“American Hustle” and “Gravity” led the field with 10 nods each when nominees for the 86th Academy Awards were revealed early Thursday morning. With nine nominations, long-presumed best picture frontrunner “12 Years a Slave” was right behind the '70s-set screwball comedy and space-set piece of high-tech art.

There were six other best picture nominees, making for nine out of a possible 10 contenders: “Captain Phillips,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” “Philomena” and “The Wolf of Wall Street.”


“I'm extraordinarily happy for all the cast and crew of our ‘12 Years a Slave' family,” British filmmaker Steve McQueen, who is nominated for both directing and producing the film, said in a press statement. “This has been an amazing ride, and to receive nine nominations from the Academy is testament to all of the hard work.  And for that I am truly grateful.”

“We are up against some tough competition this year but I am keeping my fingers crossed,” noted Neil Corbould, one of four “Gravity” people nominated in the visual effects category. “Gravity was one of those once in a lifetime movies and I am so happy to have been a part of it.”


Conspicuously missing from the Academy's best picture race is “Inside Llewyn Davis,” the Coen brothers' tale of a faltering, 1960s folk singer that has topped several reputable critics' polls as the best film of 2013. The Academy saw fit to only nominate “Llewyn” for cinematography and sound mixing.

“Hustle,” “Gravity” and “Slave” enhanced their “ones-to-beat” status by securing directing nominations for David O. Russell, Alfonso Cuaron and McQueen, respectively. “Nebraska's” Alexander Payne and “Wolf's” Martin Scorsese are the other two anointed directors.


Perhaps as a sign of “Hustle's” popularity, its Christian Bale — although overlooked in the flood of preliminary Hollywood awards so far — is on Oscar's best actor list with the expected Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (“Slave”) and Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”). “Wolf's” Leonardo DiCaprio also represents the not entirely expected love for that three-hour wallow (or is it critique, or a comedy?) in high-finance debauchery, although “Wolf” remains in the middle of the pack with a five-nomination total.


“ ‘The Wolf of Wall Street' has been a passion project of mine, and I found the role to be one of the most challenging and rewarding of my career,” DiCaprio stated. “Congratulations to all of my fellow nominees and thank you to the Academy for this extraordinary recognition.”

“I am honored and grateful for this nomination,” McConaughey, who played real-life homophobe-turned-AIDS-treatment-crusader Ron Woodroof in “Dallas,” said. “I love working in an industry and craft that inspires me daily and allows me to tell stories that translate humanities and move people.”


Tom Hanks (“Phillips”), Robert Redford (“All Is Lost”), Oscar Isaac (“Llewyn”) and Joaquin Phoenix (“Her”) were among the outstanding lead actors missing in action Thursday.

Lead actress went down pretty much as expected: “Hustle's” Amy Adams, “Blue Jasmine's” Cate Blanchett, “Gravity's” Sandra Bullock, “Philomena's” Judi Dench and “August: Osage County's” Meryl Streep. Adams is the only one of them who does not already own an Academy Award.

“I am so happy for our film that Julia and I have been nominated,” perennial nominee Streep said, referencing co-star Julia Roberts, who is also nominated in the supporting actress division. “We are both so proud of ‘August: Osage County.' This honor from the Academy, for which we are truly grateful, will help bring attention to our film from audiences across the country, which is thrilling.”


“This is just the loveliest news,” said Dench, who's up for playing a real-life Irish woman who searched America for the son she gave up as a young, unwed mother. “I'm so happy for everybody involved, and so proud to have been part of the wonderful experience that ‘Philomena' has been.”

No surprises in the supporting actor category – but no James Franco either, whom the Academy probably hates for his lousy Oscar hosting job a few years back, but who also gave the most enjoyable performance of the year in “Spring Breakers.”


“I am absolutely blown away by this incredible nomination,” wrote Jared Leto, who plays a stricken transvestite in “Dallas” and was nominated alongside newcomer Barkhad Abdi (“Phillips”), Bradley Cooper (“Hustle”), Michael Fassbender (“Slave”) and Jonah Hill (“Wolf”). “I never in my life thought I would have the opportunity to even write these words.”

Perhaps “Jasmine's” Sally Hawkins instead of “The Butler's” Oprah Winfrey in a supporting actress slot surprised some, but otherwise that category, too, went with predictable choices (“Hustle's” Jennifer Lawrence, “Slave's” Lupita Nyong'o, Roberts and “Nebraska's” June Squibb).


In fact, Lee Daniels' well-loved, if somewhat soft-centered, look at the mid-20th Century African American experience got completely blanked by the academy, which speaks both to the wide range of very good films that came out in 2013 and the idea that — after three straight years of going for middlebrow fare like “The King's Speech,” “The Artist” and “Argo” — you can never completely tell where Academy voters' sentiments lie.