Oscars mystery solved: How did Jennifer Aniston and Jake Gyllenhaal get snubbed?

Looks like Jennifer Aniston won’t have her “Cake” and eat it too. At least that’s what the Oscars decided Thursday morning when they snubbed the red-hot Best Actress contender. Also skunked: Jake Gyllenhaal (“Nightcrawler“) as Best Actor, whose omission is particularly head-scratching because, like Aniston, he netted notable precursor bids heading into the Oscar nominations.

So what went wrong for these two acting frontrunners?

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To recap, Aniston was nominated at the Golden Globes (where she lost to Julianne Moore for “Still Alice“), Critics’ Choice and SAG Awards.

Meanwhile, Gyllenhaal reaped bids from the Golden Globes (losing to Eddie Redmayne for “The Theory of Everything“), Critics’ Choice, SAG Awards and BAFTA.

Since both “Cake” and “Nightcrawler” are niche indie films, might Aniston and Gyllenhaal have suffered from the preferential voting system employed by the academy? While it is likely that both performers appeared on a large number of ballots, perhaps only a small number of Oscar voters actually ranked them in their first-place positions.

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Aniston was gaining steam over the past few weeks, campaigning coast-to-coast and winning over doubters who previously only saw her as their “Friend.” Her snub at the Oscars isn’t so much of a strike against her, but more a plus for the five leading ladies who edged her out: Marion Cotillard (“Two Days One Night“), Felicity Jones (“The Theory of Everything“), Julianne Moore (“Still Alice“), Rosamund Pike (“Gone Girl“) and Reese Witherspoon (“Wild“).

As for Gyllenhaal, could it simply be that this year’s Best Actor race was too crowded? Keep in mind that of the five nominees — Steve Carell (“Foxcatcher“), Bradley Cooper (“American Sniper“), Benedict Cumberbatch (“The Imitation Game“), Michael Keaton (“Birdman“) and Eddie Redmayne (“The Theory of Everything“) — four star in Best Picture contenders while the fifth (Carell) is up for a film honored for its director (Bennett Miller). Since “Nightcrawler” was shut out across the board save for a sole bid for Best Original Screenplay, it simply didn’t have the same show of support as the other contenders.

What do you think of Aniston and Gyllenhaal’s snubs? Sound off in the comments section below.

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