Academy Awards

Oscar Nominees Run Gamut, Include Big Budget Films, Indies

The Academy Awards premiere on Mar. 2 at 7pm EST

The Academy Awards air on Mar. 2 at 7 p.m.

Roll out the red carpet folks, because Academy Award nominations are out and many are waiting with anticipation to see which ones will be deemed the best of the year. This year has some big names and there will surely be some big surprises.

Martin Scorsese has returned to the Oscars, after a very good showing in 2011 with his movie adaptation of “Hugo,” the story of a boy living in a Parisian train station. His new film, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” stars Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, a party boy millionaire. The film left viewers speechless, with its hard partying, drug use and raunchy discourse, including a record-setting “F-word” count. The film has been nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, along with a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Jonah Hill. This is Scorsese’s eighth Best Director nomination.

Another flick that received massive praise is the momentous yet disturbing drama, “12 Years a Slave,” the story of a free black man from New York who is kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film does not hesitate to depict some very heavy and graphic scenes, helping it garner Best Picture and Best Director (Steve McQueen) nominations, along with Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor and Actress nominations, for Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender and Lupita Nyong’o, respectively.

Topping the list with ten total nominations is “American Hustle,” loosely based on the true story of an FBI operation in the 1970s called Abscam. The film was particularly noted for its acting. Academy favorite Jennifer Lawrence received her third nomination in four years, this time for Best Actress in a Supporting Role. The film earned a rare combination of acting nominations in all four acting categories. This is only the second film to receive this accolade since the early ’80s, the first being “Silver Linings Playbook,” which was also directed by David O. Russell and also starred Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

Also with ten nominations is “Gravity,” the sci-fi thriller which stars George Clooney and Sandra Bullock as astronauts whose mission in space goes horribly wrong. Along with its nominations for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actress, the film was particularly noted for its visual and sound effects, garnering nominations in both categories.

Several other films which were not  huge blockbuster hits have still made waves, racking up nominations. “Dallas Buyers Club” is the story of a real-life Texas AIDS patient Ron Woodruff,  played by Matthew McConaughey. Along with the acting nominations for McConaughey and for Jared Leto as Best Supporting Actor, the film received a surprise Best Picture nomination, in addition to its spot in the Best Original Screenplay category.

“Her,” the semi-futuristic drama featuring Joaquin Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson as his artificial intelligence operating system, is another indie film receiving tons of praise and a Best Picture nomination. It may be the weirdest plot line of any of the Oscar nominees, except one other. “Nebraska,” shot in all black and white, stars Bruce Dern as an elderly man with dementia who believes he has won a million dollars in a magazine sweepstakes. Despite the odd background story, the film has been nominated for six academy awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor, and a Best Director nomination for Alexander Payne.

This year’s awards include several notable accolades and records. Film producer Megan Ellison, daughter of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison (third richest person in the U.S.), has received two Best Picture nominations for “American Hustle” and “Her,” making her only the third person to do so in a single year. Composer John Williams just received his 49th nomination, which is second only to Walt Disney’s record of 59 nominations. Both Woody Allen and Meryl Streep received nominations, breaking their already impressive personal records (Allen with 24 nominations, Streep with 18). With three nominations this year, “The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug” brings in the 36th nomination for the Middle Earth franchise, the most for any movie franchise.

The award show will air March 2 on ABC and will be hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

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