Seventies con artists, 19th Century slaves and a brave, stranded astronaut will compete for the top Oscars this year, after American Hustle, 12 Years a Slave and Gravity were all nominated for multiple Academy Awards.
American Hustle and Gravity lead the pack with 10 nominations each – though, with nine nominations and a Golden Globe for Best Picture (drama) already to its name, 12 Years A Slave will be considered a favourite for the Best Picture Oscar.
Nine films in all were nominated for Best Picture, also including Captain Phillips, Dallas Buyers Club, Her, Nebraska, Philomena, and The Wolf of Wall Street.
British actors Christian Bale (Hustle) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years) were both named in the Best Actor category, though they will face stiff opposition from Globe-winner Matthew McConaughey, who lost almost 50 pounds to play Aids victim Ron Woodruff in Dallas Buyer’s Club.
Likewise, Dame Judi Dench (Philomena) will have a hard time beating Cate Blanchett to Best Actress; Blanchett remains the runaway favourite for her performance in Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine.
Dench, who played funny and determined Irishwoman Philomena Lee in the true story of Lee’s search for her long-lost son, said of her nomination: “This is just the loveliest news. I'm so happy for everybody involved, and so proud to have been part of the wonderful experience that Philomena has been.”
Steve McQueen, the British artist-turned-filmmaker who made 12 Years a Slave, is among those nominated for Best Director, alongside Alfonso Cuaron (Gravity), David O Russell (Hustle), Alexander Payne (Nebraska) and Martin Scorsese (The Wolf of Wall Street). This is Scorsese’s eighth Best Director nomination, though he has only won once.
Oscars 2014: Best Actor and Actress nominees
Oscars 2014: Best Actor and Actress nominees
1/20 Cate Blanchett (Best Actress)
Blanchett has been nominated for Best Actress for her role as a deeply troubled New York socialite in Blue Jasmine.
2/20 Sandra Bullock (Best Actress)
Bullock is nominated for her performance as a medical engineer in Alfonso Cuaron's space adventure Gravity.
3/20 Meryl Streep (Best Actress)
Here pictured left with Julianne Nicholson and Juliette Lewis, Streep has earned a nod for her performance as Violet Weston in August: Osage County.
4/20 Judi Dench (Best Actress)
British actress Dench is up for Best Actress for her role as Philomena Lee in Stephen Frears' Philomena.
5/20 Amy Adams (Best Actress)
Adams is nominated for Best Actress for her role as Sydney Prosser in American Hustle - here pictured left with Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner, Christian Bale and Jennifer Lawrence.
Francois Duhamel/ Annapurna Productions
6/20 Leonardo DiCaprio (Best Actor)
DiCaprio has picked up his fourth Oscar nomination - but will he finally win? - for his performance as debauched stockbroker Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street.
7/20 Chiwetel Ejiofor (Best Actor)
British actor Ejiofor has been nominated for an Oscar for his role as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave.
8/20 Matthew McConaughey (Best Actor)
McConaughey is up for Best Actor Oscar for his role as an emaciated AIDS patient who smuggles anti-viral drugs into the US in Dallas Buyers Club.
9/20 Christian Bale (Best Actor)
British actor Bale has earned a nod for his performance as con artist Irving Rosenfeld in American Hustle.
10/20 Bruce Dern (Best Actor)
Dern, left, is nominated for his role in Nebraska as elderly father Woody Grant who embarks on a trip with his estranged son.
11/20 Bradley Cooper (Best Supporting Actor)
Cooper, left, has earned an Oscar nod for his supporting role as a wild FBI agent in David O Russell's American Hustle.
12/20 Barkhad Abdi (Best Supporting Actor)
Abdi is up for Best Supporting Actor for his performance as a Somali pirate who hijacks Tom Hanks' ship in Captain Phillips.
13/20 Michael Fassbender (Best Supporting Actor)
Michael Fassbender, left, is nominated for his role as plantation owner Edwin Epps in Steve McQueen's 12 Years a Slave.
14/20 Jared Leto (Best Supporting Actor)
Leto has picked up a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his role as a transgender AIDS patient in Dallas Buyers Club.
15/20 Jonah Hill (Best Supporting Actor)
Hill has earned a nod for his supporting role as a charismatic salesman in The Wolf of Wall Street - pictured here, left, in a scene with Best Actor nominee DiCaprio.
16/20 Julia Roberts (Best Supporting Actress)
Julia Roberts, here seen embracing Best Actress nominee Meryl Streep, is nominated for her role in August: Osage County.
17/20 Jennifer Lawrence (Best Supporting Actress)
Lawrence has been nominated for her role as Rosalyn Rosenfeld in American Hustle - she won Best Actress for Silver Linings Playbook last year.
18/20 Lupita Nyong'o (Best Supporting Actress)
Kenyan actress Nyong'o has earned a nod for her role as Patsey in 12 Years a Slave, here pictured with Best Supporting Actor nominee Michael Fassbender.
19/20 Sally Hawkins (Best Supporting Actress)
Sally Hawkins, left, and Andrew Dice Clay in a scene from the Woody Allen film, Blue Jasmine. British actor Hawkins is nominated for her role as Jasmine's sister Ginger.
20/20 June Squibb (Best Supporting Actress)
Squibb is nominated for her role as Kate Grant, wife of Best Actor nominee Bruce Dern's character in Alexander Payne's Nebraska.
Academy favourites the Coen brothers were not so fortunate this year, however, with their acclaimed portrait of the early 1960s New York folk scene, Inside Llewyn Davis, locked out of the major Oscar categories. The film was nominated for Best Cinematography and Sound Mixing, though not in either of the musical categories, Original Score and Original Song.
That category does include 30-year-old Lupita Nyong’o, who put in a searing performance in 12 Years A Slave, her first-ever film role. And while Hanks may have missed out, his Captain Phillips co-star Barkhad Abdi was nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his turn as a Somali pirate. Abdi, who was born in Mogadishu and brought up in Minnesota, had never acted before.
Also enjoying their first Oscar nominations in supporting categories are Michael Fassbender for 12 Years a Slave, and Sally Hawkins for Blue Jasmine. By contrast, Hawkins’ fellow Brit Roger Deakins garnered his 11th nomination in the Best Cinematography category for his work on Prisoners. He has never won.
The nominations for 2014’s 86th Academy Awards were announced early on Thursday morning at the Academy’s Samuel Goldwyn Theatre in Beverly Hills, by Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs, and actor Chris Hemsworth, the star of Rush and Thor: The Dark World. The Oscar ceremony is due to be held on 2 March at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood.