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'12 Years a Slave' Nabs Nine Oscar Nods; Other Top Black Films Shut Out

Stacy M. Brown | 1/16/2014, 3:01 p.m.
Chiwetel Ejiofor in 2013's "12 Years a Slave"

With such great African-American films as "The Butler," "Fruitvale Station," "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom" and "12 Years a Slave," many critics labeled 2013 as the year of the black movies.

Apparently, Academy Award voters weren't too impressed.

While Forrest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Idris Elba, Michael B. Jordan and others gave some of the year's most memorable performances, the only black motion picture to receive recognition when the Oscar nominations were announced Thursday, Jan. 16 was "12 Years a Slave," the story of a black man from New York kidnapped into slavery in the 1800s.

The film received nine nominations, including best film, best director for Steve McQueen, and best actor for Chiwetel Ejiofor, who portrayed Northup much to the delight of moviegoers and critics, many of whom lauded his performance as one of the best in decades.

John Ridley, who adapted the screenplay for "12 Years," received a nomination and, if he takes home the trophy during the 86th Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, March 2, he will become just the second black writer to win in that category.

McQueen would also be the first African-American ever to win best director.

The nominations, which were announced in Los Angeles where the awards show will take place, were dominated by the films "American Hustle" and "Gravity," each receiving 10 nominations.

"Captain Phillips," "Dallas Buyers Club" and "Nebraska" each received six nominations, while "Her," "Philomena" and "The Wolf of Wall Street" were nominated for best picture.

Director Lee Daniels and his film, "The Butler," which starred Oprah Winfrey, Forrest Whitaker and other African-American A-list celebrities, failed to garner a nomination despite the film's critical and box office success.

"Fruitvale Station, which depicted the life of Oakland's Oscar Grant, also failed to gain a nomination despite stellar performances from Jordan and Octavia Spencer.

Many were also surprised that Idris Elba was snubbed after his stunning portrayal of the late civil rights icon Nelson Mandela.

Academy voters did recognize the lead song from "Mandela," nominating rock group U2 on Thursday in the best original song category for "No Ordinary Love."

List of nominations:

Best picture

"12 Years a Slave"

"American Hustle"

"Captain Phillips"

"Dallas Buyers Club"

"Gravity"

"Her"

"Nebraska"

"Philomena"

"The Wolf of Wall Street"

Director

Alfonso Cuarón, "Gravity"

Steve McQueen, "12 Years a Slave"

Alexander Payne, "Nebraska"

David O. Russell, "American Hustle"

Martin Scorsese, "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Lead actor

Christian Bale, "American Hustle"

Bruce Dern, "Nebraska"

Chiwetel Ejiofor, "12 Years a Slave"

Matthew McConaughey, "Dallas Buyers Club"

Leonardo DiCaprio, "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Lead actress

Amy Adams, "American Hustle"

Cate Blanchett, "Blue Jasmine"

Judi Dench, "Philomena"

Meryl Streep, "August: Osage County"

Sandra Bullock, "Gravity"

Supporting actor

Barkhad Abdi, "Captain Phillips"

Bradley Cooper, "American Hustle"

Michael Fassbender, "12 Years a Slave"

Jonah Hill, "The Wolf of Wall Street"

Jared Leto, "Dallas Buyers Club"

Supporting actress

Sally Hawkins, "Blue Jasmine"

Jennifer Lawrence, "American Hustle"

Lupita Nyong'o, "12 Years a Slave"

Julia Roberts, "August: Osage County"

June Squibb, "Nebraska"

Costume design

"American Hustle," Michael Wilkinson

"The Grandmaster," William Chang Suk Ping

"The Great Gatsby," Catherine Martin

"The Invisible Woman," Michael O'Connor

"12 Years a Slave," Patricia Norris

Film editing

"American Hustle," Jay Cassidy, Crispin Struthers and Alan Baumgarten

"Captain Phillips," Christopher Rouse

"Dallas Buyers Club," John Mac McMurphy and Martin Pensa

"Gravity," Alfonso Cuarón and Mark Sanger

"12 Years a Slave," Joe Walker

Original score

"The Book Thief," John Williams

"Gravity," Steven Price

"Her," William Butler and Owen Pallett

"Philomena," Alexandre Desplat

"Saving Mr. Banks," Thomas Newman 

Original song

"Alone Yet Not Alone" from "Alone Yet Not Alone"

"Happy" from "Despicable Me 2"

"Let It Go" from "Frozen"

"The Moon Song" from "Her"

"Ordinary Love" from "Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom"