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Snubs and Surprises from the Academy Award Nominations

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Universal Pictures

Every single year, when the Academy Award nominations are announced, there are snubs and surprises that people get up in arms about. I tend to take it all in stride, but that doesn’t mean I don’t notice them, or have ones that bum me out or excite me. So, today I figured I’d do an Oscar nominations edition of a snubs and surprises piece…

Below, you can see a handful of picks for snubs and surprises by the Academy. It’s par for the course with Oscar, but we always find them shocking, regardless. So, react as you see fit, but then start to think more about Phase Two, which is now upon us!

*Special Citations: (Snubs) Best Original Score contenders with prior wins like Alexandre Desplat and Hildur Guðnadóttir, the Best Supporting Actress contenders of Women Talking, as well as Taylor Swift in Best Original Song for Where the Crawdads Sings.*

Here are some of the snubs and surprises from the Academy Award nominations…


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Paul Dano in Best Supporting Actor for The FabelmansPaul Dano should have been nominated for The Fabelmans, but voters opted for Judd Hirsch instead. Hirsch is excellent as well, but Dano is so essential to why the film works. It was truly a shame that he wound up missing.

Danielle Deadwyler in Best Actress for Till – This was the most stunning of snubs on Tuesday morning. While not seen as a full on lock, Danielle Deadwyler was considered fairly safe for her acclaimed turn in Till. A late breaking surprise nominee (more on that later) took that slot, leaving a lot of folks rather upset with the Academy and its voters.

Decision to Leave in Best International Feature – Outside of RRR, which wasn’t submitted by India, no international contender had more critical acclaim than Decision to Leave. Thought of until the end as a possible spoiler against frontrunner All Quiet on the Western Front, it instead wound up excluded from the lineup completely.

Adam Sandler in Best Actor for Hustle – Maybe this was always a longer shot, but that SAG nomination did put Adam Sandler on the cusp of Best Actor. Instead, his turn in Hustle fell short, leaving Sandler now in the position of perhaps being seen as due for a nod next time out. Go figure, right?

Top Gun: Maverick in Best Cinematography – Just a few days ago, the cinematography in Top Gun: Maverick from Claudio Miranda was seen as the likely winner. Now? It’s not even in the final five. Especially as the movie was cited numerous times, this miss is the big technical category snub, and is actually fairly hard to explain.


Credit: ©Apple TV/Courtesy Everett Collection

Brian Tyree Henry in Best Supporting Actor for Causeway – This was a pleasant surprise, to be sure, though one few saw coming. After all, it initially seemed like Causeway would be a vehicle more for Jennifer Lawrence than Brian Tyree Henry, before being ignored entirely. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, though it was certainly a shock.

Ruben Östlund in Best Director for Triangle of SadnessTriangle of Sadness over-performed a bit, but so did other contenders that didn’t score a Best Director nomination. So, especially considering how Ruben Östlund really showed up nowhere in the Director precursors, this was a pretty surprising inclusion.

Andrea Riseborough in Best Actress for To Leslie – I may do a whole piece on this, but Andrea Riseborough being a last minute addition to Best Actress for To Leslie is an all-timer of an Oscar nomination morning surprise. The grassroots style campaign that seemingly never works? Well, it sure worked this time.

Diane Warren in Best Original Song (Again) – It sure seemed like giving Diane Warren an Honorary Oscar would have been an excuse not to nomination her in Best Original Song yet again. Well, you’d be mistaken for assuming that, as Warren is back in the running again, though almost certain to fall short there.

Women Talking in Best Picture – Not only had Sarah Polley‘s film missed several key precursors, it was snubbed in numerous places earlier on in the nominations. So, when Women Talking cracked the Best Picture lineup, it was certainly a surprise. Deserving? Sure. But easy to calculate, given the rest of the nominees? Not at all.

Which Academy Award nomination snubs and surprises are the most notable to you? Let us know!


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Robert Hamer
1 month ago

I always take care to note that sometimes snubs can be disappointing but not necessarily “surprising.” The Northman, for example, was a box office bomb that didn’t score with any major precursors, so it’s a bummer that its excellent visual craftsmanship wasn’t recognized anywhere… but I think even the film’s biggest fans were sort of expecting that to happen.

Less expected, for me at least, was The Woman King getting shut out. That historical swords-and-sandals epic was a box office success! It got nominated at BAFTA and SAG and Critics’ Choice! Missing Lead Actress, or Costume Design, or Production Design, or Original Score isn’t surprising, but to miss out on all of them genuinely threw me the morning of.

As for most pleasant surprise to me… I mean, Paul Mescal is so atypical of what the Oscars usually go for in Best Lead Actor: he’s young, he was not in a big “Oscar contender,” he didn’t play a real person or go through big emotional swings, no obvious “Oscar clip” moments… I mean, I still can’t believe he’s up there. And yet he is! And, as a nice bonus, the movie he’s nominated for is great, too.

Though I don’t think it necessarily deserves to be nominated over the likes of Happening or Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, there is something weirdly gratifying to me about a screenplay for a big dumb blockbuster spectacle like Top Gun: Maverick getting an Academy Award nomination for… really no other reason I can glean other than it nails the basics of functional, straightforward storytelling with clear narrative arcs. Maybe some of these bloated, convoluted, narratively muddled, lore-stuffed franchises can learn a thing or two from that.

Also, while it’s not really “surprising,” I am still so relieved that TÁR was not passed over for Best Film Editing. That category has such a bad habit of equating “best” with “most,” and Monika Willi‘s very deliberate cutting played a huge role in that slow-burn, emotionally ambivalent character drama being as interesting as it was. She’d be a terrific winner.



Written by Joey Magidson

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