Oscar Nominations: 12 Biggest Snubs and Surprises

Courtesy of 20th Century Fox

The biggest curveball from Tuesday morning’s Oscars announcement arguably wasn’t the nominees — it was how the Academy decided to unveil them. Rather than a live press conference at the crack of dawn in Los Angeles, ABC aired a protracted infomercial, starring second-tier Oscar winners like Marcia Gay Harden and Dustin Lance Black.

“La La Land” beat out all other films, with a record-tying 14 nominations (on par with “Titanic” and “All About Eve”). “Arrival” and “Moonlight” followed up with eight each. And in other good news: After two years of #OscarsSoWhite, 35 percent of this year’s acting nominees are people of color, including previous winners Denzel Washington (“Fences”) and Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”).

Here are the 12 most glaring snubs and surprises.


La La Land

Oscars: ‘La La Land’ Ties All-Time Record With 14 Nominations

SNUB: “Deadpool
In the end, Oscar voters got cold feet when it came to recognizing the 20th Century Fox mega-hit starring Ryan Reynolds as a disfigured mercenary with the power to heal himself. If it had made the cut, “Deadpool” would have been the first comic book movie to crash the best picture race. But sadly, “Deadpool” got shut out of the Oscars race completely, ending up with fewer nominations than “Suicide Squad” (best makeup) and “Doctor Strange” (visual effects).

SNUB: Amy Adams, “Arrival”
The five-time Oscar nominee was left out of the best actress category, even though “Arrival” scored eight nominations overall, including best picture, director (Denis Villeneuve) and adapted screenplay. It’s possible that Adams, who also had a lead role in “Nocturnal Animals,” divided her own vote, allowing for Isabelle Huppert (“Elle”) and Ruth Negga (“Loving”) to zoom past her.

SNUB: Annette Bening, “20th Century Women”
It wasn’t a great year for the Beatty-Bening household. Warren’s “Rules Don’t Apply” wilted at the box office, and Bening, who was thought to be a lock in the best actress race early in the season, got pushed out of this year’s unusually competitive category for her portrait of an eccentric single mom.


La La Land Emma Stone Ryan Gosling Oscar Noms

Oscar Nominations: Complete List

SNUB: Tom Hanks, “Sully”
It’s one of the strange mysteries of the Oscars that Hanks, who has two wins but hasn’t been nominated in 16 years (since “Cast Away”), wasn’t included among the acting nominees for playing “Miracle on the Hudson” hero Sully Sullenberger. The movie was a box-office hit, and director Clint Eastwood is usually an Academy Awards darling.

SNUB: Hugh Grant, “Florence Foster Jenkins”
Many predicted that Grant would earn his first Oscar nomination ever for playing the husband of a terrible opera warbler. But the Paramount comedy was less of an Oscar movie than a showcase for Meryl Streep.

SNUB: Aaron Taylor-Johnson, “Nocturnal Animals”
Winning the Golden Globe for best supporting actor for playing a rogue bad guy gave Taylor-Johnson a boost just as ballots were being filled out. Yet Oscar voters preferred his co-star Michael Shannon, who portrays a no-nonsense sheriff in the Tom Ford thriller.

SNUB: Martin Scorsese, “Silence”
Scorsese has been nominated for best director eight times, but Oscar voters were indifferent to “Silence.” The drama about Jesuit priests in Japan  received only a lone nod for best cinematography.


Mel Gibson arrest

Mel Gibson Returns to Oscars With First Nomination Since ‘Braveheart’

SNUB: “Finding Dory”
In 2004, “Finding Nemo” became the first Pixar movie to win an Oscar for best animated feature. Its sequel, “Finding Dory,” was overlooked in favor of other Disney favorites (“Zootopia” and “Moana”).

SNUB: “Weiner”
The Sundance documentary about Anthony Weiner’s failed New York mayoral race was a favorite all year long. Then came the election. Weiner’s role in possibly spoiling the presidency for Hillary Clinton may have alienated voters from celebrating a movie about his downfall.

SURPRISE: Ruth Negga, “Loving”
At last year’s Cannes Film Festival, Negga was crowned an instant Oscar contender, for her nuanced performance as half of an interracial couple behind an influential 1967 Supreme Court Case. But the competitiveness of the best actress category — with the likes of Annette Bening and Amy Adams — made her more of a longshot on pundits’ list as the season progressed.

SURPRISE: Michael Shannon, “Nocturnal Animals”
After a strong reception at Toronto, “Nocturnal Animals” faded from the awards conversation. But when the movie re-emerged at the Golden Globes, it was in the form of a win for Aaron Taylor-Johnson. So that Shannon ended up squeaking into the best-supporting actor race is a surprise. This marks his second Oscar nomination, after 2008’s “Revolutionary Road.”

SURPRISE: Mel Gibson, “Hacksaw Ridge”
Gibson’s comeback story is now official, given that the “Braveheart” winner is back in the best director race for his World War II drama.

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  1. Jasion Clow says:

    Eddie Murphy as Mr Church should have got a nomination at the very least.

  2. loco73 says:

    Wait…Marcia Gay Harden is a “second-tier Oscar winner”?! I think you may want to check yourself on that. I could say the same thing about quite a few of this year’s nominees…

    As for snubs, I agree, the fact that Amy Adams didn’t get a Best Actress nomination is quite baffling. To those snubs I’d also add Jessica Chastain for “Ms. Sloan”…

    But then again, the Oscars haven’t been relevant for years now…

  3. That “second-tier” comment wasn’t necessary. Come on, be more professional than that.

  4. Mark says:

    SNUB: Martin Scorsese, “Silence”
    Scorsese has been nominated for best director eight times, but Oscar voters were indifferent to “Silence.” The drama about Jesuit priests in Japan received only a lone nod for best cinematography.

    I like Scorsese, I’m a true fan, but everything the man does is not award worthy. I sat through Silence. I was one of the ones who didn’t walk out. It was and “interesting” film, but not by any means award worthy.

  5. l says:

    The entire concept of a snub is ridiculous. You can’t nominate everyone.

  6. Michael says:

    One word for the Oscars nominations, boring, boring, boring. Boring films, boring high brow performances. You know I went to see Split at the weekend. It is a genre film with an original character(s) embodied by James McAvoy, and you know what he was exceptional, exciting, and unpredictable. If there is any justice in the world he will be in this list next year, but he will probably not be and we will be back to boring list of biopics and self serious dramas.

    • Mark says:

      “One word for the Oscars nominations, boring, boring, boring. Boring films, boring high brow performances.” – That’s a lot more than one word, and your choice in films is highly suspect.

  7. Late to the party says:

    “Second-tier Oscar winners”? Man, you guys are really harsh. Cancel my subscription. Just kidding, I don’t subscribe.

  8. Iván el Conquistador says:

    The real diversity which these awards should have if genre diversity. Why always politically correct biopic dramas?

  9. Ken says:

    The fact that “The Birth of a Nation” was not included for a nomination or even a snub shows that white supremacy is alive and well in Hollywood and Variety.

  10. Casey Roger Curtis Bennett says:

    No nod for Dick Poop. That’s the real tragedy.

  11. Bernie says:

    BACK TO THE REAL SURPRISE – The BLANDEST EVER Awards announcement! GET RID of the person who was paid to think that up! IF it was to be a tape – at least release it like a ‘leak’ for attention. You gave a party and nobody came! I hope the big night plays better!

  12. LAguy says:

    If there was an award for Most Boring Performance Ruth Negga would be the winner. But Best Actress? Over Annette Benning and Sally Field? Political correctness run amuck.

    • Steve says:

      I thought her performance was lovely. Understated, sure, but intelligent, heartfelt, and believable. The category was crowded, so excellent performances were bound to be left out.

  13. Rod O'Riley says:

    Happy: Zootopia was nominated for Best Animated Feature. Angry: That’s ALL it was nominated for. It had the highest score on Rotten Tomatoes for 2016, for cryin’ out loud!

    • Iván el Conquistador says:

      100% agree! Why don’t animated movies receive more love when they are more praised than most of live action festival darlings?

  14. I was really surprised that Simon Helberg wasn’t nominated in the Best Supporting Actor category as Cosme McMoon in FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS. His performance was smart and funny, plus he got to display his special skill as a pianist. Besides, Helberg was playing Meryl Streep’s accompanist, and isn’t an accompanist the very definition of a supporting player?

  15. “Deadpool”? You are kidding, right? Terrible drek. But Amy Adams should have been nominated.

  16. Jacen says:

    Deadpool was wonderfully enjoyable, but no movie featuring uberhack Rob Liefeld (even if only in a cameo) should be a best picture nominee. Doing so would justify years of abysmal art and plagiarism (and embezzlement).

    Amy Adams definitely got the shaft in favor of Meryl Streep. Streep gave a fine performance, and quality will be subjective here for sure, but I think Streep’s nomination came from two things: the Academy’s Streep-love, and a political statement in support of her anti-Trump rant. Politics is nothing new to the Academy. See the entire slate of nominees the year Crash won.

    Finally, the OscarsSoWhite idiocy from the past two years should hopefully be exposed. The nominations weren’t there in the previous two years because the possibilities were not. This year there were plenty of strong possibilities for nomination, and non-whites thus reaped the benefits. It’s cyclical, people. Next year’s awards might see even more great films/performances from/about non-white, or there might be nothing. Racism has nothing to do with it.

  17. PartyPooper says:

    La La Land is going to scoop it all. Because Hollywood LOVES musicals and they LOVE to celebrate themselves. It’s gonna be a boring show…..

  18. Dellie Q. says:

    I wouldn’t call them “second-tier” winners, but inclusive ones, knowing that these will not be on stage at the ceremony. Also, is the only time that non-actors can be part of the official face of the event.

  19. PartyPooper says:

    I find it subversive that a Jewish actress was purposely chosen to portray a Catholic Jackie O. Natalie Portman? Cmon. Jewish controlled Hollywood always favors and takes care of their own. Open your eyes. We are being brainwashed to their actions by the controlling elite.

    • Jacen says:

      A nonsensical complaint. By your logic, only a murderer can play a murderer, only a king a king. Stage productions and film/tv would be nonexistent.

      • Jane says:

        Bizarre and totally nonsensical comment. My biggest complaint is that her portrayal wasn’t that great.

  20. Jay! says:

    SURPRISE: The Arrival in all categories. It wasn’t good. Spielberg did it better and more realistic with CEot3K.



    • Jacen says:

      Mmmm, no. That disco sequence at the end of CE3K is hard to watch, and Speilberg himself has admitted that there’s no way the main character should abandon his children to go on a space quest. A fine film and a favorite of mine, but it is flawed. Also, as to realism, the effects of CE3k are mostly solid, but several do not hold up, while Arrival’s are much smoother. Additionally, “realistic” is subjective here, because in Arrival’s story the aliens appear in several places quite obviously, necessitating a military response and almost starting a war. The ones in CE3K don’t do so. Different species doing different things and getting different stories. Both are valid, and neither is more realistic.

  21. Abby says:

    Nocturnal Animals doesn’t deserve ANY nominations. The pacing was too slow and it was full of over-acting.

  22. Another Poster says:

    No annual award for stunt men, stunt women, and stunt teams who risk life and limb for the movie industry. That to me is the biggest snub year after year by the Academy Awards.

  23. WiscoJoe says:

    Just because a bunch of clickbait-happy bloggers insisted Oscar noms for Deadpool were a real possibility, it doesn’t mean the movie was snubbed. (Though I suppose, “Deadpool was snubbed” makes for a second round of easy clickbait. The cycle continues. Well played, Variety!)

  24. Todd says:

    Snub: Hailee Steinfeld in The End of Seventeen

  25. Rudy Mario says:

    Looks like they almost got it right. Dead pool was great fun but perhaps not worthy. Arrival very overrated. Could not understand all the fuss about Manchester and the alleged great acting by the lead. The gal in one scene was far superior than they guy’s entire movie performance.

    No idea about Moonlight and Hidden Figures since I have not seen them. But Fences had good acting by both leads.

    Chris Pine and Ben deserve to be on the list along with Jeff Bridges.

    • Tender Puppy! says:

      It seems like you define acting only by shouting and crying. Some performances are subtle, and seep out in small doses. Since you’re bereft of good taste, leave the critiquing to us. :)

    • Robert O'Dell says:

      “alleged great acting by the lead” is a statement that provides clear indication that you haven’t a clue about “great acting”.

  26. LJD says:

    Taraji P Henson in Hidden Figures?? Entirely different human from her character on Empire. That’s acting. Fantastic perfs this year from Janelle Monae, Chris Pine, Ben Foster & Tom Hanks. Sadly overlooked. The Founder and Manchester By the Sea, superbly crafted screenplays. Very good acting performances by Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling, both talented, but if you’re going to star in a musical you should be a mind blowing singer & dancer, like Broadway caliber. It’s time for some fresh voices in the Oscar voting pool.

    • Cath says:

      I agree about Taraji. Having watched an episode of Person of Interest the night before seeing Hidden Figures and having watched Empire, that woman can act. Three separate characters, so different from each other. She is an amazing actress.

    • JimG. says:

      Rex Harrison won an Oscar for My Fair Lady. No one would have called him an excellent singer/dancer. A very good talk singer, but I don’t think that counts.

  27. Steve says:

    To me, the best surprise is Mica Levi for her score of Jackie. This young woman is a straight-up genius who creates fascinating music in a variety of genres.

  28. Luis says:

    Speaking of discrimination and Variety calls past Oscar winners second tiers?? Really? What are you? In Touch magazine??? Shame on you Variety

    • I agree with you, I found that snobby and snarky , especially from some ‘critic’ who probably doesn’t have awards for anything. They have OSCARS, what do you have Ramin? That’s why everybody hates critics now.

    • J says:

      I also thought that was a unnecessary and mean-spirited thing to say. And how is winning a screenwriting Oscar “second-tier”? It’s literally the highest honor you can get as a screenwriter in Hollywood. He doesn’t compete against

      • J says:

        Meant to finish that sentence! He doesn’t compete against the Actors (who I guess this author thinks are the “first-tier” awards?) so the “tiering” of Oscars is very odd.

    • Tender Puppy! says:

      LOL, zing. Marcia Gay Harden is on a successful TV series right now and has acted on film, stage, and screen. Meanwhile, Dustin Lance Black wrote and created When We Rise, an upcoming miniseries that’s sure to do well. Second-tier is an insulting and misleading description from a fifth-tier blogger.

  29. Tender Puppy! says:

    I am overjoyed for Ruth Negga and Michael Shannon. I had a lot of confidence in them early on, but everyone said they have to be out. Ditto to Hedges and Huppert, who were in danger of being snubbed. Sad for Adams and Taylor-Johnson, as well as Edgerton and Gerwig. But I’m sure Adams will win one day and the others will eventually be nominated.

  30. Eric D says:

    Your Name got snubbed and stole by The Red Turtle.

    • Tender Puppy! says:

      No, The Red Turtle absolutely deserved the nomination. I haven’t seen Your Name. -or- My Life as a Zucchini, but I’ve heard both are fantastic. if Zucchini had gotten a Foreign Film nod, too, I would’ve wished it had replaced that film instead.

      • Mr.Ace says:

        You should see Your Name, this animation definitely got snubbed! I guess the biggest reason is because this is Asia product

  31. Lisa Vergara says:

    As a Latina, after the Will Smith / Jada Pinkett Smith orchestrated racist rant of #OscarsSoWhite, would it be somehow racist to look at the overabundance of black actors and actresses being nominated, and not Hispanics being nominated, and say #OscarsSoBlack?

    • Lisa says:

      I never understand why Hispanics and other minorities see black people as their enemy. If there are not enough Hispanics nominated it’s because there are too many blacks? Talk about crabs in a barrel.

    • Tender Puppy! says:

      I wonder if Will Smith is bitter that he didn’t benefit from this controversy in any way. You gotta wonder if he thought at one point he had a genuine shot with Collateral Tooty.

    • Robert O'Dell says:

      Racist, no. Stupid, yes.

  32. Stuart Glaze says:

    About the Mel Gibson nod…If Trump can become president, then Mel’s nomination should not be a surprise.

    • Sal U. Lloyd says:

      How so?

      • jim says:

        Have you seen hacksaw ridge? Its my favorite film of the year kicked my ass. Great great film so emotional like having your heart ripped out and stomped on then filled with love. I was a wreck after it was over better than braveheart.

  33. Mike says:

    “…starring second-tier Oscar winners…” Ouch, that’s a bit harsh, Variety.

  34. ARRIVAL MOONLIGHT both slow boring films LA LA LAND the most over rated film of the year .I hope it doesnt push MANCHESTER BY THE SEA out of the running ps TONI ERDMAN no way

    • Tender Puppy! says:

      You have crap taste. Manchester is fantastic, but it has no chance of winning anything except Actor and Original Screenplay. (Maybe Williams somehow topples Davis. Maybe. But unlikely.)

      • Lucas Hedges was wonderful in Manchester! So glad he was included in the nominations.

      • williams’ performance was fantastic. i think she’ll win. the screenplay in manchester needs editing, significantly. too many scenes are precious but unnecessary. if manchester’s running time were 15-20 minutes shorter, i’d vote for it (maybe indie-spirits). best picture i saw this year was “hell or high water”. the three darlings of the critics were good but not great.

      • Tender Puppy! says:

        Williams would have to overcome a lot of fervor for Davis to win, which I highly doubt. It would be an enormous upset. (I would be happy either way.)

  35. RAFAEL FELIZ says:

    Was waiting nomination for amy adams for arrival

  36. IMO says:

    Amy Adams is the biggest snub with 8 total noms while the whole damn movie is about her character with her on screen 99% of the time? It was my favorite movie of the year over La La Land, Moonlight & all of the rest. I get the feeling that a lot of voters skipped it thinking it was a sci-fi monster movie or something while concentrating on more foreign stuff. Big mistake Academy voters!
    And on the other end of the spectrum, I think Michael Shannon has been so good for so long in everything he does that Academy voters just want to give him an Oscar this year period.

    The biggest misstep nom was the campaign put on to get Viola Davis into the “Supporting” category when she should be in the lead category which she could have won, now I think she will go down to Octavia Spencer who deserves it more in the supporting category.

    • Lisa says:

      Viola Davis in the supporting category ensures that she is going to win. It would’ve been tougher in the lead category and I wish her screen time merited that but she is supporting in the film. There’s only one lead. And as great as Spencer was (I don’t know about Harris or the other nominees yet), she doesn’t compare to Davis’ performance. She was just on another level.

    • Glen Hull says:

      Viola Davdavis campaigning and being nominated in the supporting category, ensures an easy victory on Oscar night. Don’t get me wrong, she was sensational in Fences. Still, Davis should be competing with Stone and Portman. There are only a handful of scenes in Fences that she is not in.

      • Dex says:

        @Glen Hull
        Alicia Vikander did the same thing to ensure a deserved win for “The Danish Girl.”
        This rubbish about Davis campaigning for supporting category is nothing more than a rival studio’s conspicuous–and quite nasty–effort to undermine Davis.

      • Sal U. Lloyd says:

        She was a lead, not a supporting role. Huge mistake.

    • Tender Puppy! says:

      That’s stupid. Davis is NOT going to lose to Spencer. Spencer has the least chance of winning in that category, even less so than Kidman. Not a shot in hell. She’s just happy to be back with her 2nd nomination. Davis might’ve lost to Portman or Stone (depending on who is winning), but most likely would’ve won lead as well. But she’s almost guaranteed to win supporting. I kinda wish she was lead so that Williams could finally win her Oscar. And we need Davis to be a lead actress winner too, because the history books only have Halle Berry to cite, which…bleh. Look at all she’s done since then. Jackshit.

      • JimG. says:

        Yeah if Davis was in Lead the front runner would have been Williams or even possibly Harris but I think Williams would have had the overdue factor behind her. Spencer already has one so I don’t think they’re going to give her a 2d esp. over Davis, whose loss in 2012 was among other reasons because The Help wouldn’t go home empty-handed with the expected Supporting Actress win.

      • Tender Puppy! says:

        Amen. I still can’t believe they gave it to Streep for that ridiculous movie/performance in The Iron Lady over either Davis or Mara, for that matter. 2011 was probably one of the worst Oscar years of recent times, what with Jonah Hill being nominated for doing nothing over great performances like Albert Brooks in Drive or Alan Rickman in his HP:DH2

  37. Terry Bracken says:

    I nominate Tarij P Henson for best actress!

  38. Stanley Isaacs says:

    When you win an Oscar you are not second-tier, what a cheap shot from a second-tier writer.

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