Nominations: Five — before competing for the night’s top honor, Amour‘s Emmanuelle Riva and Michael Haneke will be called for the categories of Best Actress and Best Director; Haneke also scored a nod for Best Original Screenplay, and Amour has a strong shot of taking home the Best Foreign Language Film statuette.
Box office: $1.2 million*
What Owen Gleiberman said: ”It’s an intensely clear-eyed and tender, at times almost voyeuristically intimate, look at what happens to an aging, agreeably married couple when one of them begins to slip away.” (Read more here.)
What director Michael Haneke said: ”It is especially rewarding to discover that a film has found favor among one’s industry peers who know, in particular, the effort that goes into getting a film — any film — made.” (Read more here.) —Denise Warner
*BoxOfficeMojo.com estimated domestic total as of Jan. 24, 2013
Nominations: Seven — in addition to its Best Picture nod, Alan Arkin scored a Best Supporting Actor nod, and Chris Terrio will vie for the Best Adapted Screenplay trophy; Argo also scored well in technical categories, including Best Editing, Score, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing.
Box office: $115.7 million
What Owen Gleiberman said: ”Argo is never less than wildly entertaining, but a major part of its power is that it so ominously captures the kickoff to the world we’re in now.” (Read more here.)
What director/star Ben Affleck said: ”My biggest fear was the competing tones. Part of the movie is a comedy/satire on Hollywood and part of it is more serious — people were hostages in Iran and my fear was if it was too silly, the audience would just think, Oh, I see, we don’t need to care about any of them and we know it will all work out. It was a tough balance to pull off.” (Read more here.) —Mandi Bierly
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Nominations: Four — Benh Zeitlin is up for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay (shared with Lucy Alibar), and star Quvenzhané Wallis has become the youngest performer ever to be nominated for Best Actress.
Box office: $11.5 million
What Lisa Schwarzbaum said: ”In the extraordinary, strikingly original post-Katrina fable Beasts of the Southern Wild, acting novice Quvenzhané Wallis (all of 6 years old when she shot the movie) radiates an amazing gravity and poise as a little Louisiana girl called Hushpuppy…. The wonder is, the whole movie resists categorization.” (Read more here.)
What Zeitlin said: ”The fact that [Quvenzhané] had this strong sense of morality, and the fierceness to defy some director she didn’t know?that was when the character sort of all came into place, I realized this is Hushpuppy, that’s what this whole movie is about: this moral girl who believes in right and wrong so strongly, and has this fierceness and sweetness that are sitting inside her at the same time. That very much comes from Quvenzhané. That’s who she is.” (Read more here.) —Sarah Caldwell
Nominations: Five — though not nominated as a producer in the Best Picture race, director-writer Quentin Tarantino’s efforts were recognized in the Best Original Screenplay category, and star Christoph Waltz will compete for Best Supporting Actor; Django also earned Best Cinematography and Sound Editing nods.
Box office: $140.6 million
What Owen Gleiberman said: ”Tarantino’s deliriously kicky and shameless (and also overly long and scattershot) racial-exploitation epic, is set in the slave days, and among other things, it’s a low-down orgy of flamboyant cruelty and violence: whippings, a scene in which a man gets torn apart by dogs, plus the most promiscuous use of the N-word ever heard in a mainstream movie.” (Read more here.)
What Tarantino said: ”There is no setup for Django, for what we’re trying to do. Truthfully, some people are going to respond badly to the film, and maybe they’ll blame me, and I guess that’s fair enough. No one likes to be misunderstood. It’s a drag.” (Read more here.) —Lanford Beard
Nominations: Eight — while Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway are viable in the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actress races, respectively, most of Les Miz‘s nods came below the line, in categories including Best Original Song, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Production Design, and Sound Mixing.
Box office: $133.3 million
What Lisa Schwarzbaum said: ”It’s a daunting challenge, to be sure, to turn a big musical into a viable movie. For every great Cabaret, My Fair Lady, and The King and I, there’s a dud Rent, Evita, and Mamma Mia!” (Read more here.)
What Jackman said: ”I suppose [the live singing] was a bit like doing a nude scene. When you take your clothes off, everybody is self-conscious, but within an hour…it’s nothing. [Laughs] I definitely felt more and more comfortable as we went. I think everybody did. It would become normal. Everyone was singing. Even the crew was singing!” (Read more here.) —Lanford Beard
Life of Pi
Nominations: Eleven — second only to Lincoln, Pi helmer Ang Lee will vie for Best Director and writer David Magee for Best Adapted Screenplay, plus a boatload of below-the-line nods (Best Cinematography, Editing, Score, Original Song, Production Design, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects).
Box office: $100.8 million
What Lisa Schwarzbaum said: ”Everything looks beautiful in Life of Pi. The dangerous animals look beautiful. The terrible storms look beautiful. The crashing ocean waves, the twinkling stars, the wondrous carnivorous island on which the hero at one point lands — pure gorgeousness, shimmering with all the wow that superlative 3-D technology has to offer.” (Read more here.)
What director Ang Lee said: ”This is the hardest movie I ever made. It seemed like every element was going uphill. It’s also the longest, and most people involved — 3,000 people and four years — and most uncertain. We didn’t know whether it would work or not for a long time.” (Read more here.) —Annie Barrett
Nominations: Twelve — scoring the most nods this year, the film is nominated for Best Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis), Best Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones), Best Supporting Actress (Sally Field), Best Director (Steven Spielberg), and Best Adapted Screenplay (Tony Kushner), as well as for many below-the-line categories (Best Score, Best Costume Design, Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, and Best Sound Mixing).
Box office: $163.1 million
What Owen Gleiberman said: ”Lincoln, which Spielberg has directed from a lyrical, ingeniously structured screenplay by Kushner, is one of the most authentic biographical dramas I’ve ever seen.” (Read more here.)
What star Joseph Gordon-Levitt said: ”I’ve never seen anything like [Day-Lewis’ transformation into America’s 16th President]. I had absolutely no trouble believing this was Abraham Lincoln and that that’s who I was talking to.” (Read more here.) —Denise Warner
Silver Linings Playbook
Nominations: Eight — the first film in decades to receive nominations in all four categories, Silver Linings‘ David O. Russell also hopes to score trophies for Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay; the film also received a nod for Best Editing.
Box office: $ $59.4 million
What Lisa Schwarzbaum said: ”Family nuttiness, football madness, romantic obsession, and certifiable mental illness coexist happily in Silver Linings Playbook — a crazy beaut of a comedy that brims with generosity and manages to circumvent predictability at every turn.” (Read more here.)
What star Jennifer Lawrence said: ”[My proudest moment was] The Toronto Film Festival for the Silver Linings Playbook premiere. I couldn’t sit with my family because I had to sit with the cast. I saw them [afterward], and my dad had tears in his eyes. I’ve never seen my dad with tears in his eyes, ever! My mom was crying too, but she always cries. That was the one moment I allowed myself to feel good. Okay, Mommy and Daddy are happy. This is awesome.” (Read more here.) —Erin Strecker
Zero Dark Thirty
Nominations: Five — whether Zero Dark Thirty takes home the night’s top prize, it also has a shot for Best Actress contender Jessica Chastain, for Mark Boal’s Best Original Screenplay entry, and for the Best Editing and Sound Editing categories.
Box office: $60.1 million
What Owen Gleiberman said: ”Once in a long while, a fresh-from-the-headlines movie — like All the President’s Men or United 93 — fuses journalism, procedural high drama, and the oxygenated atmosphere of a thriller into a new version of history written with lightning. Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s meticulous and electrifying re-creation of the hunt for Osama bin Laden, is that kind of movie.” (Read more here.)
What Bigelow said: ”The point was to immerse the audience in this landscape, not to pretend to debate policy. Was it difficult to shoot? Yes. Do I wish [torture] was not part of that history? Yes, but it was.” (Read more here.) —Hillary Busis