Every year, the announcement of the Oscar nominations yield surprising inclusions and exclusions, holding within them dashed hopes and renewed dreams. Below, explanations for the most shocking snubs in the top races.
“Selma” gets in for Best Picture, Best Song…and nothing else
“Selma,” the Civil Rights drama which had a strong showing at the Golden Globes and Critics Choice, yet was shunned by the guilds save for costume design, hair & makeup and sound editing (music).
Just when things looked their bleakest, the film pulled through and got into the Best Picture lineup, racking up nominations for Best Song and…nothing else.
No mention for Ava DuVernay, who would’ve been the first African American woman ever nominated for Best Director. Nothing for David Oyelowo, who starred as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Not even Guild-approved costume designer Ruth E. Carter, herself a two-time Oscar nominee (for “Malcolm X” (1992) and “Amistad” (1997)), could get in.
With nothing more than a sole nomination for songwriters John Legend and Common, it begs the question: just where was the Best Picture support? For all we know, Globe-nominated DuVernay and Oyelowo were just a handful of votes shy from a nomination, but nothing is certain.
“Gone Girl” is gone from the Oscars…except for Rosamund Pike
When David Fincher was left off of the DGA’s list on Tuesday, it should’ve been an indication that “Gone Girl” was on shaky ground. Although the film had landed nominations at the PGA and WGA, it was snubbed here for Picture and Adapted Screenplay (Gillian Flynn). And despite mentions from the Globes and BFCA, two-time nominee Fincher was omitted from the Best Director lineup.
Indeed, the director’s usually Oscar-friendly production team of cinematographer Jeff Cronenweth, editor Kirk Baxter, sound mixer Ren Klyce, and composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, all of them formidable contenders, were completely shut out as well.
Only the gone girl herself, Rosamund Pike, got any Oscar attention for one of the most critically and commercially successful films of the year. Some may blame Fincher’s lack of campaigning on the film’s omission, yet more likely voters were turned off by its pulpy subject matter and based-on-a-bestseller status.
“The LEGO Movie” gets in for Best Song but not Best Animated Feature?
Everything wasn’t awesome for “The Lego Movie” this morning, at least, not as awesome as was expected. The film’s catchy tune “Everything is Awesome” was nominated for Best Original Song, yet the film was left out of the Best Animated Feature category, edged out by “Big Hero 6,” “The Boxtrolls,” “Song of the Sea,” “The Tale of Princess Kaguya,” and Golden Globe-winner “How to Train Your Dragon 2.”
This was despite a 96% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and a nearly $260 million box-office tally in the US alone. Perhaps the aged Academy members felt embarrassed voting for a film that revolved around children’s toys, no matter how heralded.
Bradley Cooper and Laura Dern prove precursors don’t matter
Heading into today, Bradley Cooper had reaped a Best Actor in an Action Movie nod at the Critics Choice Awards for his performance as slain NAVY Seal Chris Kyle in “American Sniper,” and nothing more aside from a mention from the Phoenix Film Critics Association. Yet Cooper cracked a crowded Best Actor field, knocking out SAG and Globe nominated Jake Gyllenhaal for “Nightcrawler,” as well as Globe nominees David Oyelowo (“Selma”) and Ralph Fiennes (“The Grand Budapest Hotel”),
Likewise, Laura Dern had little more than a handful of critic’s award nominations under her belt for her performance as Reese Witherspoon’s effervescent mother in “Wild.” She got in for Supporting Actress, nudging aside Globe contender Jessica Chastain (“A Most Violent Year”), BAFTA anointed Rene Russo (“Nightcrawler”), and SAG laurelled Naomi Watts (“St. Vincent”).
This only goes to show that if Oscar voters really love your performance, no lack of precursor attention can stand in the way.
“Foxcatcher” gets five major nominations…but no Best Picture
After premiering to critical acclaim at Cannes, “Foxcatcher” appeared to be – for all intents and purposes – a slam-dunk Oscar contender. Nominations were all but guaranteed for stars Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo, director #Bennett Miller3, and screenwriters E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman.
However, as the season began to take shape, the film received a scattered showing at best at the major precursors, the only thing that became a certainty was a Supporting Actor nod for Ruffalo. He did reap an Oscar bid but so did Carell, Miller, Frye and Futterman, and the hair-and-makeup artists.
Yet when the Best Picture lineup was announced, “Foxcatcher” was conspicuously absent. That makes Miller the first director since Julian Schnabel (“The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” 2007) and the only one since the Best Picture field expanded to up to 10 to snag a nomination for a film that wasn’t deemed worthy of inclusion in the top race. With so much obvious support throughout the major branches, what led to its omission? Perhaps its dark, brooding story of schizophrenia and murder was too much for the overall Academy to stomach.