It’s that time of year again – the time of year in which the whole world pauses briefly to recognize the finest pictures and performances of the past 12 months. That’s right, it is Oscar nomination time! With only a limited number of spots, however, chances are that at least one of your favorites did not make the cut.
The Academy Awards are considered to be the most prestigious, or at least the most widely recognized, of all the film-based award shows. A nomination from the Academy is seen as validation for the months (and oftentimes, years) of hard work that went into these projects.
This list counts down this year’s most notable Oscar nomination exclusions – the biggest snubs from the 2017 Academy Awards. If a film, filmmaker, or performer appeared to be a lock for a certain category but did not get in, or if we simply felt like a particular picture deserved more recognition than it received, it was eligible to make the list.
Here are This Year’s 15 Biggest Oscar Snubs.
15. Jake Gyllenhaal – Best Actor in a Leading Role (Nocturnal Animals)
It’s hard to argue against the nomination of Denzel Washington, Casey Affleck, Ryan Gosling, Andrew Garfield, or Viggo Mortensen for their respective roles this year, but if any performance could, it would be Jake Gyllenhaal’s starring turn in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals. The film has enjoyed a fairly successful award season run thus far, but the adaptation appeared to have come up short regarding Oscar nominations. After numerous Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA award considerations, the picture received only a single nomination from the Academy – a well-deserved supporting actor nod for Michael Shannon, who turned in one of the best efforts of his career. (Interestingly enough, co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor for his work in the film earlier this month, went unrecognized by the Academy.)
The performances were certainly strong across the board in this intensely dark thriller, but Gyllenhaal arguably stood out among his cohorts by delivering a magnetic and emotional portrayal of the lead character. The only real argument against the actor is that this particular category is, once again, characteristically stacked. This year’s crop of leading men are as strong a group as we have seen in recent memory; Gyllenhaal’s unfortunate omission is merely a side effect of that fact.
14. Swiss Army Man – Best Original Screenplay
If the word originality at all plays into the decision-making process of choosing a “Best Original Screenplay” nomination, then it’s tough to overlook Swiss Army Man. This indie darling made audiences laugh uncontrollably and enticed moviegoers to feel a wide range of emotions. Swiss Army Man is silly, irreverent, and endearing, often all at the same time. The somewhat polarizing nature of the film’s subject material, however, appears to have affected its awards season potential.
As delightful as many find this picture to be, there are a large number of critics (as well as average moviegoers) who find Swiss Army Man to be utterly incoherent and somewhat self-indulgent. While it can be argued that these “flaws” are part of the story’s overarching message, the fact remains that this movie simply did not appeal to everyone. Whether we like it or not, universal acclaim plays a part in the Academy’s voting process, and it’s certainly an area in which this feature fell a bit flat.
13. Taraji P. Henson – Best Actress in a Leading Role (Hidden Figures)
Hidden Figures tells the untold true story of the African-American women who served as mathematical brain power for NASA’s first space missions. All around, it’s an inspirational tale anchored by excellent performances. While audiences may argue over which of the leading ladies – Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, and Janelle Monáe – gave the best performance, numerous trades pegged Henson as a likely nominee for Best Actress in a Leading Role. In the end, Spencer was the only one of the three to come away with any recognition from the Academy (a nomination for Best Supporting Actress).
Not unlike the Best Actor in a Leading Role category, its female counterpart is also filled with fierce competition. Isabella Huppert, Ruth Negga, Natalie Portman, Emma Stone, and Meryl Streep all gave Oscar-worthy performances this year and were rightfully recognized for their work. Casual moviegoers may be quick to swap out Streep for their favorite performance from a leading lady in 2016, but contrary to the ever-growing popular belief: actors, actresses, and directors are not (generally) awarded nominations based on their name alone. Some fans have written off her nomination, perhaps due to the fact that Forest Foster Jenkins underperformed at the box office, or (more likely) because Streep has now been nominated 20 times for Oscar gold. That being said, while Streep’s performance may not go down as being the finest of her historic career, her work was widely praised by an overwhelming majority of those who actually saw the film.
12. Arrival – Best Visual Effects
2016 was a standout year for visual effects. Marvel Studios impressed with their most aesthetically stunning film yet in Doctor Strange, and a Star Wars picture received an Academy nomination for the second year in a row in the Visual Effects category. Additionally, Disney dazzled (yet again) with one of the most visually impressive movies that audiences have seen this side of James Cameron’s Avatar – The Jungle Book. Perhaps a less ostentatious choice, albeit beautiful in its own right, is Denis Villeneuve’s critically acclaimed sci-fi picture, Arrival.
Arrival was primed to garner a ridiculous amount Oscar consideration, and while it did perform extremely well in terms of Academy Award nominations (amassing a grand total of eight), it may have left a few on the table. One area in which the film was expected to deliver was Visual Effects, but alas, no nomination was given. This is hardly the biggest snub of the day, but the denial of such a technically impressive endeavor is eyebrow-raising to say the least. More on the film’s biggest Oscar snub in a bit.
11. The Witch – Best Picture or Original Screenplay
As the first feature-length film of writer/director Robert Eggers’ career, The Witch is a picture that took audiences by surprise early on in 2016. With a February release date, this period piece horror drama wasn’t exactly placed in prime Oscar real estate, but nevertheless, it remained among many critics’ top films. The movie was considered more of a dark horse contender, but many of the feature’s fans, as well as fans of the horror genre itself, hoped that the Academy would recognize The Witch as one of the year’s finest.
Some may argue that since the Academy is allowed to nominate up to 10 films in the Best Picture category, they should fill out each and every available slot. The nomination process, however, is somewhat more complex than that. With industry professionals voting for each respective category, and a fair bit of math being involved (that’s right, math), the Academy is not allowed to simply insert a tenth film in order to max out the category if the numbers don’t add up. That being said, if the Best Picture category were to add one more movie, The Witch would absolutely make a great addition to an already diverse group of films.
10. Roger Deakins – Best Cinematography (Hail, Caesar!)
Yet another film that made a name for itself in early 2016 was Hail, Caesar! – the 17th picture in the Coen Brothers’ historic filmography. This love letter to post-war Hollywood struck a chord with an overwhelming amount of critics, but casual moviegoing audiences…not so much. At last year’s halfway mark, many film journalists and insiders had Hail, Caesar! ranked among 2016’s best, but as Oscar season marched on, the movie continued to fall further and further down the list. The film’s cinematography, however, arguably still ranks among the top five from last year’s qualifiers.
Cinematographer Roger Deakins is no stranger to Academy Award acclaim, having been nominated a grand total of 13 times, but this living legend still has yet to take home any Golden Statues. While this category is filled to the brim with beautiful filmmaking endeavors, a nomination for this underrated Hollywood stalworth would not have been out of place.
9. Deadpool – Best Picture or Adapted Screenplay
Deadpool fans may not have held out much hope for any Oscar consideration a few months ago, but awards season has been particularly kind to the Merc with a Mouth. After receiving a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay from the Writers Guild of America, fans and critics alike were holding out a glimmer of hope for a possible Oscar bid for the R-rated comic book movie. Unfortunately for Ryan Reynolds and company, Deadpool was omitted in favor of more traditional picks.
Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds promised a “crazy reaction video” to a hypothetical Best Picture nomination, but regrettably, for superhero film fans, a nomination never came to fruition. Audiences are hopeful that the video will surface at some point in the near future, but until then, moviegoers may have to re-watch their respective Deadpool Blu-rays for a fourth or fifth time in order to get their much-needed fix.
It was a good run, everyone. Really. Deadpool made an admirable effort there toward the end. The superhero genre has been met with more and more notoriety over the past few years in technical categories, and it’s only a matter of time before a comic book film receives another nomination from one of the Academy’s more prestigious superlatives.
8. Hugh Grant – Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Florence Foster Jenkins)
The absence of Hugh Grant from the Best Actor in a Supporting Role category was one of the bigger surprises of the nomination announcement video. In countless Oscar previews and Academy Award nomination predictions from Hollywood insiders, Grant was a consistent presence in his respective category. While his performance — and the film as a whole — certainly flew a bit under the radar, a nomination was almost viewed as a sure bet.
Yet another surprise (if you can call a Meryl Streep Oscar nomination a surprise), was the inclusion of his co-star’s record-setting nod for Best Actress consideration on top of Grant’s omission. Again, Florence Foster Jenkins was not a picture that fared incredibly well at the box office, but that does not generally matter to Academy voters. Grant has been a mainstay in the Supporting Actor category throughout this season, with nominations from several other Award shows, which makes his absence from the Oscar ballot all the more noticeable.
7. Elle – Best Foreign Language Film
Perhaps even more surprising than Elle’s omission from the Best Foreign Language Film category is the fact that it did not even make the Academy’s shortlist of the year’s nine best foreign language films. Somehow, it wasn’t even close to making the cut.
Elle has been making waves throughout the entirety of awards season up to this point, garnering nominations from several respected Award shows. The Golden Globes has certainly not been the end-all-be-all predictor when it comes Academy Award nominations, but things were looking up for the French film when it took home hardware for Best Actress as well as Best Foreign Language Motion Picture. However, the film failed to earn an Oscar nomination for the latter category. Despite the picture’s notable exclusion, Isabelle Huppert did continue to receive widespread recognition, as she was nominated for a Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role Oscar.
6. The Little Prince – Best Animated Picture
Since the Oscar nomination announcement video, much ado has been made concerning the omission of the Pixar sequel, Finding Dory, in the Best Animated Picture category. Its exception has been both praised and criticized, but there is perhaps another film in the category that deserves a second look.
From the beginning of its stateside run, The Little Prince has not had the easiest road. Originally, the animated feature was slated to debut in U.S. theaters in March of 2017, but mere weeks away from its scheduled release, it was pulled from the schedule. Warner Bros. had decided to relinquish its rights to the film, and it was later picked up by popular online streaming service Netflix. Skip ahead a few months, and The Little Prince made an almost unnoticeable splash in the giant ocean of stream-worthy content, leaving most moviegoers virtually unaware of its existence.
2016 was a fairly good year for animated features, but The Little Prince – a picture adored by critics and audiences alike (well, those who actually saw it) – deserves some love too. An Academy Award nomination could have served as great exposure for the film, but disappointingly, it departs with little more than a whimper.
5. Silence – Best Picture
Silence is a film that has been virtually ignored by the vast majority of the moviegoing population. An article concerning this unappreciated film will surface every so often, but box office numbers have been absolutely abysmal. (It’s barely made back a quarter of its budget thusfar.) Any buzz surrounding the picture has been silenced (sorry) from the beginning.
Silence is certainly not a tentpole blockbuster that requires advertisement nearly a year in advance, but oddly enough, the first trailer for the film didn’t surface until a few weeks before the picture screened in select cities on an extremely limited release weekend. Less than a month later, and Silence was playing to nearly empty theaters nationwide.
Martin Scorsese may not be Christopher Nolan in terms of being a box office draw, but the filmmaker has been one of Hollywood’s best directors for decades, creating some of his generation’s most widely-revered pictures. And the fact that Silence featured standout performances from all three of its leads (Andrew Garfield, Liam Neeson, and Adam Driver) makes its Oscar snubbing that much more noticeable. It did manage to score one nomination, however: a much deserved Best Cinematography nod for the film’s director of photography, Rodrigo Prieto.
4. Weiner – Best Documentary
Weiner has been pegged as a shoo-in for Oscar’s documentary category for months now. The film’s relevance in recent political affairs only made the nomination appear to be more likely, but as we now know, that nomination never came to fruition.
For those of you who are unaware, Weiner is a documentary about a disgraced politician (Anthony Weiner) and his failed attempt to run for mayor of New York City. Given his checkered past, this documentary is able to ask important questions concerning the state of American politics: What matters more – the person or the idea? This film was captivating, even for those who are interested in neither documentaries nor politics. And for that reason, Weiner was nominated for a BAFTA, Directors Guild of America, and a Critics’ Choice Documentary award, among many others.
3. “Drive It Like You Stole It” – Best Original Song (Sing Street)
Sing Street is arguably the best coming of age film of 2016, as well as a reminder for moviegoers that La La Land wasn’t the only noteworthy musical to make it to theaters last year. If Damien Chazelle’s La La Land was a love letter to Hollywood musicals and L.A. dreamers, then Sing Street is an ode to ‘80s rock and roll, anyone who simply wanted to impress their high school crush, and every kid who ever started a band.
John Carney’s film featured an incredible soundtrack of ‘80s-inspired original tunes, but its unforgettable toe-tapping anthem “Drive It Like You Stole It” is an unequivocal favorite. Not only is this song arguably the film’s finest, but it takes place during the visual climax of the picture. Nearly the entire cast of Sing Street appears for at least a brief moment in this final sendoff, in classical musical-like fashion. The production value of this scene is easily the biggest of the entire picture, and it doesn’t appear as though a single cent was wasted.
2. Amy Adams – Best Actress in a Leading Role (Arrival)
This list has seen several names that were presumably “surefire bets,” but none more so than Amy Adams for her starring role in Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi thriller Arrival. Aesthetically speaking, the film is gorgeous. Each shot appears to have a purpose, and each directorial decision feels intentional. Even when it appears as though nothing noteworthy is taking place within the scene, a sense of an ominous threat looms in the background. The supporting cast is phenomenal and the picture itself a technical wonder. That said, this film only works with an emotionally grounded performance from its lead, Amy Adams.
The entire picture is seen through the eyes of the Adams’ Louise, and her presence is felt in nearly every scene. There are moments in which the camera will gaze on Louise’s reaction rather than the event at hand because her emotional response is more powerful and more important to the story. Adams has nothing to be ashamed of here. This exclusion is simply one of the biggest Oscar snubs of the year.
Be sure to catch what all the fuss is about when Arrival is re-released in theaters this weekend.
1. Martin Scorsese – Best Director (Silence)
There is little to be said regarding Martin Scorsese’s Silence that has not already been mentioned in a previous entry. It is simply a tragically underappreciated movie, and it appears that the legendary director’s most ambitious effort in years (perhaps decades) will continue on flying under the radar for the foreseeable future.
What at first threatened to be an underwhelming year for cinema ended up serving moviegoers more than a handful of fantastic movies. The Academy’s crop of Best Picture nominees is incredibly diverse and distinguishable from one another. Not one film on the list feels quite like another. That being said, it is incredible to think that a Martin Scorsese film — especially one that was well-received — is being shut out from any Academy Award contention outside of a single cinematography nomination.
Silence may not be the year’s most pleasant movie, but its expert craftsmanship at the hands of one of this generation’s great filmmakers is more than capable of standing toe-to-toe with any picture from last year. All in all, the Academy selected a fine group of films, filmmakers, and actors to represent the best of 2016, but it is nearly impossible to argue that Martin Scorsese did not deserve to be mentioned among last year’s five best directors.
Do you agree with our list? What are the biggest Oscar snubs of the year in your mind? Be sure to sound off in the comments section.