It's a good morning for Harvey Weinstein, Fox and Sony Pictures Classics. Sifting through the more surprising-than-usual list of Academy nominations, these are the three big winners of the fierce behind-the-scenes campaigning that movie studios, their specialty divisions (and their consultants) do to get their pictures, directors, actors, etc. onto the hallowed Oscars short list.
The Weinstein Company has the enviable dilemma of now having to decide how to run two Best Picture campaigns for Silver Linings Playbook and Django Unchained. It also managed to get Joaquin Phoenix a Best Actor nomination for The Master despite Phoenix's slagging of the Oscars as the "stupidest thing in the world" and the picture's quick fade as a contender in the awards buzz circus. David O. Russell's nomination, after being passed over by the Director's Guild, is another sign of TWC's political muscle, particularly since the Silver Linings Playbook director is an outsider in Hollywood — like Weinstein and Phoenix, for that matter. (Okay, so Weinstein may be way more inside than he was in the Miramax days, but he's still an outsider. Fox employee and this year's Oscars host Seth MacFarlane made that clear earlier this morning, when referring to the Best Supporting Actress nominees, he cracked: "Congratulations, you five ladies no longer have to pretend to be attracted to Harvey Weinstein.")
Fox and Sony also did well in the Best Picture category: Fox 2000 has Life of Pi and Fox Searchlight has Beasts of the Southern Wild in the top category, but Sony is the more interesting story here. While the Annapurna-produced Columbia Pictures-distributed Zero Dark Thirty was nominated for Best Picture as expected, director Kathryn Bigelow's omission in the Best Director category goes down as one of the biggest snubs of this morning. On the other hand, the nominations of Sony Pictures Classics' Amour in the Best Picture and Best Foreign Picture categories and Michael Haneke for Best Director is quite a coup for the mini major given the competition this year and the film's difficult subject matter. In other words, Haneke's gain is related to Bigelow's loss.
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