MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
We're going to talk now about the day's big Oscar news. Academy Award nominations were announced this morning. And leading the pack were "Lincoln," with 12 nominations, followed closely by "Life of Pi" with 11. Some far smaller films also did unexpectedly well.
Critic Bob Mondello is here to talk about the snubs and surprises, and also about Oscar campaigning. Bob, welcome back.
BOB MONDELLO: Hey, it's good to be here.
BLOCK: And let's start with the Best Picture nominations. There were nine, not 10.
MONDELLO: Yeah. Well, there's a fairly complicated algorithm to determine how many pictures make the cut these days. It can be anywhere from five to 10. It's not just what gets the most votes, but how the voters rank each of the pictures. But the results are mostly what observers were predicting anyway, except that Paul Thomas Anderson's drama, "The Master," got left out.
Steven Spielberg's biopic "Lincoln," the two real life CIA stories "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty," the musical "Les Miserables," the novel adaptations "Life of Pi," "Silver Linings Playbook," and "Beasts of the Southern Wild," Quentin Tarantino's slavery epic "Django Unchained," and the French film "Amour" about an elderly couple who are facing the end of their lives.
BLOCK: Yeah, and that film - the French language film, "Amour," made a lot of 10 best lists, but a lot of people still haven't heard much about it.
MONDELLO: That's true. It's a terrific movie. And I suppose it's also proof that you should not underestimate the interest of Oscar voters in pictures about aging. It got five nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Original Screenplay and Foreign Language Film.
BLOCK: OK, snubs and surprises and two big omissions in the directing category. No nomination for Ben Affleck for "Argo" and Kathryn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty."
MONDELLO: And there was another surprise. Tom Hooper, the director of "Les Mis," also got left out. It was widely assumed that Steven Spielberg would get the nod for "Lincoln" and maybe Ang Lee for "Life of Pi." But the other three were wild card choices: Michael Haenke for "Amour," Ben Zeitlin for "Beasts of the Southern Wild," and David O'Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook."
BLOCK: And, Bob, what about the acting categories?
MONDELLO: Well, there is a long-standing joke that if you want to an acting nomination, you should play a character with a life-threatening illness - not so much this year. John Hawks played a polio-stricken romantic in "The Sessions," Marion Cotillard lost both of her legs in "Rust and Bone," and neither one got nominated even though they were terrific performances.
The big acting story actually was "Silver Linings Playbook," which swept all four categories - leading man and leading lady, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence and Robert De Niro and Jackie Weaver as Cooper's parents.
BLOCK: I've got to mention here the youngest Best Actress nominee ever, nine-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis for "Beasts of the Southern Wild." She was just six when she shot that movie.
MONDELLO: Amazing, isn't it? She's wonderful, too. I was joking about the Oscar voters loving stories about aging. They also love their grandkids.
BLOCK: Bob, you have a stack of stuff sitting in front of you in the studio. What have you got there?
MONDELLO: I do.
BLOCK: (unintelligible) brand.
MONDELLO: ...for "Silver Linings Playbook." Several of the big studios have films in the running this year and they are really campaigning with promotional stuff, much more than usual. I got 14 coffee table books for everything from "Life of Pi" to "Wreck-It Ralph." From "Lincoln," I got a cookbook about White House recipes, an iPod shuffle loaded with music from "Les Mis," and I even got what appears to be - and you can take a look at this. What appears to be...
BLOCK: Oh, look at that.
MONDELLO: ...a handwritten note on stationary from Sally Field...
BLOCK: Sally Field.
MONDELLO: ...who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress in "Lincoln," emphasis on what appears to be handwritten. I'm not even an Oscar voter. I can just put this on my 10-best list. So just imagine what they're getting. The Academy has rules about what you can send to Oscar voters, but I'm guessing cookbooks are not on the list.
BLOCK: OK. Bob Mondello, thanks so much.
MONDELLO: It's always a pleasure.
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