Oscar Nominations Announced: The Expected and Unexpected

The nominations for the 86th Annual Academy Awards were announced this morning by the Academy’s president and Thor, and sure, a lot of it was par for the course. As always, though, there were egregious snubs and big surprises, especially in a season where SO many actors and movies were hurriedly declared a “lock” or a “sure thing” well before their time. Here, we’ll talk about what we saw coming, what we didn’t, and those who were shut out. For reference, here is the full list of nominees.


WHAT WE EXPECTED: As much as Ben may grumble (and he surely does), American Hustle, along with 12 Years a Slave and Gravity, was always a lock for a Best Picture nod.

There were sure things in plenty of other races, too: Ejiofor and McConaughey; Blanchett and Bullock; Lawrence and Nyong’o; Fassbender and Leto; the screenplay categories, for the most part, weren’t exactly shocking; and honestly, the entire Best Director race, with one or two small exceptions, was exactly as expected. Frozen made an appearance in both Best Song and Best Animated Feature, and seems surely poised to take home both prizes, based on its enormous success and critical acclaim. And frankly, that’s about everything that wasn’t a huge surprise to me.

WHAT WE DIDN’T: The rest of the Best Picture category had some surprises, with little-movies-that-could Philomena, Nebraska and Her surging ahead. After a bumpy road throughout awards season, The Wolf of Wall Street found a place there as well, and Captain Phillips, largely forgotten about by many, showed up too.

The Acting categories had their own little surprises too, some pleasant and some not. Blanchett and Bullock seemed to be the only two sure things for Best Actress, and sure enough, Amy Adams, Meryl Streep and Judi Dench weren’t mind-blowing shockers, but it was a crapshoot up until the eleventh hour as to who was going to be included – this is a huge year for great performances, and all Acting categories seemed overstuffed with frontrunners. (It’s surprising to see Streep show up, though, considering critics have been mixed at best over her August: Osage County performance.) Best Actor was especially crowded, resulting in some snubs, and latecomer Christian Bale landed a spot in the category, along with DiCaprio, who easily could have been left off in favor of someone like Hanks, and we’ll get to that in a bit. (He obviously won’t win because the Academy is allergic to DiCaprio, plus this is going to be either Ejiofor or McConaughey’s year, but maybe one day he’ll get a Lifetime Achievement Award or something!) Supporting Actor was exactly the same people whose names have been floating around for months, except for maybe Daniel Bruhl (who, let’s be honest, just wasn’t talked about as much as the other nominees), but Supporting Actress had a lovely little surprise in the form of the excellent Sally Hawkins, nominated for Cate Blanchett’s counterpart and sister in Blue Jasmine. Julia Roberts also landed a spot, but frankly, Supporting Actress will be a horse race between Lawrence and Nyong’o at this point.

Also, Arcade Fire has an Oscar nomination, so that’s fucking awesome.

WHO WAS LEFT OUT: A WHOLE LOT OF PEOPLE, that’s who. Like I said, this was a crazily crowded awards season to begin with, so this was bound to happen, but in some cases it doesn’t make it any less shocking. In terms of Best Picture, Saving Mr. Banks and Blue Jasmine both lost out on a spot, but for me, the most unbelievable snub is the fact that the Coen Brothers’ newest effort, Inside Llewyn Davis, is literally nowhere to be found (except for Sound Mixing and Cinematography, both well deserved, BUT STILL). Not in Best Picture, Best Actor, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay… absolutely nowhere. It didn’t have a great showing in the Guild nominations, but even so, it’s still shocking.

As for Acting categories, there were so many “locks” this season that it’s no surprise that so many people were left out. Robert Redford, well-loved by the Academy, presumably lost his Best Actor spot to DiCaprio. Emma Thompson was left out too, maybe thanks to nominee Meryl Streep’s anti-Disney speech (Meryl, maybe don’t bite the hand that’s making Into the Woods). Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan, both hailed as front-runners so long ago, weren’t even real possibilities anymore, and neither were Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey, both of whom seemed like sure bets this summer. Joaquin Phoenix couldn’t find a place in the crowded Best Actor race either, despite a quietly magnificent showing in Her and a Golden Globe nod, and neither could Tom Hanks (I’m sorry, Tam Honks), a perennial Academy favorite. Enough Said was kind of expected to rise above and claim nods for both Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini, but no dice.

Best Director was always going to be tight, and the five nominated are no surprise, but it was disappointing to see Spike Jonze left out, and it was a little surprising that Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips) wasn’t there either. Blackfish, probably the most talked-about documentary this year, didn’t make an appearance for Best Documentary. Vulture made note of this, but it’s DEFINITELY weird that American Hustle didn’t make the cut for Best Makeup and Hairstyling (but, all of the jheri curls!). I’m not the biggest Lana Del Rey fan, but “Young and Beautiful,” the best part of the Gatsby soundtrack, couldn’t find a spot in the kind of weird Original Song category. That dude with the man-bun who won a Golden Globe for scoring All Is Lost isn’t on the list here.

Any other snubs or surprises you want to talk about? Leave them in the comments, so that we can see a comment other than the occasional pingback or spam about penises!


Aside from having not seen Captain Phillips yet (it comes out on DVD Tuesday, so I’ll catch it then), I’ve been able to see the work of all the major nominees, and I can say, it’s been an absolutely solid year for film. Some lovely performances (That Best Actor category is amazing!) and some very memorable moments in cinema. So, what should we be happy about, and what should we look forward to come Oscar night?

Eight of the nine Best Picture Nominees are wonderful, enjoyable films, all worthy adversaries in my opinion. And then there’s American Hustle. It’s the film everyone is flocking around, tying for the most nominations alongside Gravity with 10. But I couldn’t stand Hustle. It felt like a story going nowhere with actors out of control and nothing to ground them. The successful comedic moments are few and far between, and the performances range from the vacant to the cartoonish. Yet everyone is getting in a hubbub over it, calling it the frontrunner for Best Picture right now. Maybe I have to see it again, maybe I missed something, but I know what I saw; a confused movie with nowhere to go. And now it may be our “Best Picture.” I hope not.

Moving on from that rant, as I stated above, Best Actor is tough because, aside from Christian Bale, I’d be fine with ANY of these actors to win. Seriously, they all do a fantastic job, and whatever happens come Oscar Sunday, I’ll be satisfied in this category. With Actress, I’m actually glad Meryl Streep got in with her performance in August: Osage County, it’s actually one of her best performances in years, including her non-Oscar-worthy performance in The Iron Lady. Plus, the inclusion of Jonah Hill in The Wolf of Wall Street in Best Supporting Actor, and Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine in Supporting Actress is all wonderful. I’m just repeating words Nina said, but I’m still very excited about it!!

Other Things That Made Me Happy:

-Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises got nominated for Best Animated Film! This is Miyazaki’s final film (sadness), and it comes to Chicago in February, and I can’t wait to see it. His films are always astonishing, so it’s lovely to see him recognized here again one last time.

Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa got nominated for Best Makeup and Hairstyling. That’s hilarious.

-Hey y’all! Arcade Fire (technically, William Butler and Owen Pallett) got nominated for Her for Best Original Score! And Karen O. got nominated for Best Original Song for Her! So everything is great!

-The adorable animated short before Frozen (Get a Horse!) is nominated for Best Animated Short. Having not seen the other nominees, it is my natural frontrunner.

It’s gonna be a night of surprises for sure, and we’ll have full predictions coming in the next few weeks. But now it’s up to you, readers! Watch these movies and tell us what you think!

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