The 17 Biggest Oscar Nomination Snubs and Surprises

Golden Globes Nominations Reactions

“The Grand Budapest Hotel” and “Birdman” led with nine Oscar nominations each on Thursday morning, followed by eight for “The Imitation Game,” while “American Sniper” came on strong with six (tying “Boyhood”).

This year’s awards season has been more unpredictable than usual. Angelina Jolie’s “Unbroken,” once thought to be the frontrunner, fell off everybody’s radar quickly, and the Oscars didn’t give it any love in the main categories. The Academy also didn’t nominate Jennifer Aniston, who had picked up precursor nominations for “Cake”; Jake Gyllenhaal, who gave a career-best performance in “Nightcrawler”; Ava DuVernay, who was expected to make history as the first female African American director nominated for “Selma”; and “Life Itself,” the tearjerker documentary about the final days of film critic Roger Ebert.

Here are the 17 biggest snubs and surprises.

SNUB: Jennifer Aniston, “Cake.”
Nobody campaigned harder than Jennifer Aniston this awards season, crisscrossing between New York and Los Angeles at Q&As in support of her drama about a woman living with chronic pain. The problem is that “Cake,” which received mixed reviews out of Toronto and had to be self-distributed by Cinelou Films, wasn’t an Oscars movie (the Golden Globes nominated her because they love celebrities, and SAG is friendlier to TV actors who transition into film). Many Academy voters that I talked to weren’t impressed by the script, and they felt that Aniston was much better in “The Good Girl.”

SNUB: Ava DuVernay, “Selma.”
The Academy had a chance to make history by nominating an African American female director in DuVernay for making “Selma,” the powerful drama about the 1965 civil rights marches. But instead, they once again recognized five men, which prompted immediate outrage on Twitter.

SNUB: Jake Gyllenhaal, “Nightcrawler”
Gyllenhaal, who lost 30 pounds to play L.A. crime paparazzo Lou Bloom in Dan Gilroy’s directorial debut, deserved an Oscar nomination for best actor, and his omission in the category is a shame. The performance has its diehard fans. But this year, the best race was more crowded than ever, and my guess is that Gyllenhaal — who picked up all the precursor nominations — narrowly missed out.

SNUB: “The Lego Movie”
The fourth most successful animated movie of 2014 — with a domestic box office gross of $258 million — was thought to be a strong contender to win best animated film. But somehow Oscar voters managed to snub the comedy directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller, instead nominating lesser-known titles “Song of the Sea” and “The Tale of Princess Kaguya.” (Here are five possible reasons why.)

SNUB: “Unbroken”
Two months ago, Angelina Jolie’s drama about World War II hero Louis Zamperini was thought to be an Oscars frontrunner. But after it was snubbed by both the Golden Globes and SAGs, it lost most of its momentum, despite impressive box office that’s already crossed $100 million domestically. Of the eight movies nominated for best picture, six of them are indies, and the two studio releases — “Selma” and “American Sniper” — are only now expanding wider into theaters.

SNUB: David Oyelowo, “Selma”
His role as Martin Luther King Jr. also didn’t make the cut in the best actor race, despite glowing reviews. After receiving a Golden Globe nomination, many thought that Oyelowo had a strong shot at an Oscars run, but there were seven actors (along with Gyllenhaal) competing for the five slots.

SNUB: “Interstellar”
The reason that the Academy now nominates up to 10 movies for best picture is so that Oscar voters can find room for blockbusters like this space epic directed by Christopher Nolan. But they still managed to snub Nolan even with the extra slots, which makes you wonder: Why is there even an expanded best picture race? Nolan also missed out in the best director category, where he’s never been nominated.

SNUB: “Gone Girl
Another high-profile hit, Fincher’s “Gone Girl” wasn’t able to earn nominations for best picture or director. At least breakout star Rosamund Pike landed her first best actress nomination for playing Amazing Amy.

SNUB: “Foxcatcher”
Its director Bennett Miller managed to eke out a nomination, but the film — about real-life Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz (Channing Tatum), who befriends a disturbed millionaire (Steve Carell) — didn’t appear in the best picture category.

SNUB: Jessica Chastain, “A Most Violent Year”
Chastain had a strong year with “Interstellar,” “The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby” and “A Most Violent Year,” and she was expected to receive her third Oscar nomination for the latter drama, directed by J.C. Chandor, about a 1980s oil merchant’s wife. But the film may have not been seen by enough Academy voters.

SNUB: “Life Itself”
After snubbing 1994’s “Hoop Dreams” for best documentary (which outraged Roger Ebert), the Oscars shortlisted Steve James’ documentary about the film critic’s final days. The Sundance tearjerker, which recently aired on CNN, was thought to be a lock in the category, and given the love of Ebert within the Academy, it could have won if it had made the cut.

SNUB: Amy Adams, “Big Eyes”
Adams was supposed to be the actress to take home the Oscar this year, until viewers saw the Tim Burton biopic about painter Margaret Keane. But even with the mixed reviews, this year’s weak actress category meant she had a shot at her sixth nomination. Perhaps many felt that it wouldn’t be worth nominating her again if she wasn’t going to take the prize.

SURPRISE: Bradley Cooper, “American Sniper”
Cooper packed on 40 pound of muscle, learned how to fire military rifles and completely disappeared onscreen to star in “American Sniper.” He earned the best reviews of his career, but the lack of a SAG or Golden Globe nomination makes his last-minute entrance in the best actor race a surprise. Then again, the Academy loves Cooper — it’s his third consecutive nomination, following “Silver Linings Playbook” and “American Hustle.“

SURPRISE: Marion Cotillard, “Two Days, One Night”
Most film critics were cheering this morning when Cotillard’s name was announced in the best actress race. She gives one of the most nuanced performances of the year in the Dardenne brothers drama about a depressed factory worker who’s just been laid off. But Oscar pundits were worried that the Cannes drama hadn’t been widely screened, and that Cotillard could cancel herself out with her other strong lead performance in James Gray’s “The Immigrant.” But the weighted ballot for the Oscars, which reward passion, worked in Cotillard’s favor, as there were enough fans of “Two Days, One Night.”

SURPRISE: Laura Dern, “Wild”
After missing out on a Golden Globe and SAG nomination, Dern picked up her first Oscar nom since 1992’s “Rambling Rose” for playing Cheryl Strayed’s mother.

SURPRISE: Bennett Miller, “Foxcatcher”
Miller picked up his second career Oscar nomination for directing (after 2006’s “Capote”), even though “Foxcatcher” didn’t land a best picture nomination. He got in over Ava DuVernay (“Selma”), Damien Chazelle (“Whiplash”) and Clint Eastwood (“American Sniper”).

SURPRISE: “Inherent Vice,” adapted screenplay
Paul Thomas Anderson’s trippy adaptation of the Thomas Pynchon novel left many viewers confused, but the Academy still managed to find a way to recognize the director of “Boogie Nights” and “There Will Be Blood.” He took a spot that could have gone to Gillian Flynn, the former Entertainment Weekly critic who adapted her own novel into the script for David Fincher’s “Gone Girl.”

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  1. Jay says:

    “Black or White” was completely ignored in spite of strong performances by Kevin Costner, Octavia Spencer and Jillian Estelle. Excellent script, directing and editing. I would have put film ahead of several in the Best Picture category. “Chef” was a good, “little” film which got no love, but deserved recognition for acting and script. “Gone Girl” was a favorite mine that should have made best picture list.

  2. EnerGeoPolitics says:

    JK Simmons got all the fireworks, but it was Miles Teller who carried “Whiplash” and who should have been recognized with a nomination of his own.

  3. Michael says:

    St. Vincent was the best film this year and Bill Murray should have won best actor

  4. Sheila Tymstra says:

    What happened to the major snub against Bill Murray in St. Vincent???

  5. zyggie says:

    Aniston decided to take off the makeup (like Theron) and assumed she could win an Oscar. Aniston is NOT a good actress.

    • Jim H. says:

      NOBODY makes a movie just to get an Oscar® nomination. And according to many, Aniston is sufficiently talented to earn a nomination. Your comment about her just taking of her makeup as if it were a plot device and the comparison to Theron is immature and lacks insight and understanding of the art of cinema.

      • Headley says:

        Agree 100 percent. Aniston is a decent actress and does not deserve the idiotic comment. I also agree that Bill Murray should have been listed as a snub. He gave a terrific performance in St. Vincent.

  6. Eric says:

    Aniston snubbed??? please that movie is just plain awful, Cotillard who plays a similar character in two days one night shows us a clinic on how to actually act see her performance and you will cringe when you compare that to aniston.

  7. Jennifer Aniston should have been nominated.

  8. Edmund Chew says:

    Ramin Setoodeh (the writer) got it wrong. The Lego Movie was the 4th most successful movie of the year, and if he was referring to only animated movies, it was the most successful one.

  9. It looks like this film is clearly seen as historically incorrect. Thanks for the warning folks. I’ll pass!

  10. Snub for Selma? Oh well. Votes should be given according to criteria OTHER than for a chance to make history. This is art…NOT politics. Your Snub opinion is nonsense! Congratulations to the nominees. Obviously many think they are deserving of the award for their work, not their skin color.

  11. benardquek says:

    You can’t please everyone. Every nomination has to be a business decision. If the studios can’t milk this for more money than they have invested, then they won’t make any more movies. Why bother pushing a film for an award that has no further financial returns?

  12. Penni Kimmel says:

    Unfair as it might be, I think Life Itself might have been sidelined because it would seem self-serving to the industry — or maybe I’m giving too much credit to the voters’ social sensitivity. It was another indy, after all. And that is the surprise of all time.

  13. rocky-o says:

    i’m really getting tired of hearing all this ‘snub’ business surrounding ‘selma’ and how blacks are ignored…pretty much every year, the truly excellent movies and performances are ignored, regardless of race, gender, planet of origin, etc…best acting performance ever?…easy…al pacino in ‘chinese coffee’…not nominated, no one ever heard of it, yet i doubt it had anything to do with bigotry of italians…second best…f.murray abraham in ‘amadeus’…nomianted and won…so ya’ see…it’s not an accurate representation for anybody…and just by reading most reviews of ‘selma’, you can see that it was historically innaccurate and just o.k. at best…personally, i’ve seen much better King documentaries that i would have perferred to see nominated…

  14. Steve Hutch says:

    I’m surprised that Variety uses the word “snub”. If there is one media source who understands the Academy’s voting process I thought it would be Variety. I guess I just hate that word. Its said so often in the media its as if the Academy sit around a table looking down their noses, scoffing at the films that were not worthy. I’m sure these “snubs” you referenced actually received lots of votes. And maybe they just got pipped to the post?
    Hey, maybe its time that the Academy revealed their voting tally to stop all this curfuffel. And it may even add some much-needed excitement to the broadcast?

  15. Bob Hunt says:

    Who cares! The Oscars lost all credibility with me when they awarded the Best Director Oscar to Roman Polanski, a man who drugged and raped a 13 yo girl. Hollywood has flat-out refused to acknowledge the problem of child sexual abuse among its ranks, probably because they don’t think having sex with kids is a problem – unless other people do it!

  16. Where's Clark Gable? says:

    Yesterday, I was talking to my +90 year old grandpa about the Oscar whiteout of 2015 and he told me a story about the Oscar year in which the first black actress to win an Oscar was a lady who played a “Mammie” in the film, GONE WITH THE WIND. He said that despite her winning the award, there was a lot of outrage and backlash from Hollywood and that efforts were made to not give her the award even though her name was called out for winning it. It shocked me to my core to hear that story of how an African American woman was going to be denied her Oscar just because of the color of her skin. This woman was not amoral, immoral, a criminal, a thug, or exhibited any of the lowlife, depraved behaviors that Hollywood celebrates in white TV and film today. She was going to be denied her Oscar winning performance just because she did not have white skin. If not for Clark Gable, according to my grandpa( I need to research this info.), who stepped up and demanded that she get to receive and keep her Oscar, the powers that be in Hollywood were prepared to take her Oscar away from her because “N word” don’t deserve Oscars.
    Here in 2015, we see that mentality has not changed. If you are an African American actor, your performance is deemed less worthy. This sick and depraved state of Hollywood award voting has nullified all progress and achievement made over the years by African American actors, writers, and directors. African American actors in lead dramatic roles are nearly nonexistent in both TV and theater. African American actors have been deleted from all consideration of important filmmaking and relegated to 2nd banana roles or roles requiring them to be effeminate and lost, or objects of sexual perversion. Speaking of which, it just reminds me of the highly praised and nominated(Golden Globes, Critic’s Choice, etc.), INHERENT VICE, a film in which one of the main white leads spends the majority of the film sucking, slurping, licking, and devouring chocolate covered bananas in a very up close and sexually suggestive manner. Granted Hollywood’s Academy has been voting for this type of filmmaking for years now, it’s still shocks me to my core that we regressed back to my grandfather’s era where we need a white savior like Clark Gable to stand up and demand that African American actors, writers and directors not be treated as 2nd bananas in Hollywood. African American women certainly have no power to do it ( Oprah Winfrey, Shonda Rhymes, the president of the Hollywood Film Academy, etc.), even though they largely have more say so in Hollywood then African American men. The bottom line though once again is that African American male actors are merely young impressionable boys looking for a father figure to guide the way into value and valuable roles.

  17. Nick says:

    In what way is Unbroken a snub? It has a 51% critic rating on RT. The movie was decent, but there’s no way it got snubbed at all.

  18. If Clint Eastwood hadn’t talked to that empty chair, he would’ve been nominated for Best Director. Hollywood hates a Republican. Even a liberal one!

  19. Dex says:

    TBQH, I knew DuVernay’s chances were dashed when she actually said that she deliberately portrayed LBJ the way that she did because she didn’t want to make a “white savior” movie. She vilified a beloved President to suit her own agenda. Nope. Dr. King would never approve. Also, Chastain’s was hardly a surprise or a snub. She didn’t make SAG or BAFTA. Golden Globes and BFCA are a joke and those were her only nominations. Not that she isn’t all over her social media being her bitter self right now.

  20. edkargir says:

    Those who found Boyhood boring I feel sorry for you. I’ve seen the film. 3 times and there is not one scene I ‘d cut . The film is the best film of the decade , a masterpiece.

  21. Hmmmm….how diverse is the Academy? And how many voted and actually have seen the other movies to make a comparison of actors, screenplay, score, directing, sound, etc..?

  22. Gigi says:

    Leaving Jake Gyllenhaal out of the Best Actor category is a terrible shame. He has done wonderful things in his career and shouldn’t have been overlooked. Just wrong. What another huge oversight by the academy.
    And on another note, I watched Boyhood and thought it was one of the most boring and nowhere going plots I’ve seen in a while. A waste of time. The movie was way too long and didn’t progress enough for me. I don’t understand all of the fuss is about it. Maybe that it took 12 years to make….Don’t know, but it sure didn’t work for me.

    • Steve Hutch says:

      While Jake’s Nightcrawler performance was fascinating and experimental, it was no where near Oscar worthy. The Oscars gravitate toward more traditional, emotionally resonant performances. It didn’t help that the film’s premise was unplausable and the script never gave him enough range for us to witness a fully developed and complex character.

  23. Bozo MacGinty says:

    Having watched “Unbroken” yesterday, I can say that not nominating Jolie for Best Director was entirely understandable even though I have not viewed all of the nominated pictures. She fell in love with the camera and her editors did not have the moxie to shorten the interminably long scenes that followed one upon another. There was a terrific story to be told, but in the end it was all about her and the unending “director’s shots”.

  24. I LOVE war movies but Unbroken was bad. All it showed was him getting beat but never gave the reason why they just choose him. Then in the last scene *poof* the war was over.

  25. barb says:

    This is the year of truly innovative moviemaking – I would like to see Grand Budapest win but Boyhood and Birdman were incredibly unique also. Tough year – maybe not the most commercially successful but for people who really like movies, they have been interesting. And, please, those who are arguing Oscar bias towards Selma, just last year 12 Years A Slave practically ran the Oscar board and deservedly so (the best story telling and acting I have seen in literally years). There are only so many slots to fill. How can you look at any one on the list of nominees and say their performance wasn’t good enough to garner the nomination?

    • Kim says:

      Oh cool so the Oscars already nominated one movie about black suppression in the United States so they’re covered……….. please explain to me how you are not being biased.

      • starbbycat says:

        So everytime a movie about black suppression in the US is made it should be nominated or we are all bigots?

  26. peter says:

    Meryl Streep is boring…

  27. Strategerist says:

    Jolie made one of, if the not the most disappointing book-to-film adaptations ever. She completely missed the point of the story–Zamperini’s recovery from PTSD, by turning to Christ. With the inherently amazing backdrop, she could’ve easily walked away with the Best Picture award. She blew it.

  28. Lou hodges says:

    Apparently al Sharpton and Oprah feel snubbed and demand that Selma get an award because they think it’s a racial thing. Wouldn’t they prefer to be judged by their contribution to the art of film and the content of their character as MLK said so succinctly?

  29. JohnK57 says:

    If Jolie had told the whole story instead of cutting Louis Zamperini’s salvation and commitment to Christ from her movie it would have smashed box office records and been a shoe-in in every Oscar category.

  30. Sparky2 says:

    Those who are reporting that there should be more women nominated for the Oscar and are claiming it has to do with gender bias, should recognize reality and that is that male leads tend to be more dynamic and powerful in their characters. Seems people like action type movies, and somehow when you see a movie or TV action show with a woman beating up on men, its just not logical or even close to being accurate. Men, just by their nature and physical presence, are far more aggressive and impressive in these films and this is what both men and women want to see. Women, as much as feminists hate to hear this, come across much better as loving and caring and sensitive to others. Why? Because in most cases they are! Trying to make a character be something they really aren’t is an insult to viewers insinuating we don’t know the difference. Grow up Hollywood. Quit pretending and forget about ‘political correctness’ when it strays from reality.

  31. D says:

    Maybe if SELMA had been factually correct rather than written with an Agenda … it would have gotten more attention … Dr. King would never Sell-Out to re-tell the Facts.

  32. Sparky2 says:

    This voting has nothing to do with whether your black or white, or female or male. It’s just what came out of the voting based on what the committee thought of the films. Why does everything have to be race or gender baiting?

  33. Jon Jones says:

    I saw Unbroken, and it was a dark depressing movie where triumph was no more than not being killed. It showed more of the dark side of humanity than the light side of humanity. I left the movie feeling less happy than when I went in, my wife got a headache and I would not recommend it. Jolie has a dark side and this reminds me that this is a woman with some dark mental problems.

  34. jackdeth72 says:

    Note to Affirmative Action whiners and supposedly snubbed directors.

    Make or be parts of films people will pay money to see and that may all change.

    Until that time occurs. Shut The Hell Up!!!

  35. davis2929 says:

    I think all these snubs are fairly equal in their snubbage. It sucks to lose, thats the bottom line.

    • davis2929 says:

      Having said that I do hope Birdman wipes the floor with Boyhood. How is Boyhood even good? AARRG I feel asleep on it, maybe I missed the good parts…

  36. JD says:

    “The Academy had a chance to make history by nominating an African American female director in DuVernay for making “Selma,” the powerful drama about the 1965 civil rights marches. But instead, they once again recognized five men, which prompted immediate outrage on Twitter.”

    Or perhaps people are sick to fucking death of affirmative action racist bullshit shoved down our throats and those “5 white men made BETTER films!

    • Ouch! Rough way to put it, but I agree with your point.

    • Steve Hutch says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if most Academy members were begging “Selma” to be so amazing they could include a diverse vote. But it appears they stood firm about their standards. Hey, I applaud her efforts, excellent work. But she is not on the same level as the director Steve McQueen. But one day, maybe she will.

    • davis2929 says:

      JD, relax, homie. The WHOLE DAMN BUSINESS is “affirmative action”. If there’s only two people for a job interview, You (intelligent person) and ANY movie stars son (unqualified dummy), who do you think is getting the job? YOU??

  37. Alex Dupont says:

    Jolie was not disregarded, she simply got what she deserved: nothing! She took a great story about a legend and turned it into a boriiing film, that makes one wonder: why in God’s name this woman is so unstoppable in her egomania? Why nobody dares to tell her what’s her place in this world, her REAL place? I mean, come on, she barely can act and now she wants play director?? Bravo ACADEMY: fair enough!!!

  38. top says:

    the biggest money making films made are vfx films, and yet the vfx artists are constantly being abused by the Hollywood system

    watch “LIFE AFTER PI” on youtube to see what I mean.

  39. dave says:

    “Hollywood film” is designed to create cliques and keep 98% of people OUT of power and money circles.

    It’s not designed to create art or cool films.

    It’s been taken over by producers, due to the financial crash, and that is why there is no quality content left……..it’s all sequels, adaptations and repeats.

    It’s about milking money from a dumb cash cow (the audience) not about creating innovative content and expressing ideas that are challenging or sophisticated.

    The cliques emphasize self-mimicry, so women and minorities, people who are different, are victimized and pushed out.

    It’s a sick doomed fake system that needs to end.

    Getting rid of these fake controllers and letting REAL people make their own distributed content is what youtube is about.

    That is real. That is creative. That is honest.

    Youtube is more real and valid that the academy awards will ever be.

    95% of modern movies are horribly acted, with cheap effects, and mediocre directors.

    ………….there are just made to milk the cow…………………..

  40. anon says:

    Youtube is more relevant and interesting than Hollywood,

    Youtube is where EVERYONE gets a say, not just people in an inner clique.

  41. Jacqueline says:

    Hollywood is losing its mojo.
    It now relies on celebrity magazines, because most movies are not epic anymore.
    There are very few real movie stars.

  42. D says:

    SNUBS … NOT No one is entitled … Foolish to think you are a Nominee until they are Announced !!

  43. So what, Jolie’s film is great. When your good you don’t need affirmation. I think Streisand is very talented too. I’m white, Republican and see no difference between men and women in any business.
    If I was any women or black I’d ignore what anyone said, except those that appreciate my work. Who in the world would wait for some bozo to tell me I’m good at my craft, this the very thing that discourages people from attempting or excelling.

    • J.E. Vizzusi says:

      “It took Hollywood 75 years or so to finally recognize a Female Director (Kathy Bigelow) as Best Director.. Its such a male dominated Industry and Jolie should be applauded for taking on such a difficult script and a very demanding project. The DGA needs to wake up and smell the coffee!

  44. Kata Kimbe says:

    The voters will be bullied into voting Selma for Best Picture because Sharpton will demand it. Mark my words. Blacks are 13% of the population and everything can’t be about skin color. People who vote in Hollywood are 80% liberal and they don’t get together to exclude people. They did not nominate worthy Clint Eastwood. Why? Politics? I doubt they did not plan on not including black actors… just mention one of the nominees that should not have been nominated. As for the Golden Globe being a sign to whom will be nominated… LOL… those are all foreign reporters going their own way.

  45. Tom Walsh says:

    Angelina Jolie’s drama about World War II hero Louis Zamperini was poorly done, and a very disappointing film. There was so much more to the story and life of Louis Zamperini that was completely ignored. Instead, we saw a film about torture, more torture, and even more torture. “Unbroken”, the movie, underachieved in a very big way!

  46. rationalist says:

    It’s all liberal Hollywood propaganda and trash…I’ve read more good books since I quit funding Hollywood’s agendas…

  47. FM Talks says:

    I guess I’m the only one who thought Aniston had a slim chance to get a nomination for a film that few people have seen and those that did gave it a bad to meh review.

  48. Maya says:

    I was so impressed with Jolie after seeing “Unbroken”. I thought everything about it was excellent. The first time I have ever been prompted to write and thank a director for telling such an important story in such a skilled way. Wow!! Awesome job Jolie!!

  49. J Ritty says:

    I haven’t watched this shitfest in years BUT I hope Michael Keaton gets his Al Pacino (sorry we didn’t acknowledge your talent sooner award). I would give the world for Keaton to just walk up take the satute and say only two words… “I’m Birdman.” and then leave.

  50. Jason says:

    The academy’s are bs. They suck to begin with. These old farts always pick obsure , no country appeal movies. Probably get paid off to pick these movies in hope more than 5 people will see them. These awards are out of touch and take nothing really into consideration. Wouldn’t waste my time watching a movie that was in 5 theaters take home a nod. Really ????

    • Kate H says:

      I’m sorry that Transformers didn’t get nominated too. It had both types of appeal – “country appeal” *and* “western appeal”!

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