The Nomination Morning for the Oscars (for those that follow it with any interest, of course) are always a mix of excitement and disappointment. There will always be surprises; if good or bad, it depends on how you feel about each particular case.
Here’s the full list of nominees, from the AMPAS website. In a year this good, it would be simply impossible to recognize everything and everybody without expanding the field (which was what the ASC did but, case in point, the Academy did not, leaving out the excellent work of Sean Bobbitt in 12 Years a Slave. That, likely, opened up space for the work of Philippe Le Sourd in The Grandmaster, making it hard to begrudge.)
Many of the surprises came from the acting categories: Tom Hanks’ (in Captain Phillips) and particularly Robert Redford’s (in All Is Lost) absences are hard to swallow, but who should have been left out, then? I certainly can’t say, and in fact the pill was sweetened by the presence of Leonardo DiCaprio (in The Wolf of Wall Street), probably the best acting by a man this year.
The absence of Emma Thompson (in Saving Mr. Banks) doesn’t sting so much (the character required just one note for most of the film, no matter how well-played that note was); I would have loved to see the work of Adèle Exarchopoulos recognized, but that was, sadly, a rather long shot in the first place.
The one missing nomination that truly hurt was Stories We Tell; Fruitvale Station (for anything, really; there were many aspects of it that were really deserving, from the writing to the acting) would be a close second. By the other hand, not being a fan of The Butler, I was almost relieved to not see it at all.
The big picture suggests that American Hustle is the frontrunner (most nominations, strong presence in the acting categories), but one year ago I said the same about Silver Linings Playbook, which didn’t turn out all that well. However, with seven out of the nine Best Picture nominees being films I truly appreciate (which is not to say I don’t have one favorite in the race; more on that in a future column), it’s hard to not be, in a general sense, satisfied with the list I read this morning.