Oscar Snubs and Surprises!


It’s that time again folks! Oscar season has officially begun and the nominations for the 95th annual Academy Awards are in. Listen, I know the Oscars are essentially Hollywood rewarding itself, however, I’ve been enamored with the award ceremony since Braveheart took home the gold twenty-seven years ago. I love it. I just can’t help myself. Plus, with the Academy expanding to 10,000 members with more diversity in terms of race, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc., I think things may be moving in the right direction. Hopefully, #OscarsSoWhite won’t be something we have to deal with going forward.

Regardless, every year brings its own share of snubs and surprises so I thought I’d break down what I saw were some of the most egregious and enlightened picks across various categories. And the snubs and surprises go to…

THE NORTHMAN GETS SHUT OUT

I absolutely, positively, and completely loathe the Academy when it comes to recency bias. Too often it feels like anything released prior to May in any given year is just not making the cut. That wasn’t always the case either as great films like The Godfather and 2001: A Space Odyssey were released in March and April respectively. Unfortunately, I believe The Northman was the victim of recency bias. If Robert Eggers’ tale of revenge had been released in October of last year rather than April, I think the storyline would have been much different. At the very LEAST this film deserved nominations for cinematography (Jarin Blaschke), score (Robin Carolan and Sebastian Gainsborough), sound, and production design. Beyond that, you could make a strong case for Best Supporting Actress (Nicole Kidman), director (Eggers), and yes, I believe Best Picture. To be completely shut out though? What a farce.

CINEMATOGRAPHY

Speaking of farces, I have no surprises in this category, only snubs. Check out this (mostly) ridiculous list:

James Friend All Quiet of the Western Front

Darius Khondji Bardo: False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths

Mandy Walker Elvis

Roger Deakins Empire of Light

Florian Hoffmeister Tar

Of all the above nominees the only one I think unequivocally belongs is James Friend for All Quiet on the Western Front. You could maybe make a case for Mandy Walker. And Deakins is just a legacy nomination in my opinion. But other than that? What a joke. Janusz Kaminski’s work in The Fabelmans is just astounding and Hoyte van Hoytema delivered some of his best work ever with Nope. They literally had to invent a new camera for Top Gun: Maverick so leaving Claudio Miranda off this list is ridiculous to the point of absurdity. Lastly, say what you want about The Batman, but I walked out of that film 100% confident Greig Fraser was going to receive back-to-back Oscar wins and the damn thing didn’t even get nominated.

SCORE

In no universe is Michael Giacchino’s score for The Batman not one of the top-five scores of the year. I can only assume that the Academy must have inhaled some of the Scarecrow’s fear toxin when casting votes. I have no other explanation.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

SURPRISES

Judd Hirsch The Fabelmans

I was so thrilled that Hirsch landed his first Oscar nomination in forty-two years. While his character Boris only appears in a handful of scenes, his performance was the standout for me. His speech about the love you feel for what you are most passionate about versus the love you feel for your family really struck a chord. Incredibly well deserved.

Brian Tyree Henry Causeway

Causeway was one of those smaller streamer movies (Apple TV) that I felt flew under the radar last year. It’s not groundbreaking by any means but Henry’s performance was captivating and is absolutely his best work to date. What shocked me is that the Academy usually goes for performances that exhibit Acting with a capital “A” whereas Henry’s performance was quite understated. Nice job on this one Academy.

SNUBS

Paul Dano for The Fabelmans

As I said before, the Academy typically doesn’t go for understated so if Henry’s nomination is the exception that proves the rule, Dano’s omission is the Academy strictly adhering to that same rule. And it’s a shame because Dano’s Burt Fabelman is kind, compassionate, vulnerable, selfish when it comes to his job, and a little dismissive of Sammy’s passion. Somehow Dano conveyed all those things and more. This arguably is a lead performance but nevertheless, the Academy dropped the ball with this one.

Colin Farrell The Batman

Listen I know that the chances of Farrell getting nominated for his role as the Penguin was a pipe dream, but I don’t give a shit. It was an unhinged, electrifying performance and Farrell didn’t just chew the scenes he was in, he devoured them like a rancor. For those reasons alone he should have been nominated and I consider this a snub.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

SURPRISE

Stephanie Hsu Everything Everywhere All at Once

Here’s the thing about the Academy. Even if there are multiple phenomenal performances in a film it is rare that they nominate two from the same film in the same category. Usually, there’s an Oscar campaign that favors one over the other and that’s how it plays out. Incredibly not only did the 95th Oscars buck that trend, but they actually did it twice. Barry Keoghan and Brendan Gleeson both were nominated for The Banshees of Inisherin and both Stephanie Hsu and Jamie Lee Curtis were nominated for Everything Everywhere All at Once. The push however seemed to be for Curtis, not Hsu, so I was pleasantly surprised that she received the nomination. To be perfectly honest, her performance is hands down the better one and I’m glad the Academy recognized it.

SNUB

Janelle Monae Glass Onion

Ughh. This one hurt my soul. What an acting performance by Monae having to play the dual roles of both Helen and her twin sister Andi, which were completely different in personality. Furthermore, her comedic acumen was brilliant, delivering some of the best lines of the film. When it comes to leaving her off the ballot, I want to know whodunit.

BEST ACTRESS

SURPRISE

Andrea Riseborough To Leslie

This one might have been the shock of the day. Yes, Cate Blanchett touted Riseborough’s performance to the high heavens but this was a movie that was mostly on VOD and no one was talking about outside of hardcore movie fans. The Oscar campaign wasn’t just minimal, it was non-existent despite what some idiots are saying on Twitter. I thought the lone outlier was going to be Ana de Armas. Boy, was I wrong.

SNUB

Danielle Deadwyler Till

You talk about film Twitter rage? Holy shit. People went off about this one and rightly so. I can maybe see leaving Viola Davis off for The Woman King, but this one? Really? Really Academy? I don’t know if it is the uncomfortable subject matter or what but this one was hands down the worst snub of the day. I hate to be one of those people who say “Do better” but seriously Academy do better.

BEST ACTOR

SURPRISE

Paul Mescal Aftersun

This one is a borderline surprise because most pundits felt four out of five spots were nailed down and one was up for grabs. I am a little surprised about this one if for no other reason than Afterun feels very extemporaneous and not traditionally scripted. Most times the Academy doesn’t go for that so it was a bit of a surprise for Mescal to sneak in.

SNUB

Tom Cruise Top Gun: Maverick

I think cinematic snobs and old-school Academy members were delighted that Tom Cruise was dissed for Top Gun: Maverick, but those people are petty fools. It is possible to have an incredible, emotional performance in a major blockbuster and Tom Cruise did just that. His Pete “Maverick” Mitchell was nuanced and evolved, delivering both humor and pathos. If Cruise would have campaigned at all he probably would have gotten a nomination. Alas Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning Part II is currently occupying his time.

BEST DIRECTOR

SURPRISE

Ruben Ostland Triangle of Sadness

This one was a head-scratcher. Apparently, Elvis, Tar, and All Quiet on the Western Front directed themselves. Pretty insane that the person who did The Square was nominated in this category, but Baz Luhrmann and Edward Berger were not.

SNUB

Zero women being nominated in this category.

Please spare me your “women have won in this category back-to-back” arguments. Fuck right off with that horseshit. You mean to tell me there weren’t any women directors worthy of this category? Sarah Polley was more than deserving for Woman Talking and strong cases can be made for Chinonye Chukwu (Till) and Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Woman King). I mean the real issue here is that there needs to be more opportunities for women directors but that’s an entirely separate issue. More opportunities will of course lead to more chances for nominations. However, I again say to the Academy, do better.

BEST PICTURE

SURPRISES

Triangle of Sadness

Full disclosure I know nothing about this movie other than it is a cruise with rich people and things go awry. I plan on seeing it because I try to see all the nominees for the Big Six before Oscar night. I just didn’t see really any momentum with this one at all. It’s barely talked about outside of film circles. Additionally, there’s apparently a lot of vomit (you read that right) in this movie which doesn’t necessarily seem like something the Academy would go for. This one is out of left field and I’m intrigued.

Women Talking

This may sound odd but I’ve been DYING to see this movie since I read some of the amazing reviews out of TIFF. Check out the cast: Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, Judith Ivey, Frances McDormand, and Ben Whishaw. Now that’s some goddamn talent right there. Plus, it was adapted and directed by Sarah Polley who, in my mind, is one of the more underrated directors/writers working today. I did not expect it to nab a nomination because it really isn’t available right now other than the theater. Can’t wait to watch this one and I was pleasantly surprised it received a nomination.

SNUBS

Glass Onion

I unapologetically love this movie to the point that I think this one is just as good as Knives Out but for different reasons. The screenplay is airtight, the performances are phenomenal, the production value slays, and also Benoit motherfucking Blanc y’all. To me, this is a major snub especially since most film pundits I follow (as well as close movie nerd friends) say that Glass Onion executed the same subject matter better by a factor of 1000 over Triangle of Sadness. At least Rian Johnson can take comfort in that he was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Whale

Again, not a movie I’ve seen yet because it’s only in theaters (sorry I do have a family) but what a snub in my opinion. By most accounts an excellent film if a difficult watch, it managed to garner nominations in the Supporting Actress and Best Actor categories but not for Best Picture. Sight unseen for both films, I’d hazard that The Whale is better than Triangle of Sadness.

And now we play the waiting game until March 12. Stay tuned for my Oscar winner predictions in just under two months!