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Oscar Nominations: Snubs and Surprises

January 16, 2014

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Here’s my takeaway from the 2014 Oscar nominations: Academy voters don’t like white guys on boats. How else to explain the snubs of All is Lost‘s Robert Redford and Captain Phillips‘ Tom Hanks? In the grand tradition of Titanic‘s Leonardo DiCaprio (who thankfully wasn’t overlooked for The Wolf of Wall Street), Redford and Hanks were left high and dry, although Hanks’ Phillips costar Barkhad Abdi made the supporting actor cut, joining 12 Years a Slave‘s Chiwetel Ejiofor and Lupita N’yongo as this year’s Quvenzhané Wallis honorees for hardest-to-spell names. 

American Hustle got way too many nominations—10, tied with Gravity. (12 Years a Slave trailed with 9.) Christian Bale was a surprise, beating out not just Redford and Hanks but also Her‘s Joaquin Phoenix, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom‘s Idris Elba and The Butler‘s Forest Whitaker (whose costar, Oprah WInfrey, was this year’s other biggest snubee). Amy Adams now has five Oscar nominations, which is about four too many if you ask me, and Jennifer Lawrence may win her second in a row. Her fellow SIlver Linings Playbook veteran Bradley Cooper now has back-to-back Oscar nominations. That’s almost as unlikely as Jonah Hill’s two nods, although his (for Moneyball and Wolf of Wall Street) were much more well-earned.

I’m baffled why Wolf‘s Margot Robbie never made it into the conversation for Best Supporting Actress, but perhaps the Academy felt her role was too similar to Lawrence’s. I’m also flabbergasted that Wolf‘s Thelma Schoonmaker was passed over for Best Editing; maybe the Oscar voters felt the film was too long (I disagree), but that would be more Scorsese’s fault than his editor’s.

The Academy certainly bought into Dallas Buyers Club, nominating it not just for lead actor Matthew McConaughey and supporting actor Jared Leto but Picture, Original Screenplay (over Gravity, Inside Llewyn Davis and the criminally unappreciated Enough Said), Editing and Makeup. The Coen Brothers film was an outsider in almost every category in which it could’ve competed, including Original Song, getting recognized only for Cinematography and Sound Mixing. Instead, the vastly superior Nebraska was this year’s Quirky Indie, taking Picture, Director, Actor (Bruce Dern!), Supporting Actress (June Squibb!), Screenplay and Cinematography.

The year’s other big loser? Saving Mr. Banks. Not a good year for Tom Hanks! His Walt Disney biopic earned only one nomination, for Best Original Score. That’s one less than Disney’s Frozen—and no, that’s not the title of a Walt Disney biopic.

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