“Gravity,” director Alfonso Cuaron’s 3-D spectacle of an astronaut stranded in outer space and her struggle to return to Earth; and “American Hustle,” a glitzy period comedy of con artists and the FBI inspired by the 1970s Abscam sting operation lead this year’s Academy Awards race, with 10 nominations each.
In addition, this year’s other Best Picture nominees include: “Captain Phillips,” a gripping dramatization of the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates of the cargo ship Maersk Alabama; “Dallas Buyers Club,” the true story of a homophobic AIDS patient who built an underground business dealing with non-FDA approved anti-AIDS drugs; and Spike Jonze’s “Her,” a quirky futuristic romance in which a lonely man rebounds from divorce to fall in love with the voice of his computer’s operating system.
Also: “Nebraska,” Alexander Payne’s dramedy of an elderly man (Bruce Dern) on a journey to claim sweepstakes winnings he believes he’s won; “Philomena,” the true story of a woman searching for the child taken from her at birth; “12 Years a Slave,” the brutal true-life tale of a free black man sold into slavery in the pre-Civil War South; and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Martin Scorsese’s black comedy about a stockbroker whose corrupt practices and profligate lifestyle led to a spectacular fall.
In one of the most competitive years ever for the Best Actor category, the nominees are Christian Bale as a con man in “American Hustle; Bruce Dern, as an elderly man convinced he has won a sweepstakes and stubbornly marches off to collect it, in “Nebraska”; Leonardo DiCaprio as a hedonistic stockbroker in “The Wolf of Wall Street”; Chiwetel Ejiofor as a free black man kidnapped and sold into bondage in “12 Years a Slave”; and Matthew McConaughey as a homophobic AIDS patient who becomes an underground seller of non-FDA-approved AIDS drugs in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Among the terrific performances this year that couldn’t squeeze into the top five were Robert Redford in “All Is Lost”; two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips”; Oscar Isaac in “Inside Llewyn Davis”; Joaquin Phoenix in “Her.”
Two Golden Globe-winners — Cate Blanchett, as a down-on-her-heels socialite crawling back to her working-class roots in “Blue Jasmine”; and Sandra Bullock as an astronaut stranded high above Earth after orbiting debris destroys the space shuttle in “Gravity” — were nominated for Best Actress along with Amy Adams as a con artist in “American Hustle”; Judi Dench as a woman seeking the child taken from her at childbirth in “Philomena”; and Meryl Streep as the matriarch of a particularly dysfunctional Oklahoma family, in “August: Osage County.”
Best Supporting Actor
Best Supporting Actor nominees include Barkhad Abdi as Muse, leader of a band of Somali pirates, in “Captain Phillips”; Michael Fassbender, as Edwin Epps, a brutal slave owner, in “12 Years a Slave”; Bradley Cooper as an FBI agent in “American Hustle”; Jonah Hill as a hedonistic stock broker in “The Wolf of Wall Street”; and Jared Leto as a transgender AIDS patient in “Dallas Buyers Club.”
Best Supporting Actress
British actress Sally Hawkins, playing the working-class sister of a socialite in “Blue Jasmine,” was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, along with Jennifer Lawrence as the ditsy wife of a con man in “American Hustle”; Lupita Nyong’o as Patsy, a slave who becomes an obsession of her master, in “12 Years a Slave”; Julia Roberts as a woman in a brutal relationship with her mother in “August: Osage County”; and June Squibb as Bruce Dern’s long-suffering, tart-tongued wife in “Nebraska.”
The Academy Awards will be presented on Sunday, March 2, 2014, at the Dolby Theatre at Hollywood & Highland Center in Los Angeles, broadcast on ABC.