Oscars mystery solved: How Tom Hanks and Robert Redford missed the boat

Two Oscar frontrunners — Tom Hanks (“Captain Phillips”) and Robert Redford (“All is Lost”) — were left stranded at sea by the academy.

While both snubs were unexpected, it was particularly perplexing to see Hanks spurned by the actors branch. After all, this likeable guy is an academy governor and two-time Best Actor champ (“Philadelphia,” 1993; “Forrest Gump,” 1994) who delivers an acclaimed performance that earned him nods from the Golden Globes, SAG, BFCA and BAFTA. 

What went wrong for Hanks?

This year’s Best Actor category was very crowded. While “Captain Phillips” reaped one of the nine Best Picture bids, so did the films of the five nominees: Christian Bale (“American Hustle”), Bruce Dern (“Nebraska”), Leonardo DiCaprio (“The Wolf of Wall Street”), Chiwetel Ejiofor (“12 Years a Slave”) and Matthew McConaughey (“Dallas Buyers Club”).

Hanks may have suffered from the preferential voting system employed by the academy. A small amount of passionate support for a contender can trump those with broad appeal. So, whille it is likely that a respected actor like Hanks — who delivered a lauded performance in a highly regarded film — appeared on a large number of ballots, perhaps only a small number ranked him first.

Thus, while DiCaprio may have been polarizing, Dern may have been less seen and Bale may have been less on the radar, more voters ranked each of them higher than Hanks. 

As for Redford, he has always underperformed with the actors branch, reaping just one Best Actor bid — “The Sting,” 1973 — despite delivering a slew of iconic screen performances. This film legend did win an Oscar for helming his first film — 1980 Best Picture champ “Ordinary People” — and was feted with an honorary award in 2002. 

While he won over the New York Film Critics for his performance in “All is Lost,” he was snubbed by both SAG and BAFTA. And he was subdued, at best, in his approach to campaigning. 

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