"The Master," Paul Thomas Anderson's highly anticipated drama about a wayward young man who finds himself falling under the spell of the charismatic leader of a mysterious new movement, clearly had the members of the Chicago Film Critics Association under its spell. The controversial epic led all contenders for the group's annual awards with 10 nominations, including Best Picture, nods for Anderson for Best Director and Original Screenplay, Joaquin Phoenix for Best Actor, Philip Seymour Hoffman for Best Supporting Actor and Amy Adams for Best Supporting Actress as well as slots in the categories for Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction/Production Design and Editing.
Coming in a close second with 9 nominations was "Beasts of the Southern Wild," the visionary low-budget drama about a resourceful six-year-old girl living in a remote Louisiana floodplain who sets off on a journey to find her long-lost mother when her father becomes seriously ill. Not only did it receive a Best Picture nod, filmmaker Benh Zeitlin personally received four additional nominations for Director, Adapted Screenplay (with Lucy Alibar), Original Score (with Dan Romer) and Most Promising Filmmaker. In addition, young newcomer Quvenzhane Wallis, through whose eyes the entire story is told, received nominations for Best Actress and Most Promising Performer while co-star Dwight Henry, in the role of her father, pulled off a similar double play with nods for Best Supporting Actor and Most Promising Performer.
Tied for third place with 8 nominations each are ""Lincoln" and "Zero Dark Thirty." The former, a historical drama chronicling the efforts of the 16th president to pass a constitutional amendment outlawing slavery against enormous opposition, received nominations for Best Picture, Best Director for Steven Spielberg, Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor, Tommy Lee Jones for Best Supporting Actor, Sally Field for Best Supporting Actress, Tony Kushner for Best Adapted Screenplay and additional nods for Cinematography and Art Direction/Production Design. The latter, Kathryn Bigelow's highly anticipated follow-up to her 2009 award winner "The Hurt Locker" chronicling the 10-year hunt for Osama Bin Laden in the wake of 9/11 earned nominations for Best Picture and Director as well as for Jessica Chastain for Best Actress, Jason Clarke for Best Supporting Actor, Mark Boal for Original Screenplay and also made the final cut in the categories for Cinematography, Original Score and editing. Rounding out the Best Picture category was Argo, Ben Affleck's hit drama chronicling the real-life tale of a CIA agent who rescued several Americans stranded in Iran after the fall of the Shah in 1979 with a little help from Hollywood, which also earned nomination for Affleck for his direction and Alan Arkin for Supporting Actor as well as for Adapted Screenplay, Editing and Original Score.
Among the other multiple nominees, Wes Anderson's enchanting pre-teen romance "Moonrise Kingdom" received four nominations (Original Screenplay, Original Score, Art Direction/Production Design and a Most Promising Performer nod for Kara Hayward as one of the two very young lovers on the run). "Les Miserables," the highly anticipated screen adaptation of the long-running Broadway musical received three (for Art direction/Production Design, Samantha Banks for Most Promising Performer and Anne Hathaway for Supporting Actress) as did the James Bond adventure "Skyfall" (for Editing, Cinematography and Supporting Actress for Judi Dench). Also receiving three nominations was composer Alexandre Desplat, who all but dominated the Orignal Score category with nods for his contributions to "Argo," "Moonrise Kingdom" and "Zero Dark Thirty."
France was also a source for multiple nominations with Michael Haneke's heart-wrenching "Amour" and Leos Carax's mind-blowing "Holy Motors" each receiving nominations for Best Foreign-Language Film as well as recognition for their stars--Emmanuelle Riva was nominated for Best Actress for her turn as a once-vibrant woman wasting away from disease in the former while Denis Levant received a Best Actor nomination for his work in the latter as. . .well, as a man of many talents, to put it mildly. In additions, Quentin Tarantino's gory western homage "Django Unchained," the powerful true-life tale "The Impossible," the coming-of-age saga "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," the quirky drama "The Sessions," the offbeat romantic comedy "The Silver Linings Playbook" and the trippy sci-fi spectacular "Looper" received two nominations each.