Oscar season is finally over. The 88th Academy Awards took place last night, but the post-mortem continues. Yes, there were surprises last night, the biggest being “Spotlight” taking Best Picture (nearly every Oscar pundit had either picked “The Big Short” or “The Revenant”), but there were also snubs. Of course any such snubs were relative, and they’re not as egregious as no actor of color being represented in the actor race, a lack of minorities in general or a lack of females in the big categories (though it’s nice to see Margaret Sixel win Best Editing for “Mad Max: Fury Road”) or certain deserving films being mostly shut out of the ceremony completely (“Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton” come to mind). But there were certain people and films that were expected to land a big prize but walked away empty-handed. Let’s take a look at six of them and why they were shut out.
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Sylvester Stallone For “Creed”
The biggest snub, and possibly the biggest surprise of the night, was Sylvester Stallone losing the Best Supporting Actor award. Traditionally, the Oscars love a good comeback story (think Martin Landau in “Ed Wood,” James Coburn in “Affliction,” etc.). But in recent years, the idea of the “sentimental favorite” has certainly lost its power (see just last year when veteran Michael Keaton lost Best Actor to newcomer Eddie Redmayne). But Stallone had a good narrative: he hadn’t been nominated for an Oscar in 39 years — for 1977’s “Rocky” for Best Actor and Best Original Screenplay— and the momentum and popularity appeared to be there. Stallone won the Golden Globe and while Idris Elba won the SAG award for Best Supporting Actor, Elba was not nominated for an Oscar, so this seemed to only help Stallone. Plus in “Creed,” Stallone was part of a terrific diversity pick that was otherwise ignored at the Oscars, and he was ostensibly representing the picture. He seemed ripe for the win. But apparently there were other factors at play that made him lose to Mark Rylance for “Bridge of Spies.” In those ensuing 39 years, Stallone had made a lot of terrible movies that perhaps the Academy could not forgive, and there was a perhaps-not-untruthful narrative that he was disliked by his peers. In fact, with Rylance as a total newcomer to Hollywood, one can posit that it wasn’t so much support for Rylance that earned him the prize, but resentment towards Stallone that prevented a win. Presuming this is his last shot at an Academy Award, you’ve got to imagine Big Sly is heartbroken and you’ll never see him up on that stage again unless he’s given an honorary Oscar.
“The Martian” Getting Zilch
The narrative for Ridley Scott’s “The Martian” over the awards season was interesting. The film went from being a fan favorite that’s “never getting nominated,” to becoming a huge hit (over $600 million worldwide), with support mounting for the movie through the fall. The outer space survival film did well at the Golden Globes (in part because they have a Musical/Comedy category) and eventually was nominated for eight Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actor (Matt Damon) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Drew Goddard). Perhaps the writing was on the wall early on, when “sentimental favorite” director Ridley Scott wasn’t nominated for Best Director (despite earning a DGA nom), and when it came to the big show, “The Martian” took home absolutely zero awards.
“Carol” Gets Shut Out As Well
I turned out to be exactly right in September after I saw “Carol” at Telluride, unfortunately. Todd Haynes‘ sumptuous, exquisite “Carol” is easy to adore on a aesthetic level, but I felt it was slightly dispassionate, and more importantly, I thought it would prove to be much too cold and aloof for the Academy. This proved to be correct in several ways. First off, “Carol” failed to earn a Best Picture or Best Director nod, but the film did score six nominations overall, including two for leads Rooney Mara and Cate Blanchett. But even in would-be shoo-in categories like Costume Design, Cinematography and Adapted Screenplay, “Carol” was cast aside. Eventually, the film, which was also shunned by the Spirit Awards, came up empty handed.
“The Revenant” Missing Below The Line
Yes, “The Revenant” was well-respected and won three key awards: Best Director, Best Actor and Best Cinematography, but with twelve nominations, the harrowing wilderness tale went into the evening with the most nods. Outside of the big categories, many believed “The Revenant” would dig deep into the technical awards as well. And most people started to go astray in their Oscar pool when they picked “The Revenant” for both sound categories. Instead “Mad Max: Fury Road” kicked it to the curb for the tech categories and dominated there across the board.
“Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens” Given No Tech Love
J.J. Abrams’ ‘The Force Awakens’ might have smashed the record for the highest-grossing film of all time this year (domestically, anyhow), but it received no love at the Oscars. Some over-enthusiastic pundits had believed it might score a Best Picture nod in December, but that did not come to pass. ‘Force Awakens’ was however nominated for five technical categories, including the prestigious Best Editing award, but walked away empty-handed.
“The Big Short” Only Winning One Award
Adam McKay’s housing collapse/economic crisis tragicomedy was the Best Picture frontrunner at one point and was nominated for five awards including Best Picture, Director, Editing and Best Supporting Actor. “The Big Short” had won both the PGA award (usually the best augur for Best Picture) and the National Board of Review Awards Best Ensemble, and had generally scored lots of accolades throughout the season. But it was a divisive film (I thought it was a mess) and that could have affected its chances. In the end, “The Big Short” was relegated to the sidelines, taking only one award for Best Adapted Screenplay, which makes sense given no one thought a movie could be made about the complex financial minutia of collateralized debt obligations and similarly abstruse market collapse issues.
That’s really it. Any other films nominated but shut out that you feel deserve a mention? Sound off below.