Biggest Surprises & Snubs from 86th Academy Award Nominations

January 16, 2014

86th Academy Awards Snubs & Surprises

After basically a full year of obsessing over who and what may or may not get nominated for an Academy Award, I know have my answers, for better or for worse. The 86th Academy Award nominations were announced this morning, and there's a healthy mix of the pleasing and the puzzling. You can compare the list to what my final predictions looked like, but my focus here is going to be on what the biggest snubs and surprises were during the Oscar nomination announcement. There were some genuine shocks, some heartbreaking snubs and even some pleasant surprises, so I think there's less to complain about than usual.

There's plenty to ponder though, and that's what really counts. Below you'll find the ten most notable snubs and/or surprises from the announcement, with plenty more analysis to come. It's a long road still to go before the ceremony airs on March 2nd, so be sure to keep that in mind too. Anyway, here goes nothing!

American Hustle ties for the most nominations overall

American Hustle

I think we were all expecting American Hustle to do well today, but to lead the nominations along with Gravity? That was definitely a surprise. Both films got to double digits with ten, while 12 Years a Slave was next in line with nine. For this comedy to tie for the most nods though, that says something. Factor in where it got its noms (Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay, Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing, and Best Production Design) shows a wide range of support that belays the narrative that has this flick less than beloved. It's early, but we may have a new frontrunner in Best Picture.

Tom Hanks not nominated for Best Actor for Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips

This one hurts folks. We knew this category would be a bloodbath, but Tom Hanks had seemed relatively safe with Captain Phillips recovering over the last few weeks from its lack of buzz. He's hardly the only one on the outside looking in, as Oscar Isaac, Joaquin Phoenix, and Robert Redford were the other painful snubs. Christian Bale and Leonardo DiCaprio were the beneficiaries of this surprising Hanks snub, with Bruce Dern, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Matthew McConaughey making up the rest.

Emma Thompson misses Best Actress nomination for Saving Mr. Banks

Emma Thompson

Over the last week or two, I (along with many of my colleagues) had become convinced that Amy Adams was going to score a nomination here for American Hustle. Most had predicted Meryl Streep as the one to suffer, though a few days ago I nearly bucked that trend and dumped Emma Thompson. I ultimately couldn't do it, figuring that August: Osage County was a candidate for a complete shutout while Saving Mr. Banks decidedly wasn't, but lo and behold, I should have followed my gut. Adams is in, so is Streep, while Thompson is out. This leaves Adams to challenge Cate Blanchett for the Oscar here, with Best Actress rounded out by Sandra Bullock and Judi Dench.

The Weinstein Company gets a Best Picture nominee in Philomena


I'd been preparing a piece about a month or so ago on how Harvey Weinstein was likely not going to have a Best Picture nominee this time around, and boy am I glad that it never got published. After all the talk about how Lee Daniels' The Butler was a surefire nominee once upon a time, that film was completely shut out and it was the smaller scale Philomena that got in, likely taking the final number nine slot. The power of Weinsteins should never be underestimated.

Dallas Buyers Club has a strong presence in many categories

Dallas Buyers Club

This had been brewing since the guilds, but a half dozen nominations later, Dallas Buyers Club is one of the bigger success stories of the season. Best Picture, Best Actor, and Best Supporting Actor were pretty safe bets in the final days, but Best Original Screenplay, Best Film Editing, and Best Makeup & Hairstyling were surprises to one degree or another. With Jared Leto already close to a lock to win Supporting Actor, does this make McConaughey the new favorite in Actor? I think it just might.

Her lands some truly impressive nominations


A lot of people had been scared off from predicting this flick for too much love in the final days, but I held on tight and was mostly rewarded for my faith in Her. While Spike Jonze missed in Best Director and no one from the cast was nominated (more on that shortly), the film did get five nominations overall, spread out pretty nicely too. Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, Best Production Design, Best Original Score, and Best Original Song were the fields where it showed up, and while I'd always have wanted more, I'm pretty pleased that voters took to this. It's one of the all time most unique nominees in Best Picture at the very least. Perhaps my advocacy piece helped to sway some of them?

Oprah Winfrey and Scarlett Johansson miss out in Best Supporting Actress

Oprah Winfrey / Her

I'd wanted to predict the Oprah Winfrey miss, but frankly didn't have the guts. I knew I was likely wrong about predicting Scarlett Johansson to get in, but I couldn't resist. Well, I suffered in this category. It turned out that my predicted miss for Julia Roberts was poorly thought out, while my early backing of Sally Hawkins was something I should have come back to in the end. Oh well, you live and learn. The Winfrey snub is interesting though. Remember when Best Supporting Actress was potentially going to be a grudge match between her and Streep? My how times have changed in that field. Now Hawkins and Roberts will be among the field, though they're basically just watching to see who wins from the trio of Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita Nyong'o, and June Squibb.

Inside Llewyn Davis is nearly shut out

Inside Llewyn Davis

Two nominations is better than nothing for Inside Llewyn Davis, but as I said in my recent advocacy piece for the film, shame on you voters for ignoring this movie like you mostly did. No Best Picture citation, no surprise nomination for Isaac, nothing for the Coen Brothers' Original Screenplay, etc. It was miss after miss, with only an admittedly pleasing Best Cinematography nomination and a mention in Best Sound Mixing to show for the work. It's a real shame, but considering that this was the first time that I've fallen in love with a film from the Coens, perhaps it's just cosmic irony at play? It doesn't make me feel any better about this, but at least it fits in with the film itself. Llewyn would have expected this.

David O. Russell is first director with two films nominated in all acting categories

David O. Russell

At this point, there's no denying that the Academy is absolutely in love with David O. Russell and his recent work. After getting four acting, one in each category, for Silver Linings Playbook, he did it again this year with Hustle. This makes me wonder if Russell is a bigger threat to win Best Director than some have previously thought. He's certainly the favorite for Best Original Screenplay, while Adams is coming on strong in Best Actress. If Lawrence winds up holding on and winning Best Supporting Actress, this could be the best night for comedy at the Oscars in decades.

Stories We Tell and Blackfish snubbed in Best Documentary Feature

Blackfish / Stories We Tell

Considered by many the frontrunner to win, Stories We Tell couldn't even get into the documentary lineup. I'm not sure why, but voters here just took to other projects. At least the film can also take some small measure of comfort in knowing that Blackfish missed a nomination here too, not to mention Tim's Vemeer as well. Now, it's a lineup that consists of 20 Feet from Stardom, The Act of Killing, Cute and the Boxer, Dirty Wars, and The Square. A solid five, and a wide open race now, but it's still a lineup missing two of the better docs of 2013.

Well, there you have it folks. There were a number of fine choices made by the Academy, but there's no shortage of things to rile up film fans as well, myself included. I'll have plenty more to say in the days and weeks ahead (including some new predictions), but what were the nominations that stood out as snubs and surprises for you all? What would you have rather seen get some Oscar love instead? Sound off below!

Find more posts: Awards, Editorial



Let's discuss one of the biggest surprises (which joey you did predict) was Jonah Hill getting a best supporting actor nomination. He was fantastic in the film, but I did not see that coming at all. So happy for the love that Wolf has been getting.

Alex Williams on Jan 16, 2014


There's usually one nominee that doesn't have a ton of precursor love and I just had a feeling it was going to be him.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


To be honest I thought for sure that nominee would be Will Forte in Nebraska. I thought his performance was truly great and believable and authentic. I'll accept Jonah Hill, but really wished Forte got some love.

Alex Williams on Jan 17, 2014


I will punch the Academy Awards in the face if Jennifer Lawrence wins over Lupita Nyong'o. And I /LOVE/ Lawrence. But man, LUPITA. She deserves everything.

fem!anom on Jan 16, 2014


Well, you might want to ball that fist up, since Lawrence is the frontrunner right now. I happen to think Nyong'o is a bit overpraised in that film, but she's certainly very good as well.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


I am glad Barkhad Abdi got nominated. I thought his performance was subtle but effective!

Tey on Jan 16, 2014


That it was.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


How about Lone Ranger getting a best special effects nom but not Man of Steel. I will have to admit the effects were top notch, that was a definite snub. Even Pacific Rim got snubbed out that one too. Lone Ranger are you kidding me over those films!?

Damon King on Jan 16, 2014


I considered including that too, but the technical categories can be wonky like that too. After all, Norbit got nominated once upon a time as well...

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


Yeah, Pacific Rim definitely deserved a nom over The Lone Ranger

Chris Groves on Jan 16, 2014



Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


VFX is based on subject matter as well as innovation and quality, not just grandeur. Its also based on genre. Why didnt transformers 3.5 make it, even tho i found it to be the best vfx movie? Because its been done before to death and back. Because its like the 7th scifi movie in a list of 10, because it would mean the Academy thinks big robots made in the first transformers movie and improved upon are the main direction vfx should be going into instead of stuff like Life of Pi and most certainly this year, Gravity. They didnt snub it because it wasnt good enough. They skipped it because aside of the SIZE of particle Fx, it brought nothing to the table. Lone Ranger got selected due to Special Effects, not vfx, primarily, and secondarily because of its genre. How many vfx heavy westerns have you seen in the last 2 decades? Now ask how many giant robot movies have you seen? More than you can count on one hand. They need to split Special from Visual fx in separate categories and it'll make it more clear why some movies make it.

Buggy166 on Jan 16, 2014


To add to that, the bakeoffs also make a huge difference. A lot of voters only see those things once and never watch the movie itself. Especially the older voters.

Buggy166 on Jan 16, 2014


Bakeoffs do make a difference, indeed.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


There is something to be said for that split...

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


Not arguing about vfx.... but Pacific Rim was one of the best sounding films of the year. I thought it was a lock for noms in the sound categories.

Duane on Jan 16, 2014


It had a chance at one point, but I didn't see it getting much in the way of sound citations for a while now, honestly...

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


How did Alone Yet Not Alone get a nomination (even if it's best original song)?

Pedro Alberti on Jan 16, 2014


The voters for that category supposedly see/hear all of the nominees, so smaller titles are on a more equal footing.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


Great write up. I simply do not understand all the love for American Hustle and Jennifer Lawrence. HER wins my vote, as does Joaquin.

Amanda on Jan 16, 2014


Thanks. I love both, though I prefer Her, obviously.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


Well, I certainly recommend Her highly...

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


I'm torn between rooting for McConaughey and DiCaprio for Best Actor...I'll be pleased with either result.

Chris Groves on Jan 16, 2014


I'd prefer DiCaprio or Bruce Dern, but I'll be fine with whomever the Academy rewards.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


Not that I really care, I just thought it was strange Monsters University was snubbed for Best Animated Picture. Oh, and close your /BOLD in HTML after Oprah.

GutsSpill on Jan 16, 2014


That was an odd one, indeed.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


...or Monsters University not getting nominated for Best Animated Feature?

Moviefan2247 on Jan 16, 2014


Pixar not being nominated is shocking. This hasn't happened since Cars 2...and well...that was Cars 2 and this is Monsters University.

LV on Jan 16, 2014


They take Pixar breaks now, it seems.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


That was surprising, but not quite shocking, if that makes sense.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


What about Blue Is The Warmest Color being snubbed?

Guest on Jan 16, 2014


It deserved some attention, but it wasn't eligible for Foreign Language Feature, which was where it had a chance.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


Why wasn't it eligible?

Zade_92 on Jan 16, 2014


It wasn't released in France during the window needed to be eligible for the Oscar this year. Technically, it could be submitted next year, just for that category.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


What about Blue Is the Warmest Color being snubbed? Is no one else surprised at this?

LV on Jan 16, 2014


It wasn't surprising at this point.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


What's the word on American Hustle? I've seen some weird reaction. When it first came out it was getting great reviews left and right and it seemed like everyone loved it. For the past week or so, though, it seems like everyone has been hating on it and think that it's just okay at the absolute best and don't think it deserves any praise. Really strange.

Rick on Jan 16, 2014


Well, Oscar voters at least are downright in love with it...

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


Good movie, excellent performances, very entertaining. Not great or the best film this year though.

cobrazombie on Jan 16, 2014


I think it's close to great, though you're right that it's mainly notable for being very entertaining and full of excellent performances.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


It had some good performances... The story line was pretty weak though. I don't get why people thought it was so great. I think there are alot of star struck voters out there. It was a good movie dont get me wrong... but in my opinion the story was pretty lame and not clever enough for a movie about a bunch "master tricksters". I give it a B+

SCAL-LA-BREEN-E on Jan 17, 2014


I seem to be in the minority here of being quite fond of it...

Joey Magidson on Jan 17, 2014


The Lone Ranger was hat surprised me.

Marty on Jan 16, 2014


I thought it had a chance to show up, but mostly had hoped that it wouldn't.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


I have to say that I cringed each time you called American Hustle a comedy in this article.

Chiroptera Exsanguination on Jan 16, 2014


It's not The Wolf of Wall Street, but it skirts the line between dramedy and comedy enough that I'm comfortable calling it that.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


It also bothered me the films that were under musical and comedy at the Globes this year, including Wolf and Hustle. Glad to see Leo take a jab at them for that during his acceptance speech.

Chiroptera Exsanguination on Jan 16, 2014


The Globes rarely nominate actual comedies to begin with, so that's close enough for me.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


I am glad tom hanks was not nominated. He is a great actor but I thought captain phillips was way over rated.

peter gibbins on Jan 16, 2014


Duly noted.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


I talk to Oscar voters every year and I never cease to be amazed by how often they ask me what they should see, as opposed to just seeing them on their own.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


Any particular reason why Monsters University was not nominated? It was lot better than 2 or 3 of the movies in that category. Monsters had a sense of gravitas and even a great lesson about (broken) dreams and achievements. I just dont get this.

Pabster on Jan 16, 2014


Disney focused their attention on Frozen and to a lesser extent The Wind Rises, so I think it just got lost in the shuffle a bit.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


the Oscars is the bigger event, but I think the BAFTA's more accurately reflects what was good or bad in the year.... Hanks not being in there is the big one for me his performance really reminded me quite how good he is

rep6 on Jan 16, 2014


They certainly have their worthwhile opinions. I don't think any one award accurately reflects what was best in a given year...only time does that.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


Joey, I am curious whether or not you think that Leo has a good chance of winning or not? I am really, really hoping that the fourth time is the charm and this will be his year. He deserves his damn Oscar already, especially for what I, and many, consider to be his best performance yet.

FincherFan on Jan 16, 2014


There's certainly chance. His biggest obstacle is if voters really want to honor Matthew McConaughey. Otherwise, he has as good a chance as anyone in the lineup.

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


Is there an awards show for smaller films (Short Term 12, Fruitvale Station, etc.) that don't have the money to campaign and take Academy voters out to fancy dinners?

Rick on Jan 16, 2014


Well, they used to be called the Independent Spirit Awards...

Joey Magidson on Jan 16, 2014


re Tom Hanks : it was noted on several of the oscar recap segments I saw , that hanks had just won two years in a row . Academy voters prob tried to change up specifically on him ..... Also , it was noted that the number on nominees they could look at on the 1st ballot was reduced to 9 , from 10 . Hanks's movie was prob the 10th on several ballots ..

Dominic on Jan 17, 2014


Just won? He won for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump, going on 20 years ago.

Joey Magidson on Jan 17, 2014


;O) long memories ... Tho , as was noted on this page , also his movie wasn''t the greatest . Looked up his last 20 years ; LATimes points out most of his latest movies get lukewarm reviews I heard a comedian note the scene near the end , where the Big White Commander's huge boat is bearing down on 4 guys in a leaky canoe and the comedian's audience was chering and applauding for the black guys to be smashed , as a comic highlight of the year .( I know they were the terrorists but it's the Imagery ...).. idk i kinda liked his portrayals of his Cloud Atlas characters , and I wouldn't say I was a fan of his ... people from that movie could have been treated better by the Oscars ..

Dominic on Jan 18, 2014


I much preferred Captain Phillips to Cloud Atlas, but that's me.

Joey Magidson on Jan 18, 2014


yeah :o) i know ; he's basically playing a caveman most of the movie . but his two ? other roles were surprising to see in the credits . and the cavman had nuance . Like the scene where his "devil" is warning him not to trust Halle's healer character the jumbled logic of his thouht , that he had to push down or he sticks a knife in her

Dominic on Jan 19, 2014


He's solid in the movie, yes.

Joey Magidson on Jan 19, 2014


Biggest snub is "Upstream Color," hands down. Definitely deserved nominations in either Best Picture, Best Director and/or maybe Best Screenplay categories in my opinion. I know, it's not all too surprising as it's an indie feature, but it's still one of the top 3 most important films of the year. I mean "Philomena" was nominated for Best Picture instead. Seriously? It could've also easily beaten "Nebraska" for Director and/or Screenplay (and I really liked Nebraska).

Terry Craig on Jan 17, 2014


It was self distributed and never had a chance.

Joey Magidson on Jan 17, 2014


You and me both on Inside Llewyn Davis.

Joey Magidson on Jan 17, 2014

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