With the announcement of this year’s Oscar nominations Jan. 16, Lee Daniels’ The Butler and Oprah Winfrey’s acclaimed performance in the film were once again snubbed –as with the Golden Globes and the Producers Guild—receiving zero nominations.
But for 12 Years a Slave, the nominations firmly entrenched its status as one of the year’s best films. The pre-Civil War slavery tale garnered nine Oscar nominations, just one short of this year’s industry favorites American Hustle and Gravity, who led with 10 nods each.
Based on the 1853 memoir of Solomon Northup, a free Black man who was kidnapped and subjected to 12 years of brutal servitude, 12 Years was nominated in five of the major categories: best picture, best leading actor (Chiwetel Ejiofor), best director (Steve McQueen), best supporting actress (Lupita Nyong’o) and best supporting actor (Michael Fassbender).
The picture will also compete in the best adapted screenplay (John Ridley), best costume design, best film editing and best production design categories.
Barkhad Abdi was another of the Black actors to be recognized, gaining the nod for his supporting role as a Somali pirate in Captain Phillips, which was based on the true story of the hijacking of the Maersk Alabama in 2009. The first-time actor of Somali descent is, perhaps, the rags-to-riches story of this year’s nominees. The former limousine driver from Minneapolis said he went to audition for the role after seeing a casting call on television.
Despite these recognitions, the 2014 awards season is turning out to be another letdown for African-American film.
While 12 Years also led in Golden Globe nominations (7 nods), it only captured one; and a similar fate could await the film at the Academy Awards.
The Nelson Mandela biopic Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom only received a single nod — best original song for U2's "Ordinary Love" – in the major Oscar categories.
The Oscars are to be awarded March 2.
See the full list of nominations here.
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