Biggest Snubs & Surprises from 87th Academy Award Nominations
by Ethan Anderton
January 15, 2015
This morning the nominations were announced for the 87th Academy Awards, and we'd be lying if we didn't say there were some glaring omissions in those who were selected by voters this year. Some of them are just unforgivable and don't make any sense whatsoever. Of course, it's a competitive year, so we understand some people being excluded, but when you look at some of the nominees themselves, it's easy to see where The Academy really dropped the ball with some of the nominations this year. But there were also some surprises among their many mistakes as well. So let's look at the snubs and surprises this year.
Ava DuVernay & David Oyelowo not nominated for Selma
Though Selma ended up with a Best Picture nomination, The Academy didn't feel like giving a nomination to director Ava DuVernay, and instead opted to give one to director Bennett Miller, which is odd considering the film isn't even nominated for Best Picture (more on that below). How can Miller be one of the best directors, but not have his film nominated for Best Picture? Yeah, it doesn't make sense at all. DuVernay would have been the first black female nominee for Best Director in the history of the Oscars, but instead, voters played it safe.
Meanwhile, on the acting side of things, David Oyelowo ended up getting snubbed as well. His performance of Martin Luther King Jr. brings humanity to a figure who has become mythical in history, and he deserved to be recognized, certainly more than Bradley Cooper (but we'll get to that later). This might just be a matter of the field for Best Actor being extremely competitive, but Oyelowo easily gave one of the five best performances by a lead actor this year, and it's a shame that he didn't get nominated. Here's hoping this is the start of a career that will get him a nomination sometime in the future.
Jake Gyllenhaal not nominated for Nightcrawler
Here's another case of a spectacular performance going unrecognized by The Academy, but this was one is a little more forgivable. The Academy only has five slots to give out, and while Jake Gyllenhaal's role is disturbing and creepy, the rest of the acting nominees all had impressive transformations as well. However, I would go so far to say that Gyllenhaal may have turned in a better performance than Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game, so perhaps this would be better if those nominations were swapped.
Foxcatcher not nominated for Best Picture
It seems very odd that Bennett Miller can somehow be nominated for Best Director, in addition to Steve Carell and Mark Ruffalo landing a Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nomination respectively, along with E. Max Frye and Dan Futterman getting nominated for Best Original Screenplay, but the film doesn't get a Best Picture nod. Now, I'm not necessarily saying that the film deserves a nomination in that category, but it simply doesn't make sense that one of the five possible Best Director nominees didn't make one of the eight potential Best Picture nominees. That's like saying, man, this meat, cheese and chips are delicious, but these nachos, not so much.
Marion Cotillard nominated for Two Days, One Night
It's not often that foreign films end up having their actors end up with nominations in the acting categories, but that's exactly what happened with this Belgian drama starring Marion Cotillard. The actress plays Sandra, a young Belgian mother, who discovers that her workmates have opted for a significant pay bonus, in exchange for her dismissal and has only one weekend to convince her colleagues to give up their bonuses so that she can keep her job. It must be one hell of a performance, because it was enough to bump out one of the other predicted nominees…
Jennifer Aniston not nominated for Cake
Here's a film that was given an awards qualifying release in 2014, pretty much only because there was a big push for Jennifer Aniston to get a Best Actress nomination, and she didn't get it. Marion Cotillard's nomination is the one that pretty much bumped her out of the running despite previously landing SAG Awards, Golden Globes and Critics' Choice nods. But looking at the rest of the nominees, it's a little hard to argue with the way the votes fell here. Felicity Jones could maybe be swapped out, but it seems like there were just a few better performances, and it wasn't Aniston's year to make the list.
Bradley Cooper nominated three years in a row
As someone who does not like American Sniper, having Bradley Cooper get a nomination wasn't exactly upsetting, if only because he's the best part of a flawed, misguided narrative that avoids the most fascinating elements of the real-life subject's story. However, knowing that David Oyelow and Jake Gyllenhaal were snubbed due to this nomination, well that just doesn't sit well with me. Even so, this is a big deal for Bradley Cooper, who has now been nominated three years in a row (though one was for Best Supporting Actor) and that hasn't happened since Russell Crowe got three Best Actor nominations in the early 2000s.
Laura Dern nominated for Wild, film ignored for Best Picture
One of the more surprising acting entries came in the form of Laura Dern in Wild, a performance that hadn't really been buzzed about for any awards. And considering the film was my favorite of the year, I can't really argue with her inclusion amongst the nominees. However, I was disappointed to see that the film didn't end up with a nomination for Best Picture. This was a harrowing, beautiful tale, one that could have at least been a ninth contender for Best Picture, if not knocking one of the other nominees out of the way.
David Fincher, Gillian Flynn & Gone Girl not nominated
With the exception of The Social Network, director David Fincher has had some tough time getting recognition from The Academy, and we're disappointed to see that Gone Girl is yet another instance where this has happened. The film didn't get a Best Picture nomination, and David Fincher wasn't nominated for Best director, but both deserve plenty of recognition for what was delivered . But perhaps the most egregious snub is that Gillian Flynn, a first-time screenwriter who did a magnificent job of adapting her own challenging book into a screenplay (her feature writing debut), didn't get a nod. It was a difficult book to adapt, but she did it stupendously.
Life Itself & The Overnighters not nominated for Best Documentary
Two acclaimed documentaries that got plenty of critical love, but these two didn't end up with a nomination for Best Documentary. Having not seen any of the nominees in the category yet, I can't say if this is really a case of The Academy making a poor decision, but it was a bit of a bummer these two didn't get an Oscar love.
The LEGO Movie not nominated for Best Animated Film
This might be the most offensive and unforgivable snub of the year. The LEGO Movie is one of the most creative, original and brilliant animated films I've ever seen. It's funny, heartwarming, wonderfully animated, and has a third act that is simply masterful. All of the animated films nominated are great, and clearly The Academy wanted to get some animated films in there that weren't just American-made hits. But if we keep those two films, I would actually lose Big Hero 6 in favor of The LEGO Movie. The latter was just a more stunning achievement in animation on all fronts. But co-director Phil Lord took the snub in stride:
It's okay. Made my own! pic.twitter.com/kgyu1GRHGR
— philip lord (@philiplord) January 15, 2015
Diversity (no, not the old wooden ship)
For only the second time in almost 20 years, all of the acting nominees are white. There's not a single actor or actress from a different ethnic background in any of the acting categories, despite there being ample opportunity and deserving talents. We're not saying there should always be some non-white nominees, but when there are talents that clearly deserved a nominations more than the ones that made the cut, then it's just annoying to see this kind of thing happen. The same can be said in the writing and directing categories with Gillian Flynn and Ava DuVernay being snubbed. It's just disappointing more than anything.
Anyway, those were the surprises and snubs from the 87th Academy Award nominations, but there's always something to complain about when you're trying to award the best in filmmaking while everyone has different tastes and preferences when it comes to the medium. And since there's a lot of politics in play when it comes to the Oscars, it's hard to get truly upset when you can just as easily have your own opinions about what performance or what film was the best. What do you think got snubbed this year?