(USA TODAY) -- Quvenzhane Wallis is in, Kathryn Bigelow is out and the Oscar nominations are filled yet again with snubs and surprises.
Thursday, Academy voters had no problem voting for the little guy - or
in Wallis' case, the little girl - in their selections for next month's
ceremony. USA TODAY breaks down some of the more intriguing decisions in
the 2013 Oscar field.
NOMINEES: See the complete list
Like last year, the Academy came pretty close to its 10-movie limit with nine nominees total.
The likes of Lincoln and Les Miserables were considered shoo-ins by most, but indie favorite Beasts of the Southern Wild -
about a little girl (Wallis) living in a water-logged, post-apocalyptic
landscape - snuck in as a David to those two Goliaths.
Another minor surprise: Amour,
the Austrian film following two octogenarian lovebirds, seemed to
capture voters' attention with its tale of lifetime romance. It scored a
best foreign-language film nod as well.
The James Bond film Skyfall,
which had been gaining buzz in recent weeks as a possible dark horse,
was left out - it did garner five nods, including original song - as
were a couple other popcorn flicks: the year's biggest movie The Avengers (which nabbed a visual-effects mention) and The Dark Knight Rises, the third Batman film by Christopher Nolan. Some thought Dark Knight might get a token nod for the whole trilogy (a la the final Lord of the Rings movie) but instead was shut out completely.
A filmmaker named Benh was nominated - but not Ben Affleck. The Argo helmer was left out in the cold, but Benh Zeitlin, the first-time director of Beasts of the Southern Wild, was a surprise nominee.
The lack of a nod for Bigelow, whose Zero Dark Thirty has been ruffling political feathers of late, was a shocker. And because of the epic scale of Les Miserables, Tom Hooper wasn't a sure thing but many expected him to be in the mix. Instead? Amour director Michael Haneke.
The best-actor category stayed true to most predictions and was led by Lincoln's Daniel Day-Lewis and Les Miserables' Hugh Jackman. John Hawkes, as a man on life support in The Sessions,
was snubbed for Joaquin Phoenix, who was most recently on the outside
looking in as a World War II vet swayed by a charismatic cult leader in The Master. (If Phoenix shows up at the Oscars it may be a surprise in itself after recent comments in Interview magazine where he called the awards "the stupidest thing in the world.")
The field for supporting actor is filled with previous Oscar winners, including Christoph Waltz as Django Unchained's
smiling bounty hunter. The omission of his co-star Leonardo DiCaprio
for his performance as a sadistic plantation owner was a minor snub -
although only one of the Django castmates was expected to get a slot - and some thought Skyfall villain Javier Bardem had a decent chance after his Screen Actors Guild nomination.
the youngest best-actress nominee ever, 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis is
a surprise although she has been talked about as a worthy contender
since Beasts was released last summer. The biggest snub in her
category was Marion Cotillard, the one-time winner who was expected to
get a nomination for her role as a killer whale trainer who loses her
legs in Rust and Bone.