"Ben Affleck got robbed."
That's what newly minted Oscar nominee Bradley Cooper said on Thursday's Today show after the Argo director was shockingly left off the Best Director lineup. Cooper isn't the only one who feels that way, nor is Affleck the only major shocker of Thursday's Oscar nominations. Here are our top surprises and snubs:
Lincoln leads Oscar nominations
Silver Linings Playbook: How much did the Academy love SLP? It's the first film since 1981's Reds and 14th overall to land nominations in picture, director, screenplay and all four acting categories. And just like that, combined with directing snubs for previously perceived front-runners Zero Dark Thirty and Argo (see below), David O. Russell's dramedy has repositioned itself in the No. 2 spot behind Lincoln. And Harvey Weinstein, once again, has the last laugh.
Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhane Wallis: The critical darlings lost some momentum when they failed to score some big precursor nods, including the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards (Wallis' film Beasts of the Southern Wild wasn't eligible at the SAGs), but both made the Best Actress cut here, edging out former champs Marion Cotillard (Rust & Bone) and Helen Mirren (Hitchcock), who did earn Globe and SAG nods. In doing so, they've made the Best Actress race one for the ages: Riva (Amour), who turns 86 on the night of the Oscars on Feb. 24, and 9-year-old Wallis are now the category's oldest and youngest nominees ever, eclipsing Jessica Tandy, who won at 80, and Keisha Castle-Hughes, who was 13.
Joaquin Phoenix: Proving that awards should just be about the performance, Phoenix, an early Best Actor front-runner in the fall for The Master, received his third nomination, knocking out John Hawkes (The Sessions), despite his no-holds-barred condemnation of the Oscars and the whole schmoozing process, which some believed led to a SAG snub. Now will he attend the show?
All winners, no losers: A lack of surprises is also surprising! Historically, surprise nominations are most common in the supporting races, but the Best Supporting Actor lineup was predictable and for the first time in any acting category, it features all previous winners: Alan Arkin (Argo), Robert De Niro (Silver Linings Playbook), Philip Seymour Hoffman (The Master), Tommy Lee Jones (Lincoln) and Christoph Waltz (Django Unchained). Four of them have won this category before, except for Hoffman, who has a Best Actor statuette for Capote.
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Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow: The Argo and Zero Dark Thirty helmers were believed to be mortal locks, along with Steven Spielberg (Lincoln), but they were shockingly left off the short list in favor of Amour's Michael Haneke and Beasts of the Southern Wild's Benh Zeitlin. How to explain them? Perhaps many voters thought they were safe and voted for their little-seen, passionate favorites, like Amour and Beasts, or perhaps neither topped enough ballots to meet the nomination threshold (the Academy uses a weighted voting system.) Conspiracy theorists might blame ZDT's torture and CIA controversy, and even sexism (Bigelow, who won for The Hurt Locker three years ago, would have been the first female director to get multiple nods), but Affleck had no such negative factors behind him. If anything, he had the perfect amount of buzz and narrative: Big-name star and former Oscar winner completing a long career comeback with his best-reviewed and most successful film yet that paints Hollywood in a good light. A lack of a director nod severely diminishes Argo's and ZDT's Best Picture chances: Only three films, Wings, Grand Hotel, and Driving Miss Daisy, have won without a directing nomination.
Leonardo DiCaprio: Poor Leo. A year after getting (rightfully) snubbed for the abominable J. Edgar despite Globe and SAG nods, he misses again for his delightfully villainous turn in Django Unchained. (He only had a Globe nod this time.) While he was by no means a lock for a nod, with Waltz getting in, one can't wonder if Weinstein's switch of Waltz from lead to supporting hurt DiCaprio's nominations chances.
James Bond: Oscar still hates 007. The franchise had an outside chance of snagging a nod in the top eight categories for Skyfall via Javier Bardem and Judi Dench, who have picked up some precursor nominations, but neither made the cut. We probably should've seen this coming when the Academy announced a special Bond tribute last week.
Nicole Kidman and Ann Dowd: Pour one out for the self-campaigners. Kidman (The Paperboy) and Dowd (Compliance) heavily campaigned throughout the season to get into the Best Supporting Actress race, with Dowd infamously spending $13,000 of her own money to send screeners out. Dowd's chances were slim, as she only has an Independent Spirit Award nomination and a Critics Choice nomination, but Kidman surprisingly scored SAG and Globe nominations last month. She's now the 28th person to fail to get an Oscar nod after getting Globe and SAG nods.
What surprised you the most? Who do you think deserved a nomination?