BEVERLY HILLS, California (AP) — The Civil War saga "Lincoln" leads the Academy Awards with 12 nominations, including best picture, director for Steven Spielberg and acting honors for British-born Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.
Also among the nine nominees for best picture Thursday: was the French-language film "Amour"; the Iran hostage thriller "Argo"; the independent hit "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; the slave-revenge narrative "Django Unchained"; the musical "Les Miserables"; the shipwreck story "Life of Pi"; the lost-souls romance "Silver Linings Playbook"; and the Osama bin Laden manhunt chronicle "Zero Dark Thirty."
Oscar winners will be announced Feb. 24.
"Life of Pi" surprisingly ran second in nominations with 11, ahead of "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Les Miserables," which had both been considered potential front-runners.
"It's a great surprise. I'm deeply honored. Eleven really surprised me. But it's a good surprise. I'm very happily surprised." Ang Lee, director of "Life of Pi," said by telephone from Los Angeles.
The Austrian film "Amour," which won the top prize at last May's Cannes Film Festival, mainly had been considered a favorite in the foreign-language category, where it also was nominated. "Amour" had five nominations, including original screenplay and best actress for French-born Emmanuelle Riva. It is one of only a handful of non-English-language films ever nominated for the best picture Oscar.
More surprising were snubs in the directing category, where three favorites missed out: Ben Affleck for "Argo" and past Oscar winners Kathryn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty" and British-born Tom Hooper for "Les Miserables." Bigelow was the first woman ever the win the directing Oscar for 2009's "The Hurt Locker," while Hooper won a year later for "The King's Speech."
The best-picture category also had surprising omissions. The acclaimed first-love tale "Moonrise Kingdom" was left out and only got one nomination, for original screenplay. Also snubbed for best-picture was "The Master," a critical favorite that did have three acting nominations for Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Harvey Weinstein produced two of the nine best picture nominees — "Django Unchained" and "Silver Linings Playbook" — and was naturally pleased.
"I am blown away! I can't say thank you enough to the Academy for their support of our films," he said in a statement. "We have a tremendous group of actors and filmmakers who we had the pleasure of working with this year, and I am so happy that their achievements are being recognized."
Two-time winner Spielberg earned his seventh directing nomination. Also in the mix are Taiwan-born past winner Ang Lee for "Life of Pi" and past nominee David O. Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook." The other slots went to surprise picks who are first-time nominees: German-born Michael Haneke for his French-language "Amour" and Benh Zeitlin for "Beasts of the Southern Wild."
"It is fulfilling to discover that a film has found the audience and critical acclaim that 'Amour' has garnered," Haneke said. "I have been very fortunate on both those fronts, but it is especially rewarding to discover that a film has found favor among one's industry peers who know, in particular, the effort that goes into getting a film — any film — made."
The film stars octogenarian French acting greats Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant as a loving Parisian couple whose world is devastated by the wife's serious illness.
Unflinching, unsentimental and in French, it also garnered nominations for Haneke's direction, original screenplay and the performance of 85-year-old Riva.
The other foreign-language nominees are 18th-century court saga "A Royal Affair" by Denmark's Nikolaj Arcel; child soldier drama "War Witch" by Canada's Kim Nguyen; seafaring adventure "Kon-Tiki" by Norway's Joachim Roenning and Espen Sandberg; and "No" by Chile's Pablo Larrain.
Austria also scored an acting nomination, with Christoph Waltz up for best supporting actor for Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained." Waltz won the supporting actor prize for his turn as a loquacious Nazi in Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds."
Australian actors also made a strong showing, with nominations for Naomi Watts (best actress for "The Impossible"), Jacqui Weaver (supporting actress for "Silver Linings Playbook") and Hugh Jackman, a best-actor nominee for "Les Miserables."
"The whole thing is kind of surreal for me," Jackman said. "I grew up idolizing many of the actors in my category."
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