By DAVID GERMAIN, Associated Press
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) — Steven Spielberg has matched his personal best at the Academy Awards: 12 nominations for his Civil War saga "Lincoln," including best picture, director and acting honors for Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.
That ties the 12 nominations for his 1993 drama "Schindler's List," which won seven Oscars, including best picture and director.
Also among the nine nominees for best picture Thursday: the old-age love story "Amour"; the Iran hostage thriller "Argo"; the independent hit "Beasts of the Southern Wild"; the slave-revenge narrative "Django Unchained"; the musical "Les Miserables"; the shipwreck story "Life of Pi"; the lost-souls romance "Silver Linings Playbook"; and the Osama bin Laden manhunt chronicle "Zero Dark Thirty."
[PHOTOS: The 2013 Oscar Nominees.]
"Life of Pi" surprisingly ran second with 11 nominations, ahead of "Zero Dark Thirty" and "Les Miserables," which had been considered potential front-runners.
"I thought we'd get a few, so this is really great for us," said "Life of Pi" director Ang Lee. "Eleven really surprised me. But it's a good surprise. I'm very happily surprised."
More surprising were snubs in the directing category, where three favorites missed out: Ben Affleck for "Argo" and past Oscar winners Kathryn Bigelow for "Zero Dark Thirty" and Tom Hooper for "Les Miserables." Bigelow was the first woman ever the win the directing Oscar for 2009's "The Hurt Locker," while Hooper won a year later for "The King's Speech."
The best-picture category also had surprising omissions. The acclaimed first-love tale "Moonrise Kingdom" was left out and only got one nomination, for original screenplay. Also snubbed for best-picture was "The Master," a critical favorite that did manage three acting nominations, for Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Adams and Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Two-time winner Spielberg earned his seventh directing nomination, and also in the mix are past winner Lee for "Life of Pi" and past nominee David O. Russell for "Silver Linings Playbook." The other slots went to surprise picks who are first-time nominees: Michael Haneke for his French-language "Amour" and Benh Zeitlin for "Beasts of the Southern Wild."
Oscar directing contenders often are identical or at least usually line up closely with those for the Directors Guild of America Awards. But only Spielberg and Lee made both lists this time. The Directors Guild also nominated Affleck, Bigelow and Hooper, but not Haneke, Russell or Zeitlin.
Haneke's "Amour" also was a best-picture surprise. The film, which won the top prize at last May's Cannes Film Festival, mainly had been considered a favorite in the foreign-language category, where it also was nominated. "Amour" had five nominations, including original screenplay and best-actress for Emmanuelle Riva.
"It is fulfilling to discover that a film has found the audience and critical acclaim that 'Amour' has garnered," Haneke said. "I have been very fortunate on both those fronts, but it is especially rewarding to discover that a film has found favor among one's industry peers who know, in particular, the effort that goes into getting a film — any film — made."
The year's second-biggest box-office hit, "The Dark Knight Rises," was shut out entirely, even for visual effects. The omission of its predecessor, "The Dark Knight," from best-picture consideration for 2008 was largely responsible for the expansion of the Oscar category from five nominees to 10 the following year. "The Dark Knight" had earned eight nominations and won two Oscars.
Chronicling Abraham Lincoln's final months as he engineers passage of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery, "Lincoln" stars best-actor contender Day-Lewis in a monumental performance as the 16th president, supporting-actress nominee Field as the notoriously headstrong Mary Todd Lincoln and supporting-actor prospect Jones as abolitionist firebrand Thaddeus Stevens.
Joining Day-Lewis in the best-actor field are Bradley Cooper as a psychiatric patient trying to get his life back together in "Silver Linings Playbook"; Hugh Jackman as Victor Hugo's tragic hero Jean Valjean in "Les Miserables"; Phoenix as a Navy vet who falls in with a cult in "The Master"; and Denzel Washington as a boozy airline pilot in "Flight."