2012 Academy Awards®
Winners and History
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Academy Awards History (By Decade):
Introduction, 1927/8-39, 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s, 2010s, 2020s
Academy Awards Summaries
Winners Charts:
"Best Picture" Oscar®, "Best Director" Oscar®, "Best Actor" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actor" Oscar®,
"Best Actress" Oscar®, "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar®, "Best Screenplay/Writer" Oscar®

The winner is listed first, in CAPITAL letters.

Filmsite's Greatest Films of 2012

Best Picture

ARGO (2012)

Amour (2012, Fr.)

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Django Unchained (2012)

Life of Pi (2012)

Lincoln (2012)

Les Misérables (2012, US/UK)

Silver Linings Playbook (2012)

Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

Best Animated Feature Film

BRAVE (2012)

Frankenweenie (2012)

ParaNorman (2012)

The Pirates! Band of Misfits (2012, UK/US)

Wreck-It Ralph (2012)

DANIEL DAY-LEWIS in "Lincoln," Bradley Cooper in "Silver Linings Playbook,"" Hugh Jackman in "Les Miserables," Joaquin Phoenix in "The Master," Denzel Washington in "Flight"
JENNIFER LAWRENCE in "Silver Linings Playbook," Jessica Chastain in "Zero Dark Thirty," Emmanuelle Riva in "Amour," Quvenzhané Wallis in "Beasts of the Southern Wild," Naomi Watts in "The Impossible"
Supporting Actor:
CHRISTOPH WALTZ in "Django Unchained," Alan Arkin in "Argo," Robert De Niro in "Silver Linings Playbook," Philip Seymour Hoffman in "The Master," Tommy Lee Jones in "Lincoln"
Supporting Actress:
ANNE HATHAWAY in "Les Miserables," Amy Adams in "The Master," Sally Field in "Lincoln," Helen Hunt in "The Sessions," Jacki Weaver in "Silver Linings Playbook"
ANG LEE for "Life of Pi," Michael Haneke for "Amour," David O. Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook," Steven Spielberg for "Lincoln," Benh Zeitlin for "Beasts of the Southern Wild"

Argo (2012)The Best Picture (and other) races were tightly contested among a handful of top contenders, and the wealth was ultimately very spread out and evenly distributed. The predictable mix of the nine Best Picture nominees vying for victory included a wide range of both traditional studio films and smaller arthouse independent films. By the time of the awards in late February 2013, six nominees had grossed over $100 million - a first in Oscar history. Only Zero Dark Thirty, Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Amour did not reach the mark.

The highly-solid and highest-grossing revenue nominee with the greatest number of nominations, the early front-runner Lincoln, was bested by Argo for Best Picture - a surprise win. Usually, Best Picture winners also have their directors nominated as well. Ben Affleck was one of a few obviously-snubbed Best Picture-nominated directors, including un-nominated Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty. (Some claimed that industry sexism in the director's branch of the Academy remained intact.) A possible sympathy vote and backlash in support of Affleck may have had some impact and possibly accounted for his win for Argo. [Note: The last film to win Best Picture without a director nomination was Bruce Beresford's Driving Miss Daisy (1989), and the previous victors before that were Wings (1927/28) and Grand Hotel (1931/32).]

Director Ben Affleck's and Warner Bros.' film Argo garnered 7 nominations and only 3 wins, including Best Adapted Screenplay by Chris Terrio, Best Film Editing, and Best Picture. At the time of the awards, Argo was only the fourth highest-grossing (domestic) film among the Best Picture nominees. It was a conventional true story-based thriller about CIA agents in the Middle East in the 1970s teaming up with filmmakers to create a fake movie production to help free embassy workers (during the Iran hostage crisis). Its tagline was: "THE MOVIE WAS FAKE. THE MISSION WAS REAL." CIA operative Tony Mendez devised the scheme to rescue the US diplomats who escaped from the American Embassy when it was stormed by Islamic revolutionaries in 1979, but were trapped in the home of the Canadian ambassador in Tehran.

The other eight films in the Best Picture race (in descending order of Oscar wins) were:

  • director Ang Lee's and Fox Studios' Life of Pi (with 11 nominations and 4 wins, including Best Director, Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography, and Best Original Score). It was an adaptation of Yann Martel's best-seller - the tale of a young 16 year-old Indian boy named Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel (Suraj Sharma), who was shipwrecked and lost at sea in a lifeboat - with a menacing CGI Bengal tiger (named Richard Parker). [Note: If it had won Best Picture, it would have been the first 3-D film to do so. Life of Pi was also the only Best Picture nominee that failed to acquire acting nominations. The last Best Picture winner with no acting nominations was Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Rhythm & Hues Studios, the company responsible for its Visual Effects win, recently filed for bankruptcy and laid off hundreds of its employees.]
  • director Tom Hooper's and Universal's Les Miserables (with 8 nominations and 3 wins, including Best Supporting Actress, Best Makeup/Hairstyling, and Best Sound Mixing). It was a spectacular adaptation of the Tony-winning musical, and based on the novel of the same name by French poet and playwright Victor Hugo. [Note: It was the only Best Picture nominee without either an Original or Adapted Screenplay nomination. It was also the first musical to receive a Best Picture nomination since Chicago (2002) won in the category.] The previous 1935 version of the film earned four Academy Award nominations (with no wins), including Best Picture.
  • Lincoln (with 12 nominations, including three acting noms, and only 2 wins: Best Actor and Best Production Design), director Steven Spielberg's effort from Buena Vista studios. The historical Civil War-era epic told of the 16th President's (Daniel Day-Lewis) struggle to pass the 13th Amendment (the abolition of slavery) through Congress. [Note: Spielberg now has a total of eight Best Picture nominations, sharing five nominations for the same films with collaborator Kathleen Kennedy, who also has eight Best Picture nominations.]
  • director Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained (with 5 nominations and 2 wins, including Tarantino's Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor). It was a violent slave-revenge 'spaghetti' western from the Weinstein Company. [Note: Tarantino has now been nominated five times, twice for directing (in 1994 and 2009) and three times for original screenwriting (in 1994, 2009, and 2012) - and he has now won two Best Original Screenplay Oscars, previously winning for Pulp Fiction (1994).]
  • writer/director David O. Russell's ensemble film Silver Linings Playbook (with 8 nominations and only 1 win, Best Actress), a quirky, lost-souls dramedy-romance based upon the best-selling novel by Matthew Quick, about a Philadelphia family and its bi-polar son seeking happiness (and love). From the Weinstein Company. [Note: It was only one of fourteen films in Academy history to have received nominations in all four acting categories. The last film to do this was Reds (1981). It was also the first film since 1981 to receive nominations for Best Picture, Director, Screenplay and all four acting categories. The last film with nominees in all four acting categories to win Best Picture was From Here to Eternity (1953).]
  • director Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty (with 5 nominations and only 1 win, Best Sound Editing), from Sony/Columbia studios, another CIA-based thriller - regarding the almost decade-long military and intelligence effort to track down terrorist leader Osama bin Laden. [Note: Republicans in Congress challenged the film. They called for an investigation into whether the Obama administration leaked classified information to the filmmakers. Even after the film was released, some Academy members called for a boycott because the film contained scenes that allegedly could lead to greater acceptance of torture.]
  • German-born writer/director Michael Haneke's Amour (with 5 nominations and 1 win, Best Foreign Language Film - for Austria), in French with subtitles - a surprise nominee (with the lowest grossing box-office revenue among all the nominees, and for at least 25 years into the past). The unsentimental, deeply-moving film from Sony Classics (and the top prize winner at the Cannes Film Festival) was about a loving Parisian couple, Anne and Georges (85 year-old Emmanuelle Riva and Jean-Louis Trintignant) whose lives were devastated by the wife's deteriorating condition. [Note: Amour was only the 5th film in Academy history to be nominated in both the Best Picture and Best Foreign Language film categories. The film's distributor, Sony Classics, has now won the Foreign-Language film category four years running, and six of the last seven.]
  • co-writer/director Benh Zeitlin's independent hit from Fox Searchlight, Beasts of the Southern Wild (with 4 nominations and no wins), a fantasy film about a young 5 year-old girl named Hushpuppy (Quvenzhané Wallis), living and caring for her unhealthy, hot-headed father Wink in the rising waters of the delta bayou community known as the "Bathtub." [Note: Opening in theaters last June and a hit at Sundance, it was the only Best Picture nominee released before the fall and holiday movie seasons.]

In the Best Director category (with five of the nine directors of Best Picture nominees receiving predictable nods), the winner was 58 year-old Taiwanese filmmaker Ang Lee for Life of Pi. It was his second Best Director win - he won Best Director in the past for Brokeback Mountain (2005), and was also nominated in the category for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). The other Best Director nominees were:

  • 66 year-old Steven Spielberg, a two-time Best Director winner, received his seventh directing nomination (and eighth nomination for Best Picture) for Lincoln. His 12 nominations for Lincoln tied the 12 nominations he previously received for Schindler's List (1993), which won seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Director. [Note: Spielberg won Best Director for two other historical dramas, Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Schindler's List (1993). Spielberg's other previous director nominations included nods for Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981), E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982), and Munich (2005). Also, Spielberg's favored composer, John Williams, marked his 17th nomination for a Spielberg movie for Best Original Score, and it was his 48th nomination overall - the most nominations of any living person. Woody Allen was second with 23, and Walt Disney had 59 nominations.]
  • 54 year-old David O. Russell (with his second director nomination) for Silver Linings Playbook - he had been nominated once before for The Fighter (2010).
  • 70 year-old veteran Austrian film-maker Michael Haneke, a first-time nominee, was nominated for his French-language film Amour.
  • 30 year-old Benh Zeitlin, nominated for Beasts of the Southern Wild, his feature-film debut, was also a first-time nominee.

Four of the 20 acting nominees were first-time nominees, and 9 of the 20 acting nominees were previous winners (including all of the Best Supporting Actor nominees). The two female acting winners, Anne Hathaway and Jennifer Lawrence, were first-time winners (for their second nominations), and the two male acting winners, Daniel Day-Lewis and Christoph Waltz, had won previously in the same categories.

In the Best Actor category, the favorite was the winner - 55 year-old British-born Daniel Day-Lewis (with his fifth Best Actor nomination and third win) for his performance as Abraham Lincoln during his final eight months of life and as President, in Lincoln. [Note: Day-Lewis had four previous Best Actor nominations - with two other wins: My Left Foot (1989) (win), In the Name of the Father (1993), Gangs of New York (2002), and There Will Be Blood (2007) (win).] [Note: Day-Lewis became the first male performer in Academy history to win three lead acting Oscars! He was also the first person to win an Oscar for playing an actual U.S. President. One other actor was nominated for playing Abraham Lincoln: Raymond Massey for Abe Lincoln In Illinois (1940) - Massey lost to Jimmy Stewart in The Philadelphia Story (1940). Day-Lewis was also the first actor to win an Oscar for a Steven Spielberg film.]

The other four Best Actor nominees were:

  • 58 year-old Denzel Washington (with his sixth nomination, and 4th Best Actor nomination), as tragic, heroic, and addicted boozy airline pilot William "Whip" Whitaker who miraculously saved a crashing plane, in Flight (with only two nominations, also Best Original Screenplay). [Note: Washington's previous nominations (with two wins) included: Best Supporting Actor for Cry Freedom (1987) and Glory (1989) (win), and Best Actor for Malcolm X (1992), The Hurricane (1999), and Training Day (2001) (win). [Note: He became the most nominated African-American actor in Academy history.]
  • 38 year-old Joaquin Phoenix (with his third nomination) as violence-prone alcoholic and Navy WWII vet Freddie Quell who joined a philosophical cult known as 'The Cause', led by Lancaster Dodd (Philip Seymour Hoffman), in writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master (with three nominations, all for acting roles!). [Note: Phoenix's two previous nominations were Best Supporting Actor for Gladiator (2000), and Best Actor for Walk the Line (2005).]
  • 44 year-old Australian actor Hugh Jackman (with his first nomination), as Victor Hugo's tragic hero - reformed petty ex-con/thief Jean Valjean, who broke his probation and sought escape from Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe), in Les Miserables. [Note: If Jackman won, it would have been the first Best Actor win for a musical since Rex Harrison's Oscar for My Fair Lady (1964).]
  • 38 year-old Bradley Cooper (with his first nomination), a long-shot nomination for his role as bi-polar psychiatric patient Pat Solitano, a former teacher who had been institutionalized but was trying to get his life back together while living with his parents and romancing a weird young widow (nominated co-star Jennifer Lawrence), in Silver Linings Playbook.

The Best Actress category appeared to be a two-way race between two young actresses (each with their second nomination). None of the Best Actress nominees had won an Oscar before. The contest was won by 22 year-old Jennifer Lawrence (with her second nomination) for Silver Linings Playbook. She portrayed troubled, pushy and wild, recent young widow Tiffany Maxwell - unemployed, neurotic and struggling to heal, who captured the broken heart of recovering romantic interest Pat Solitano (Bradley Cooper). [Note: She was previously nominated as Best Actress for Winter's Bone (2010). She became the youngest performer to receive two Best Actress nominations upon receiving the 2010 nomination, and the third-youngest Best Actress nominee. With the 2012 Best Actress win, she became the second-youngest Best Actress winner ever.]

The other four Best Actress nominees were:

  • 35 year-old Jessica Chastain (with her second nomination) as Maya, the obsessive CIA operative tracking and hunting Al Qaeda's leader Osama bin Laden for many years, in Zero Dark Thirty. [Note: She was previously nominated as Best Supporting Actress the previous year for The Help (2011).]
  • 44 year-old Naomi Watts (with her second nomination), as distraught Spanish mother of three Maria Belon, trying to locate her family (including 12 year old Lucas (Tom Holland)) in the aftermath of the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, while they were vacationing in Thailand over Christmas, in The Impossible (with only one nomination). [Note: This was Watts' second Best Actress nomination, following 21 Grams (2003).]
  • 85 year-old French actress Emmanuelle Riva (with her first nomination) as ailing and elderly octogenarian Anne, a one-time pianist with her left-side paralyzed after a failed operation and tended by her husband Georges until her condition deteriorated, in Amour. [Note: 85 year-old Riva's nomination was a record - she was the oldest Best Actress nominee ever - who would turn 86 on the day of the Oscars' presentation.]
  • 9 year-old Louisiana-born Quvenzhané Wallis (with her first nomination and in her film debut), as spirited and brave young child prodigy Hushpuppy living with her dying father Wink (Dwight Henry) in the Louisiana delta/bayou area known as the "Bathtub," in Beasts of the Southern Wild. [Note: The young actress was only six when she played the role. Now at 9 years of age, she was still the youngest-ever Best Actress nominee. She was the first acting nominee to have a Q in her name.]

The Best Supporting Actor category was composed of veteran nominees who were all previous Oscar winners. The winner was a long-shot - 56 year-old Austrian-born Christoph Waltz (with his second nomination and second win in the category), played the role of ex-German dentist and genteel gunslinging bounty-hunter Dr. King Schultz, who freed Django (Jamie Foxx) and mentored him, in Django Unchained. [Note: Waltz previously won Best Supporting Actor for Inglourious Basterds (2009), another Quentin Tarantino film.]

The other four Best Supporting Actor nominees were:

  • 69 year-old Robert De Niro (with his seventh nomination, and 2nd Best Supporting Actor nomination), as complaining, football-obsessed, unemployed patriarchal dad Pat Solitano Sr., in Silver Linings Playbook. [Note: De Niro has two Oscars: Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather, Part II (1974) and Best Actor for Raging Bull (1980). He also had four other Best Actor nominations, for Taxi Driver (1976), The Deer Hunter (1978), Awakenings (1990), and Cape Fear (1991).]
  • 45 year-old Philip Seymour Hoffman (with his fourth nomination), as charismatic and dynamic New Age messiah Lancaster Dodd, in The Master. [Note: Hoffman won Best Actor for Capote (2005), and was nominated twice before for Best Supporting Actor, for Charlie Wilson's War (2007) and Doubt (2008). In fact, the other two Oscar nominees for The Master were also nominated for 2005 Oscars, which Hoffman won.]
  • 78 year-old Alan Arkin (with his fourth nomination), as crotchety, wily and irascible Hollywood producer Lester Siegel, in Argo. [Note: Arkin's two Best Actor nominations go way back to the 1960's, for The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming! (1966) and The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1968). His sole Oscar win as Best Supporting Actor was for Little Miss Sunshine (2006).]
  • 66 year-old Tommy Lee Jones (with his fourth nomination), as fierce anti-slavery Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, in Lincoln. [Note: Jones was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for JFK (1991) and won his sole Oscar in the same category for The Fugitive (1993). He also was nominated as Best Actor for In the Valley of Elah (2007).]

In the Best Supporting Actress category, there were no first-time nominees. The leading contender was the winner - 30 year-old Anne Hathaway (with her second nomination and first Oscar win) as tragic, heartbreaking, and desperate factory worker/mother Fantine, outcast and forced into prostitution to support her daughter Cosette, in Les Miserables. [Note: Hathaway's previous nomination was Best Actress for Rachel Getting Married (2008).]

The other four Best Supporting Actress nominees were:

  • 38 year-old Amy Adams (with her fourth nomination, all Best Supporting!), as the Messiah's (nominated co-star Philip Seymour Hoffman) calculating yet devoted wife Peggy Dodd, in The Master. [Note: Her three previous Best Supporting Actress nominations were for Junebug (2005), Doubt (2008), and The Fighter (2010).]
  • 66 year-old Sally Field (with her third nomination, and first supporting nomination), as the erratic, stalwart, long-suffering and grieving First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln, in Lincoln. [Note: Field was now a three-time nominee and two-time Best Actress Oscar winner for Norma Rae (1979) and Places in the Heart (1984).]
  • 49 year-old Helen Hunt (with her second nomination), in a raw and often fully-naked performance (actually the lead role!) as married sex surrogate Cheryl Cohen-Greene, working with a disabled man (John Hawkes) who was trying to lose his virginity, in The Sessions. [Note: Hunt's previous sole nomination - and win - was Best Actress for As Good As It Gets (1997).]
  • 65 year-old Australian actress Jacki Weaver (with her second nomination), a surprise nominee, as concerned and doting mother Dolores Solitano, in Silver Linings Playbook. [Note: Her previous Best Supporting Actress nomination was for Animal Kingdom (2010).]

The winner of the Best Animated Feature Film Oscar was director Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman's Brave, made by Disney's Pixar, CGI. Three of the five nominees used stop-motion (frame-by-frame) animation. This was the first time that three stop-motion films were nominated since this category was created in 2001. The other four nominees were:

  • director Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, from Disney
  • director Chris Butler and Sam Fell's zombie comedy ParaNorman
  • director Peter Lord's The Pirates! Band of Misfits
  • director Rich Moore's Wreck-It Ralph, from Disney, CGI

[Note: Starting this year, there were two changes in the titles of awards. The Best Art Direction award was renamed Best Production Design, and the Best Makeup award was renamed Best Makeup and Hairstyling. Also, after expanding the Best Picture nominee roster from five to 10 in 2009, the AMPAS made another change last year. The new rule allowed for 5 to 10 films to be nominated for Best Picture (and nine were nominated this year). If a film received 5% of the ranked first-place votes from Academy members, it would become one of the nominees.]

Most Obvious Omissions or Snubs:

Best Picture: The Dark Knight Rises (the year's second biggest box-office hit), the final installment of Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, was shut out entirely. (His two previous Batman movies combined for nine nominations, and two wins.) Writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master was also absent from the Best Picture category, although it had three acting nominations, as was Moonrise Kingdom about two love-struck 12 year-old runaways in mid-1960s New England, which had only one nomination for Best Original Screenplay.

Best Director: Probably the most egregious mistakes or omissions of the year were in this category: actor-turned-director Ben Affleck was ignored in the category for his third feature film Argo, as was feted female war-film director Kathryn Bigelow for Zero Dark Thirty, Tom Hooper for Les Miserables, Paul Thomas Anderson for The Master, and Quentin Tarantino for Django Unchained. Another oversight for Tarantino's film was the snubbing of Rick Ross and Jamie Foxx for their contribution to the soundtrack - "100 Black Coffins."

Best Actor: Richard Gere was passed over for his role as cheating 60 year-old Wall Street multi-billionaire Robert Miller in Arbitrage, as was John Hawkes as real-life polio victim Mark O'Brien in The Sessions, or Ben Affleck as CIA specialist Tony Mendez in his own Argo.

Best Actress: Missing from the category's nominations were previous Best Actress Oscar-winners Marion Cotillard as killer whale trainer-amputee Stephanie in Rust and Bone, and Helen Mirren as Hitchcock's beleaguered wife Alma Reville during the making of Psycho (1960) in Hitchcock.

Best Supporting Actor: Also unnominated was Leonardo di Caprio as cruel, racist and sadistic plantation owner and slave holder Calvin J. Candie in Django Unchained.

Best Supporting Actress: Many critics thought Maggie Smith should have received a nomination for her role as retired housekeeper Muriel in director John Madden's British comedy-drama The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, about a group of British senior pensioners in a rundown retirement hotel in Jaipur, India run by inept manager Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel).

Best Animated Feature Film: Three didn't make the cut: Sony Pictures Animation's Hotel Transylvania (made with CGI), and two DreamWorks' animations: Rise of the Guardians (CGI) and Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted.

There were no honors for Magic Mike, Perks of Being a Wallflower, Looper, Compliance, or Cloud Atlas. The dominant box-office film of the year, Marvel's The Avengers, tapped only one nomination - Best Visual Effects (which it lost to Life of Pi). And the third highest grossing film of the year, The Hunger Games, also failed to garner a single nomination (although it starred Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence!).

Comedy-genre films were neglected, as expected, with no nominations for Richard Linklater's black comedy Bernie, Seth MacFarlane's R-rated, hugely-popular, directorial debut film Ted (except for one nomination for Best Original Song), Judd Apatow's This Is 40 (a spin-off sequel to Apatow's own Knocked Up (2007)), or Phil Lord's and Chris Miller's action comedy 21 Jump Street.

The 23rd James Bond film - director Sam Mendes' Skyfall, scored five Oscar nominations (a major record for the 50 year-old franchise, the most nominated Bond film ever) and two wins: Best Sound Editing, and Best Original Song (Adele's "Skyfall"). Its other three nominations were for Best Cinematography (Roger Deakins), Best Original Score, and Best Sound Mixing. There was no Best Supporting Actor nomination for villain Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem), or a nod to Judi Dench for her long-running role as M.

[Note about Bond and the Oscars: Adele's "Skyfall" was the first Original Song contender in 10 years to have also been a top-10 hit on Billboard's Hot 100. It was also the first Oscar-nominated Bond tune since For Your Eyes Only (1981). The only two Academy Award wins in previous years for Bond films were Best Sound Effects for Goldfinger (1964), and Best Special Visual Effects for Thunderball (1965).]

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