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There were plenty of surprises among the nominations and snubs for this year's Academy Awards — but the end result will be an Oscar ceremony as predictable as the ending of "Lincoln."

"Lincoln," Steven Spielberg's epic chronicle of the final months of the 16th president's administration, scored a leading 12 nominations Thursday — and, thanks to some notable omissions in the Best Director category, its path to a Best Picture win seems unstoppable.

The nine nominees for Best Picture are: "Lincoln," the French-language old-age drama "Amour," the Iranian hostage thriller "Argo," the surreal Louisiana Delta tale "Beasts of the Southern Wild," the blaxploitation homage "Django Unchained," the mega-musical "Les Misérables," the ocean survival story "Life of Pi," the neurotic comedy "Silver Linings Playbook" and the hunt-for-Osama spy procedural "Zero Dark Thirty."

But "Lincoln's" Best Picture success seems assured with the snubs in the Best Director category, as three filmmakers expected to challenge Spielberg — Kathryn Bigelow ("Zero Dark Thirty"), Ben Affleck ("Argo") and Tom Hooper ("Les Misérables") — were left off the list. It is rare for a movie to win Best Picture without its director being nominated.

Spielberg's fellow nominees are Ang Lee for "Life of Pi," David O. Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook" and surprise nods for Michael Haneke for "Amour" and Benh Zeitlin for "Beasts of the Southern Wild."

The acting nominations yielded some history. We will see the youngest and the oldest Best Actress nominees ever: Quvenzhané Wallis, 9, as a tough-as-nails child in "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and Emmanuelle Riva, 85, as a deteriorating stroke victim in "Amour." They will face competition from Jennifer Lawrence as a hard-edged widow in "Silver Linings Playbook," Jessica Chastain as a driven CIA operative in "Zero Dark Thirty" and Naomi Watts as a mother trying to survive the 2002 tsunami in "The Impossible."

Daniel Day-Lewis' portrayal of Abraham Lincoln is the favorite for Best Actor. The other four nominees are Bradley Cooper as a released mental patient in "Silver Linings Playbook," Hugh Jackman's singing Jean Valjean in "Les Misérables," Joaquin Phoenix as a disaffected World War II veteran in "The Master" and Denzel Washington as an alcoholic pilot in "Flight."

"Silver Linings Playbook" scored nominations for Best Picture, directing and all four acting categories, a feat not accomplished since Warren Beatty's "Reds" in 1981.

All five Supporting Actor nominees are previous Oscar winners. They are Alan Arkin as a cantankerous movie producer in "Argo," Robert De Niro as an OCD-afflicted sports fan in "Silver Linings Playbook," Philip Seymour Hoffman as a spiritual leader in "The Master," Tommy Lee Jones as a rambunctious congressman in "Lincoln" and Christoph Waltz as a smooth-talking bounty hunter in "Django Unchained."

Anne Hathaway's brief, tragic turn as Fantine in "Les Misérables" is the favorite in the Supporting Actress category. Hathaway is up against Amy Adams as a secretly steely wife in "The Master," Sally Field for her portrayal of Mary Todd Lincoln in "Lincoln," Helen Hunt as a no-nonsense sex therapist in "The Sessions" and Jacki Weaver as an understanding mom in "Silver Linings Playbook."

No surprises in the Animated Feature category, with all five nominees coming from Hollywood studios. Three were from Disney: the stop-motion Halloween comedy "Frankenweenie," the video-game story "Wreck-It Ralph" and Pixar's Scottish tale "Brave." Also nominated were another stop-motion monster movie, "ParaNorman," and the clay-animated "The Pirates! Band of Misfits."

"Beasts of the Southern Wild," an out-of-nowhere hit from last year's Sundance Film Festival, took four nominations: picture, directing, actress and adapted screenplay. Sundance was also the launchpad for Hunt's Oscar campaign for "The Sessions" and produced an Original Song nomination for "Before My Time" from the environmental documentary "Chasing Ice."

Four of the Documentary Feature nominees debuted at Sundance last year: the Palestinian chronicle "5 Broken Cameras"; the history of AIDS activism, "How to Survive a Plague"; the exposé of sexual assault in the military, "The Invisible War"; and the profile of singer Sixto Rodriguez, "Searching for Sugar Man." The fifth nominee — "The Gatekeepers," a history of the Israeli "peace process" — plays this year's Sundance later this month.

Besides the surprise snubs in the directing category, there were a few glaring absences in Thursday's nominations:

• No mention of John Hawkes' portrayal of a quadriplegic poet in "The Sessions" or Waltz's "Django" co-stars, Leonardo DiCaprio or Samuel L. Jackson.

• Some actresses who didn't get the expected Oscar love: Marion Cotillard as an angry amputee in "Rust and Bone," Nicole Kidman for her sultry siren in "The Paperboy," Maggie Smith as a bigoted pensioner in "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" or her "Marigold" co-star, Judi Dench, for playing the spymaster M in "Skyfall."

• Only one nomination, for original screenplay, for Wes Anderson's whimsical coming-of-age comedy "Moonrise Kingdom."

• No screenplay (or any other) nominations for Rian Johnson's clever time-travel script for "Looper" or Stephen Chbosky's teen-angst drama "The Perks of Being a Wallflower."

• "The Dark Knight Rises," the epic conclusion of Christopher Nolan's "Batman" trilogy, was shut out, even in the technical categories.

• Despite heavy backing from The Weinstein Company, the French comedy-drama "The Intouchables" and the documentary "Bully" were both off Oscar's lists.

The 85th Academy Awards broadcasts live from the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood on Sunday, Feb. 24, on ABC (KUTV, Channel. 4, in Utah).

Twitter: @moviecricket

Oscar night

The 85th Academy Awards ceremony takes place Sunday, Feb. 24, at Hollywood's Dolby Theatre. It will be telecast live starting at 5 p.m. on ABC (KUTV, Channel 4, in Utah).

Why nine?

Oscar rules expanded the Best Picture category to 10 nominees in 2010 and tweaked the rules further for the 2012 ceremony. Now to make the list, a movie must rank in the top 10 of all votes and receive 5 percent of first-place ballots. —

And the nominees are …

Here is the complete list of 85th Annual Academy Award nominations announced Thursday:

Best Picture • "Amour," "Argo," "Beasts of the Southern Wild," "Django Unchained," "Les Misérables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Zero Dark Thirty."

Actor • Bradley Cooper, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Daniel Day-Lewis, "Lincoln"; Hugh Jackman, "Les Misérables"; Joaquin Phoenix, "The Master"; Denzel Washington, "Flight."

Actress • Jessica Chastain, "Zero Dark Thirty"; Jennifer Lawrence, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Emmanuelle Riva, "Amour"; Quvenzhané Wallis, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; Naomi Watts, "The Impossible."

Supporting Actor • Alan Arkin, "Argo"; Robert De Niro, "Silver Linings Playbook"; Philip Seymour Hoffman, "The Master"; Tommy Lee Jones, "Lincoln"; Christoph Waltz, "Django Unchained."

Supporting Actress • Amy Adams, "The Master"; Sally Field, "Lincoln"; Anne Hathaway, "Les Misérables"; Helen Hunt, "The Sessions"; Jacki Weaver, "Silver Linings Playbook."

Directing • Michael Haneke, "Amour"; Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; Ang Lee, "Life of Pi"; Steven Spielberg, "Lincoln"; David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook."

Foreign Language Film • "Amour," Austria; "Kon-Tiki," Norway; "No," Chile; "A Royal Affair," Denmark; "War Witch," Canada.

Adapted Screenplay • Chris Terrio, "Argo"; Lucy Alibar and Benh Zeitlin, "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; David Magee, "Life of Pi"; Tony Kushner, "Lincoln"; David O. Russell, "Silver Linings Playbook."

Original Screenplay • Michael Haneke, "Amour"; Quentin Tarantino, "Django Unchained"; John Gatins, "Flight"; Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola, "Moonrise Kingdom"; Mark Boal, "Zero Dark Thirty."

Animated Feature Film • "Brave"; "Frankenweenie"; "ParaNorman"; "The Pirates! Band of Misfits"; "Wreck-It Ralph."

Production Design • "Anna Karenina," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Les Misérables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln."

Cinematography • "Anna Karenina," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Skyfall."

Sound Mixing • "Argo," "Les Misérables," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Skyfall."

Sound Editing • "Argo," "Django Unchained," "Life of Pi," "Skyfall," "Zero Dark Thirty."

Original Score • "Anna Karenina," Dario Marianelli; "Argo," Alexandre Desplat; "Life of Pi," Mychael Danna; "Lincoln," John Williams; "Skyfall," Thomas Newman.

Original Song • "Before My Time" from "Chasing Ice," J. Ralph; "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" from "Ted," Walter Murphy and Seth MacFarlane; "Pi's Lullaby" from "Life of Pi," Mychael Danna and Bombay Jayashri; "Skyfall" from "Skyfall," Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth; "Suddenly" from "Les Misérables," Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer and Alain Boublil.

Costume • "Anna Karenina," "Les Misérables," "Lincoln," "Mirror Mirror," "Snow White and the Huntsman."

Documentary Feature • "5 Broken Cameras," "The Gatekeepers," "How to Survive a Plague," "The Invisible War," "Searching for Sugar Man."

Documentary (short subject) • "Inocente," "Kings Point," "Mondays at Racine," "Open Heart," "Redemption."

Film Editing • "Argo," "Life of Pi," "Lincoln," "Silver Linings Playbook," "Zero Dark Thirty."

Makeup and Hairstyling • "Hitchcock," "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Les Misérables."

Animated Short Film • "Adam and Dog," "Fresh Guacamole," "Head Over Heels," "Maggie Simpson in 'The Longest Daycare,' " "Paperman."

Live Action Short Film • "Asad," "Buzkashi Boys," "Curfew," "Death of a Shadow (Dood van een Schaduw)," "Henry."

Visual Effects • "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey," "Life of Pi," "Marvel's The Avengers," "Prometheus," "Snow White and the Huntsman."

The Associated Press

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