The race for the Oscars is officially on.
On Thursday, Jan. 10, host Seth MacFarlane and Emma Stone unveiled the nominees for the 85th annual Academy Awards, airing Sunday, Feb. 24, on ABC. Shortly thereafter, Us Weekly's movie critic, Mara Reinstein, and movie editor, Bradley Jacobs, sat down to chat about the nominations and offer their opinions on the biggest surprises and snubs -- plus why they think the Best Picture race is down to just two movies.
"I was so disappointed Ben Affleck [was] not nominated for Best Director for Argo!" Reinstein says of what she calls "the biggest snub," adding that the film was among her top three picks from 2012. "I thought this was the best-directed movie of the year, and he didn't even get nominated! What happened?"
Jacobs echoes her surprise, noting Affleck's good reputation around Hollywood: "He's like Mr. Popular. He's another [George] Clooney. Everyone adores this guy...I feel like a recount is in order."
In fact, the whole Best Director race was a surprise, Us Weekly's dynamic duo says, citing the Academy's snubs of Les Miserables director Tom Hooper and Zero Dark Thirty visionary Kathryn Bigelow, whose final 30 minutes of shooting Jacobs calls "extraordinary."
The directors' shutouts don't bode well for their films, either, Jacobs says. "Those three movies' chances of winning Best Picture are thoroughly diminished [by the snubs]," he explains. "Basically, it's over for them. The race now has become about Lincoln and Silver Linings Playbook."
Reinstein wouldn't mind a win for the latter. "Silver Linings Playbook [was] my number one movie of 2012," she gushes of the film, which also earned nominations for stars Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence. "It's the only thing that can overtake Lincoln at this point, in my opinion."
The critic notes, however, that Lawrence may have some competition in Jessica Chastain, of Zero Dark Thirty, and Beasts of the Southern Wild star Quvenzhane Wallis, who at 9 years old is the youngest Best Actress nominee in history.
"She's a little firecracker," Jacobs says of the child actress.
"I have Levi's blue jeans in my closet that are older than Quvenzhane Wallis," Reinstein pipes in. "I have worked at Us Weekly longer than she's been alive. That's how young she is. But she could take it!"
One star Reinstein would like to count out? Joaquin Phoenix, who's nominated for The Master.
"Joaquin Phoenix doesn't even like the Oscars!" she laments, noting that she thinks his nomination should have gone to John Hawkes, who played a 38-year-old polio patient trying to lose his virginity to Helen Hunt in The Sessions.
"Joaquin literally told Interview magazine that when he was nominated for Walk the Line four or five years ago, it was one of the worst periods of life," Jacobs says. "He was so uncomfortable. He hates award season...he basically dissed the Academy over and over again, and they still nominated him over the divine John Hawkes!"
Tell Us: What do you think of the 2013 nominations? What's your pick for Best Picture?