(quvenzhane wallis in "beasts of the southern wild")
For Best Actor, we picked Day-Lewis, Phoenix, Cooper and Washington, but we thought John Hawkes would get a nod before Hugh Jackman. We were wrong, Jackman got it.
For Best Actress, we got Chastain, Lawrence, Riva and Watts, but we never really believed the Academy would nominate a nine year-old girl for Best Actress. We were wrong, they did. Little tyke Quvenzhane Wallis won the fifth slot.
For Best Supporting Actor, we picked Jones, Hoffman, Arkin and Waltz, but we didn't see Robert De Niro coming. Much like rewarding Meryl Streep last year after denying her another Oscar for so many years, we're guessing the Academy figures it's high time they rewarded De Niro again, as well.
(jackie weaver and robert de niro in "silver linings playbook")
For Best Supporting Actress, we correctly guessed Hathaway, Adams, Hunt and Field, but Jackie Weaver getting the fifth slot was a total surprise. In fact, almost no credible Oscar predictors had Weaver anywhere on their radar, and she won no critics awards this year.
Surprises: Other than Jackie Weaver's surprise nomination, the other big shock of the nominations was Ben Affleck, Kathryn Bigelow and Tom Hooper all being denied a nomination for Best Director. Trust us, this was a big shock to everyone, and it completely changes the Best Picture race, as almost every single Best Picture winner also earns a win for its Director. In the past 30 years, only five times has the same film NOT won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Director. So today's nominations seriously hurt the chances of "Zero Dark Thirty", "Argo" or "Les Miserables" winning Best Picture. We're guessing that that rare notion about Oscar voters splitting the votes among the front-runners and thereby allowing dark horses to sneak in actually happened this year in the Best Director category.
Best Song: We, along with everyone else, are predicting a win for Adele and "Skyfall", and although we knew it didn't have a chance of being nominated, we were disappointed that "Big Machine" from "Safety Not Guaranteed" didn't get any love. It was a wonderful song, and it did what a "Best Song" is supposed to do, it transformed the storyline of the entire movie. Also in this category came the most ridiculous and gratuitous nomination, that of Best Song for "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from "Ted". Hmm, wonder how that happened? Maybe it was just coincidence that the song's writer is also this year's host for the Oscar show, Seth McFarlane. Right. Come on Oscar voters, seriously?
Not My Night: Just like all the Oscar buzz melted like warm ice cream for Justin Timberlake a couple of years ago, the same buzz died on the vine this year for Matthew McConaughey. The shirtless wonder has a lot of fans, and so we wouldn't have been completely shocked if he had managed to slide in with a nom, but we thank Jesus, and for the sake of the Academy's credibility, that he didn't. Maybe the Academy actually learned a lesson from that old Marisa Tomei fiasco years ago.
Veteran's March: Of the twenty acting nominees, a staggering number of them, nine, have previously won Oscars, and seven more have been previously nominated, leaving only four actors earning their first Oscar nominations.
(sally field in "lincoln")
Previous Oscar winners: Daniel Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington, Tommy Lee Jones, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Alan Arkin, Christoph Waltz, Robert De Niro, Sally Field and Helen Hunt.
Previous Oscar nominees: Joaquin Phoenix, Jessica Chastain, Jennifer Lawrence, Naomi Watts, Anne Hathaway, Amy Adams and Jackie Weaver.
First-Timer's: Bradley Cooper, Hugh Jackman, Emmanuelle Riva and Quvenzhane Wallis.
Rarified Air: If two-time Oscar winners Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field, Denzel Washington and/or Robert De Niro win, they will join a very elite group of actors who have won at least three Oscars. Before this year, only five actors have won more than two Academy Awards.
(alan arkin and ben affleck in "argo")
In the Best Supporting Actor race, all five nominees have previously won Oscars, which means that we are guaranteed that one of those five actor's careers will climb a few rungs higher in the Hollywood Hall of Fame. In other words, in Hollywood terms, it's one thing to win one Oscar, but to win two gives you an entirely different level of respect and importance. At the exact moment of winning your second Oscar, you go from being seen as an actor who might have won an Oscar on a fluke, to an actor who is considered one of the all-time greats.
In the Best Actress race, all five nominees will be up for their first Oscar win, which means one of them will get a serious career shot in the arm.
With "Silver Linings Playbook" winning nominations in each of the four acting categories, that film also joins very rarified air. Only thirteen other films have accomplished the same feat, and only two of those films didn't earn at least one Oscar win, so we're thinking somebody from "SLP" had better get an acceptance speech ready.