Well, it's that time of year again, when Hollywood pays tribute the best in cinema of the past year. There is no questioning that 2012 was a stellar year at the box office, but how did it translate in the eyes of the eyes of the Academy? We got a hint of what's to come in February last week when Emma Stone and Seth MacFarlane announced the nominees for the 85th annual Academy Awards. Here's what we can take away from the nominations:
1. Disney has Best Animated Feature in the bag.
After the disappointing exclusion of "Arthur Christmas" and "The Adventures of Tintin" at last year's ceremony, the Academy has finally gotten the nominees right this time around. And Disney can be happy: Three of the nominees ("Brave," "Frankenweenie," and "Wreck-It Ralph") all hail from the Mouse House (The other two contenders are Focus Features' "Paranorman" and Aardman's "The Pirates! Band of Misfits"). While "Brave" and "Frankenweenie" both have good chances to win, I am predicting that the original Walt Disney Animation Studios will finally win it's long-awaited Oscar for "Wreck-It Ralph." (Side-note: Disney could also win Best Animated Short for "Paperman.")
2. "Lincoln" is still the front-runner... barely.
Steven Spielberg's presidential drama was expected to receive the most nominations this morning, and with 12 nods, it did -- but it didn't exactly leave the rest of the field in the dust. "Life of Pi" was a close second with 11 nominations, followed by "Les Miserables" and "Silver Linings Playbook" with eight and "Argo" with seven. The bottom line? Anything can happen on Oscar night, so be prepared!
3. The Academy knows an outstanding performance when they see it.
"Les Mis," "Lincoln," and "Silver Linings Playbook" fans, rejoice! All your favorites have snagged Oscar nods this year. I'm looking to see Daniel Day-Lewis win his third Best Actor Oscar for "Lincoln," but Hugh Jackman is also a strong contender for "Les Mis." Supporting Actor is basically a tie at the moment, but I could see Alan Arkin winning for "Argo" (Fun fact: All five nominees this year are previous Oscar winners). On the Actress side, history could be made in the form of Emmanuelle Riva, 85, and Quvenzhane Wallis, 9, who are the oldest and youngest nominees ever for Lead Actress. I can see Wallis competing with Jennifer Lawrence for the award. Supporting Actress, on the other hand, I believe is no contest: Anne Hathaway could be looking at her first Oscar for "Les Mis," with the only other strong contender being Helen Hunt for "The Sessions." While we're on the subject of performances, it would be amiss not to mention Adele's nomination for "Skyfall"; with her clout, I am thinking that the Academy will vote in her favor on Oscar night.
4. There were some hard-core snubs.
Katheryn Bigelow. Tom Hooper. Quentin Tarantino. Ben Affleck. I'll bet you thought you were looking at the nominees for Best Director, right? Well, surprisingly, you're actually looking at who the Academy snubbed for this prestigious prize. Also on the list of also-rans: Box-office successes like "The Avengers" and "Prometheus," who's sole nominations came in the Visual Effects category (I was hoping for an Adapted Screenplay nod for the Marvel hit), and "The Dark Knight Rises," which earned... no nominations, surprising almost everyone. The Academy has also appeared to have lost its taste for Middle-Earth: "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" earned just three nominations in the technical categories; compare that to nine years ago when "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" was nominated for (and won) 13 awards, including Best Picture. If there's a lesson to be learned here, it's this: Don't expect the Academy's list to exactly match yours.
5. Seth MacFarlane is going to be an awesome Oscar host.
The Academy must really love Seth MacFarlane: In addition to letting him announce the nominees alongside Emma Stone this morning, they also awarded him a nomination for Best Original Song. And if his banter with Emma is any indication, the Academy Awards are going to be filled with laughs. For example, when presenting the nominees for Best Director, he quipped, "These are five people who are the very best at sitting in a chair, watching other people make a movie." It is this sense of humor that is sure to make this year's ceremony one of the most memorable. Also, can Emma Stone please host the Oscars next year?
And that's all I have for my take on the 85th Academy Award nominees. Remember to tune in on Sunday, February 24th at 8:00 EST on ABC to see who will take home an Oscar!