2014 Oscars: Nine jostle for Hollywood's top film

Sandra Bullock in Gravity

Two films, space adventure Gravity and fraud comedy American Hustle, head Hollywood’s Oscars with 10 nominations each, while 12 Years a Slave has nine.

It is one of the most crowded and competitive awards seasons yet, with in recent years yet, with six other highly touted nominees for best picture: Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska, Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street.

The awards favour films released late in the year and several have yet to hit New Zealand screens but are due for release over the next few weeks.

Oscar nomination also helps bring box success to formerly obscure films.

There are few surprises among the nominations, though some leading stars have been overlooked in the acting stakes and several high-profile films left out.

Saving Mr Banks, about the making of Mary Poppins, the Coen Brothers’ Inside Llewyn Davis and historical race drama Lee Daniels’ The Butler weren’t nominated in any prominent categories.

Other snubs include Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips and Robert Redford in the lost-at-sea story All is Lost, and Emma Thompson for her role as author PL Travers in Saving Mr Banks.

Best director nominees were Alfonso Cuaron for Gravity, Steve McQueen for 12 Years a Slave, Alexander Payne for Nebraska, David O Russell for American Hustle and Martin Scorsese for The Wolf of Wall Street.

New Zealand’s only prospect, Sir Peter Jackson’s second in The Hobbitt trilogy, is nominated in three technical categories, including visual effects.

At the Golden Globes, American Hustle was named best comedy or musical film while 12 Years a Slave won the trophy for best dramatic movie. Cuaron took home the prize for best director.

The Academy Awards ceremony will be held on March 3 (New Zealand time), hosted by Ellen DeGeneres.

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