"Lincoln" crowned Oscar frontrunner as big directors snubbed
By Jill Serjeant
BEVERLY HILLS (Reuters) - Steven Spielberg's tale of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln's battle to end slavery emerged as the front-runner for Oscar glory on Thursday, after Academy Awards voters snubbed four major filmmakers for the coveted best director trophy.
In an eclectic shortlist that included thrillers, a comedy, an independent film and a harrowing French-language drama, "Lincoln" won a leading 12 nominations, including the top prize - best picture - and nods for actors Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.
Ang Lee's eye-catching shipwreck tale, "Life of Pi," followed with 11 nominations, mostly in effects and technical categories, but including for best picture and director.
Musical "Les Miserables," Iran hostage drama "Argo," French-language drama "Amour," Osama bin Laden thriller "Zero Dark Thirty," comedy "Silver Linings Playbook," Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained," and mythological film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" rounded out the competition for best picture.
But the director's category contained four big omissions - Tom Hooper ("Les Miserables") Ben Affleck for "Argo," Kathryn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty" and Tarantino for his violent slavery-era Western "Django Unchained."
The snubs threw Hollywood awards pundits into a tizzy, and were seen as boding ill for the chances of any of those four films taking home the biggest Oscar prize on February 24.
"The snubs in the race for best director change everything," said veteran awards watcher Tom O'Neil of Goldderby.com.
"Before the nominations, pundits thought the race for best picture was between 'Argo,' 'Zero Dark Thirty' and 'Lincoln,' but the fact that Affleck and Bigelow are not nominated means they now only have a remote chance to win," O'Neil told Reuters. Continued...