Oscar Nominations: Slave Tussles With Hustle

The three big favorites dominated the Oscar pack, as American Hustle and Gravity each received 10 Academy Award nominations and 12 Years a Slave nine. They should be the prime contenders on Oscar night, Mar. 2. Gravity could take the most statuettes because of its presumed monopoly of the technical categories. For that same reason — that it’s just a sci-fi movie (just a visionary, enthralling sci-fi movie) — Alfonso Cuarón’s space epic might not be taken seriously by the Academy elders. That would leave David O. Russell’s romantic dramedy to fight it out against Steve McQueen’s savage indictment of slavery. Here are thoughts about the nominees in the six major categories. Who was pleased by Oscar, and who got fleeced? What were the big snubs and flubs? We’ve got ‘em all. BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Nominees:? Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips. Bradley Cooper, American Hustle. Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave. Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street. Jared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club. Leto took four years off from movies to pursue his parallel career as vocalist and songwriter for his band 30 Seconds to Mars. On Oscar night, the other four nominees will be singing backup, from the audience, as Leto mounts the stage to say thanks. The shortest definition of the character he plays in Dallas Buyers Club — a transsexual afflicted with AIDS — might be enough to secure him a win. But Leto makes Rayon a heroic sweetie, and a fittingly mismatched partner to Matthew McConaughey as the macho cowboy with HIV. No question Leto will win, but Cooper was also terrific as the pinwheeling FBI agent in David O. Russell’s American Hustle, which matched the director’s Silver Linings Playbook last year by scoring nominations in all four acting categories. Fassbender, after four busy years in showy roles, gets his first Academy attention as the vicious slaveowner. Hill, previously nominated for Moneyball, secures a place for playing Leonardo DiCaprio’s nerdish, coke-demon partner. And in his first role as a professional actor, Abdi gets a nice door prize. Is Tom Hanks envious? Snubs:
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