By Chris Michaud
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Screenwriter Tony Kushner got a kiss and a hug, actor Hugh Jackman found his first Oscar nomination "a bit surreal," and singer Adele felt a bit like screen legend Meryl Streep.
This year's Oscar nominees reacted with joy, amazement and sometimes just politeness on Thursday after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced its shortlists for the movie industry's highest honors.
Jackman, a former Oscars host who was nominated as best actor for "Les Miserables," said he had not planned to listen to the Academy Awards' live announcement, at 5:40 a.m. West Coast time (1340 GMT).
"When I got into the car ... the driver had the nominations streaming," said the Australian actor, and he learned he was among them.
"To be honest, it's very exciting but all a bit surreal and hasn't fully sunk in yet," said Jackman, adding "to be an actual nominee is something I never would have dreamed possible."
Fellow nominee Denzel Washington ("Flight"), a two-time Oscar winner and seemingly more accustomed to the hoopla, said in a statement "It's always nice to be asked back to the show, and it will be fun to share the evening with our nominated screenwriter John Gatins."
Similarly, "Silver Linings Playbook" and past winner Robert De Niro said "I am very pleased" that the academy had honored the film with so many nominations.
Saying she was "honored and grateful" for her best actress nomination for the same film, Jennifer Lawrence said "this was a labor of love that we all poured our hearts into."
And the film's director, David O. Russell, said, "I pretty much started crying" after De Niro and Jackie Weaver were revealed to be nominees, along with star Bradley Cooper.
"Lincoln" producers Kathleen Kennedy and Steven Spielberg said "we are absolutely thrilled and astonished with the 12 nominations," which included one for Spielberg as best director. "Lincoln" received more nominations than any other film.
Tony Kushner, nominated for his screenplay, was on a plane waiting to take off when he got the news.
"James Gandolfini, who's sitting in front of me, gave me a hug and a kiss, so I'm about as happy as can be," said Kushner.
Independent film "Beasts of the Southern Wild" made a surprisingly strong showing with nominations including best picture, best director and for Quvenzhane Wallis, who at age 9 became the youngest best actress nominee in Oscar history.
"Everyone who made 'Beasts' happen is so happy!" Wallis gushed. "Thank you to all you Oscar folks, from me, my mom and my dad," said Wallis, a Louisiana girl who was plucked from thousands of local children who tried for the part.
"Meeting all these great new people is one of the best parts for me," she added, ending with the exhortation, "Beast it!"
Oscars host Seth MacFarlane, who directed the surprise hit comedy "Ted," exhibited his usual irreverence about his best song nomination as "Everybody Needs a Best Friend" lyricist:
"First an Oscar nomination then I find a basically brand-new queen mattress on my drive home. This is an incredible day."
And while Ang Lee already has an Oscar for "Brokeback Mountain," the "Life of Pi" director said he was overwhelmed by the wealth of nominations accorded his acclaimed shipwreck fable.
"I am deeply honored, and frankly a little overwhelmed, by all of the nominations that 'Life of Pi' has received this morning," he said in a statement shortly after the film received 11 Oscar nods, including one for best picture.
In the high-profile director's category, there were reactions to omissions as well, with "Silver Linings Playbook" nominated director David O. Russell telling Reuters, "I was especially surprised not to see Ben (Affleck) and Kathryn (Bigelow)," who respectively helmed top nominees "Argo" and "Zero Dark Thirty."
Eric Fellner, of Working Title Films, which was behind best picture contender "Les Miserables," called the Academy's choices "weird" after they failed to include director Tom Hooper.
"On a film like 'Les Mis' nothing happens without a director being engaged in every aspect of the film ... so I see it as Tom getting eight nominations" personally, he told Reuters TV.
Producer Harvey Weinstein, known for his aggressively effective but sometimes controversial Oscar campaigns, scored eight nominations for the all-star "Silver Linings Playbook" and another four for the more controversial "Django Unchained."
"I am blown away!" Weinstein enthused, adding, "I can't say thank you enough to the Academy for their support of our films."
British singer Adele turned to Twitter after "Skyfall," from the James Bond movie of the same title, received a best original song nomination, posting "Oh my god I feel like Meryl Streep!!"
"What can you say? It's so unbelievable," Roman Coppola, nominee for best original screenplay with Wes Anderson for "Moonrise Kingdom," told Reuters.
"I was lucky enough to be in a car with my parents heading to the airport when I got the call and my mom started whooping," said Coppola, the son of Oscar-winning director Francis Ford Coppola.
The director of "A Royal Affair," which was nominated for best foreign language film and is set in the court of a mentally ill 18th-century king, noted the Oscars' global reach.
"It's a big thing in Denmark. It's the biggest thing this year," said Nikolaj Arcel, "the biggest thing that's happened to me in my career ... It probably hasn't sunk in yet."
The awards will be announced on February 24.
(This story was fixed to correct movie title to "Moonrise Kingdom" in paragraph 26)
(Reporting by Eric Kelsey, Piya Sinha-Roy and Jill Serjeant; Editing by Paul Simao)