Well, they did it to us again. No matter how hard we try to guess what the Academy will end up doing they always find a way to surprise us. Thursday morning’s announcements of the full list of nominees for the 86th Academy Awards were no different. In this especially crowded year, who got snubbed and who made a surprising splash?
Starting off with best picture, the biggest revelation is that for the third straight year in this variable nominee process we will have nine films contending for best picture. Out of the nine, the only real surprise is “Philomena” taking the spot that many thought would go to “Saving Mr. Banks.” It’s clear though that “Banks” did not register with the Academy; the film received just one nomination for best score and Emma Thompson was left out of the best actress field.
“The Wolf of Wall Street” got the push it needed to get into the field, and actually had a healthy showing despite the reported backlash by many Academy members with five nominations. Outside of picture, Martin Scorsese was able to hold firm after his DGA nomination and land a spot for best director. Leonardo DiCaprio edged out Tom Hanks and Robert Redford to land a well-deserved best actor nod. Jonah Hill’s rowdy performance got him into the field for best supporting actor and Terence Winter landed a nom for best-adapted screenplay.
DiCaprio’s nomination comes as a pleasant surprise. The field of best actors was as competitive as ever this year, but DiCaprio’s “Wolf” performance ranks among his best and it seemed that despite the number of great performances, the best actor field was set. We were wrong apparently as Tom Hanks was left out for his “Captain Phillips” performance and Robert Redford still has only one acting nomination after being denied for his “All is Lost” work. Christian Bale pulled perhaps the biggest surprise of the morning for his nomination in “American Hustle.”
Speaking of “Hustle,” the film led the pack along with “Gravity” with ten total nominations. For the second straight year a David O. Russell film received nominations for all four acting categories. While “Hustle” and “Gravity” were expected to do well, they weren’t necessarily supposed to beat “12 Years a Slave” in nominations. “12 Years” may not have gotten as many nominations as predicted, but it still raked in a very healthy haul of nine.
Some other surprises included a nomination for Sally Hawkins in “Blue Jasmine.” Hawkins was fantastic in the Woody Allen film but seemed liked she was getting overshadowed by co-star Cate Blanchett (who was also nominated and remains the favorite). Instead, she finds her way in by bumping out Oprah Winfrey’s performance from “Lee Daniels’ the Butler,” which I am more than okay with. Oh, and “Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa” is an Oscar nominated film, just so you know.
Outside of Tom Hanks missing for “Captain Phillips,” director Paul Greengrass also was omitted from the final list of nominees, but for equally deserving Alexander Payne. Pixar has no representation in this year’s field as “Monsters University” failed to make it in animated feature. And the documentary “Blackfish” was snubbed despite being the most talked about doc of the year.
“Dallas Buyers Club” had a better than expected morning. The film seemed poised for a best picture nomination with all the guild love that it received in the last few weeks, but it also received nominations for original screenplay and editing. Those were highly unexpected.
Lastly, the signs of “Inside Llewyn Davis’” downfall were correct. The Coen brothers’ latest was left out of best picture, the pair were snubbed from best original screenplay, and the film managed only two nominations for cinematography and best sound mixing. We’ll never know why the film failed to connect with the Academy, though it’s bleak tone is sure to have something to do with it.
Overall, there are no outrageous omissions or unworthy nominees from where I stand. 2013 was so competitive that snubs were going to happen, but it’s not like the alternatives were hack jobs undeserving of recognition. So, we have our field of nominees, now let the phase two of the awards season commence.