<p>Quvenzhané Wallis and Benh Zeitlin, Oscar nominees for &quot;Beasts of the&nbsp;Southern Wild&quot;</p>

Quvenzhané Wallis and Benh Zeitlin, Oscar nominees for "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Credit: Fox Searchlight Pictures

Oscar brings surprises aplenty as frontrunners miss and fairytales come true

The 85th annual nominations packed an intriguing punch

Well, then. That was a cold blast of water to the faces of Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow this morning. The directors of "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty" respectively failed to be nominated for their films, each of which were frontrunners for a potential win in the Best Picture race leading into today's announcement and assumed nominees for their work on the CIA thrillers. But without a Best Director nod, it's generally a little tough to take the big prize, and so, the biggest shock of the day is their failure to get in.

They each yielded to perhaps the most surprising nominee of the day, Benh Zeitlin, director of "Beasts of the Southern Wild." Talk about a big, beautiful success story. Sundance is gearing up for another run in just one week and to see this film last a whole year (it debuted at Sundance 2012 where it was picked up by Fox Searchlight) and particularly see this strong a showing (Quvenzhané Wallis was also nominated in the lead actress category, the youngest actress ever to have the honor) is just lovely. Congrats to all involved.

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<p>With 11 nods, &quot;Life of Pi&quot; is far from at sea in the Oscar race.</p>

With 11 nods, "Life of Pi" is far from at sea in the Oscar race.

Credit: 20th Century Fox

'Lincoln' leads, 'Pi' and 'Silver Linings' surge as the Academy serves up a few surprises

Three DGA nominees miss the cut for Best Director

When the Academy announced it was moving up the announcement of its nominees to an unprecedently early date, we knew the ensuing precursor scramble could result in a few surprises. We just didn't know quite how many. With this morning's nominations, they may have played by the book in some respects -- pretty much everyone saw that field-leading haul of nods for Steven Spielberg's "Lincoln" coming -- but in many others, they were on excitingly independent-minded form, freed from the lockstep of Guild thinking.

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<p>The Face of Heroism, AKA Jennifer Lawrence, in &quot;The Hunger Games.&quot;</p>

The Face of Heroism, AKA Jennifer Lawrence, in "The Hunger Games."

Credit: Lionsgate

Roundup: The people love 'The Hunger Games'... and 'Perks'

Also: 'Django' action figure controversy, and R.I.P. David R. Ellis

While the ever-growing club of "Perks of Being a Wallflower" fans are crossing their fingers for a screenplay Oscar nod in the next hour or so, the film's word-of-mouth success was rewarded last night with a People's Choice Award win for Best Dramatic Movie (and Best Dramatic Actress for Emma Watson). It's easy to mock these awards, but it's nice to see actual evidence that this little film has connected with audiences out in the real world. More predictably, "The Hunger Games" took the top award, while Jennifer Lawrence took two prizes, for Best Actress and Face of Heroism -- it's safe to say "Silver Linings Playbook" didn't factor into either of these. Other film category winners include "Ted," Chris Hemsworth, Meryl Streep and Jennifer Aniston -- hey, these awards aren't so bad. [Yahoo!

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<p>Bubble contender Emmanuelle Riva with Daniel&nbsp;Day-Lewis at Monday night's New York&nbsp;Film&nbsp;Critics Circle awards ceremony</p>

Bubble contender Emmanuelle Riva with Daniel Day-Lewis at Monday night's New York Film Critics Circle awards ceremony

Credit: AP Photo/Starpix, Dave Allocca

11th hour thoughts on the eve of the nominations

See you bright and early tomorrow

Okay, so I went back and fiddled with some things this morning before getting on my flight to LA. It's all reflected there and in this afternoon's big gallery story presenting my final predictions along with Greg Ellwood's and Guy Lodge's.

I love how zany this year is. So much that we "know" about an awards season can just be thrown out the window. But of course, there will always be those who claim to have "the knowledge." Don't let 'em fool you.

I have a few wishes, if I might toss them out there. I'd like to see "The Grey " show up. Anywhere. Doesn't matter the category. Any hint that it was seen and loved, that would be great, thanks. (Fat chance, I know.)

I would like to see the actors do the right thing by Emmanuelle Riva. It's the year's best performance, a brave portrayal in the actress's twilight years. And frankly, I'd love to see Jean-Louis Trintignant right there beside her. Indeed, Trintignant and Samuel L. Jackson are my left-field hopefuls that have a fair enough chance to surprise.

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<p>&quot;5 Broken&nbsp;Cameras&quot;</p>

"5 Broken Cameras"

Credit: Kino Lorber

'5 Broken Cameras,' 'Detropia' pick up top prizes at Cinema Eye Honors

A great year of docs well-represented throughout

As I wrote last weekend when I broke down this year's Oscar race for Best Documentary Feature, I really wish I had caught up with "5 Broken Cameras" earlier in the season. It is quite simply one of the most astonishing pieces of work I've seen all year and could easily have figured on my top 10 list (where "The Queen of Versailles" was already featured -- it's been such a great year for the form).

I was happy, then, to see the news that the film took the top prize at tonight's Cinema Eye Honors. Such a bold and respectable call in a year that sees "Searching for Sugar Man" virtually dominating the scene (and likely to win the Oscar, too). I still feel good about the film's chances for a nod; after this win (not that this is an overly predictive), it's clear it has support.

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<p>Kaya Scodelario in &quot;Wuthering Heights.&quot;</p>

Kaya Scodelario in "Wuthering Heights."

Credit: Oscilloscope Pictures

The Long Shot: A salute to the non-contenders

Featuring my ideal-world Oscar ballot

Right, 'tis the night before Oscar Nomination Day, and plenty of creatures are still stirring. Many pundits are still feverishly tweaking their prediction lists, cross-referencing precursor lists and previous years' editions for clues, but like my HitFix colleagues, I've let mine go. These, for better or (probably) worse, are my final guesses -- some pragmatic, some playful -- and I don't much feel like shuffling them any further.

Nor, really, do I feel like talking about them much further. I could use this column to explain the method (minimal) behind my eight-nominee Best Picture lineup or the madness (maximal) behind predicting a Best Original Song nod for "The Sambola!," but any such rationalizations reach their sell-by date in just a few hours' time. I could look ahead to the next stage of the race, and the contenders likeliest to win it, but thanks to the Academy's reconfigured calendar, we still have over six weeks left in which to exhaust that topic. (Thank heavens we have some festivals in the interim to break up the conversation.)

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<p>&quot;Keep the Lights On&quot; was the one film to score in both the Film of the Year and LGBT Film of the Year categories.</p>

"Keep the Lights On" was the one film to score in both the Film of the Year and LGBT Film of the Year categories.

Credit: Music Box Films

'Les Mis' leads Gay and Lesbian Critics nods

Other nominees range from 'Argo' to 'Pitch Perfect'

The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics' Association has added its list of nominees to the very tall pile, and in a wholly non-stereotypical turn of events, "Les Misérables" leads the film field with four citations, including one particularly likely to aggravate its detractors -- for Visually Striking Film of the Year. "Argo," "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "Lincoln" join"Les Mis" in the top category, but there's more individuality to be found in the more specialized races, where the pleasingly alliterative trio of "The Perks of Being  a Wallflower," "The Paperboy" and "Pitch Perfect" all feature, while "Keep the Lights On" scored in both the Film of the Year and LGBT Film of the Year fields. Full list of film nominees below; everything else at The Circuit.

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<p>Paul N.J. Ottosson at the 2009 Academy Awards, with his two Oscars for &quot;The Hurt Locker.&quot;</p>

Paul N.J. Ottosson at the 2009 Academy Awards, with his two Oscars for "The Hurt Locker."

Credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles

Tech Support: Paul N.J. Ottosson on the subtly explosive soundscapes of 'Zero Dark Thirty'

The Oscar-winning sound designer takes an organic approach to action

There's a standard line in awards-watching circles that voters often confuse Best Sound with Most Sound, but yesterday's nominations for the Cinema Audio Society awards didn't quite bear that out. Nestled between the thundering action of “The Hobbit” and “Skyfall,” and the showy live-vocal capture of “Les Mis,” we had the soft, chamber-y echoes of “Lincoln” and, most interestingly of all, “Zero Dark Thirty” – a film that takes a refreshingly understated sonic approach to territory Hollywood tends to fill with cacophonous fireworks.

This isn't the first time Swedish-born sound designer Paul N.J. Ottosson has been recognized for his muscular-but-delicate artistry on a Kathryn Bigelow thriller – three years ago, with collaborator Ray Beckett, he won the CAS Award, not to mention two Oscars, for his unnerving soundscapes on “The Hurt Locker.” That film, with its narrative expressly based around explosives, was a sound man's playground, compared to which “Zero Dark Thirty” concentrates its pyrotechnics in shorter bursts.

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<p>&quot;Lincoln&quot;</p>

"Lincoln"

Credit: DreamWorks Pictures

'Lincoln' wins with Iowa critics

The film won Best Film, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor

"Lincoln" has picked up a third Best Picture critics prize, landing the Iowa Film Critics Association award for the year's best film. Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis and Tommy Lee Jones were also singled out for the biopic, while Jessica Chastain ("Zero Dark Thirty") and Anne Hathaway (Les Misérables") rounded out the acting honors. Check out the full list below and keep track of it all via The Circuit.

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<p>Roger Deakins picked up his 11th&nbsp;ASC&nbsp;nomination, for &quot;Skyfall.&quot;</p>

Roger Deakins picked up his 11th ASC nomination, for "Skyfall."

Credit: Sony Pictures

'Anna Karenina,' 'Les Mis,' 'Life of Pi,' 'Lincoln,' 'Skyfall' grab ASC nominations

'Django Unchained,' 'The Master,' 'Zero Dark Thirty' miss the cut

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) has announced nominees for its 27th annual awards honoring excellence in cinematography.

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