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A comedy about a con artist, a movie about floating alone through space and a brutally honest film about slavery led the pack of Oscar nominations this year.
"American Hustle" and "Gravity" were each nominated 10 times, followed closely by the critically acclaimed "12 Years a Slave" with nine nominations.
The other nominees for best picture are "Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Her," "Nebraska," "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Philomena."
Although the film with the most nominations often takes home the big prize, that isn’t always the case. In six of the past 10 years, the most nominated film hasn’t been able to lock down the coveted best picture award. One instance was in 2011, when Ben Affleck’s "Argo" upset the heavily nominated Steven Spielberg film "Lincoln."
Overall, the nominees for best picture could be viewed as a snapshot of the American cultural consciousness.
Corruption on Wall Street is still a big draw, albeit a controversial one; critics have said "The Wolf of Wall Street" glamorizes the life of notorious trader Jordan Belfort. "Dallas Buyers Club" has found success against the backdrop of an ever-changing landscape of gay rights, and "Her" has put a unique spin on the love story at a time when Americans are more plugged into gadgets than ever.
There were also a handful of films noticeably absent from any category.
"The Butler," a film about an African-American servant in the White House during the civil rights movement, and "Fruitvale Station," a ripped-from-the-headlines film about the police killing of Oscar Grant, weren’t nominated by the Academy.
The two films, which have been well received by audiences and widely praised by critics and film festivals, were also shut out of the Golden Globes this year.
Films chronicling African-American history have had mixed results this award season. Many were well received by audiences, but that has not translated into nominations.
"12 Years a Slave" was heavily nominated at the Golden Globes, and though it managed to snag best picture, it lost in every other category it was nominated in.
"The Butler" has also seen bumpy results. Aside from not being nominated at the Golden Globes, it garnered only three nominations from the prestigiousScreen Actors Guild (SAG) awards. The SAG Award winners will be announced on Saturday.
Gil Robertson, president of the African American Film Critics Association, said that while he would have liked to see more African-American films nominated, the wide array of movies nominated for best picture is a good thing.
"You have everything from a man dealing with AIDS to a woman floating around space. I think it's a good thing because it does reflect a move towards diversity," he said.
"I think ‘12 Years (a Slave)’ is going to win best picture. I think at the end of the day, it’s the type of film that the Academy would bestow that kind of award to. This is the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, and that film reflects a uniquely American experience."
Tom Hanks was snubbed for a best actor nomination for his role in "Captain Phillips." Hanks was considered a shoo-in for a nomination, and is generally well liked by the Academy; he’s been nominated five times and has won for his roles in "Philadelphia" and "Forrest Gump."
The Academy has selected Ellen DeGeneres to host for a second time, as it faces mounting pressure to freshen up the show and bring in younger viewers. The Oscars' ratings have paled in comparison to the increasingly popular Golden Globes, which this year had comedic duo Amy Poehler and Tina Fey as hosts.
The winners will be announced at the Academy Awards ceremony on March 2, broadcast in the U.S. on ABC.
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