We finally have our nominations for the 94th Academy Awards…but how do we feel about them?
Netflix’s “The Power of the Dog” led with 12 nominations including four in the acting categories, plus Best Picture and writing and directing for Jane Campion, who made history as the first female director to be nominated twice. “Dune” followed with 10 noms including Best Picture.
Japan’s Oscar entry “Drive My Car” also is in the running for Best Picture, along with directing and screenwriting noms, plus its International Feature selection. The Best Picture category also includes “CODA,” “Don’t Look Up,” “King Richard,” “Licorice Pizza,” “Nightmare Alley,” and “West Side Story.”
While “Spider-Man: No Way Home” failed to land in the Best Picture category after busting box office records, festival favorite — and indie award-winning — “Passing” was also iced out entirely. “Licorice Pizza” breakout stars Alana Haim and Cooper Hoffman similarly failed to land respective Best Actress or Best Actor recognition, and we clutched our pearls when Lady Gaga’s name was left out of the Best Actress category. “A Star” may have been born but has its clout faded?
“Dune” director Denis Villeneuve similarly was snubbed for Best Director, but the “Cruella” costume nod was a pleasant surprise for fans of fashion.
“Belfast” star Caitriona Balfe proved that a BAFTA nomination isn’t always indicative of Oscar appeal, and “Don’t Look Up” director Adam McKay didn’t find his way into the Best Directing circle this time.
Check out IndieWire’s picks for some of the biggest snubs and surprises of this year’s announcement below.
The 94th Academy Awards will air Sunday, March 27.
Snub: “Spider-Man: No Way Home”
Despite fans’ expectations (and breaking box office records), “Spider-Man: No Way Home” didn’t swing into the Best Picture category. The Marvel multiverse epic is nominated for Best Visual Effects, though.
Snub: Caitrona Balfe in “Belfast”
After being nominated for a BAFTA for “Belfast,” Caitriona Balfe was ignored for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars, despite the decent showing elsewhere for Branagh’s film, including for Best Picture. That Supporting Actress “Belfast” slot went to beloved past winner Judi Dench.
Surprise: J.K. Simmons, “Being the Ricardos”
Amazon Prime Video’s “Being the Ricardos” is nominated for Best Actress (Nicole Kidman) and Best Actor (Javier Bardem) but it was a surprise when J.K. Simmons was also nominated for Best Supporting Actor for the biopic — which ultimately didn’t land in the Best Picture field.
Snub: Adam McKay, “Don’t Look Up”
Adam McKay was iced out of the Best Director category for world-ending Netflix film “Don’t Look Up” despite big showings among the BAFTA Awards nominations and other guilds. McKay is more of a play as a producer on the film, for which he is nominated for Best Picture.
Snub: Lady Gaga, “House of Gucci”
Despite Lady Gaga winning the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress honor for her role in biopic “House of Gucci,” the “A Star Is Born” alum was overlooked at the Oscars.
Snub and Surprise: Denis Villeneuve Out for Best Director on “Dune”
Denis Villeneuve was shut out at the Oscars for Achievement in Directing on “Dune.” However, he is eligible to win for being a producer on the sci-fi film, which is nominated for Best Picture. He’s also nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, alongside co-writers Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth.
Surprise: Jessie Buckley in for “The Lost Daughter”
Debatably a surprise, as some pundits predicted this. But Jessie Buckley made it into the Best Supporting Actress category for her performance as the younger version of Olivia Colman’s complicated mother in Maggie Gyllenhaal’s “The Lost Daughter.” This is the Irish actress’ first nomination of surely many to come.
Snub: Rita Moreno, “West Side Story”
Oscar winner Rita Moreno could have made history as being nominated for the same film, in a different role, with Steven Spielberg’s “West Side Story.” Yet Moreno’s turn as shop owner Valentina proved to be irrelevant to Oscar voters.
Snub: “A Hero” for Best International Feature
Iranian auteur Asghar Farhadi may have knocked himself out of the International Feature for already winning twice — for 2011’s “A Separation” and 2016’s “The Salesman.” “A Hero” failed to land any Oscar nominations on Tuesday, despite Amazon backing and the usual Farhadi push from Iran.
Snub: Alana Haim for “Licorice Pizza”
Best Actress was a tough race this year as evidenced by the royal snubbing of Lady Gaga for “House of Gucci.” Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Licorice Pizza” picked up key nominations for writing, directing, and picture, but breakout screen performer Alana Haim didn’t make the Oscar cut after a season of critics and smaller voting bodies trying to make that happen.
Surprise: Diane Warren Scores 13th Oscar Nomination — for “Four Good Days”
Perennially a nominee and never a winner, songwriter Diane Warren is back in the mix for the heart-tugging ballad “Somehow You Do” from Rodrigo Garcia’s addiction drama “Four Good Days.” The maudlin story of a mother (Glenn Close) and her drug-addled daughter (Mila Kunis) had a limited release back in April 2021 from Vertical Entertainment, and wasn’t a contender in any other way. But the songwriting branch always roots for tireless campaigner Warren, who has big competition if she wants to finally snag a win this year.
Surprise: “The Worst Person in the World” in for Best Original Screenplay
Many pundits expected a potential Original Screenplay slot for a foreign film to go to, say, Pedro Almodóvar for “Parallel Mothers” or “Drive My Car,” written by Ryusuke Hamaguchi and Takamasa Oe. But voters spread the love, giving co-writers Eskil Vogt and director Joachim Trier the nod for their affecting “The Worst Person in the World.” It’s no surprise the film earned the International Feature nomination for Norway.
Snub: “Passing” in All Categories
While Netflix has plenty of major contenders in the game this year, Rebecca Hall’s elegant black-and-white Nella Larsen adaptation “Passing” performed disappointingly, notching exactly zero nominations. Many predicted BAFTA and SAG nominee Ruth Negga to sneak into the Best Supporting Actress race, at the very least.
Snub: “The Rescue” for Best Documentary Feature
Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s Thai cave rescue documentary from National Geographic was shut out of the Best International Feature category. The filmmaking pair already won for 2018’s “Free Solo.”
Surprise: “Flee” Gets an Impressive Three Nominations
Jonas Poher Rasmussen’s beloved Sundance 2021 documentary “Flee” proved an impressive entrant as Denmark’s International Feature Oscar submission. Not only did it earn that nomination, it also grabbed kudos for Best Animated Feature and Best Documentary Feature.
Surprise: “Drive My Car” Is Massive
Not totally a surprise per se, as this is one of the beloved and critically decorated films of 2021. But Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Chekhov-inspired Haruki Murakami adaptation scored even bigger than expected, with nominations for Best International Feature, Best Director, and Best Picture for the Janus Films release out of Japan.
Snub: “Sing 2” in All Categories
While we all know sequels (for the most part) never surpass the original, the star-studded lineup behind “Sing 2” made its Oscar snub ever more shocking.
Snub: Frances McDormand, “The Tragedy of Macbeth”
Out, out, damn spot! Frances McDormand, who won an Oscar for last year’s “Nomadland,” was not nominated for her turn as Lady Macbeth.
Surprise: “Cruella” in for Costume Design and Makeup and Hairstyling
Disney’s “Cruella” sashayed into the Best Costumes category, and rightfully so: that gown! Those gloves! That moth dress! It was a sure thing the Disney film would land in the Makeup/Hairstyling category for Emma Stone’s looks alone.
Snub: Bradley Cooper for “Licorice Pizza” — but with a Caveat…
…that he did earn a Best Picture nomination as a producer on Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley,” which he also starred in. Cooper has altogether earned nine Oscar nominations throughout his career but has won exactly zero. “Licorice Pizza” fans hoped he’d at least sneak into Best Supporting Actor for his bonkers performance as Jon Peters. But he may have had too little screen time to register. He also lost on a Best Actor nod for “Nightmare,” too.
The “Power of the Dog” Quartet Is All in — Including Jesse Plemons
Everyone knew Kirsten Dunst, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Kodi Smit-McPhee were all Oscar acting locks for their performances in Jane Campion’s “The Power of the Dog.” But Jesse Plemons, for his turn as the mild and devoted George Burbank, also deserved a piece of the pie. Oscar voters counted him in for Best Supporting Actor alongside Smit-McPhee.
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