Los Angeles, Jan. 11 (Reuters): Kathryn Bigelow's snub by Academy Awards voters has stunned her cast and awards pundits, with some pointing the finger at Washington politicians for the Zero Dark Thirty director's omission from the best director Oscar shortlist.
Bigelow was seen as the biggest casualty on Oscar nominations day after her controversial Osama bin Laden thriller won five nods, including best picture, but the director herself was cut out of the running for the industry's biggest honours.
"Kathryn Bigelow was robbed," tweeted Megan Ellison, one of the movie's producers, after the nominations were announced.
The movie about the decade-long US hunt for bin Laden has come under fierce attack in Washington. A group of senators in December chided distributor Sony Pictures in a letter, calling the film "grossly inaccurate and misleading" for suggesting torture helped the US capture bin Laden in May 2011.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has also launched a review of CIA dealings with Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal.
Hollywood watchers say the negative publicity affected the choices made by the Academy of Motion Pictures, whose 6,000 members are working professionals in the industry.
Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan blamed the snub for Bigelow on what he called Washington bullies.
"Chalk up this year's (Oscar) nominations as a victory for the bullying power of the United States Senate and an undeserved loss for Zero Dark Thirty in general and director Kathryn Bigelow in particular," Turan wrote on Thursday.
Noting that the film has been "almost universally acknowledged as formidable", Turan added that "three members of the Senate, a deliberative body not previously known for its cinematic acumen, decided to place their feet on the neck of this particular film".
Bigelow, who won directing and best picture Oscars in 2010 for her Iraq war film The Hurt Locker, was silent on Thursday. But Boal, who got a screenplay nod, said pointedly that "none of us would be so honoured today without the genius and remarkable talent of Kathryn Bigelow, and to her we are forever grateful".
Bigelow and Boal have said repeatedly that their film shows a variety of intelligence methods that were used to find bin Laden, and have denied being leaked classified material.
Jessica Chastain, who plays a determined young CIA agent credited with tracking down the al Qaida leader to a house in Pakistan, called her best actress nomination "bittersweet."
"I'm so excited, but I also feel the shock of Kathryn not being nominated," Chastain told entertainment industry website TheWrap.com.
Hollywood awards pundits noted that Bigelow was nominated just two days ago for a Directors Guild award.