LOS ANGELES – Hollywood fired the starting gun Thursday on the most crowded Oscars race in years, with “American Hustle” and 3-D space drama “Gravity” topping the nominations, followed by a wide field of movies hoping for glory on March 2.
“American Hustle” and “Gravity” each racked up 10 nominations, and historical drama “12 Years a Slave” was close behind with nine, in a year chock full of critically acclaimed movies, leaving few clear front-runners ahead of the Academy Awards on March 2.
“I had already felt overwhelmingly blessed to have had the creative ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity that I did on ‘Gravity,’ ” said Sandra Bullock, nominated for best actress.
“The life experience I garnered on this journey is something for which I will forever be grateful,” added Bullock, who plays an astronaut stranded in space with George Clooney.
“American Hustle” already had momentum after winning three major prizes at last weekend’s Golden Globes, Tinseltown’s second most high-profile awards show, while the harrowing “12 Years a Slave” took best drama.
All four key “American Hustle” actors — Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper — won nods.
“To have these actors really put their hearts in it all together, to have them each get a nod is a big deal for us. . . . We created a family together,” said director David O. Russell, who was also nominated.
“Hustle,” “Gravity” and “Slave” were among nine movies nominated for the best picture Oscar, along with “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Somali pirate drama “Captain Phillips,” AIDS activist film “Dallas Buyers Club” and black-and-white road movie “Nebraska” won six Oscar nods each, according to the list released by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
Martin Scorsese’s epic about financial greed, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” and futuristic love story “Her” each got five nominations.
But there were also snubs: two-time Oscar winner Tom Hanks failed to win a nomination for his roles in “Captain Phillips” or “Saving Mr. Banks,” while awards season perennials Ethan and Joel Coen got only two nods for “Inside Llewyn Davis” — neither of them in the main categories.
Veteran actor Robert Redford did not make the best actor shortlist for his powerful solo performance in the shipwreck movie “All is Lost.” Britain’s Emma Thompson, who played Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers in “Saving Mr. Banks,” also was shut out.
Redford took a jab at his film’s studio, Lionsgate.
“I think we suffered from little to no distribution,” he said. “I don’t know why, they didn’t want to spend the money, they were afraid, they were just incapable, I don’t know.”
And there will be no Oscar gold for Lee Daniels’ “The Butler,” about the civil rights era as seen through the eyes of a black White House servant. Star Forest Whitaker and talk show icon Oprah Winfrey, who played his wife, were both shut out.
For best actor, the nominees were Bale, Bruce Dern for “Nebraska,” Leonardo DiCaprio for “The Wolf of Wall Street,” Chiwetel Ejiofor for “12 Years a Slave” and Matthew McConaughey for “Dallas Buyers Club.”
” ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ has been a passion project of mine, and I found the role to be one of the most challenging and rewarding of my career,” DiCaprio said.
Up for the best actress Oscar are Adams, Cate Blanchett for “Blue Jasmine,” Sandra Bullock for “Gravity,” Judi Dench for “Philomena” and Meryl Streep for “August: Osage County.”
“I’m ecstatic,” said Blanchett, who took home a Globe on Sunday along with Adams.
Nominated for best director were Russell, Alfonso Cuaron for “Gravity,” Alexander Payne for “Nebraska,” Steve McQueen for “12 Years a Slave” and Scorsese for “The Wolf of Wall Street.”
Oscar winner Lawrence, who won the best supporting actress Globe, is a favorite in the same category at the Academy Awards.
But she will have stiff competition from Sally Hawkins (“Blue Jasmine”), Lupita Nyong’o (“12 Years a Slave”), Julia Roberts (“August: Osage County”) and June Squibb (“Nebraska”).
For best supporting actor, the nominees are Cooper, Barkhad Abdi for “Captain Phillips,” Michael Fassbender for “12 Years a Slave,” Jonah Hill for “The Wolf of Wall Street” and Jared Leto for “Dallas Buyers Club.”
The 42-year-old Leto, who had not made a movie for six years, won the Globe and has earned widespread praise for his searing performance in a transgender role.
Reactions poured in within minutes of the announcements.
Meryl Streep said: “I am so happy for our film that Julia and I have been nominated. We are both so proud of ‘August: Osage County.’ “
Clooney, Bullock’s “Gravity” co-star, paid tribute to their director. “Alfonso Cuaron is one if the great geniuses in the game. He really is a genius. He hasn’t made a bad film,” he said.
The five contenders for best animated picture are Disney’s fairy tale musical “Frozen,” which won the Golden Globe. It is up against “The Croods,” “Despicable Me 2,” “Ernest & Celestine” and Hayao Miyazaki’s “Kaze Tachinu” (“The Wind Rises.”)
The best foreign-language film nominees include Italy’s “The Great Beauty,” which won the Globe, “The Broken Circle Breakdown” from Belgium, Denmark’s “The Hunt,” Cambodia’s “The Missing Picture” and Palestine’s “Omar.”