The Oscar noms: Tons of surprises

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has been trying desperately to shake up their Oscar nominations, and they finally succeeded. In what was generally considered one of the strongest movie years in a decade, the nominations this morning had tons of surprises — many exactly of the kind they wanted, including a powerhouse appearance by indie hit Beasts of the Southern Wild.

Still, many of the predicted frontrunners did expectedly well, with Lincoln scoring the most nominations (12, including three for acting — tied for the most ever acting noms from a Steven Spielberg-directed film), followed closely by my favorite film of the year, Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, which, with 11 nods, has the most ever for a film that didn’t receive a single acting nomination. Also, the dreadful Silver Linings Playbook did well, largely via the push by Harvey Weinstein, despite being the worst movie of 2012Bernie and Cloud Atlas were completely snubbed, as was Matthew McConaughey, who did four films with some buzz last year.

The biggest upsets were in the direction category, with four of the frontrunners — former Oscar winners Kathryn Bigelow, Tom Hooper, Quentin Tarantino and Ben Affleck — all being passed over for inferior work from David O. Russell for SLP, and Beasts‘ Ben Zeitlin in his film debut.

Some good surprises include gay filmmaker David France’s AIDS movie How to Survive a Plague nominated for best documentary feature and The Simpsons‘ cartoon The Longest Daycare snagging a nom for animated short.

All the nominations after the jump.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Handicapping the Oscar nominations

The Oscar noms come early this year, and once again as many as 10 films may be up for best picture. But which ones? And how many?

Here I have a handicapping, in descending order, of the most likely nominees in all the categories. After the nominations come out Thursday morning, check to see how well we (and you) did. My picks are below.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

This week’s takeaways: Life+Style

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and if you still don’t know what you’re cooking for dinner, you might wanna check out, a new locally run website with clever, gay ideas for cooking. And cute guys doing cute things on it, to boot!

The holiday film season is officially underway, and it’s off to an amazing start. In addition to the already-released excellence of Cloud Atlas and Skyfall, this week also brings the heady but engaging and incredibly well-acted Spielberg biopic Lincoln, and Life of Pi, the best film of the year. By Thanksgiving, you also have Anna Karenina (skip it), Red Dawn and Silver Linings Playbook to choose from.

On the stage, your best bet is probably The Stephen Petronio Dance Company‘s recital tonight at the Winspear. And there are some notable concerts this weekend, from Mi Vida Loca performing at House of Blues Sunday to two opportunities to see the Chamber Chorus of the Turtle Creek Chorale perform spiritual songs. But the most important concerts aren’t anywhere near here — they are the six remaining Rihanna concerts being covered by our friend Rich Lopez, who still has Stockholm, Paris, London and more cities on his tour before he gets back in time for Turkey Day.

And once you’re done stuffing your face on Thursday, we have some ideas for how to start Black Friday with gift ideas in our annual guide. (Don’t forget to stop back by every weekday throughout November for additional gift ideas!)

—  Arnold Wayne Jones