TRAVERSE CITY — Months of speculation from Hollywood insiders and film buffs ended early Thursday when this year’s list of Academy Award nominees went public.
And there’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen some of them in local theaters.
The best picture nominees are where the surprises began this year. “Philomena,” “Nebraska” and “Her,” were surprises on the Academy’s list for best picture, knocking out films like “The Butler” and “Saving Mr. Banks.”
Still there were plenty of nods that came as no surprise, like ones for “American Hustle,” “Gravity” and “12 Years a Slave.”
“I think as each year goes by, the nominees and ones that win the awards are more closely reflecting what are the best films and best work of the year,” said Michael Moore, an Academy Award winner and Academy member. “That wasn’t always true in the past, I don’t think anybody has any grumbles about the list today.”
A best picture nomination for “Captain Phillips” was where the good news ended for Tom Hanks. The actor was passed over for a best actor nomination for his portrayal of the Captain and lost out on a best supporting actor nod for playing Walt Disney in “Saving Mr. Banks.”
“‘Saving Mr. Banks’ was one of the nicest films of the year,” Moore said. “I’m sorry it only got one nomination, it’s a well regarded film by people who love the movies.”
Another disappointment for Moore came from the snub of Robert Redford for his performance in “All is Lost.”
“I was surprised that Robert Redford wasn’t nominated,” he said. “He goes 90 minutes as the the only actor and he has to carry the film, while saying only two or three words. It’s an incredible performance.”
Hanks and Redford shouldn’t feel too bad, though. The field of Oscar hopefuls was rife with strong acting in 2013.
David O. Russell managed to pull off a nomination in every acting category for his acclaimed film “American Hustle.” It’s the second year in a row Russell’s film has landed a nomination for every acting category, a rare feat since, before last year’s “Silver Linings Playbook,” it hadn’t happened since the 1980s.
And, if you’ve taken a seat in a theater in Traverse City during the past year, chances are pretty good you saw an Oscar-nominated film.
“The nominations more or less match up and make us feel like we’re doing a good job with the programming,” said Deb Lake, Traverse City Film Festival executive director. “Only so many films can be nominated so there are films we fell in love with that didn’t make the list.”
Another big snub landed in the supporting actress category, again an area of much contention. Earlier in 2013, it looked like “The Butler” would make a big play at the Oscars but it didn’t land a single nomination. It turns out, even Oprah can lose sometimes. Instead, Sally Hawkins earned a nomination for her part as the long suffering sister in Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine.”
“12 Years a Slave” is a work of art and one of the best films of the last decade,” Moore said. “It was very interesting, it took a group of foreign filmmakers, director, actors, to make this film. Sometimes it takes an outside person to tell one story, maybe we as Americans are too close to it.”
Thursday’s news means Hollywood’s biggest night of the year should make for an interesting watch.
Best-pictures' box office numbers The Associated Press -- "American Hustle," Sony, $103,565,129, 10 nominations, released Dec. 12, 2013. -- "Captain Phillips," Sony, $105,010,295, six nominations, released Oct. 10, 2013. -- "Dallas Buyers Club," Focus, $16,769,169, six nominations, released Nov. 1, 2013. -- "Gravity," Warner Bros., $256,314,185, 10 nominations, released Oct. 3, 2013. -- "Her," Warner Bros., $9,900,985, five nominations, released Dec. 18, 2013. -- "Nebraska," Paramount, $8,477,367, six nominations, released. Nov. 15, 2013. -- "Philomena," Weinstein Co., $22,324,543, four nominations, released Nov. 22, 2013. -- "12 Years a Slave," Fox Searchlight, $39,002,295, nine nominations, released Oct. 17, 2013. -- "The Wolf of Wall Street," Paramount, $80,741,968, five nominations, released Dec. 25, 2013.