* Pencil in Lincoln as the frontrunner at this point, but arguably one of the lesser favorites in several years. I spot a dark horse.
* This is a nice Best Picture pool. I don't see any real pretenders like in previous years where Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close or The Blind Side butted in on better pictures. I don't necessarily love all the nominees, but I respect each of them.
* The most glaring omissions must be Ben Affleck and Kathryn Bigelow for Best Director. Both their films, Argo and Zero Dark Thirty, were considered strong contenders for Best Picture, and both were nominated. But the directors getting the shaft is not a good sign for their chances now. I was really hoping for them to get the nod.
* The Best Director category is all over the map, with the outlier being Behn Zeitlin for Beasts of The Southern Wild. Congrats to him, though I was not impressed with the film overall.
* At least Tom Hooper wasn't nominated for Les Miserables.
* The Master grabbed three acting nominations from Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, but no directing or writing nominations for Paul Thomas Anderson. Nothing else for The Master for that matter. And as much as it pains me to say, I am okay with this. Maybe cinematography and original score could have gone its way. But The Master is not the best picture of the year, and it is not Anderson's best work. It is the most interesting film of the year, but much too inaccessible and obtuse.
* Hugh Jackman for Best Actor for Les Mis stole a nomination from John Hawkes for The Sessions, especially since Helen Hunt grabbed a nom.
* Any nomination for Les Miserables this side of Anne Hathaway is undeserving.
* Supporting actor is another mess in my opinion. Christoph Waltz is fantastic in Django Unchained, but I felt that was Leo DiCaprio's nomination and subsequent win (finally). I can't grasp what it is about DiCaprio, but the Academy never seems to give him his due.
* Continuing on Supporting Actor, Alan Arkin didn't deserve his nomination for Argo, perhaps McConaughey could have gone there. But, I must say it pleases me to see one Robert DeNiro back in a nominee pool for his stellar work in Silver Linings Playbook. Welcome back, Bob.
* The big surprise in Supporting Actress is Jacki Weaver in Silver Linings Playbook. She had very little screen time and very few lines. But her surprising nomination leads me to what is the most encouraging aspect of these nominations...
* Lincoln led the field with 13 nominations and Life of Pi is a close second with 11. Pi will rake in technical awards. And as I mentioned, I respect Lincoln and I admire its craftsmanship, but it isn't my favorite. In third place, surprisingly so, is Silver Linings Playbook with 8 nominations. I am firmly Team Silver Linings. I absolutely love Silver Linings Playbook. It is the most engaging, entertaining, emotionally satisfying picture of the year. I hope it sneaks in and steals the show on Oscar night.
* I feel better, more intrigued, and more engaged with Oscar this year than I have since maybe 2006. This is a solid field and a nice list of nominees for the most part. And I think Seth MacFarlane will light up Oscar night with a little youth and a little edgy humor.