As usual, though, the big story surrounding the nominations is not who was chosen – which is largely predictable – but who was left behind. So in that vein, here are the top ten snubs that stuck out for me in this year’s nominations.
10. American Hustle – Best Makeup and Hairstyling
This is a shocker. A uniting factor of just about every review of American Hustle has been that the film is the cinematic equivalent of music video hairography. It’s a messy film that has many flaws, but the hair of the ensemble cast is permanently immaculately crazy.
It’s a shocking omission, especially given that, thanks to this category, we now have to call Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa an Oscar-nominated movie.
9. Robert Redford (All Is Lost) – Best Actor
Robert Redford is quite simply an acting legend. Given his status, many people had his solo performance as a beleaguered sailor in All Is Lost pegged for awards glory. The film has Redford alone on his boat, with very little dialogue, as he becomes embroiled in a disastrous survival situation.
And yet, when the nominations for the 2014 Oscars came out, Redford was nowhere to be seen. The question does remain though as to whether, with the category looking like a two horse race between Matthew McConaughey and Chiwetel Ejiofor, Redford would’ve stood a chance at all.
8. Sean Bobbitt (12 Years A Slave) – Best Cinematography
12 Years A Slave is a great film, and it has been recognised in a huge number of categories by the Academy at the 2014 Oscars. However, remarkably, DoP Sean Bobbitt was absent from the Best Cinematography category.
The film is beautifully shot, with Bobbitt and director Steve McQueen making a great team behind the visuals. Some of the shots are spell-binding in their genius.
7. Monsters University – Best Animated Feature
The latest Pixar film is always nominated at the Oscars. Always. In fact, the only other Pixar film that was snubbed by the Academy was Cars 2, and pretty much everyone agrees that was a misstep.
Monsters University wasn’t a bad film by any stretch of the imagination. It had great laughs, loveable characters and an engaging story. It wasn’t as good as its predecessor (memorably beaten to the Oscar by Shrek in 2001), but it was certainly better than The Croods and deserved a place amongst the nominations.
6. Idris Elba (Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom) – Best Actor
With the added impact of Nelson Mandela’s death, it seemed like Idris Elba’s cracking turn as the iconic leader in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom might get a bit of attention from awards season. However, he has been largely ignored, despite his varied display as Mandela from early activist years through to his election as President.
It seems as if the strongest Best Actor field in years just didn’t have room for Elba, but his performance deserves to be the definitive Mandela. It’s wonderful.
5. Oprah Winfrey (The Butler) – Best Supporting Actress
Despite much critic and audience praise in America, The Butler arrived and departed with little more than a blip in the UK. It was nothing more than a dull History lesson, but it had one huge benefit: an impressive performance from Oprah Winfrey as the title character’s conflicted wife.
Not too long ago, she seemed a dead cert for a spot at the 2014 Oscars, but along with Rush, The Butler was completely ignored by the Academy.
4. Emma Thompson (Saving Mr Banks) – Best Actress
The Best Actress field at the 2014 Oscars is full of great roles for slightly older actresses, with Meryl Streep nominated yet again. However, in amongst all of this, the Academy were unable to find room for Emma Thompson’s delightfully prickly performance as Mary Poppins author PL Travers in Saving Mr Banks.
It’s a great display from the British actress, as she skirts the confrontational side of Travers and also deftly portrays her softer aspects. Unfortunately, the Academy decided this wasn’t enough.
3. Daniel Brühl (Rush) – Best Supporting Actor
I could easily have put Rush in this list a few times. It stood a decent chance at a Best Picture nod and could easily have picked up noms for Ron Howard’s direction, Anthony Dod Mantle’s cinematography and Hans Zimmer’s score. The film was completely snubbed, but the Academy’s biggest crime was leaving out Daniel Brühl’s intelligent portrayal of the meticulous Niki Lauda.
Brühl is nothing short of excellent in the role of the rat-faced racer, showing the man’s commitment to stats and technique over the playboy lifestyle enjoyed by his counterparts. In a year when Jonah Hill is nominated again, surely there was room for Brühl?
2. Tom Hanks (Captain Phillips) – Best Actor
A surefire lock; that’s what Tom Hanks was until Thursday. There was no way that the Academy could leave his scintillating everyman performance in Captain Phillips out of the admittedly crowded Best Actor field. And yet, they did, in favour of Christian Bale’s portrayal of a greasy conman in American Hustle.
In the final, heart-wrenching scenes of Captain Phillips, Hanks shows off some of the best acting I have ever seen. It’s absolutely criminal that this has gone unnoticed by the Academy.
1. Inside Llewyn Davis – Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Director
Of all of the films that were left out of the 2014 Oscars nominations, the most shocking omission was the latest film from the Coen brothers: Inside Llewyn Davis. Ahead of its UK release next week, the film has been receiving massive critical buzz and it looks like a really interesting quirky movie.
With the screenwriting and directing clout of the Coens and a real ensemble of talent in front of the camera (breakout star Oscar Isaac, Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Justin Timberlake, etc), it seems remarkable that the film is only in the mix for Best Cinematography and Best Sound Mixing.
It’s even more stunning given that the Academy fell one short of its maximum number of Best Picture noms. There was room for Inside Llewyn Davis, but they opted not to use it.
And yet, some are more positive about this snub. One online piece in the US even implied that the lack of Oscar noms was the surest sign yet of the film’s quality. Good or not, the film will not be picking up a statuette on Oscar night, which feels like a harsh judgment to me.
Do you agree with my list of 2014 Oscars snubs? Should these people and films have been left out? Are there any other huge snubs I haven’t mentioned? Let me know in the comments section.