The Weekend Warrior

The Oscar Warrior: Oscar Nominations, the Shocking Snubs and Surprises!

Source: Edward Douglas
January 16, 2014

The Oscar nominations have been officially announced--you can read the entire list here--and of course, the Oscar Warrior is here to ponder over the list and see what jumps out as something shocking and unexpected and what probably surprised those who woke up early to listen to the nominations.

This was not a year when any nomination could be taken for granted, especially when it came to the top categories like Best Picture, Director and the acting categories, because there were a lot of of quality movies and only ten potential spaces for Best Picture. Going by the odds from the past two years, only nine movies might get into the Best Picture race leaving a lot of beloved quality movies out of the main race and that happened for a third year in a row with just nine nominees for Best Picture.

By the end of the year, there seemed to be many categories where six candidates were looking to fill five slots, and that was true in almost every category from director to acting and other categories and that alone probably contributed to some of the biggest shockers when in some cases, seven candidates were looking to fill five slots.

Let's start with some of the biggest shockers and omissions and two that were noticeable right off the bat were that neither Robert Redford nor Tom Hanks, both favorites since their respective peril-at-sea films debuted at Cannes and the New York Film Festival, received nominations for their acting performances. The Best Actor race was always going to be a heated one with a lot of different choice but Redford's one-man show in J.C. Chandor's All is Lost was thought to be a frontrunner for a long time and having not even been nominated means there's a pretty nice void open for someone else to win Best Actor, and we think we know just who that may be. Read on!

Tom Hanks not receiving a nomination for his title role as Captain Phillips was pretty surprising, especially considering how much support it had been receiving up until this point from the likes of the Screen Actors Guild, but director Paul Greengrass also directed the hell out of that movie, just like he did with United 93, and he even received a DGA nomination for the effort, but he didn't make it into the directing nominations in favor of the equally deserving Cuaron, McQueen, Scorsese and maybe a surprise to some (though not to the Oscar Warrior), Alexander Payne, who received his third directing nomination for Nebraska. So Greengrass and Hanks were out, but first-time Somali actor Barkhad Abdi managed to get into the Supporting Actor race after being nominated for a Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild award and Billy Ray's adapted screenplay got a nomination and the movie did get a Best Picture nomination--again, one of nine--so it clearly still has support from the Academy.

Another movie that got a lot more love than anyone could ever expect was Jean-Marc Vallee's Dallas Buyers Club (Focus Features), receiving the expected acting nods for Matthew McConaughey - who is now sitting pretty to win his first Oscar with Redford out of the picture, leaving a void that could also potentially be filled by 12 Years a Slave's Chiwetel Ejiofor. Jared Leto is still the favorite to win for Supporting Actor, but Dallas Buyers Club got enough love from the Academy to receive nominations not only for Best Picture and Original Screenplay, but it received one of three nominations in the Hair and Make-Up category over American Hustle, which seemed to be a shoe-in for a nomination there.

Still, the morning brought lots of great news for David O. Russell's American Hustle, which became his second movie in a row to get nominations in all four acting categories which is not something to be taken lightly. (The Fighter received three acting nods and won two.) Last year, Jennifer Lawrence was the only one to win a single Oscar from Russell's Silver Linings Playbook, but we think this year will be different and American Hustle seems to be more like something that awards voters can get behind, so expect it to leave the night with more Oscars including a well-earned screenplay Oscar for Russell.

The thing is that going into the nominations announcement, it was thought that Jennifer Lawrence was a sure thing to get a nomination for her supporting role and Bradley Cooper certainly had a lot of prelove in the supporting category, but there were questions whether either of the other two main actors could get into the fairly heated and crowded and nearly set in stone Lead Actor categories and sure enough, Christian Bale received his 2nd Oscar nomination for his leading role, having won a previous Oscar for his performance in Russell's The Fighter. Essentially, Bale managed to bump either Hanks or Redford, and it probably was one of the bigger shockers since his performance didn't seem as memorable as some of the others.

Amy Adams also got into the Best Actress race, her first time not being relegated to the supporting category in which she'd been nominated four times previously, and that was also a pretty big deal despite the fact that she just won a Golden Globe for the role. (Oscar nominations voting closed before the Golden Globes aired.) What was odd was that many thought that the fifth slot in the Best Actress race was between Adams and her Doubt co-star Streep for her role in August: Osage County, but both of them got in, bumping Emma Thompson who was thought to be one of the surer nominations for her performance in Disney's Saving Mr. Banks. In fact, that tribute to Disney's "making of" Mary Poppins found about as much love as last year's equally insider-y Hitchcock i.e. very little to none.

While some thought that the behind-the-scenes of Hollywood would appeal to the Academy similar to the Oscar-winning The Artist, the older members who generally prefer brighter and more pleasant fare didn't buy the telling of the story apparently and the younger voting members went with other things. Saving Mr. Banks did get a single nomination for its score by Thomas Newman, which is quite gorgeous but that's pretty much it and it probably won't win it either.

Either way, David O. Russell and Sony had a pretty good morning, but what about CBS Films and their single entry into the Oscar race, the Coen Brothers' Inside Llewyn Davis? Apparently, it just wasn't the right movie for the Academy, because while critics loved it and it was all over just about every Top 10 list, it didn't receive a Best Picture nomination, nor did it get a nomination for its original screenplay, which seemed like a given. Instead, it just got one measly nomination in the Sound Mixing category, which is very common for musicals, but who knows if it can even win against movies like Gravity, which has much more impressive soundtrack mixing.

One would think that maybe the Coens' film was too quirky or dark for Oscar voters, but they got behind Spike Jonze's Her and Alexander Payne's Nebraska--the latter very much a Coenish type movie--giving them both many nominations in a variety of categories.

There was equally a lot of love for Martin Scorsese's edgy R-rated comedy The Wolf of Wall Street, as it received a Best Picture nomination and Scorsese received his eighth well-deserved nomination as a director. There were some questions whether Leonardo DiCaprio could get into an already crowded Best Actor race especially so late in the game and with his portrayal of a character who has few to no redeeming qualities. In fact, Leo did get in with his fourth Oscar nomination and he was joined by Jonah Hill, receiving his second supporting acting Oscar in a matter of years. Again, some thought Hill's recent nomination for Moneyball would be all he'd get for a while, but clearly his character, the right hand man to Leonardo DiCaprio's Wolf, had an impact on voters. (Sadly, it bumped one of my favorites which I'll talk more about below.)

So what was the biggest shocker when it came to The Wolf of Wall Street? It got a screenplay nomination for Terrence Winter as many expected, but where was the Film Editing nomination for long-time Scorsese collaborator Thelma Schoonmaker? As with many of Scorsese's movies, they're all about the editing and Schoonmaker has been there by his side every step of the way, even doing a difficult bit of editing to get the movie down to three hours which delayed the release to Christmas. She'd already been nominated for seven previous Scorsese movies and won three times and maybe the Academy editors' branch felt it was time to give someone else a chance. But still… Wolf of Wall Street is one of the best edited films of the year…it should get recognition despite past history and wins by the talented film editor.

At this point in time, maybe it wasn't a total shocker that Lee Daniel's The Butler was once again completely shut out just like it was at the Golden Globes. The Weinstein Company had a pretty decent hit with the movie and it was immediately thought of as "Oscar fodder" because of its subject matter, but after making lots of money, it became completely overshadowed by Steve McQueen's far more powerful 12 Years a Slave. Oprah Winfrey was thought to be an early frontrunner in the Supporting Actress race, but she quickly started dropping away in favor of others and when nominations were announced, her name wasn't even mentioned, so obviously the Academy didn't feel as strongly about Daniels' latest as the Screen Actors Guild who nominated Winfrey and the entire ensemble cast for their Actor awards.

There was still some good news for The Weinstein Company though as Philomena, which was thought to be up for Judi Dench's acting performance and the Steve Coogan co-written screenplay, only actually managed to get a Best Picture nomination, ousting any number of other movies that were thought to be favorites in the category (like Inside Llewyn Davis, for instance).

It was nice to see Wong Kar-wai get some love for his martial arts epic The Grandmaster, but it mysteriously ended up getting nominations in the cinematography and costume design categories rather than getting a higher profile nomination in the Foreign Language category, and that's even with Martin Scorsese pushing for the movie.

On the other hand, the lovely Sally Hawkins finally received a much-deserved Oscar nomination, having been snubbed for Mike Leigh's Happy-Go-Lucky a few years back, and she received a supporting acting nomination for Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine, joining Cate Blanchett and Woody Allen's screenplay itself. The movie certainly deserved all three nominations, but the fact that it didn't get a Best Picture nomination meant there wasn't much support behind the writing and acting.

I think my biggest bummer from the Oscar nominations was seeing Ron Howard's Rush being completely shut out of the Oscars in every category. The film has a fantastic score by Hans Zimmer (who didn't even receive a nomination for 12 Years a Slave), but it also should have been included in many of the tech categories including film editing, sound editing and mixing - but it was nowhere to be found. An even bigger injustice was that Daniel Bruhl, who gave an amazing performance as arrogant Formula 1 racer Niki Lauda, really one of the best performances of the year, didn't get into the Supporting Actor race either, and I know that Universal was definitely pushing for him over other nominations.

Now remember a year ago when the first pictures of Johnny Depp as Tonto in Gore Verbinski's The Lone Ranger started appearing and everyone was laughing and making jokes about how stupid it looked? Well, who is laughing now 'cause the movie actually received an Oscar nomination for make-up and hair-styling and one assumes that it's mainly for that crow on top of Depp's head. So now The Lone Ranger is both an Oscar-nominated movie and a Razzie-nominated movie, both within the course of 24 hours.

Probably the biggest and most shameful omission was that Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim didn't get nominated either for Visual Effects or Sound Editing, two categories that it well deserved because del Toro's team at Industrial Light and Magic put everything into making the giant robots and monsters realistic. Usually, these categories are good for big summer blockbuster genre fare, but for some reason, Pacific Rim was snubbed.. And yet….. Seriously???? The Lone Ranger got a second Oscar nomination for Visual FX… over Pacific Rim??? That's just nutso cuckoo crazy talk and I blame that damn crow.

And where was Gabriela Cowperthwaite's documentary Blackfish, one of the most high profile docs released this year that caused all sorts of controversy both before and after its release as it went up against the mighty SeaWorld who fought back with everything they had? It would seem that movie would be a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination similar to The Cove a few years back, but nope, it was left out in favor of five perfectly worthy docs including my personal favorite 20 Feet From Stardom. (We're guessing The Act of Killing might win though.)

Oh, man... another snub we almost forgot to include and that was Sarah Polley's amazingly personal semi-documentary Stories We Tell, which had been receiving a lot of love from many different places including the Writers Guild and it actually won best doc from both the New York Film Critics Circle and the National Board of Review, two very different groups, and yet, it didn't get into the Oscar nominations for documentary. Maybe it had too much film footage shot specifically for the movie rather than using archival footage or maybe Roadside Attractions screwed this one up, just like they did the campaign for Redford for All is Lost. (All I know is that it's like pulling teeth trying to get screeners from the distributor, so that may account for them missing out on what should have been sure things.)

That's it for our recap of the Oscar nominations. Let us know if you think anything else was sorely omitted from this year's nominations, but also let us know how you feel about the nominations. Have you seen all of the nominated movies? Is there anything you'll check out now that you know it's received the stamp of approval from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? Or do you just not care about any of this? Let us know!

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