Astronauts, con artists and pirates compete for top prizes
Con artists of the 1970s, 19th-Century slaves and a brave, stranded astronaut will compete for the top Oscars this year, with three markedly different movies all nominated for multiple Academy Awards.
'American Hustle' and 'Gravity' lead the pack with 10 nominations each -- but '12 Years a Slave', with nine nominations, will be considered a favourite for the Best Picture Oscar with a Golden Globe for Best Picture in the drama category already secured.
In all, nine films were nominated for Best Picture yesterday, including the Somali pirate drama 'Captain Phillips', the biographical drama 'Dallas Buyers Club', and 'Her', which ticks many boxes as a sci-fi romantic comedy-drama. The indie drama 'Nebraska', Steve Coogan's 'Philomena', and Martin Scorsese's controversial 'The Wolf of Wall Street' complete the list.
Christian Bale ('Hustle') and Chiwetel Ejiofor ('12 Years') were named in the Best Actor category, though they will face stiff opposition from Globe-winner Matthew McConaughey. He lost almost 50lbs in weight to play AIDS victim Ron Woodroof in 'Dallas Buyers Club'.
Cate Blanchett is tipped to win Best Actress. Blanchett remains runaway favourite for her performance as a fraying, alcoholic divorcee in Woody Allen's 'Blue Jasmine'. Among the best director nominees are Alfonso Cuaron ('Gravity'), Martin Scorsese ('Wolf of Wall Street'), Alexander Payne ('Nebraska') and David O Russell ('American Hustle').
It's Russell's third nomination in four years, following nods for 2010's 'The Fighter' and 'Silver Linings Playbook' (2012). And, like the latter, 'American Hustle' achieves the rare feat of fielding nominees in all four acting categories -- with Amy Adams (Best Actress), Bradley Cooper (Best Supporting Actor) and Jennifer Lawrence (Best Supporting Actress) joining Bale on the shortlists.
Academy favourites the Coen brothers were not so fortunate this year, with their acclaimed portrait of the early 1960s New York folk scene, 'Inside Llewyn Davis', locked out of the major Oscar categories. The film was nominated for Best Cinematography and Sound Mixing.
Veteran nominee Tom Hanks unexpectedly missed out on acting nods for 'Captain Phillips' and 'Saving Mr Banks', while Oprah Winfrey's much-heralded return to the big screen in 'The Butler' failed to secure her a Best Supporting Actress nomination. But that category does include Lupita Nyong'o who put in a searing performance in '12 Years a Slave', her first film role.
And while Hanks may have missed out, his 'Captain Phillips' co-star Barkhad Abdi was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his turn as a Somali pirate. Abdi, who was born in Mogadishu and brought up in Minnesota, had never acted before.
Also enjoying her first Oscar nomination in the supporting category is Sally Hawkins for 'Blue Jasmine'. Hawkins' fellow Brit Roger Deakins garnered his 11th nomination in the Best Cinematography category for 'Prisoners'. He has never won. (© Independent News Service)