'Lincoln' leads the way as 'Amour' feels the love
In a rare display of unpredictability, the nominations for the 2013 Oscars delivered a number of surprises, though ‘Lincoln’ still looks certain to assert its authority
Well whack me in the head with a drunken key grip. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences actually managed to spring a few surprises at the 2013 Oscar nominations yesterday. We do not speak of Fodhla Cronin O’Reilly’s nomination in the best short animation category. Mentioned for the charming Head Over Heels – co-directed with Timothy Reckart – O’Reilly is just the latest in a line of Irish film-makers to compete in the animated-short competition. Good for her. Seamus McGarvey, Armagh’s most gifted cinematographer, secured a nod for his lavish work on Anna Karenina. This is his second nomination and he will get many more. We can afford to be blasé about that established professional’s continuing success.
Nor are we particularly surprised that Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln topped the nominations chart with 12 nods. Already the holder of two Oscars, Spielberg is Hollywood royalty and his latest picture pushes all the Academy’s most conspicuous buttons. It’s a period piece. It’s about a liberal icon. It’s directed by somebody over 50. It’s bum-numbingly long. Just back up the truck, Steve, and we’ll load the noms on the back. Daniel Day-Lewis, who plays Lincoln, is now odds-on favourite to take the best actor prize and become the first man to win three such Oscars.
Elsewhere, however, prognosticators found themselves distinctly inconvenienced. The biggest turn-up was the astonishing performance by Michael Haneke’s Amour: the picture picked up five nominations including best picture and best director. Leaving aside the special case of Clint Eastwood’s Letters from Iwo Jima, the last such film to receive a best-picture nomination was the action-filled Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000.
When, in the mid-1990s, Haneke emerged as the most austere of European film-makers, only a lunatic would have predicted that he would persuade the Academy to go properly foreign. The film is less relentlessly puzzling than earlier Haneke pieces but it is no less forgiving in its unsentimental gaze.
Few Oscar stories in recent years have been as delightful as the news that Emmanuelle Riva, star of Amour, and Quvenzhané Wallis, lead in Beasts of the Southern Wild, will be sharing space in the best actress enclosure. Riva, who turns 86 on the night of the Oscars, is the oldest person ever to secure a best actress nomination. Wallis, just nine, is the youngest to enjoy that honour. They’d better get used to the sight of one another. Every photographer in Hollywood is going to nudge them together when they turn up at awards-season jamborees.