Composer Alexandre Desplat, who wrote the music for ‘‘Zero Dark Thirty’’ and ‘‘Argo’’ and earned a best-score nomination for the latter, said he was puzzled over Affleck and Bigelow’s exclusion.
‘‘I think they both deserved to be nominated,’’ Desplat said. ‘‘Unfortunately, I don’t decide.’’
‘‘Zero Dark Thirty’’ has had backlash in Washington, where some lawmakers say it falsely suggests that torture produced a tip that led the U.S. military to Bin Laden. It’s hard to imagine that affecting the film’s Oscar nominations, though, given Hollywood’s history of playing loose with facts in depicting true-life stories.
The academy’s directing snubs virtually take ‘‘Argo,’’ ‘'Les Miserables’’ and ‘‘Zero Dark Thirty’’ out of the best-picture race, since a movie almost never wins the top prize if the filmmaker is not nominated. It can happen — 1989’s ‘‘Driving Miss Daisy’’ did it — but a directing nomination usually goes hand-in-hand with a best-picture win.
The nominations held other surprises. ‘‘Amour’’ won the top prize at last May’s Cannes Film Festival but mainly was considered a favorite for the foreign-language Oscar. It wound up with five nominations, the same number as ‘‘Zero Dark Thirty,’’ which came in with expectations of emerging as a top contender.
Along with best-picture, director and foreign-language film, ‘‘Amour’’ picked up nominations for Haneke’s screenplay and best actress for Emmanuelle Riva as an ailing, elderly woman tended by her husband.
‘‘It’s the last stage of my life, so this nomination is a gift to me, a dream I could never had imagined,’’ Riva said. ‘‘Michael’s talent is to make the film real. ... That’s why it touched the world. We are all little, fragile people on this earth, sometimes nasty, sometimes generous.’’
Riva is part of a multi-generational spread: At 85, Riva is the oldest best-actress nominee ever, while 9-year-old Quvenzhane Wallis is the youngest ever for her role as the spirited bayou girl in ‘‘Beasts of the Southern Wild.’’
Spielberg matched his personal Oscar best as ‘‘Lincoln’’ tied the 12 nominations that ‘‘Schindler’s List’’ received.
Two of Spielberg’s stars could join the Oscar super-elite. Both Day-Lewis and Field have won two Oscars already. A third would put them in rare company with previous triple winners Ingrid Bergman, Walter Brennan, Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep. Katharine Hepburn holds the record with four acting Oscars.
A best-picture win would be Spielberg’s second, while another directing win would be his third, a feat achieved only by Frank Capra and William Wyler, who each earned three directing Oscars, and John Ford, who received four.
‘‘Lincoln’’ also was the ninth best-picture nominee Spielberg has directed, moving him into a tie for second-place with Ford. Only Wyler directed more best-picture nominees, with 13.
‘‘I think Steven is a full-fledged genius. I think he has transformed the motion-picture industry more than once, and he’s constantly pushing the envelope and changing,’’ Field said. ‘‘He stands alone. And he has the most profound respect, and he’s a scholar of John Ford and William Wyler and many others. ... He’s a scholar of all of this because he’s so endlessly curious.’’
AP entertainment writers Christy Lemire, Sandy Cohen, Anthony McCartney and Derrik Lang in Los Angeles and AP writers Jill Lawless in London and Thomas Adamson in Paris contributed to this report.