The Academy Awards appear to be the three-horse race many expected they would be, with "Gravity," "American Hustle" and "12 Years a Slave" all receiving a heap of nominations in an Oscar field that blends otherworldly endurance with glamorous escapism.
The nominations for the 86th Academy Awards, announced Thursday morning in Beverly Hills, Calif., were led by the 3-D space odyssey "Gravity" and the con-artist caper "American Hustle," both with 10 nominations. The harrowing historical epic "12 Years a Slave" trailed closely with nine nominations.
All were among the nine films nominated for best picture. The other nominees are "Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club," "Her," "Nebraska," "The Wolf of Wall Street" and "Philomena."
The most notable omission by the academy was Tom Hanks, whose lead performance in "Captain Phillips" was widely considered a shoo-in. It was a particularly surprising snub since Hanks is widely beloved by the academy, having been nominated five times previously, winning for "Forest Gump" and "Philadelphia."
Robert Redford, expected by many to be nominated for the shipwreck drama "All Is Lost," also missed out on a best actor nod. Redford has never won an acting Oscar.
The best actor nominees are Chiwetel Ejiofor ("12 Years a Slave"), Bruce Dern ("Nebraska"), Leonardo DiCaprio ("The Wolf of Wall Street"), Matthew McConaughey ("Dallas Buyers Club") and Christian Bale ("American Hustle").
The 77-year-old Dern is an Oscar nominee for the second time, 35 years after his nomination for Hal Ashby's "Coming Home." Few have taken more pleasure in awards season than Dern, revitalized by a film he's happily viewed, he estimates, "approaching the upper 30s."
"I can't see it enough to realize how lucky we all were with the collaboration that went on on this particular movie," said Dern. "I feel somehow that the industry has suddenly today put their arms around our little movie."
"Nebraska" earned six nominations, including best director for Alexander Payne and June Squibb for best supporting actress.
Disney's making-of "Mary Poppins" tale "Saving Mr. Banks" surprisingly failed to land either a best picture nomination or a best actress nod for Emma Thompson.
The best actress nominees are Amy Adams ("American Hustle"), Cate Blanchett ("Blue Jasmine"), Sandra Bullock ("Gravity"), Judi Dench ("Philomena") and Meryl Streep ("August: Osage County").
This year's Oscar telecast on March 2, with Ellen DeGeneres hosting for the second time, has particular pressure on it to live up to the increasingly popular Golden Globes. With hosts Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, ratings for the Globes have increased the last two years and drawn good reviews. The Academy Awards have meanwhile struggled to freshen up its more prestigious brand.
But comebacks are always possible. The most notorious flop of 2013, "The Lone Ranger," managed to land two nominations, for visual effects and makeup and hairstyle.