‘The Power of the Dog’ leads pack with 12 nominations

“The Power of the Dog,” Jane Campion’s neo-Western psychodrama, topped the list of nominees for the 94th Academy Awards announced Tuesday morning, picking up 12 nods, including best picture.

The nine other best picture contenders are: “Belfast,” “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “Drive My Car,” “Dune,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley” and “West Side Story.”

Tuesday’s nominations were announced live by actors Tracee Ellis Ross (“black-ish”) and Leslie Jordan (“Call Me Kat”) on several platforms, including Oscars.org and the film academy’s social media accounts. The ceremony will be held March 27 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and air live on ABC.

Here are some key takeaways.

THE POWER OF THE DOG
Benedict Cumberbatch in “The Power of the Dog.”Kirsty Griffin / Netflix

Will Smith eyes first Oscar win

Will Smith scored his third lead actor Oscar nomination for “King Richard,” a portrait of Serena and Venus Williams’ ambitious father. He was previously nominated for his roles in “Ali” and “The Pursuit of Happyness.” He is widely favored to triumph this year.

The other performers recognized in Smith’s category are Javier Bardem (“Being the Ricardos”); Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Power of the Dog”); Andrew Garfield (“tick, tick…BOOM!”); and Denzel Washington (“The Tragedy of Macbeth”).

The contenders for the best actress statuette are Jessica Chastain (“The Eyes of Tammy Faye”); Olivia Colman (“The Lost Daughter”); Penélope Cruz (“Parallel Mothers”); Nicole Kidman (“Being the Ricardos”); and Kristen Stewart (“Spencer”).

International films make an impression

Two years after Bong Joon Ho’s “Parasite” became the first foreign-language film to win best picture, the film academy recognized a handful of celebrated projects imported from other countries.

“Drive My Car,” a meditative three-hour drama about grief from Japanese director Ryusuke Hamaguchi, nabbed a spot on the list of 10 best picture contenders as well as a nod for best international feature. Hamaguchi was nominated for best director, too.

The character study “The Worst Person in the World,” a Norway submission, claimed an international feature nomination as well as a nod for best original screenplay.

“Flee,” an animated docudrama from Denmark, earned recognition in the international feature and feature-length documentary races, as well as the animated feature category.

The multiple nominations for “Drive My Car,” “The Worst Person in the World” and “Flee” underscore the increasingly diverse and global composition of the film academy’s voting members.

Married couples for the win

It was a good morning for some of the film industry’s notable married pairs.

Jesse Plemons and Kirsten Dunst were both honored for their poignant supporting turns in Campion’s “The Power of the Dog.” (They play a newly married couple in the film.)

The other real-life husband-and-wife duo to land acting nominations were Cruz and Bardem.

Image: Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz
Javier Bardem and Penelope Cruz at the 71st Cannes Film Festival on May 9, 2018. Laurent Koffel / Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images file

Previous couples nominated in the same year include Laurence Olivier (“Wuthering Heights”) and Vivien Leigh (“Gone With the Wind”); Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor (“Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”); and Heath Ledger and Michelle Williams (“Brokeback Mountain”).

Netflix inches closer to best picture

Netflix has conquered the world of streaming video. But the company is still gunning for Hollywood’s most coveted prize: the best picture award. (In recent years, high-profile releases like “Roma” and “Mank” came close.)

But the streaming giant has a good shot to win this year with “The Power of the Dog.” The company also distributed fellow best picture nominee “Don’t Look Up” as well as the Lin-Manuel Miranda-directed musical “tick, tick…BOOM!”

Jane Campion, Steven Spielberg make history

Campion is now the first woman to notch two best director nominations. The acclaimed New Zealand auteur was previously nominated for the 1993 drama “The Piano.” (Last year, “Nomadland” director Chloé Zhao became just the second woman to win the award.)

With “West Side Story,” Spielberg became the first director nominated in that category across six different decades. He broke a tie with Martin Scorsese, who has been nominated for best director nine times across five decades.

Spielberg has now been nominated for best director eight times, including “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977); “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981); “E.T. the Extra Terrestrial” (1982); “Schindler’s List” (1993); “Saving Private Ryan” (1998); “Munich” (2005); and “Lincoln” (2012).

He won for “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.”

Beyoncé, Kristen Stewart are first-time nominees

The pop superstar Beyoncé picked up her first Oscar nomination: best original song for “Be Alive,” the galvanizing theme from “King Richard.”

Kristen Stewart, who earned some of the finest reviews of her career for her turn as Princess Diana in the dreamlike “Spencer,” scooped up her first Oscar nomination, too.

Stewart’s nod was not a sure thing after she was previously snubbed at this year’s Screen Actors Guild Awards and British Academy Film Awards.

The other first-time contenders include Garfield, for “tick, tick…BOOM!” and Ariana DeBose, for “West Side Story.”

‘House of Gucci,’ ‘The French Dispatch’ snubbed

Ridley Scott’s “House of Gucci,” a campy true-crime tale starring Lady Gaga and Adam Driver, secured just one nod: best makeup and hairstyling.

Lady Gaga, Driver and supporting player Jared Leto were all shut out of the acting races — potential casualties of the film’s mixed-to-negative reviews and middling box-office performance.

“West Side Story” breakout star Rachel Zegler, who won a Golden Globe last month for her performance as María Vasquez, got locked out of the best actress category.

Cooper Hoffman and Alana Haim, the stars of Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza,” fell short of acting honors for their performances as two friends coming of age in 1970s San Fernando Valley.

“Dune” director Denis Villeneuve, who was previously nominated for the sci-fi drama “Arrival” (2016), failed to pick up a best director nomination. “Dune” racked up an impressive 10 nominations, though.

Wes Anderson’s “The French Dispatch,” Rebecca Hall’s “Passing” and Asghar Farhadi’s “A Hero” — three of the year’s most critically adored films — walked away empty-handed, too.

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