It may not be sensible to look a gift horse in the mouth, but the makers of “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Argo” certainly must have mixed feelings about the nominations for the 85th annual Academy Awards.
Kathryn Bigelow’s account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden and Ben Affleck’s tale of the rescue of six Americans trapped in Iran were nominated for best picture Thursday morning, but neither Bigelow nor Affleck—both considered locks in the category—were selected for best director.
And that means “Zero Dark Thirty” and “Argo” now have very little chance of beating out Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln” in the best picture race.
PHOTOS: Top Oscar nominees
Historically, the winner of the best picture trophy always is nominated in the directing competition. The last best picture winner whose maker wasn’t nominated for the directing Oscar was 1989’s “Driving Miss Daisy,” when director Bruce Beresford was shut out. That statistic also bodes poorly for “Les Misérables,” which was nominated for best picture but whose maker, Tom Hooper, was snubbed in the directing contest.
Separately, for the first time since 2000’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” joined the best picture race as a foreign-language film, Austria’s “Amour” will face off against an array of English-language titles in the best picture race. “Amour” also was nominated for top foreign language film.
The other somewhat surprising best picture selection was “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which was nominated not only for the top Oscar but also for director Benh Zeitlin, actress Quevenzhané Wallis and adapted screenplay for Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar.
YOUR TAKE: Play-at-home Oscar ballot
The nominees for best picture are “Amour,” “Argo,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Django Unchained,” “Les Misérables,” “Life of Pi,” “Lincoln,” “Silver Linings Playbook” and “Zero Dark Thirty.”
Left out of the best picture race were “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel,” “Moonrise Kingdom” and “Skyfall.”
In addition to Spielberg and Zeitlin, the director nominations were Ang Lee for “Life of Pi,” David O. Russell for “Silver Linings Playbook” and Michael Haneke for “Amour.”
LIST: Complete list of nominees
PHOTOS: Oscar hosts through the years
OSCAR WATCH: Everything you need to know about the top films
Play-at-Home Oscar Ballot 2013
INTERACTIVE: Oscar Watch 2013
TIMELINE: Academy Awards through the years