if I were an actor and got call from David O. Russell right now, I would take it. Last year, it was considered quite a hat trick when his "Silver Linings Playbook" got nominated in all four acting categories; first time that had happened in like, two decades. And now he's done the hat trick twice, two years in a row. [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: The expression "hat trick" - which refers to achievements based on threes - is misused here.]
His "American Hustle" got nominated for Best Actor, Christian Bale; Best Actress, Amy Adams; Best Supporting Actor, Bradley Cooper; and Best Supporting Actress, Jennifer Lawrence. It's really impressive.
CORNISH: All right. But any other takeaways from the acting categories?
MONDELLO: Well, body sculpting matters for men. Jared Leto and Matthew McConaughey both lost dozens of pounds for the AIDS drama "Dallas Buyers Club," and Christian Bale gained a couple of dozen for "American Hustle," and all of them got nominated.
Let's see. Oh, getting lost at sea doesn't seem to be a good career move.
MONDELLO: And getting lost in space is a good one. And just being Meryl Streep seems to be the best career move of all. "August: Osage County" marks her 18th nomination.
AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:
Now, were there any other categories that caught your eye?
MONDELLO: Yes, one man. Roger Deakins, who's been nominated 10 times for Best Cinematographer, got nominated again for "Prisoners," and for the 11th time he's going to lose because "Gravity" is going to mop up. But man, can this guy make darkness gleam. He shot "The Shawshank Redemption" and the James Bond film "Skyfall," and a whole bunch of those Coen brother movies. He's amazing.
CORNISH: All right, so now what happens? The Oscar telecast is still six weeks away, right? Sunday, March 2nd.
MONDELLO: That's right. There will presumably be fierce campaigning, much arguing about whether the based-on-reality films actually get reality right - as if that mattered. And then about five weeks from now, the 6,000 or so members of the Motion Picture Academy will vote and an awful lot of folks will have to learn to just - can I do a sound cue here? In the words of a nominee for Best Song...
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET IT GO")
IDINA MENZEL: (As Elsa) (Singing) Let it go. Let it go...
CORNISH: That's NPR's Bob Mondello. Bob, thanks so much.
MONDELLO: It's always a pleasure.
MENZEL: (As Elsa) (Singing) Let it go. Let it go. You'll never see me cry. Here I stand... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.