The sad truth is, there’s never going to be a year when everyone is completely satisfied with the Academy Award nominations. Though they’re generally pretty predictable assuming you follow sites like Gold Derby, there are always going to be some left field choices. This year is no exception. Like every other year, there were some surprising inclusions and some baffling exclusions, but that’s just the way the Academy rolls.
In this article, we’ll look at the ten biggest snubs of the night. The list will exclusively include snubs that more or less make sense. So while Anomalisa would have been a fantastic choice for Best Picture, it would also be unrealistic to assume it could make its way in given the precursors and numerous pundit predictions.
1. Best Director – Ridley Scott for The Martian
Ridley Scott has had a rough decade with turkeys like Exodus, The Counselor, and Robin Hood making up his recent filmography. His only movie that earned any praise, Prometheus was still considered pretty polarizing. This year, Scott made a comeback with The Martian, his take on the recent renaissance of space movies occupied by hits like Gravity and Interstellar. The movie was met with critical acclaim and recently won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy. It seemed likely that The Martian would absolutely dominate at the Oscars.
In all honesty, that’s still a possibility. After all, it managed to nab seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture. Curiously absent, however, was Scott himself. After earning a Best Director spot at the DGA, things were looking pretty good for Scott. Experts at Gold Derby had him in first place to win the award, with 17 of the 24 experts predicting he’d come out victorious and all 24 pundits claiming he’d at least get a nomination.
It made sense to peg him as the frontrunner. Regardless of whether or not you thought The Martian was as good as the other space hits, it’s hard to deny that Ridley Scott’s direction was worthy of acclaim. It seemed likely that The Martian would follow in the footsteps of 2013’s Gravity by splitting Best Picture and Best Director. Surprising everyone, that’s now an impossibility.
2. Best Picture – Carol
Audiences should have known something was up when Carol was mysteriously missing from the list of PGA nominations for Best Picture. After all, the PGA is considered the number one predictor of Best Picture nominees. In fact, most people argue that pundits can’t truly begin to predict the Academy Awards until the PGA nominees have been announced.
With that in mind, there was another critically acclaimed film also missing from the list of Producers Guild nominees that seemed like the more likely victim of snubbing – Room. Given the critical acclaim for Carol, which is the best reviewed movie of the year according to Metacritic, people couldn’t fathom the idea of Carol being left out, regardless of the fact that there were a number of unfortunate indicators. Before the PGA nominations were announced, both Carol and Room were considered locks, but after the announcement, things got a little tricky.
Let it be clear that neither of these movies deserve to be excluded, as they are without a doubt two of the best movies of the year. If Room were the one that got snubbed instead, it would have found its way onto the list. In a perfect world, Room and Carol would have both made it in, but given the undeniable accuracy of the Producers Guild, that likely wasn’t going to happen.
3. Best Adapted Screenplay – Steve Jobs
Steve Jobs may not have been a box office hit, but it was still a phenomenal movie thanks in large part to Aaron Sorkin’s excellent script. While not quite the slam dunk that The Social Network was, Sorkin’s latest was still an obvious showcase of his gifted writing abilities. Given the Academy’s love for Sorkin, some pundits went as far as to claim that this was the Adapted Screenplay frontrunner rivaling The Big Short.
Alas, it somehow managed to miss the cut entirely. There are a number of theories as to why it didn’t quite gel with Academy voters. The most likely reason was that, similar to everyday filmgoers, it simply didn’t interest Academy voters. Thanks to a number of other Jobs-inspired misfires, viewers were simply tired of the subject. Job’s controversial image and reputation also drove some viewers away.
Luckily, the screenplay didn’t go completely unnoticed. It recently won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay and it still managed to earn a nomination from the Writers Guild of America.
4. Best Original Screenplay – The Hateful Eight
Quentin Tarantino has been on a roll lately. His last two movies, Inglorious Basterds and Django Unchained both did exceptionally well at the Oscars. While The Hateful Eight didn’t earn the same level of acclaim as those two movies, it seemed that a screenplay nomination was more or less a lock, given the Academy’s love for Tarantino.
The screenplay for Tarantino’s latest was undeniably solid, given the fact that this was more dialog driven than most Tarantino movies (which is saying a lot, considering how talky his movies tend to be). The movie, taking place almost entirely in one building, was able to keep most people invested throughout the three hour run time because of the strengths of the script.
Unfortunately, as stated earlier, the film didn’t go over as well with critics as Tarantino’s past few movies. The divided response probably steered some voters away. The omission from the Writers Guild of America unfortunately didn’t help the movie’s chances. Then again, that didn’t stop Ex Machina or Inside Out from earning nominations. Given the guild’s knack for predicting the Oscars, however, three Oscar noms that didn’t make the cut at the WGA wasn’t likely going to happen.
5. Best Supporting Actor – Paul Dano for Love and Mercy
If there’s one genre that consistently does well at the Oscars, it’s the biopic. Last year, 4 of the 8 Best Picture nominations were biopics. This year, movies like Bridge of Spies, The Big Short, and Spotlight also fit that categorization. Unfortunately, biopics are an overstuffed genre. Every year, one or two critically acclaimed biopics get ignored entirely.
Last year, Big Eyes failed to earn a single nomination. In 2013, The Butler didn’t make an impression on Academy voters.This year is unfortunately no different. The victim this time around is Love and Mercy, which tells the story of Beach Boy Brian Wilson.
Nobody was counting on the film to earn some of the bigger awards like Best Picture or Director, but a nod for Dano or Banks certainly didn’t seem out of the question. Paul Dano captured the emotional turmoil that Wilson went through with relative ease. He painted a picture of a damaged superstar that the audience still managed to admire and root for.
Frankly, Dano was the standout aspect of the movie. Despite numerous nominations from other awards, including a Golden Globe nod, Dano failed to compete with bigger names like Stallone and Bale.