The Oscar nominations have landed, and as ever, basically no one’s happy, unless your name is Morten Tyldum. The taste of the Academy never reflects that of the movie blogosphere, or of anyone except the Academy, really, so while there are plenty of more pleasant surprises (more on those shortly), there are also some less pleasant ones.
We have mixed feelings about the word “snub,” but in lieu of a better one, we’ve compiled the ten most shocking omissions and absences from this year’s Academy Award nominations. You can find them below: let us know what you feel got snubbed hardest, and stay tuned for much more Oscar coverage over the rest of the day.
10. “Foxcatcher” in Best Picture
Overall, the strong showing of “Foxcatcher” in the nominations made us happy: the film is remarkable and deserving, but not everyone’s cup of tea, and many if not most thought that it might be too dark to register with the Academy. Instead, it did much better than expected, with five nods — for Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, director Bennett Miller, the screenplay, and make-up. Yet it seems odd that with those nods (especially Miller in directing), the film didn’t make the Best Picture field. It’s pretty likely that it was in the ninth slot but didn’t quite garner enough support, but it’s still strange that it could do much better than expected and still feel like it deserved more.
9. “The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies” for visual effects
Every single trip to Middle-Earth until now has been nominated in the visual effects category (with all three “Lord Of The Rings” pictures winning there), so it was widely expected that the closing chapter, ‘Battle Of The Five Armies‘ would follow in their footsteps. But as it turned out, bad buzz from the category’s bake-off a few days ago was worth listening to, as the film ended up missing out in favor of the exploding airships of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” Not the greatest conclusion to WETA’s work on the franchise (though don’t weep too hard for the Kiwi VFX whizzes: they’re likely to win the category for “Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes.”)
8. Jennifer Aniston
The former “Friends” star seemed to have a bit of an awards Cinderella story going on this year. The actress’ indie film “Cake” premiered at TIFF to mixed reviews, but glowing recognition for her de-glammed lead turn, and some started to suggest it could be a dark horse for nominations. Then Aniston landed a surprise SAG nomination, and went from dark horse to a legit contender, in a weak year without a lot of serious competition. Aniston campaigned hard, but in the end fell short, with Marion Cotillard making the cut in her place for a deserved nod for “Two Days, One Night.” It’s been a reminder of Aniston’s talents, at least: hopefully next time she’ll have a film that’s more worthy of her that can carry her through.
7. “Gone GIrl”
One of the biggest hits of the year, for grown-ups at least, ended up with only a single nomination: Best Actress for Rosamund Pike. Otherwise, David Fincher‘s “Gone Girl” went unloved. The film was dark and divisive, so it wasn’t a huge shock, but in a year of low-grossing nominees, it’s a little surprising that the Academy didn’t honor a legitimate popular phenomenon more, especially as it was technically impeccable. Perhaps most shocking of all was a miss for writer Gillian Flynn, thought by many to be a potential winner in Adapted Screenplay. Did she lose out for adapting her own work (no one’s been nominated for doing that since John Irving and “The Cider House Rules” in 1999, who went on to win the prize)?
6. “Life Itself” & “The Overnighters”
Documentary is always a tough category to call, and we were pleased to have guessed that “Finding Vivian Maier” and “Last Days In Vietnam” would end up among the final five. But as ever, it came at an expense. We were on the money (though it was still something of a favorite with many prognosticators) that Steve James‘ “Life Itself” wouldn’t be a nominee: the Roger Ebert biography has been a favorite with film critics, but once more, James missed out (twenty years after his legendary “Hoop Dreams” snub). Perhaps less of a total shock was the absence of the terrific “The Overnighters” (our pick of Best Doc of last year), given that it was a smaller film, but it was still a shame to see it missing.
5. “Birdman” missing out in editing.
Famously, no film has won Best Picture without an editing nomination since “Ordinary People,” so if “Birdman” wants a shot at the big prize, it’ll have to overcome that particular record. Given the film’s conceit as a faux one-take, some had wondered if it could miss Editing recognition, but nods from the ACE and BAFTA bodies suggested that the film would make the cut. But Inarritu’s film ultimately missed out in this category in favor of “American Sniper” and “Whiplash,” among others. A sign of weakness in the Best Picture race? Or a by-product of the film’s form (it’s worth noting that the similarly seamless “Gravity” wasn’t just nominated, but won the award last year).
Even when it landed to solid box-office and ecstatic reviews, few people thought that Dan Gilroy‘s “Nightcrawler” was going to be a serious Oscar contender: the film’s too dark and too close to the bone to be a traditional Academy movie. But it seemed to be gathering steam over time, with a brace of Guild nominations, and many were expecting it to crack the Best Picture field, with possible nods for Jake Gyllenhaal and Gilroy as director. Instead, the film had to settle for the consolation prize of a Screenplay nomination, like so many smart, interesting films before it. Turns out everyone’s initial instincts were correct in this case, which is a real shame as “Nightcrawler” is better than most of the Best Picture field.
3. “The Lego Movie”
The talk of Twitter this morning has been the shock absence from the Best Animated Feature run-down of presumed frontrunner “The Lego Movie.” We’d wondered if GKIDS could get both their films, “Song Of The Sea” and “The Tale Of Princess Kaguya” into the mix, but figured it might be at the expense of “Big Hero 6.” Instead, Warner Bros. and Phil Lord & Chris Miller‘s inventive delight was dropped from the five. It’s a pretty shocking turn of events, and one could maybe point to the film’s corporate, toy-based leanings as a reason, but it’s more likely that the film skewed too young to make an impact (the directors’ equally good “Cloudy With Chance Of Meatballs” wasn’t nominated either): it has a very particular, millennial sense of humor that the older crowd might not have responded to.
2. “Selma” and Ava DuVernay and David Oyelowo
People had been so worried about prospects for “Selma” in recent days after its snubs from guilds, and from BAFTA, that there could have been a sense of relief that it made the final Best Picture line-up. But it’s hard to celebrate too much: the film only got two nominations in total (the other, ignominiously, for Best Original Song), while director Ava DuVernay (who could have been the first African-American woman to pick up a nomination) and star David Oyelowo both missed out. Was it the much-documented screener issues? The film was finished late, despite a semi-work-in-progress cut hitting AFI Fest in November, and Paramount didn’t send the film to guilds in an attempt to prioritize the Academy, but even then the film reportedly landed late for many voters. However, despite whopping Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritics scores, it seems that voters didn’t respond in the same way as critics (and even audiences). Was it because of the mini-controversy over the film’s alleged inaccuracies? Was it too much of a docudrama? We won’t know, but at least it broke the Best Picture field as a consolation, which’ll help the film gain a wider audience.
1. Women & People Of Color In General
What a lot of white dudes. Given that it’s overwhelmingly male and Caucasian in its make-up, it’s not exactly surprising that the Oscar nominations are about as diverse as a Republican Party fundraiser. But this year seemed worse than ever: despite Ava DuVernay and Angelina Jolie having been strong contenders at various points, no women were nominated for directing. Or for writing (see the above Gillian Flynn absence), while every acting nominee was white this year. Strides have been made in recent years thanks to victories for films like “The Hurt Locker” and “12 Years A Slave,” but there’s still a long, long way to go.