‘Skyfall,’ ‘The Avengers,’ ‘The Hobbit’ lead nominations for Jameson Empire Awards

While two-thirds of this year’s Best Picture Oscar nominees grossed over $100 million, there are still those who think blockbuster cinema is shortchanged by the Academy — franchise films, in particular, struggle to get much respect beyond the technical categories, however well-executed. We can argue back and forth about the rights and wrongs of that, but for more populist-minded viewers, the Jameson Empire Awards should come as a relief.

Voted for by readers of UK film magazine Empire, the awards take place in London on March 24, and are a loose, funny and — as you’d expect from a whisky-sponsored event — cheerfully irreverent antidote to the pomp and ceremony of awards season. Mainstream hits tend to dominate the event, and such is the case with this year’s nominations: British smash “Skyfall” leads the way with six mentions, followed by top US grosser “The Avengers” and “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” with five apiece.

The only Best Picture nominee Empire readers and Academy voters agree on, meanwhile, is Quentin Tarantino’s “Django Unchained”; “The Dark Knight Rises,” which pointed received no Oscar nominations at all, rounds out the top category.

Oscar winners Daniel Day-Lewis and Christoph Waltz both make the Best Actor lineup. The same goes for Jennifer Lawrence and Anne Hathaway in Best Actress, though Empire and Oscar disagree over what the ladies’ best performances of 2012 were: they’re nominated here for “The Hunger Games” and “The Dark Knight Rises,” respectively. Best Picture winner “Argo,” by the way, rates just a single nomination, in the Best Thriller category.

Kudos to Empire readers, though, for also noticing such less prominent titles as “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Sightseers” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” and for handing a nomination each to “Anna Karenina” breakouts Alicia Vikander and Domnhall Gleeson. Voting for the winners opens today, and runs until March 15 — you can do so here.

With that, here’s the full list of nominations: 

Best Film
“The Avengers”
“The Dark Knight Rises”
“Django Unchained”
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”

Best Director
Joss Whedon, “The Avengers”
Christopher Nolan, “The Dark Knight Rises”
Quentin Tarantino, “Django Unchained”
Peter Jackson, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Sam Mendes, “Skyfall”

Best Actor
Daniel Craig, “Skyfall”
Daniel Day-Lewis, “Lincoln”
Robert Downey, Jr., “The Avengers”
Martin Freeman, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
Christoph Waltz, “Django Unchained”

Best Actress
Jessica Chastain, “Zero Dark Thirty”
Judi Dench, “Skyfall”
Anne Hathaway, “The Dark Knight Rises”
Jennifer Lawrence, “The Hunger Games”
Naomi Watts, “The Impossible”

Best British Film
“Dredd 3D”
“Les Misérables”
“The Woman in Black” 

Best Male Newcomer
Domnhall Gleeson, “Anna Karenina”
Tom Holland, “The Impossible”
Steve Oram, “Sightseers”
Suraj Sharma, “Life of Pi”
Rafe Spall, “Life of Pi”

Best Female Newcomer
Samantha Barks, “Les Misérables” 
Holliday Grainger. “Great Expectations”
Alice Lowe, “Sightseers”
Alicia Vikander, “Anna Karenina”
Quvenzhané Wallis, “Beasts of the Southern Wild”

Art of 3D Award
“The Avengers”
“Dredd 3D”
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
“Life of Pi”

Best Comedy
“Moonrise Kingdom”
“The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!”
“Silver Linings Playbook”
“21 Jump Street”

Best Thriller
“The Raid”
“Zero Dark Thirty”

Best Horror Film
“The Cabin in the Woods”
“Dark Shadows”
“The Woman in Black”

Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy Film
“The Avengers”
“Dredd 3D”
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”