~ Posted by Simon Willis, January 10th 2013
There are plenty of predictable nominees for this year's Oscars, just announced in Los Angeles: Daniel Day-Lewis for best actor, "Lincoln" for best film and Adele for best song. The best supporting actor category is populated entirely by people who've won that Oscar before: Alan Arkin ("Argo"), Robert De Niro ("Silver Linings Notebook"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Master"), Tommy Lee Jones ("Lincoln") and Christoph Waltz ("Django Unchained").
Another predictable one was the nomination of Michael Haneke's "Amour" for best foreign-language film. Less predictable, but more gratifying, were Haneke's other nominations. It's rare for a foreign-language film to break out of that category at the Oscars. Marion Cotillard won best actress in 2008 for her performance as Edith Piaf in "La Vie en rose", and in 2003 Pedro Almodóvar's "Talk to her" won best original screenplay. But no foreign-language film has ever won best film or best director. "The Artist", last year's best film, was French—but silent. This year, "Amour" is in with a shout for best film, best director, best original screenplay and best actress, for Emmanuelle Riva, who gives a harrowing performance as an elderly woman suffering dementia and paralysis. At 85, Riva is the oldest actress ever to be nominated. She's up against the youngest, Quvenzhané Wallis, the nine-year-old star and narrator of "Beasts of the Southern Wild".
A notable absence for the best director category was Kathryn Bigelow, who won in 2010 for "The Hurt Locker". Her new film, "Zero Dark Thirty", one of Nicholas Barber's film picks in the current issue, is about the hunt for Osama bin Laden. It has been both well reviewed and controversial in America (it's out in Britain later this month). She's been accused of implicitly endorsing the use of torture by suggesting it was central to bin Laden's assassination. That didn't, however, stop the Academy nominating it for best film.
"The Sessions", Nick's favourite of the forthcoming films, also picked up a nomination. He describes it as "a wry, intimate comedy drama, with unshowy performances from actors who just happen to spend much of their screen time naked". One of them, Helen Hunt, is nominated for best supporting actress.