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2014 Oscar Nominations: The Biggest Shocks, Snubs & Surprises

2014 Oscar Nominations: The Biggest Shocks, Snubs & Surprises

Well, the Oscar nominations are in and Twitter has exploded with the usual flurry of WTF?s, OMG!s and TOLDJA!s (perhaps we follow the wrong people). And while in general it seems like a lot of the last-minute trend predictions went in the right direction (Redford went very cool for “All is Lost,” “Inside Llewyn Davis” too, though perhaps not quite icy enough to predict a near-total shut-out), in amongst the various entirely expected nominations there were a fair number of films and performances we didn’t expect to see, and a few we had to double check we didn’t (you can read our full predictions here to see how right and wrong we were).

Expect this conversation to motor on over the coming days and weeks, but here’s our first rundown of the snubs, shocks and even those pleasant surprises that were announced to the bleary-eyed few early this morning, by the President of AMPAS and her lovely assistant Chris Hemsworth who gets our nomination for Best Looking Rumble-Voiced Man Dressed In A Snazzy Suit At 5am.

Snubs & Shocks:

Saving Mr. Banks” & “The Butler”
Not a great year for the middlebrow, this one. “Lee Daniels’ The Butler,” which was at one time thought to be a sure-fire Academy favorite, didn’t get a single nomination, despite having had three SAG nominations—its lack of love from the other guilds clearly showed the way on this one, although even Oprah Winfrey missing out was a little bit of a surprise. You wouldn’t want to be her assistant right now. More of an upset was “Saving Mr. Banks,” which at one point had been tipped by some not just as a surefire Best Picture nominee, but even a possible winner. As it turned out, the film, a warm crowd-pleaser that fit with the movies-about-movies narrative that proved so useful for “The Artist” and “Argo,” picked up only a single nomination, for Thomas Newman’s score.

“Inside Llewyn Davis”
Not so much a shock, because we’d felt the air coming out of this one as soon as it started to screen: Academy members just didn’t seem to respond to a film about mediocrity and failure. But given that even the similarly unfriendly “A Serious Man” was a nominee for Best Picture, it still stood an outside chance. In fact, the film did even worse than we were anticipating: the Coens and lead Oscar Isaac were snubbed, and it even missed out on a Screenplay nod, a category in which the Coens have been nominated six times (and won twice). At least it got two nominations, for Cinematography and Sound Mixing, although that’s the same number as critical and commercial disaster “The Lone Ranger.”

Paul Greengrass & Spike Jonze
In fairness, the Best Director category was brutally tough this year, so someone was always going to be left off. It’s just a shame that it was Paul Greengrass and Spike Jonze, who did some of the strongest work of the year. Interestingly, both are prior nominees, and both for films that didn’t get Best Picture nominations (“United 93” for Greengrass, “Being John Malkovich” for Jonze). This time it was the reverse, and the film got Best Picture nods without the filmmakers picking them up. After a couple of years when people like Terrence Malick and Michael Haneke were nominees, the director’s branch played it safer this time around.

Tom Hanks
There was a point at which it seemed that, after over a decade of missing out (his last nod was for “Cast Away”), Tom Hanks would come away with two Oscar nominations this year, with both his performances in “Captain Phillips” and “Saving Mr Banks” getting buzz. But there was always going to be blood on the floor in the Best Actor race (Oscar Isaac and Robert Redford also missed out, which many had predicted—the latter might have been a threat to win if he’d bothered campaigning, but seemed mostly uninterested in the whole circus), and Hanks was the most surprising and high-profile casualty. It’s a particular shame, because the film sees him give his best performance in a long time.

Emma Thompson
One of the biggest shocks of the day came for Hanks’ “Saving Mr Banks” co-star Emma Thompson—even before the film started screening, people assumed that her performance as P.L. Travers would be a factor in the race, and she cropped up in most of the precursor awards. But the Academy clearly didn’t fall for the movie, and rather than the either/or Amy Adams/Meryl Streep scenario most were expecting, both made it in at the expense of Thompson.

Daniel Brühl & James Gandolfini
Supporting actor was a category more in flux than most, but with late-breaking contenders Jonah Hill and Bradley Cooper making the cut, it pushed out some of the early favorites, in the case of “Rush” star Daniel Brühl and the late James Gandolfini for “Enough Said.” The former had a lot of early buzz for playing racing driver Niki Lauda, flagged, then got a second wind with an SAG nomination, but ultimately failed to miss the cut here (indeed, the film picked up no nominations at all). Meanwhile, Gandolfini, also an SAG nominee, is a doubly sad absence—he only has one remaining performance in the can, for Michael Roskam’s thriller “The Drop” (formerly known as “Animal Rescue”). But posthumous nominations are rarer than you might think (Heath Ledger’s is very much the outlier), and sadly it didn’t materialize.

“12 Years A Slave” In Cinematography
Sean Bobbitt’s proven himself to be one of the best DoPs working for some time, but sadly, the Academy hasn’t worked that out yet. Despite his work on “12 Years a Slave” being pretty stunning, the film missed out on a cinematography nomination, the Academy apparently being more wowed by the ‘look, it’s in black-and-white!’ visuals of “Nebraska.” Bobbitt’ll surely get in for something else another year, but it’s a touch worrying for the movie: it got nine nominations, but missed out here and in the sound and music categories. Is that a sign that it doesn’t have the wide-ranging support to win Best Picture?

Thelma Schoonmaker
My big error in predictions this year was assuming that “The Wolf of Wall Street” would mostly be passed over, but Scorsese’s film had enough love from the Academy’s less shockable members that it picked up nods in Best Picture, Best Director and Best Actor, among a total of five. But more surprising was the omission of Scorsese’s longtime editor Thelma Schoonmaker: for every Scorsese picture since the turn of the millennium, bar “Shutter Island,” she’s picked up an Oscar nod, and won twice for “The Departed” and “The Aviator.” This time, the Academy decided that “Dallas Buyers Club” was better put-together…

Given that it was a weak year for the category, we always figured that, despite lukewarm reception, Pixar’s “Monsters University” would make the cut, but it was pushed out by tiny French animation “Ernest & Celestine” and blockbuster sequel “Despicable Me 2” (which also outgrossed the Pixar effort by some margin). The studio once dominated the category—and in fairness, won last year for “Brave”—but having missed out on a nod for “Cars 2” two years ago as well, the omission here continues to add to the narrative that the animation titans are in something of a creative crisis.

“Stories We Tell” & “Blackfish”
The documentary category’s always a little unpredictable, and we already warned that one of the critical favorites risked missing out. It came to pass, as well—while “The Act Of Killing” made the cut, Sarah Polley’s lovely personal film “Stories We Tell” missed out. More unexpected was that “Blackfish,” one of the most successful non-fiction films of the year, also failed to pick up a nomination. But then, it’s not a very good film, so we’re not as upset about that one.

Hans Zimmer & Alex Ebert
At least the shocks in the score category were sort of egalitarian: first-time film composer Alex Ebert missed out for his work on “All Is Lost,” despite winning the Golden Globe this week, but veteran Hans Zimmer, probably the best-known composer in the world, also missed out, despite having a number of worthy possibilities, including “12 Years a Slave” (which most figured would be the one to make it), “Rush,” “The Lone Ranger” and “Man Of Steel.” In the former case, it’s likely that the work was too subtle, or that the branch didn’t see the movie, in the latter, his votes may have been split too far.

“Philomena” & “Her”
Surprises might not be the right word here—we did predict these, after all. But there were plenty of skeptics out there that didn’t buy that Stephen Frears’ little British charmer and Spike Jonze’s techno-romance would make the Best Picture cut. But once Harvey Weinstein finally got his weight behind the former (having ummed and aahed a bit), Academy voters started to swoon for it, while fears that the older Oscar demographic wouldn’t fall for a film that dealt with newfangled technology ultimately proved unfounded (although Jonze did miss out in Best Director).

Christian Bale
Again, we will stop blowing our own trumpet in a minute, but this was another one that we did predict, whereas very few prognosticators did. In fact, we called that a David O. Russell film, for a second year in a row, would manage to get a nod in every acting category (the last film to do so before “Silver Linings Playbook” was Warren Beatty’s “Reds” in 1981). But even we were a little bit shocked to see this come to pass: Bale had had so little buzz that most ranked DiCaprio, Redford and even Forest Whitaker above him as possibilities. Instead, having won the Oscar for his supporting role in “The Fighter” three years ago, the “Dark Knight” star got his first Best Actor nod.

Jonah Hill
If, when you first saw Jonah Hill—most likely with a brief, oddball cameo in “The 40 Year Old Virgin”—someone had told that a decade later, that same performer would be a two-time Oscar nominee, you’d likely have tried to have them committed. But here we are, and after a nod for “Moneyball” two years back, Hill’s got his second. He received a lot of buzz when the film first screened, which died down a bit after he was skipped over by most precursors, but the comedy actor came through at the last. And for all the muttering, both nominations are thoroughly deserved, in our opinion.

Sally Hawkins
A month or two back, the chance of Sally Hawkins getting a nomination for “Blue Jasmine” seemed so remote that we included her on our list of For Your Consideration nominees, who we’d like to see happen, but were unlikely. Fortunately, Hawkins then got a second wind with BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations, and that followed through with a nomination today, which we’re thoroughly delighted with. We like to think it’s the Academy’s mea culpa for not nominating the British actress for “Happy-Go-Lucky” last year.

“The Grandmaster,” “Dallas Buyers Club” and “Her” in the technical categories
There’s always a film with some surprising strengths in the below-the-line awards, and this year saw three of them that were particularly notable. Remarkably, no Wong Kar-Wai film had ever been nominated for an Oscar before this year, but while it didn’t make the foreign language cut, it received surprise nominations in Cinematography and Costume Design—proof of the power of the union of Harvey Weinstein and Megan Ellison. Meanwhile, Spike Jonze’s “Her” picked up a production design nomination for its subtle and brilliantly achieved art direction, a rare case of a near-contemporary film cracking the category (“Inception” was the last, though had more expansive fantasy sequences, before that it was “The Birdcage” and “Romeo + Juliet” in 1996). Finally, “Dallas Buyers Club,” which many weren’t even counting as a Best Picture nominee until a few weeks ago, picked up six nominations (tied for fourth place with “Captain Phillips” and “Nebraska”), including surprise nods for Best Editing and Best Make-Up and Hairstyling. That suggests a wide range of support that could make the film a dark horse for a Best Picture upset.

Arcade Fire & Alexandre Desplat
It wasn’t the strongest year for Best Song, but at least the Academy used the opportunity to make a bolder choice; while Hans Zimmer was absent, William Butler of Arcade Fire and strings supremo Owen Pallett (also known as Final Fantasy) were nominated for their lovely score for Spike Jonze’s “Her,” a forward thinking move that makes up for Alex Ebert missing out. Less trendy, but perhaps more surprising was a nomination for Alexandre Desplat’s music for “Philomena.” Desplat is wonderful, and it’s shocking that he’s never won an Oscar, but “Philomena” was far from his best work.

“Alone Yet Not Alone”
Certainly the nomination this year that not a single person would have predicted, and the one that caused whiplash-inducing double-takes on its announcement, is this faith-based movie about a German immigrant family during the French and Indian war. Almost no one had heard of the film, and no one imagined that its title song, performed by quadriplegic evangelical Christian author Joni Eareckson Tada would be an Oscar nominee, and yet here it is, destined to be a question in movie trivia quizzes for ever more. Watch/listen below.

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Brie Larson in Short Term 12 has gotta be a Best Actress snub! She was incredible in that


Shocks: RUSH for Best Film Editing (simply brilliant editing — should be the winner), ALL IS LOST for Best Original Score, 12 YEARS A SLAVE for Best Cinematography, Robert Redford for ALL IS LOST–Best Actor, ALL IS LOST for Best Motion Picture. Disappointments: Tom Hanks for SAVING MR. BANKS–Best Supporting Actor (this performance could have been a disaster in a lesser actor's hands), Octavia Spencer for FRUITVALE STATION–Best Supporting Actress, Woody Harrelson for OUT OF THE FURNACE–Best Supporting Actor, and the lack of attention to RUSH and LONE SURVIVOR in general. Delights: Meryl Streep for AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY ("over the top," "way too big" are the criticisms I've been hearing. Nothing could be more false. It is simply an astonishing performance. While we always admire her for the degree to which she and her character become one, this time after a minute or two I genuinely forgot it was her. I'm here to tell you: if you've ever known anyone taking that many different kinds of prescription drugs, you'll know that a lot of this performance is mild compared to the real thing), and remembering THE GREAT GATSBY for it's wonderful technical accomplishments. Sick delight: Oprah's lack of a nomination for LEE DANIEL'S THE BUTLER. Sue me — enough with the Oprah.


My Snub list – 1. Man of Steel for visual effects. Seriously Academy Voters, you pick Iron Man 3 and Lone Ranger over this and Pacific Rim. Shame on you.
2. Best score for Hans Zimmer for 12 Years a Slave. I thought there were 2 shoe ins for this category… 12 Years a Slave and Gravity. At least Gravity made it.
3. Best Makeup (and hair) for the Evil Dead remake and The Hobbit(2). Honestly, remember the good old days when people actually voted for the BEST MAKEUP like the old horror films, films like Passion of the Christ, the first Narnia and Lord of the Rings. You know, the films that actually DID have the best makeup in film that year. Even The Hobbit didn't get a nomination this year but yet Lone Ranger, Bad Grandpa and Dallas Buyers Club did. I could easily explain why I think each of those nominations are a joke when compared to other films this year.
4. Daniel Bruhl (Rush), Matthew McConaughey (Mud) or Colin Farrell (Saving Mr. Banks) for Best Supporting actor OVER Jonah Hill. I honestly don't know why Jonah Hill was nominated. He played a complete bumbling fool that was so annoying to watch.
5. People say Tom Hanks was the biggest surprise. I say Spike Jonze was the BIG snub. After seeing HER I thought for sure he was a lock. I recently saw Nebraska and knew Jonze got screwed. While Alexander Payne did a good job once again, Jonze had a lot more to do with HER. You had a much more interesting script and cinematography to work with. Sorry but if you've JUST got a good script with good performances then I don't think that earns you a best director nod, especially when your film is in black and white when it doesn't need to be.
6. Emma Thompson for Best Actress. I'm not afraid to say this… "Oh my god Meryl Streep is in a movie. We have to nominate her…again!" F that!!! Was Meryl Streep good?….yes. Was Emma Thompson better?…. HELL YES! Emma Thompson had to carry an entire film and she did it to perfection for Saving Mr. Banks. Another big SNUB.
7. Lana Del Rey for Best Song 'Young and Beautiful' (The Great Gatsby). When The Great Gatsby came out, love it or hate it, that was Lana Del Rey's award to lose. The song was beautiful and played perfectly with the film. I'm tired of songs being nominated that only play during end credits. Young and Beautiful pops up here and there in the film. But at least Frozen got the nod (and will win).
8. The Way Way Back – Best Supporting Actor Sam Rockwell. Forget what I said earlier. Sam Rockwell deserved a nomination for his ability to deliver some of the funniest lines written in any movie this past year. His role was hilarious and heart warming and one the best this year.
9. Best Screenplay The Way Way Back. Along with fantastic character development, this film had a simple but yet great story to it. And on top of that most of the lines are the best written this year. It was the 'In Bruges' of this year.
10. Allison Janney best supporting actress. Again, I really do think The Way Way back was forgotten by a lot of people and thats a shame because there are so many great surprises from this film. And one of those surprises is Allison Janney as the drunken neighbor. She was amazing and reminds me of every drunken mother you see at parties. I would have easily bumped Sally Hawkins for Janney.


Re: Zimmer's 12 years snub, I think it's also possible people are tired of his recycling the Thin Red Line chord progression. Arguably the best bit of score (the atonal music over the boat sequence) was written entirely by the additional music composer. Meaning it was not in the 5min suite Hans gave to his guys. Hans process can get some amazing results but makes it hard to nominate an individual.

The T

Really sad to see a movie like prisoners not get any love. Gyllenhall and Jackman nailed their roles, even Dano executed a great character with minimal dialouge. Even down to that chilling tune was an excellent mood enhancement. Hope the producers,directors,case, etc… know that they did a great job and hope more films envoke such emotion as this one did. Can't wait to see how many awards the hunger games takes home this year for being the new twilight series and a fictional load of ……..

Steve Barr

I wish you had been right about Wolf of Wall Street being ignored . Martin Scorsese is an empty suit . The film was a bloated bore . DeCaprio was very good . Jonah hill had great teeth . Scorsese has been making the same movie for over thirty years . As for the screenplay – if all the f-words , nudity and drug use were removed you wouldn't have a movie .

Rob Coates

Thelma Schoomaker has won 3 Oscars- Raging Bull (1980), Aviator (2005) and Departed (2006).


Thelma Schoonmaker won for The Departed and The Aviator, not Hugo.


Is no one going to talk about how Place Beyond the Pines was snubbed? Definitely a best picture and best director worthy nominee but the bigger screw is Ryan Gosling deserved a Best supporting actor nod over a lot of those guys. He could definitely replace Bradley Cooper and Bakhard from Captain Phillips. And Jake Gyllenhaal and Hugh Jackman not getting acknowledged for their performances in Prisoners? Hugh was terrifying he could easily replace Bruce Dern.


I would also call Bad Grandpa a surprise nom. Sure it involved heavy makeup but no more than the same character on the first three Jackasses. I just hope it freakin wins now that it's nominated. That's a line they have to put on the bluray cover. Oscar nominated film, ha!


I think the Sean Bobbit snub for cinematography was the biggest shock. Even though I'm not wanting 12 Years a Slave to win Best Pic, I agree it was the best looking film. From the trailer alone I called it to win the Oscar. There are so many single shots I could pull from the film and mount them as artwork. And especially considered the film scored so many other nods, honesty this should've taken Inside Llewyn Davis' place. The cinematography Oscar is not that imperative for a win for Best Pic (more so for Editing) but it sure helps. Oh well. I guess this is another one in the bag for Gravity even though in that film u can't even tell what's real or not. I mean can a DP actually get an Oscar for shooting a film entirely on green screen?


LOL no hairstyling nomination for American Hustle.


How did Bale have little buzz when he had been nominated left and right by BFCA, HFPA and the Baftas?


Romeo + Juliet ('96) would have been nominated in '97 and Happy-Go-Lucky came out in '08…


either tho i don't watch foreign language films, im kind of suprise that Blue Is the Warmest Color didn't get a nomination. this adele can't spell her last name, seems like a pretty good actress, hope she does more films here in America.


I did not watched the movie so I can't really advocate or share "outrage", but I thought Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips was the biggest surprise snub for me, considering how almost every other award has shown recognition, plus he's Tom Hanks! Everyone is happy he's out of the slump of Cloud Atlas and Larry Crowne.


I'm very surprised that "Blue is the warmest Colour" didn't get a Best Foreign Film nod…


2 quick corrections:

"We like to think it’s the Academy’s mea culpa for not nominating the British actress for “Happy-Go-Lucky” last year."

Happy-Go-Lucky came out in 2008. Though I would agree was a bit of a snub.

"Owen Pallett (also known as Final Fantasy)"

He dropped the Final Fantasy name in 2009 (after some legal troubles with the video game people.)


It's not DoP… it's just DP in the industry. :) Just sayin'.


Blue Jasmine nominated for best original screenplay over Inside Llewyn Davis is bizarre. Thought it was one of Woody Allen's laziest scripts to date – great concept but dialogue was overexpositional, and no wonder he writes these scripts in a year!


Blue Jasmine nominated for best original screenplay over Inside Llewyn Davis is bizarre. Thought it was one of Woody Allen's laziest scripts to date – great concept but dialogue was overexpositional, and no wonder he writes these scripts in a year!


Schoonmaker won for The Departed and The Aviator not Hugo, in 2011 the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo won the editing category
Very nice article


I've worked with the people who made Alone Yet Not Alone. Produced by a rather wealthy Texan about his "illustrious family history". I'm not saying they bought their way in. Yet I'm not NOT saying they bought their way in.


"We like to think it’s the Academy’s mea culpa for not nominating the British actress for “Happy-Go-Lucky” last year."

While we're on the subject of mea culpas – Happy-Go-Lucky came out in… 2008.


for me 20 snubs i belive are
1-Spring Breakers(best supporting actor for james franco & best cinematography)
2-Disconnect(best picture, best actor for Jason Bateman & Best Cinematography)
3-Prisoners(best supporting actor jake gyllenhaal, best picture, best actor for hugh jackman)
4-The Butler(best actor for Forest Whitaker, best supporting actress for Oprah Winfrey, best costume design, best score, best adapted screeenplay & best make & Hair)
5-Spectacular Now(best adapted screenplay, best actor for Miles Teller, best actress for Shailene Woodley)
6-Monsters University(best animated feature)
7-Fruitvale Station(best actor for michael b. jordan, best supporting actress for Melonie Diaz, best cinematography, best score, best original screenplay)
8-Inside Llewyn Davis(best picture, best actor for Oscar Isaac, best original song)
9-Man Of Steel(best visual effects, best score, best supporting actor Michael Shannon)
10-Oz: Great and Powerful(best costume design, best production design & Best Hair and makeup)


As big a shock for me as any was the failure of the extraordinary "The Past" to get a Best Foreign Film nod.

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