Seven most surprising below-the-line Oscar nominations snubs

Sure, on Oscar nominations morning, the big news was the big name snubs of the likes of Tom Hanks (for his leading role in “Captain Phillips” and supporting role in “Saving Mr Banks”), Oprah Winfrey (a one-time shoo-in for “Lee Daniels’ The Butler”), Emma Thompson (“Saving Mr Banks”) and DGA nominee Paul Greengrass (“Captain Phillips”).

However, there were some real shockers in the below-the-line categories too. The use of the word “snub” is thrown around a lot this time of year, and sometimes unfairly, as in many or even most instances, a film or performance is not nominated obviously because voters preferred something else. But for arguments sake, the following are my list of most the seven most shocking omissions.

One of the big stories of Oscar nominations morning was the underperformance of “12 Years a Slave.” That Sean Bobbitt’s name was left off the list for his acclaimed cinematography was a huge surprise. Nominated by his fellow lensers in the ASC, as well as by BAFTA and the Independent Spirits, and having received honors from the Broadcast, Central Ohio, Chicago, Dallas, Georgia, Houston, London, Online, Phoenix, San Francisco, Southeastern, St Louis and Washington DC critics, Bobbitt looked like a sure thing. My theory in this race is a no brainer – too much competition. Even the ASC saw fit to nominate seven cinematographers because of a rare tie in their voting. There was so much exemplary work to choose from this year, there were going to be a few names missing the cut.

Along with the unfortunate snub of BAFTA, Golden Globe and SAG-nominated Daniel Bruhl in Best Supporting Actor, Ron Howard’s well-received “Rush” received a big fat zero nominations across the board. Most surprising of the complete shut out was Dan P. Hanley and Mike Hill missing out on a nomination for film editing. Nominated at BAFTA, and also recognized by critics groups in Boston, Phoenix and Washington DC, these three-time Oscars nominees (for “A Beautiful Mind,” “Cinderella Man” and “Frost/Nixon”) were inexplicably left out, most likely because “Rush” just wasn’t the academy’s cup of tea.

“The Grandmaster” might have been Hong Kong maestro Wong Kar-Wai’s best shot at finally receiving the Oscar recognition that has to date eluded him throughout his career. The Academy’s costume designers and cinematographers clearly loved the film (and I had a hunch this might happen for lenser Philippe Le Sourd), but the small foreign language film committee that whittled the nine films in contention down to the final five nominees just weren’t in the mood for this stylish martial arts epic.

Alongside “Gravity,” “American Hustle” led the way with 10 nominations, including the big seven – picture, director, screenplay and all four acting categories. Below the line, the film also made an impact with the academy’s costume designers, production designers and film editors. But in the one category that appeared to be the film’s most likely below-the-line slam dunk, the film to beat in the Best Picture race received a goose egg. The recently resurrected kudos bestowed by the Makeup and Hairstylist Guild saw fit to include “Hustle” in their (albeit expanded) roster of nominated films, but the Academy’s branch was just more impressed with the impressive work on box office bomb “The Lone Ranger,” “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” and Best Picture nominee “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Nine-time nominee Hans Zimmer was on almost everybody’s list of likely Oscar nominees for  “12 Years a Slave.” Although Zimmer has not won since “The Lion King” in 1994, and was last nominated for “Inception” in 2011, he has been a mainstay in this category over the past two decades. In the lead up to the nominations announcement, he had a Golden Globe and BAFTA nod under his belt, plus citations from the Boston Online Critics, Broadcast Film Critics, and critics groups in Central Ohio, Chicago, Denver, Georgia, Houston, Indiana, Las Vegas, Phoenix, San Diego (who also nominated him for his “Rush” score), St Louis and Washington DC. A hauntingly beautiful score by a veteran Oscar winning composer in a universally acclaimed film, looked like a lock for at least a nomination. It was a huge surprise to not see his name in the list of nominated composers, and it was doubly hard to swallow that he also missed out for his score for the aforementioned “Rush.”

Much has been made of the obscure “faith-based” ditty “Alone Yet Not Alone” snagging a surprise nod in this category, and one wonders if it took the spot many expected would go to “Young and Beautiful,” Lana Del Rey’s standout track from “The Great Gatsby.” Perhaps the Golden Globe snub should have raised a red flag that the song might not have been as well liked as many pundits thought, although we already know that the Globes are not a very reliable predictor of the Original Song Oscar. Maybe the culprit was the apparent anonymous stealth sabotage mailout in which Oscar voters received a false news story questioning the song’s eligibility. Or the Academy’s music branch just aren’t fans of Del Rey.

“Pacific Rim” battled negative advance publicity to be one of the best received blockbusters of the summer, and was lauded most especially for its visual effects. That Guillermo del Toro’s epic sci-fi extravaganza also missed out in sound categories shows a complete lack of support for the film among the Academy’s rank and file. A complete surprise and an unfortunate omission for the Mexican auteur’s vision for a smarter epic popcorn blockbuster.

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