Every year, movie fans and Academy Award aficionados watch the Oscar nominations to see whose work has been singled out.
And, just as much, to see who’s been left out.
The 85th Oscar noms, announced Thursday, are no different. While frontrunners like Daniel Day-Lewis (“Lincoln”) and Anne Hathaway (“Les Miserables”) provide a cozy sense of mission accomplished, it’s fascinating to suss out which actors and filmmakers were omitted -- and why.
In the Best Picture race, critical fave “Moonrise Kingdom” lost the independent slot — not necessarily but often now just a one-film option — to the more heavily-touted “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Also: Appreciated as “Kingdom” director Wes Anderson is, none of his quirky, intricate films have ever been nominated for the top prize.
At the other end of the spectrum is the massive blockbuster “Skyfall,” one of 2012’s biggest hits and the highest-grossing James Bond film ever. Many thought director Sam Mendes brought the necessary touch of Oscar class, and the movie’s deeper themes might resonate with Academy voters. (The reason to expand the Best Picture list beyond five, back in 2008, was to accommodate popular popcorn flicks like this).
But in a year that also saw “The Avengers,” “The Dark Knight Rises” and “The Hobbit” make loads of cash but miss an Oscar spot, “Skyfall” may have been lumped in with them all.
In the Best Actor race, Day-Lewis, Denzel Washington (“Flight"), Hugh Jackman (“Les Miz”) and Bradley Cooper (“Silver Linings Notebook” all were counted on, and did, get noms.
Cooper seemed vulnerable though, but got a spot, along with back-from-brink-of-weirdness genius Joaquin Phoenix. Left out were Richard Gere for “Arbitrage” — the movie was a video-on-demand miniature — and John Hawkes, whose turn as a paralyzed man seeking sex in “The Sessions” may have lost the sweetness vote to Cooper.
For Best Actress, former Oscar winner Marion Cotillard’s spot for “Rust and Bone” went to her elder countrywoman Emmanuelle Riva (“Amour”). And young Quvenzhané Wallis snuck up on Meryl Streep, whose common-gal performance in “Hope Springs” made her a dark horse.
Also left out were Keira Knightley, whose “Anna Karenina” may have been tagged as too experimental for Oscar voters, and Helen Mirren, left in the shadow of “Hitchcock.”
Best Supporting Actor saw almost all safe-bet favorites get in. The outsiders were Leonardo DiCaprio, whose juicy, lip-smacking villain in “Django Unchained” lost a spot to his costar (and previous winner) Christoph Waltz. And Matthew McConaughey was a true wild card for “Magic Mike,” a popular hit that may have been too sassy for the Academy.