Comment: Strange inclusions and surprise omissions

A scene from American Hustle. Picture: AP
A scene from American Hustle. Picture: AP
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THE frontrunners for this year’s Oscar race are pretty much as predicted, with American Hustle and Gravity securing ten nominations apiece, 12 Years a Slave lagging just behind with nine, and a lot of the same nominees from the Golden Globes and the Baftas making up the numbers in the other categories.

That said, the Oscars always ends up with a few wild cards in the main categories and the strong showing for the sentimental Brit flick Philomena is particularly baffling, particularly since it seems to have kept the Coen brothers’ infinitely superior Inside Llewyn Davis out of contention for any of the main prizes.

The Coens weren’t the only surprise omission though: Tom Hanks’s emotionally devastating performance in Captain Phillips missed out, although the film secured a very well-deserved supporting acting nomination for Barkhad Abdi, the Somali-American actor who went head to head with Hanks in Paul Greengrass’s hijacking thriller.

Elsewhere, the running joke that Meryl Streep only has to appear in a movie to secure a nomination was sustained this year when she picked up yet another nod for her dull, prosaic turn in August: Osage County.

The awards for best director and best film are likely to go American Hustle, Gravity or 12 Years a Slave. All three are brilliant films and, while there seems to be some consternation that the entertainment value of Gravity or American Hustle might trump the seriousness of 12 Years a Slave, in truth, each would be a worthy winner.