By Aly Semigran
Despite every prediction about the Oscar race in the weeks leading to the announcement of the Academy Award nominations, there are always a few (wonderful) surprises that throw the whole thing off. This year was certainly no exception.
As last year's Best Supporting Actress winner Mo'Nique and Academy President Tom Sherak announced the nominations for the 83rd Annual Academy Awards, there were some names (and numbers, for that matter) that were nothing short of shockers.
While it's no surprise that current movie-to-beat "The King's Speech" garnered the most nods today with 12, Joel and Ethan Coen's version of "True Grit" came in a close second with 10 nominations. The Western was all but entirely shut out at the Golden Globes, but its mass critical and box-office reception helped catapult it into an Oscar front-runner.
In fact, the Coen brothers have pulled off a triple threat, grabbing nominations for their efforts in writing, producing and directing the film. There was some talk of "True Grit" breakout star Hailee Steinfeld running in the Best Actress race, but the 14-year-old star actually wound up in the Best Supporting Actress category.
But that was hardly the biggest surprise to come out of the notoriously unpredictable Supporting Actress race. After being nominated at the Critics Choice Awards, the Golden Globes and the Screen Actors Guild Awards, "Black Swan" star Mila Kunis was starting to look like something of a lock for a Best Supporting Actress nomination.
That is until this morning when "Animal Kingdom" actress Jacki Weaver got a big bump from dark horse to nominee. The Aussie native's chilling performance as the matriarch of the Cody family in the crime drama wowed voters and bumped Kunis from the running entirely.
A similar shocker took place in the Best Supporting Actor category, where John Hawkes found himself a first-time nominee for his work in the drama "Winter's Bone." Hawkes has gone mostly unnoticed this awards season, but now occupies the spot that has elsewhere been dominated by "The Social Network" actor Andrew Garfield, who has now been edged out.
The bleak indie actually pulled off two big upsets as it snagged the 10th, and final, Best Picture slot, edging out Ben Affleck's Boston heist drama "The Town."
Unless some major upsets happen on Oscar night, you can pretty much expect that nominees Colin Firth ("The King's Speech") and Natalie Portman ("Black Swan") will emerge victorious as Best Actor and Best Actress. But that doesn't mean their categories didn't see some shake-ups this morning.
Though her "Blue Valentine" co-star Ryan Gosling was excluded from the Oscar race entirely, Michelle Williams has earned the second Oscar nomination of her career, this time for Best Actress. Still, when things got down to the wire, the well-deserved Williams (who did earn a Golden Globe nomination, but was snubbed for SAG nod) moved voters enough with her fearless performance as a struggling wife and mother to earn her place.
Javier Bardem may already have an Oscar to his name, but the Academy wanted to call his name again, this time for his work in the film "Biutiful." While the fifth spot was expected to go to veteran actor Robert Duvall for his performance in "Get Low," strong word of mouth (including a campaign by friend/ "Eat Pray Love" co-star Julia Roberts) helped give him the final push to an Oscar nomination.
Which nominations surprised you the most? Tell us in the comments.