NEW YORK – The 85th Annual Academy Award nominations are in and, in a predictable turn of events, “Lincoln” took home 12 nods, making it the most nominated of any film. The visually stunning “Life of Pi” took home 11 nominations.
Oscar host Seth McFarlane took the stage to announce the nominees alongside actress Emma Stone. There were 11 categories announced Thursday morning, but the biggest question of the day was which of this year’s top films would earn best picture nominations.
The nine best picture nominees include "Lincoln," Steven Spielberg's portrait of the great emancipator who abolished slavery and reunified the United States; "Zero Dark Thirty," Kathryn Bigelow's chronicle of the hunt for Osama bin Laden; and "Les Miserables," Tom Hooper's musical epic set against an uprising of freedom fighters in 19th century France.
"Argo," Ben Affleck's suspense flick about a CIA scheme, also took home a best picture nod as did "Django Unchained," Quentin Tarantino's controversial bloody saga about a former slave hunting white oppressors just before the Civil War; and "Life of Pi," Ang Lee's story of a free-thinking Indian youth cast adrift on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger while traveling to a new life in North America.
The less obvious films "Silver Linings Playbook," "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and the foreign film "Amour" earned best picture nods as well.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of nominations came with the best directing category. Affleck didn't garner a best directing nomination for his thriller "Argo" and past Oscar winners Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty") and Tom Hooper ("Les Miserables") were also left out of the best directing nominations.
"Lincoln's" Daniel Day Lewis was awarded a best actor nomination for his portrayal of the iconic president.
Joining Day-Lewis in the best-actor field are Bradley Cooper for his role in "Silver Linings Playbook"; Hugh Jackman as Victor Hugo's tragic hero Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables"; Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master"; and Denzel Washington as a boozy airline pilot in "Flight."
Nominated for best actress are Jessica Chastain for her dynamic role in "Zero Dark Thirty"; Jennifer Lawrence as a troubled young widow in "Silver Linings Playbook"; Emmanuelle Riva as an ailing woman tended by her husband in "Amour"; and Naomi Watts as a mother caught up in a devastating tsunami in "The Impossible."
Nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis became the youngest person to ever be nominated for best actress for her role in "Beasts of the Southern Wild";
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Sally Field unsurprisingly took home a best supporting actress nomination for "Lincoln." Other nominees included Amy Adams in "The Master"; Anne Hathaway for her musical role in "Les Miserables"; Helen Hunt as a sex surrogate in "The Sessions"; and Jacki Weaver as an unstable man's doting mom in "Silver Linings Playbook."
The supporting-actor contenders are Alan Arkin as a wily Hollywood producer in "Argo"; Robert De Niro in "Silver Linings Playbook"; Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master"; Tommy Lee Jones for his role in "Lincoln;" and Christoph Waltz of "Django Unchained."
This year's nominations came earlier than usual in Hollywood's long awards season, leaving the awards picture a bit murkier. By the time Oscar nominations come out most years, the Golden Globes already have given their trophies, helping to sort out prospective front-runners for show business' biggest night.
The nominations this time precede the Golden Globes ceremony, which follows on Sunday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.