BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD and more Sundance faves earn Oscar nominations

Every year there’s one. A surprise, sometimes a long-shot, but a performance that’s so undeniably stunning it just can’t be ignored by audiences (or the Academy). And in this year’s Oscar nominations — announced today — that surprise was Sundance Film Festival favorite BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD‘s Quvenzhané Wallis, who at 9 years old is the youngest Best Actress hopeful ever. (For the past decade, Keisha Castle-Hughes — star of another Sundance selection, WHALE RIDER — has owned that distinction, but she was a whopping 13 years old when nominated.)

Wallis’ nomination was one of four for BEASTS, which also picked up nods for Best Director (Benh Zeitlin), Best Adapted Screenplay and the biggie, Best Picture.

The Sundance Film Festival standout THE SESSIONS — which was known as THE SURROGATE during SFF 2012 — was acknowledged with a Best Supporting Actress nod for Helen Hunt. (Though, c’mon, Academy, where’s John Hawkes’ nomination for Best Actor?!)

As our boss has been saying for ages now, documentaries are the wave of the future — and all five feature docs nominated this year have a Sundance connection: THE INVISIBLE WAR, 5 BROKEN CAMERAS, SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN, HOW TO SURVIVE A PLAGUE and THE GATEKEEPERS, which is part of this year’s Sundance Film Festival Spotlight series.

Oscar buffs who keep tabs on such things know that the youngest actor to ever actually win an Oscar was Tatum O’Neal, for PAPER MOON. She was 10 at the time. Here’s hoping Quvenzhané Wallis makes some more history on February 24.