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Oscar nominations result in lots of stunning surprises this year

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For film critic Roger Ebert’s assessment of the Oscar contenders, go to suntm.es./ZLVVRU

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Updated: February 12, 2013 2:30PM



That was some wake-up call for Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow — and maybe Quentin Tarantino and Tom Hooper.

Films by all four of these directors made the best pic­­ture cut when the Academy Award nominations were announced Thursday morning. But the four, all Oscar winners, were passed over in the directors’ category.

It was hardly a surprise that Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” led the way with 12 nominations (followed by “Life of Pi” with 11), or that each supporting actor nominee already has a bald gold man (for either supporting or lead performance).

But the directors’ snubs stood out in a field that generated the youngest AND oldest nominees ever for best actress in the history of the Academy Awards.

In rapid-fire fas­hion, punctuated by an unprecedented number of scripted wisecracks, this year’s Oscar host Seth MacFarlane and “It Girl” Emma Stone announced the nominees during a live telecast Thursday from Los Angeles.

The shockers, in order of the “wait, what?” factor:

♦ Affleck, touted as a favorite to take home the best director prize for “Argo,” wasn’t even nominated.

♦ Neither was Bigelow, who also was thought to be a lock for “Zero Dark Thirty.” Nor was Hooper for the box-office hit “Les Miserables.”

♦ Tarantino received an original screenplay nomination for his controversial, n-word-laden “Django Unchained” — and the film garnered a nod as well.

♦ John Hawkes, who delivered perhaps the year’s most memorable performance by an actor, was snubbed for his work in “The Sessions.”

Also, we’re going to have to work on our pronunciation of Quvenzhane Wallis, the natural wonder, now 9, a best actress nominee for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” And we’re going to have to bone up on 85-year-old French actress Emmanuelle Riva, a best actress nominee for “Amour” — born the same year of the release of “Wings,” the very first movie to win the best picture Oscar.

This is the thing about acting. It’s really hard, but it’s not difficult in the same way as, say, playing baseball. You’ll never see a 9-year-old or an 85-year-old up for MVP.

More academy members were impressed with the acting prowess of the untrained child in the admirably unique but (I believe) somewhat overrated “Beasts of the Southern Wild” than the rich, deep work turned in by Rachel Weisz in “The Deep Blue Sea” and Marion Cotillard in “Rust and Bone.”

MacFarlane was at his “Family Guy” best Thursday with quips like this: “ ‘Amour’ was co-produced by Germany and Austria. The last time they co-produced something, it was Hitler.”

Dear Academy: You asked for it.

MacFarlane, who learned he’s a nominee for co-writing the song “Everybody Needs a Best Friend” from “Ted,” shook up the normally sleepy proceedings from the get-go when he introduced Stone by saying, “Here to help me out, since there’s nothing creepier than a guy standing alone in Hollywood at 5 a.m.”

He also dared to take a swipe at Hollywood’s most intimidating producer, saying after the best supporting actress’ names were read: “You five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.”

And the Twitterverse erupted in a mini-frenzy of “BAHAHAHAH!” vs. “Poor taste!” when MacFarlane cracked that Hitler joke.

My verdict: equal parts insensitive and funny. Here’s hoping MacFarlane goes for more of the same edginess come Oscar night.



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