Biggest Surprises & Snubs from 85th Academy Award Nominations

January 10, 2013

2012 Oscar Snubs and Surprises

The nominations for the 85th Annual Academy Awards arrived this morning, and while many films and performances that were expected to get recognized ended up on the list, there were still plenty of surprises and snubs in the the spectacular year of film that was 2012. While we'll be talking about the potential winners for the weeks to come leading up to the live broadcast of the show on on Sunday, February 24th, 2013, now is the time to talk about the most surprising nominations and also the most frustrating snubs by The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. There are quite a few wild cards this year. More below!

Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour

Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour

It's a sad truth, but because of all the campaigning that must take place before the Oscars, many times foreign language films and indies don't usually make it too far in awards season (that's why there's a Best Foreign Language Film and the Independent Spirit Awards). But this year, two surprising entries ended up  making a big splash on the nomination lists. Beasts of the Southern Wild, which started this long journey at Sundance almost a year ago, and the Cannes entry Amour, landed slots in Best Picture and Best Director, the latter nods taking away slots from two very deserving filmmakers (we'll get to them later). Plus, the Best Actress nominations for Quvenzhané Wallis and Emmanuelle Riva in both of those films is amazing. In fact, their nominations mark both the youngest and oldest nominees in Oscar history.

Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck not nominated for Best Director

Kathryn Bigelow and Ben Affleck

Look it's a tough year, I get it. But this blew my mind. After landing the guild, critics and other nominations in this category, Argo director Ben Affleck and Zero Dark Thirty director Kathryn Bigelow did not get nomination for Best Director. That makes it relatively difficult for those films to have a chance at Best Picture since the only time a film has won Best Picture without their directors being nomination were Wings in 1928, Grand Hotel in 1932 and Driving Miss Daisy in 1989. Honestly, as much as I'm flabbergasted that these two directors didn't get nominated, it's a bit more interesting to have names like Benh Zeitlin and Michael Haneke nominated for Beasts of the Southern Wild and Amour respectively.

Jacki Weaver and Alan Arkin for Supporting Actress and Supporting Actor

Jackie Weaver and Alan Arkin

Don't get me wrong, these two actors put in fine performances in Silver Linings Playbook and Argo respectively, but they weren't the most worthy performances in their respective categories. In fact, their nominations allowed for more than a few snubs (they come up further down). Personally, when it comes to Weaver's nomination (which should be replaced by either Ann Dowd in Compliance, Kelly Reilly in Flight or Judi Dench in Skyfall), it makes me think the Academy was going for headlines as this nomination allowed Silver Linings Playbook to have a nominee in all four acting categories. As for Arkin, sure the guy is getting up there in years, but when you see which names were snubbed below, you might not be so understanding.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson not nominated for Best Supporting Actor

Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson

When it comes to performances, Django Unchained certainly got the shaft this year with only Christoph Waltz walking away with a much deserved nomination. But the film could have easily dominated the supporting actor category. Either Leonardo DiCaprio or Samuel L. Jackson should have taken Alan Arkin's spot in the category and it would have been more complete. DiCaprio's first turn as a straight-up villain was intense, raw, brutal and also very entertaining. Meanwhile, Jackson's elevated performance was a surprising presence in Tarantino's western, and it would have been great to have him land a second nod after his first for the now iconic turn in Pulp Fiction in 1994.

Skyfall not nominated in any major categories


Our hats go off to the Academy for giving Roger Deakins an Oscar nomination for his cinematography on Skyfall, one of the most pretty movies on film this year. However, the film itself was ignored for Best Picture (it had a much better shot than The Dark Knight Rises) and didn't even receive any supporting actor love for Javier Bardem or Judi Dench. The latter should've been a no-brainer, if only because *spoiler* her franchise character M finally dies in this one and this could have been a great tribute to all her work on the Bond series. The former was a deserving performance in any given year as Bardem brought a lot of gravitas to the villain role, not unlike Heath Ledger's turn as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Bardem even landed a SAG and Critics Choice nomination, but that's not good enough for the Academy apparently.

The Academy loves The Master performances but not P.T. Anderson and the film

The Master

After Joaquin Phoenix voiced his problems with awards (he called them bullshit), some weren't sure if the Academy would still recognize his stellar performance in Paul Thomas Anderson's provocative film The Master. But the Oscar nominations took their honors even further by nominating Philip Seymour Hoffman for Best Supporting Actor and Amy Adams for Best Supporting Actress. However, the film itself just wasn't good enough (in the Academy's eyes apparently) to take that tenth spot for Best Picture or even give P.T. Anderson a screenplay nomination. This was a somewhat divisive film in a tough year, so it's understandable, but still a little disappointing nonetheless.

The Pirates! Band of Misfits nominated for Best Animated Film

Pirates! Band of Misfits

The Academy really loved stop-motion animation films this year with nods to ParaNorman and Frankenweenie, but the most surprising addition to the line-up of honored animated fare was The Pirates! Band of Misfits. The film hasn't been ignored, but it's hardly been buzzed about this year. However, Aardman Animation always brings the thunder with their animated fare, and their dry humor sensibilities always make them enjoyable for adults and children alike. On another note, I actually would have rather seen Pixar sit this year out and have DreamWorks' underrated action fantasy Rise of the Guardians get nominated.

Django Unchained ignored for Best Original Song

Honestly, the whole Best Original Song category, with the exception of the nominations for Ted and Skyfall, is just boring and safe. There are plenty of worthy contributions from Florence and the Machine, The Black Keys, Arcade Fire and more that deserves some Oscar love in this category. However, the song that really deserved a nomination was Rick Ross' catchy rap track 100 Black Coffins from the soundtrack for Django Unchained. A rap song with a western flare that fits perfectly in the scheme of Quentin Tarantino's spaghetti western? What more could you ask for?! Take a listen to the song above to see what the Academy ignored and try not to have it stuck in your head for the rest of the day.

Mirror Mirror and Snow White and the Huntsman battling again

Snow White and the Huntsman and Mirror Mirror

While I was hoping I'd never have to think about Mirror Mirror again, the Oscars came around and reignited the rivalry between the childish fantasy and the darker, slightly more acceptable action fantasy Snow White and the Huntsman. Both of the films are going head-to-head for costume design. The category always results in some sort of unlikely film getting an Oscar nomination because costume design on itself is one of the more independent categories acknowledged, regardless of the quality of any given film. The intricate and gorgeous wardrobe in each film is worthy of attention, but we're just somewhat frustrated that we have to keep talking about these lackluster films at all.

The Dark Knight Rises receives exactly zero Oscar nominations

The Dark Knight Rises

Personally, I didn't think there was a snowball's chance in hell that Christopher Nolan and his The Dark Knight Rises were going to land any major nominations, but the Academy surprised everyone today by not even giving any nods for technical achievements. Wally Pfister was probably the most deserving for his work behind the camera, but it just wasn't in the cards this year. In fact, the only comic book movie to get any love this year was The Avengers for visual effects. Does this show that the Academy is out of touch, or was this too competitive of a year for Nolan to get any Oscar accolades?

So there you have it. There's a lot to like about this year's Oscar nominations thanks to such a great year of film, but there's plenty of choices by the Academy that will certainly rile up passionate cinephiles. I know the announcement early this morning had me scratching and shaking my head more than nodding in approval, but in the end, the awards don't matter nearly as much as any viewer's love for a given film. But were there any other nominations that stood out as snubs and surprises? What would you have rather seen get some Oscar love? Feel free to keep sounding off on all the 85th Academy Award nominations below!

Find more posts: Awards, Discuss, Editorial



I posted this in the other article - but I don't think people realize how difficult it is to choose one film over another. If you can only have x number of noms for a category, it'll happen. It seems like it was just a good year for movies, and they couldn't all be represented. Is there anything nominated that is just simply undeserving? I haven't seen many of them, but I'd be surprised.

OfficialJab on Jan 10, 2013


i sort of agree with most of what you said. i'm disappointed Affleck and Bigelow weren't nominated, but delighted Deakins got a nod, and i always like to see Dench nominated because i think she's fabulous. you're right that all our favourites can't all be in there. millions of people paid to see these and other films, so it's best to try to not to let the opinions of less than 6,000, many of whom saw them for free, rile you too much. but it can be difficult!

son_et_lumiere on Jan 10, 2013


So what if Joaquin Phoenix called the awards season bullshit (in that now centuries old Interview Magazine article)... He can say whatever the hell he wants. Personal feelings don't knock down achievements in acting, and he got his nomination as deserved.

Marcus on Jan 10, 2013


Not saying it wasn't deserved at all. Just pointing out that he got a nomination despite those words. The Academy is touchy and sometimes just as much about politics and kissing as the actual filmmaking. It's sad and annoying, but that's how it is. Joaquin Phoenix absolutely deserved the nomination, and I'm glad he actually got it.

Ethan Anderton on Jan 10, 2013


I for one don't mind that we have to "keep talking about" Snow White and the Huntsman in this context, because IMO it's one of the most gorgeously designed and visually stunning films I have seen in a long time, and I'm glad the artists who worked so hard on it are getting some amount of respect.

Ali Miller on Jan 10, 2013


It was a feast for the eyes Ali, infact it had some great performances too, but sadly Kristen Stewart let it down, some of the scenes with her in were so bad, it made the film feel badly edited, I thought a few times she was meant to deliver lines but she just stood staring into space.

Carpola on Jan 12, 2013


I'm very surprised Cloud Atlas didn't make it anywhere.

crumb on Jan 10, 2013


No surprise there, Cloud Atlas was a complete sh!t movie, sorry.

James on Jan 10, 2013


You hated Cloud Atlas and Beasts of Southern Wild?! What did you like this year?

Matt Peloquin on Jan 10, 2013


Lincoln, Moonrise Kingdom, TDKR, Skyfall, Django Unchained. Just because I dislike two very shitty movies, and yes they are really bad, doesn't mean I dislike every other movie out there. Still on my watchlist: Zero Dark Thirty, Silver Linings, Les Miserables and Life of Pi

James on Jan 10, 2013


See, I'd put Moonrise Kingdom as one of my least favorite of the year and Cloud Atlas as one of the best. Zero Dark Thirty was good though for a film that you already know the ending to (which I usually hate).

Matt Peloquin on Jan 10, 2013


I'm only surprised that Jim Broadbent didn't get nominated for best supporting, he was by far the best part of that film. I'm still trying to shake off the image of Nurse Hugo Weaving and Asian Keith David.

Dearsleazy on Jan 10, 2013


So pissed that Leo Dicaprio or Samuel Jackson not nominated but instead....Alan Arkin? He was in the movie for a total of 5 minutes or so (someone figure it out the time on screen please) Dicaprio owned that movie! Also TDKR should've gotten cinematography/editing nominations AND ESPECIALLY the soundtrack of the dark knight rises, the chant is the most epic thing I've ever listened to, such an amazing soundtrack. The academy is just asking their viewers to stop watching their garbage awards.

James on Jan 10, 2013


It's hard to award the soundtrack of a film who's sound mixing was so terrible. But it was a great soundtrack, I'll give you that.

David Kinskey-Lebeda on Jan 10, 2013


Let me continue my rant, Skyfall nominated for best soundtrack instead of TDKR? I don't remember the music being very good in Skyfall, also Beasts of Southern Wild was a complete garbage movie! My father and I watched it and couldn't wait for it to end, it was total trash.

James on Jan 10, 2013


Alan Arkin did a really good job playing Alan Arkin in Argo.

David Balderdash on Jan 10, 2013


It's not the "ACADEMY" that snubs anybody inparticuarly, each branch votes for its category.. eg.. directors for directors and so on.. So saying the "academy" is going for headlines with arkin and weaver does not make sense.

BANDIT on Jan 10, 2013


Joaquin Phoenix is the only part of The Master that deserved a nomination. Cinematography also. I take that back. Jonny Greenwood's score was also good but too similar to There Will Be Blood's.

Guest on Jan 10, 2013


Biggest snub is no best cinematography nod for THE MASTER.

David Kinskey-Lebeda on Jan 10, 2013


u meant TDKR

David Darida on Jan 10, 2013


Mirror Mirror has great costumes, no surprise there. Moonrise Kingdom however could have been nominated for score or something other than screenplay which I'm glad it got at least that..

Davide Coppola on Jan 10, 2013


Lots of disappointed people today in Hollywood. Here's an entertaining rant from a disgruntled movie mogul... Google: The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Can F Itself

Jenny Murphy on Jan 10, 2013


Alex you forgot to mention Gladiator won best picture, but Ridley didn't win best director- how these great directors didn't get nominated but their films did...i mean movies don't direct themselves!

one on Jan 10, 2013


* Ethan

one on Jan 10, 2013


Well, Ridley Scott was at least nominated. The directors of those other films were not. Which is why it will be hard for Argo and Zero Dark Thirty to get a Best Picture win.

Ethan Anderton on Jan 10, 2013


Leo getting snubbed is ridiculous. How can you ignore that performance. Geezus. I use to watch the Oscars, not this year.

stuffrocks on Jan 10, 2013


I agree that there will always be snubs in any award season. However, after seeing Silver Linings Playbook, I was most impressed with Jacki Weaver. The movie was so perfectly cast and each actor did a great job but I think Jacki did the most with the least given to her. She silently was playing the strings in the movie and making everything happen. She didn't have the big outburst scene stealing scenes as the other actors but she was the glue and her facial expressions and reactions were amazing.

baseball123 on Jan 10, 2013


It's a load of bullshit that Affleck didn't get nominated but I'm super pissed Looper didn't get a nomination. That was easily one of the best movies of the year.

Jake on Jan 10, 2013


No one else other then me is pissed about Looper not getting a single nom? Best original screenplay at the very least please?

zer0limit on Jan 10, 2013


I liked looper, but It didn't had any impact in the long run, so no, imo it didn't deserve any nominatiin

Ricardo_PT on Jan 10, 2013


I don't agree on Skyfall, I'm fine with it not getting major nominations, and I don't believe in giving a nomination or award as "tribute". What about "safety not guaranteed"? I wish it could have gotten any love. Also, even though i didn't like the movie, Marillon Cotillard is amazing in Rust and Bone. I will be hated for this, but Prometheus deserves more recognition in directing/cinematography/FX, imo

Ricardo_PT on Jan 10, 2013


What a giant crock of horse shit. It's all politics now. on Jan 10, 2013


Looks like we'll be getting a fourth Best Picture w/o director nomination, because there is no way anything beats 0D30 and Argo.

wafffles on Jan 10, 2013


I really feel like The Dark Knight Rises should have gotten a nod for Best Score. The chant and everything about it fit the movie and added an extra layer of greatness to it. #TeamHansZimmer P.S. The score for Skyfall was nothing to write home about. That one actually really disappointed me, being a big Thomas Newman fan and all.

Sycophantic Sockdrawer on Jan 10, 2013


I still do not understand the appeal of Skyfall. I don't think I've ever been more bored watching a Bond or even action film for that matter. Silva was the only saving grace for me, and he ended up being a whiny bitch with a vendetta against an old lady.

AJ on Jan 10, 2013


I think this year - proves once and for all - the oscars have become a joke

digifruitella on Jan 10, 2013


Anderton wanking over TDKR giving it BS excuses to be nominated. Get over it.

BK on Jan 11, 2013


The Academy Awards are never short of disappointing. They nominated William Hurt for A History of Violence for only being in the film for 5 or 10 minutes! I agree whole-heartedly with most of these that you put up, especially with Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises, but I'm so disappointed to see that The Avengers couldn't have been squeezed into the tenth spot (because there were only nine nominees this year under Best Picture). That was the most fun I've had seeing a movie in quite some time, purely on spectacle it should have been nominated (sorta like the much inferior Avatar).

thejon93rd on Jan 11, 2013


Did you really complain about Rick Ross' "100 Black Coffins" not getting a nomination? You're ridiculous. Maybe it's because it didn't fit into the movie at all. Fuck that, that made me feel like I was watching The Man With The Iron Fist was crap

Ind3lible on Jan 12, 2013


Snubbing Bigelow is easily one of the most ridiculous things the Academy has done in recent memory. Hollywood is living up to it's misogynistic ideals, which is a shame. Only 4 women in 85 years of the Academy awards have ever been nominated. Bigelow is the only one to have ever won. While Lincoln and the Master deserve the praise being heaped upon them, snubbing Bigelow, who should be in contention for Best Director, and basically eliminating any chance for her film to get Best Picture, is like Hollywood slapping her in the face with a chainsaw. The Oscars are a crock.

quazimoto on Jan 12, 2013

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