Oscars: 15 Biggest Snubs and Surprises

Academy Awards Snubs and Surprises

The bad news from having such a great year at the movies is the inevitable disappointments on Oscar nominations morning–there wasn’t enough room for everybody.

But Thursday morning’s nomination announcement was especially tough on the legends. No Oprah Winfrey for “The Butler”? No Emma Thompson for “Saving Mr. Banks”? No Robert Redford in “All Is Lost”? No Tom Hanks in “Captain Phillips”? And no posthumous nomination for James Gandolfini in “Enough Said”?

OSCARS: Complete List of Nominees

The Academy forgot to nominate some of its most Academy-friendly stars, which speaks to a shifting tide in an organization trying to become younger and hipper. At least Leonardo DiCaprio, for once, wasn’t left off the Oscars list for “The Wolf of Wall Street.” And Harvey Weinstein managed to keep his best picture streak alive–he’s been nominated in the category every year since 2008’s “The Reader”–by sneaking in “Philomena.”

Here are the biggest Oscars snubs and surprises from today.

SNUB: Oprah Winfrey, “The Butler.” Her best onscreen work since 1985’s “The Color Purple” was at one point seen as a frontrunner in the best supporting actress category. It might just be that the Academy, which has a notoriously short memory, forgot the Lee Daniels drama, which was released in August. The film and its star Forest Whitaker were also left off, despite a strong showing at the Screen Actors Guild nominations.

SNUB: Emma Thompson, “Saving Mr. Banks.” The universally loved actress is the only person to have ever won Oscars for both writing (1995’s “Sense and Sensibility”) and acting (1992’s “Howards End.”) Academy voters were not fans of Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks” in general–the Mary Poppins origin drama only received one Oscar nomination in total (Original Score), a rather embarrassing display, considering “Banks” was a tailor-made awards drama featuring Walt Disney himself.

SNUB: Robert Redford, “All is Lost.” Back in September, Redford wasn’t just a frontrunner for a nomination–he was predicted to win his first acting Oscar ever for this one-man show. (Surprisingly, Redford has only been nominated for an Oscar once for 1973’s “The Sting.”) In the end, he was hurt by Lionsgate’s wimpy campaign for the film, as well as by the fact that the contemplative drama doesn’t play well on a DVD screener.

SNUB: Tom Hanks, “Captain Phillips.” It wasn’t a good year for men lost at sea. Hanks, who has won two Oscars but hasn’t been nominated in 13 years, was overlooked for both “Captain Phillips” and “Saving Mr. Banks.”

SNUB: “Inside Llewyn Davis.” Even with nine best picture nominees, the Coen brothers, a perennial Academy favorite, lost out this time in the top category with their musical dramedy.

SNUB: Joaquin Phoenix, “Her.” He carried the Spike Jonze drama (with the help of Scarlett Johansson’s voice), but the best actor race was too crowded.

SNUB: James Gandolfini, “Enough Said.” He deserved a posthumous nomination for best supporting actor for his sweet turn in the Nicole Holofcener romantic comedy.

SNUB: Daniel Bruhl, “Rush.” Ron Howard’s race car picture underperformed at the box office, but Bruhl looked like he could have made a comeback after his nominations from both the Golden Globes and the SAGs.

SNUB: “Fruitvale Station.” Despite its status as the breakout indie of the year and backing from the Weinstein company, Ryan Coogler’s emotionally powerful drama didn’t make it into the best picture category. Its summer release date probably hurt its Oscar chances.

SNUB: “Monsters University.” Pixar usually has one film in the best-animated category. Its presequel to “Monster Inc.” has been overlooked for most of awards season.

SURPRISE: Amy Adams, “American Hustle.” After her Golden Globe win on Sunday, Adams has quietly been building momentum as David O. Russell’s comedy continues to perform well at the box office. This is her fifth Oscar nomination. And she’s now is in the curious position of being the only non-winner in the category opposite Cate Blanchett (“Blue Jasmine”), Sandra Bullock (“Gravity”), Judi Dench (“Philomena”) and Meryl Streep (“August: Osage County”). Blanchett is still the frontrunner, but if there’s an upset in this category, it will be Adams.

SURPRISE. Christian Bale, “American Hustle.” Last year, David O. Russell’s “Silver Linings Playbook” became the first film in 31 years to land Oscar nominations in all four acting categories. O. Russell pulled off that trick again, making “American Hustle” only the fifteenth movie to do so, with the inclusion of Bale, Adams, Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence.

SURPRISE. Leonardo DiCaprio, “The Wolf of Wall Street.” DiCaprio had started to look like the Susan Lucci of the Oscars. This is his fourth nomination, but he’d been previously snubbed a lot (see “Titanic,” “Catch Me if You Can,” “The Departed,” “Revolutionary Road,” “Shutter Island,” “Inception,” “J. Edgar” and “Django Unchained.”) What did he do differently this year? He actually campaigned a little.

SURPRISE: Sally Hawkins, “Blue Jasmine.” This was the first role as an American for Hawkins, who was humble and gracious on the Q&A circuit this past year.

SURPRISE: “Philomena.” The small British drama is one of the happy surprises of the year for the Weinstein Co. Many thought that Weinstein, who has been nominated for best picture every year since 2008’s “The Reader,” might be sitting this Academy Awards ceremony out. But they forget the No. 1 rule of the Oscar race: never count out Harvey.

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  1. Mirko says:

    This year, I not watch the Oscars: not there is Emma Thompson.

  2. MCS says:

    With this list of 2014 nominations, you can definitely tell the Academy and the Oscars are going downhill…

  3. Thomas S Revitt says:

    Missing Fruitvale Station is like if they had missed To Kill A Mockingbird. It’s just blind. Their heads are in comedy, history, or space. But definitely not in here and now and today.

  4. Worth Austin says:

    After dogs like Argo win Best Picture, the decline of the Oscars as a barometer of artistic achievement becomes apparent. When the best next generation of fine actors like Phoenix and Gosling go unrewarded year after year and need-to-go-away dinosaurs like Redford and Hanks are lamented–and God forbid Oprah was overlooked–WHAT?? Hollywood is creating crap. If foreign films were put in contention rather than having just one chosen (gee thanks, guys), they would dominate today. It’s all very tedious.

  5. Johnny G says:

    The fact that Spike Jonez w/(Her) and Bad Grandpa got a nomination just shows that the Jackass crew are a lot sharper than anyone gave them credit for. Quick somebody kick me in the balls!

  6. The Oscars are a travesty. I haven’t watched them since The Color Purple was snubbed years ago. I am white. Asinine of them.

  7. Martin says:

    Nothing for Gangster Squad? Boo. Hiss.

  8. JAG says:

    “Young And Beautiful” should have been nominated for Best Original Song, I think. That was the biggest snub for me. I agree re: Oprah, as well. I’m not so sure why everyone’s been surprised about Amy Adams or Leonardo DiCaprio? I thought both were shoe-ins – Leo based on the Academy needing to fill its obligation of nominating him without giving him an award, and Amy because the Academy will literally give David O. Russell every nomination they feasibly can these days.

  9. JAB says:

    Hanks & director Paul Greengrass getting passed over for noms were a huge disappointmenst for the excellent “Captain Phillips”. Daniel Bruhl was a darkhorse for a nom in my favorite movie of year, “Rush” (I don’t care for any kind of auto racing) so that wasn’t a surprise. The other big letdown for me was “Blackfish” not getting nominated for a Best Documentary. (Did Seaworld $$$ payoff in this snub?)

  10. R. Redford says:

    I understand how the Oscars work, thats why the “Peoples Choice” awards mean more to just plain ole folks like me, I’m sure if I was in the acting business the Oscar would mean something. but, it dosen’t.

  11. Chris says:

    It is AMAZING that the writers of Variety can’t see the biggest story here. For a few years they have made it so 10 Movies can be nominated for Best Picture yet this year they only nominate 9. That means they, for whatever reason, that there were absolutely NO other movies to consider. And before anyone writes something stupid like there were too many others to pick just one more, please don’t forget, this has always been about someone NOT getting nominated as just as getting nominated.

    It seems like the good old folks at Variety have been working TOO long as spin doctors for the PR people to remember that they should be news-people that focus on the entertainment industry. For ALL the other films this was a big slap on the face saying that it was better to leave a movie OFF the Best Picture list then even think about considering it.

    Just think what would happen if they only nominate 4 for Best Actor and not 5.

    • Kirk Todd says:

      Before you attack Variety, you should realize that the voting process for Best Picture is a complicated process that involves a film earning a certain amount of first place rankings, etc to earn a spot among the ten possible slots. The idea, and quite frankly, the suspense comes in whether there will be anywhere between 5 – 10 nominees. If anything, there should be 10 director nominees so that suspense plays through Oscar night, although last year’s Affleck snub and subsequent Argo support belies the director/corresponding picture notion. Regardless, Oscar season is what it is – polarizing, important, silly, fun, aggravating, invigorating.

      • Chris says:

        Thanks for the info Kirk. Did not know that the Best Picture voting process was different from all others. I would then think it possible that in some years only a few could make it or even zero if the conditions were right and there were no films that received the certain amount of first place votes.

  12. filmguy78 says:

    Inside Llewyn Davis getting very little love just makes me sad. It’s an Oscar-worthy film that I feel is getting relegated because of its tone.

  13. Jen says:

    Looking at the list one might almost think films need to have Weinstein backing them in order to be even nominated…


    • Joe Dredd says:

      Really! Leo over Matthew? Give me a break! Leo just does not have the skill that Matthew does. Talent? That’s debatable, but skill? No way. I rarely believe a word out of any of Leo’s characters. The academy might as well be selecting a prom queen.

  15. Chip Rooney says:

    I would have added Inside Llewyn Davis to make 10 nominees for picture. I mean, if you don’t have the full monty this year, when would you? WoWS is an hour too long and overrated, although Leo was terrific. American Hustle wasn’t all that, either. Jonah Hill and Bradley Cooper? Please. Throw those wigs and dentures the hell out and bring in James Gandolfini and Sam Rockwell.

    • Wildbillythekid says:

      Your last two words are what I was searching the comments for!! Hill being nominated over Rockwell for best supporting actor is a crime that man has been snubbed far too many times for my liking….. I didn’t see Gandolfini’s last role so I can’t compare his and Rockwell’s performances

  16. Kirk Todd says:

    Always some snubs, surprises, and drama on Oscar Nomination Morning. Amy Adams, so milquetoast an actress, better than Emma, always so dynamic? Now that’s a hustle and a con. Oprah was terrific and her Midas touch should have made Oscar gold. Best Actor category could have been filled twice more with worthy candidates: Redford, Hanks, Jordan, Elba, Fiennes, Whitaker, Wahlberg, Isaac, Jackman, etc. Why no love to wonderful The Way Way Back and always compelling Sam Rockwell? No Stories We Tell and Blackfish, two hugely acclaimed docs. And I so wish there was room for the touching, funny, and textured work of Julia Louis Dreyfus and the script of Enough Said. The good news is we won’t have to hear Taylor Swift perform a song from The Hunger Games. That makes us all winners.

  17. Cheryl says:

    Daniel Bruhl over Jonah Hill or Bradley Cooper. I can’t believe Jonah Hill as TWO Oscar nominations. He wasn’t bad, but his performance was not in the same league as Bruhl’s.

  18. Steve Warren says:

    Sarah Polley’s “Stories We Tell” deserved a nomination, but she may have taken too many dramatic liberties to please the hardcore documentarians. “Blackfish” should have been in there too.

    And what’s with a song from a movie that doesn’t open until June of this year?!!!

    • JAB says:

      Bruhl may have given my favorite performance of year even topping Hank’s Captain Phillips. Hill was fine but his work in “Moneyball” was much better.

      • JAB says:

        “Blackfish” was gut wrenching but remember the year that penguin doc got the Oscar instead of the superior “Grizzly Man”, “Murderball” & “Enron: The Smartest Guys In The Room”?

    • Nancy Lyon says:

      Excluding Blackfish, one of the most viewed and supported documentaries ever made – is more than outrageous!

      • Thomas S Revitt says:

        Blackfish…..The Academy just can’t stand that kind of truth and honesty. They would delete it from existence if they could. They want some safe cartoon for kids to watch. Not something with that kind of power and shame.

  19. Leonardo Delgado says:

    I’m happy for Leonardo DiCaprio, I’m happy for Christian Bale, and for some other stuff… but I’m sad, why? Because my favorite movie last year didn’t make it to any important category. Prisioners, Prisioners was awesome, that movie had tension, had style, had marvelous acting and directing; it had everything, but it seems the whole world simply forgot about it. Maybe I’m being a bit arrogant for claiming my choice is the rightful one, but it doesn’t end my headache.

    • J.E. Vizzusi says:

      “Blackfish” is doing its job alerting us all to the dangers of themed attractions that are reaping the harvest of profits from the tragedy of taking any animal from their natural habitat and caging them for life. And the Film is doing this with or without being rewarded for doing so,

  20. JC says:

    I wish people would understand – you can’t say that someone is “snubbed” without pointing to the person who SHOULDN’T have gotten nominated. (Well, you can, but you’re missing the point.) Snub means to be actively left out of the nominations, typically because there is something about you that made people not want to nominate you. This also means pointing to a less deserving nomination that replaced whoever got snubbed.

    I haven’t seen Captain Philips, but I’ve been told director Paul Greengrass was snubbed because Jean-Marc Vallee’s work on Dallas Buyers Club was much less exceptional. But you can’t say Greengrass (or Stephen Frears would probably be a better example in this comment thread) was snubbed unless you have the fortitude to claim who should not have been nominated instead.

    • Chris says:

      Using your thinking the JC you can can write that there were a number of movies that got “snubbed” but Best Picture since there was an open slot that was not filled with a deserving film.

    • JT Taylor says:

      I saw that last night and you are right. That was a pleasant surprise of a movie. Jake Gyllenhaal was driving me crazy with all the blinking and Hugh Jackman and Terrence Howard show they have so many sides to there acting. Viola Davis did a crazy good job in the role.

  21. ted says:

    Capt Phillips in my view was the best. American hustle was a 70’s fashion show. I didn’t buy the buyers club, and the Butler show sucked… the slave thing is just more black stuff beating the white man over the head with guilt, and the only one that makes any sense any more is Judy Densch… how you like them apples?

  22. jackconner says:

    Reblogged this on jackconner and commented:
    I’m glad “Gravity” was nominated. It was a truly original and special movie that was gripping, memorable, and pushed the boundaries of what movies can do. However, I am surprised that “Saving Mr. Banks” isn’t at least in the running. It seemed like a sure thing, and it was far more of a genuine drama than “Gravity” was. For all its merits, “Gravity” is essentially an action movie, and with rare exceptions (ROTK, if that can be called an action movie) those are not Oscar contenders. I wouldn’t mind seeing it win Best Director, though. In fact, it probably deserves that win.

  23. Good Morning.

    I absolutely agree.
    Robert Redford should have been nominated for All is Lost.
    He also should have won The Golden Globe the other night.

    Why is it that corruption, narcotics and exploitation get the thumbs up over beautiful filmmaking and performances.

    What about Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger.

  24. CitizenTM says:

    The WTC was very smart to move THE BUTLER fast forward to the summer and they had to rush the film to achieve that. But HW may have smelled, that 12 YEARS would outdo THE BUTLER and that their would not be room for two films about the Black experience, despite them being completely different stories and subjects. From what I gather – 12YEARS is also a vastly superior film. But THE BUTLER made tons of unexpected money, so who’s complaining.

    Some of the choices seem surprising, but I’m glad that Saving Mr. Banks did not do well. It feels like such a piece of old schlock academy bait – and they did not go for it.

  25. Philomena says:

    Stephen Frears brilliant directing in Philomena deserved Best Director Nom…snubbed by The Academy and snubbed here by Variety. Philomena is one of the most beautifully directed films ever!
    Bravo Mr Frears!

  26. What about Make-Up and Hairstyling for “Bad Grandpa”? I love the name of the production company:)

  27. ado says:

    Hardly the correct audience here to read this. But from the public point of view the Oscars have become almost entirely irrelevant. It is more of a star watching fashion event than anything at all to do with what the movie goers appreciate or regard highly. For me that totally lost me when they gave The Artist best picture a couple years ago, I knew then that this award has little to do with either merit, or what any movie goer likes, wants to see, or thinks highly of. The disconnection of the Oscars from reality, and evolution into an industry game is complete.

    • CitizenTM says:

      It was always an industry game. What are you talking about? What the public wants to see or thinks highly of can be gauged by the box office.

    • Rachel says:

      I think it has really become about who can ‘get in’ with the Academy the best. Although I love her work and tihnk she has done a fantastic job lately, I feel that we will see Jennifer Lawrence nominated for whatever she does, regardless of it’s merit. She’s part of the ‘in crowd’ now.

  28. Rachel says:

    VERY surprised at the snub of ‘Saving Mr. Banks’. Also, Margot Robbie seems to have been consistently snubbed for her role in Wolf Of Wall Street, which I think is an incredible shame.

    Additionally, from watching ‘Her’, I felt the award it was most deserving of was for Cinematography. The film itself is so visually stunning. Yet, this is the one they missed?!

  29. Katy Haber says:

    Stephen Frears was snubbed in best Director Category, despite, best film, best screenpaly, best actress for Philomena

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