Ranking the 2015 Oscar Snubs From “Totally Forgivable” to “WTF?”
Yep, it’s that time of the year again. The 2015 Oscar nominations are here and it’s time for everyone to get outraged and cynical over which movies get the opportunity to take home statuettes of naked golden dudes. Sure, we always tell ourselves that the Academy Awards don’t really matter and that a film’s legacy will live or die for reasons beyond trophies, but we always end up getting angry about these things anyway. However, this year’s biggest snubs seems more egregious than usual and require slightly more yelling and stamping of feet.
Before we launch into the cavalcade of (mostly) nonsense that is the 2015 Academy Award nominations snubs, note that we also wrote about some of the pleasant surprises that made us happy. Ready. Let’s begin.
Totally Forgivable: ‘Cake’ Doesn’t Make Jennifer Aniston an Oscar Nominee
Here’s the weird thing about ‘Cake’: it’s not very good. And yet, in a year lacking in high profile, showy performances in the Best Actress corner of the awards season, everyone (everyone!) was convinced that Jennifer Aniston would snag a nomination by default. It would have been a ‘Norbit’ moment, where a truly bad film somehow snags a nod from an organization that claims to award the best that cinema has to offer. But here we are. No nomination for ‘Cake.’ Nothing for poor Jennifer Aniston. Consider this “snub“ a rare moment of genuine good taste for the Academy.
Sad, but Understandable: ‘Life Itself’ and ‘The Overnighters’ Get Snubbed
The nominating process for Oscar categories is different across the board, but writers, critics, pundits and filmmakers have long-argued that the Best Documentary process is by far the most broken. Bizarre rules have led to some of the greatest documentaries of all time, including ‘Hoop Dreams’ and ‘The Thin Blue Line,’ getting left out. So while it’s sad and frustrating to see ‘Life Itself’ and ‘The Overnighters’ (two of the most acclaimed docs of 2014) get left out in the cold, it’s not at all surprising. Someone needs to fix this.
Head-Scratching: ‘Foxcatcher’ Doesn’t Get a Best Picture Nod
‘Foxcatcher’ entered the Oscar race with five nominations, including Best Director for Bennett Miller, Best Actor for Steve Carell, and Best Supporting Actor for Mark Ruffalo. But yeah, something preeetty big is missing there: a Best Picture nomination. Yep, ‘Foxcatcher’ has joined the bizarre club of movies that snagged a Best Director nod without getting a best Best Picture nomination, which is strange because you’d think the members of the nominating body would understand the director is, you know, the one who actually makes the movie. In the Academy’s defense, ‘Foxcatcher’ is a cold movie that intentionally keeps viewers at arm’s length. It’s a tough film to embrace. Perhaps voters admired it more than they liked it.
Heartbreaking, but Not a Surprise: ‘Inherent Vice’ is This Year’s ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’
Look, no one in their right mind actually expected Paul Thomas Anderon’s long, hazy, and unknowable stoner-noir-comedy to be a major player at the Oscars, but it’s still dispiriting to see ‘Inherent Vice’ walk away from the scuffle with only two nominations. The film deserves more love than nods for Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Costume Design and it actually would have been better off if it hadn’t gotten any nominations. Then it could have joined the Cool Kid’s Club of great movies that were totally snubbed at the Academy Awards. Instead, it joins the ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ Club of great movies that the Oscar voters obviously didn’t get but chose to reward with a few nominations anyway. That just burns, guys.
Downright Bizarre: Ralph Fiennes Doesn’t Get in on the ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ Love Train
One of the most pleasant surprises in this year’s nominations was the amount of love thrown at ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel,’ including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay. It’s about damn time that a Wes Anderson film received serious recognition from the Academy outside of a token screenplay nomination! But there was one name noticeably lacking from the nine nominees: leading man Ralph Fiennes, whose Gustave H. is the heart and soul of the movie the Oscar voters seem to love so much. Fiennes’ work is funnier, more assured, and just better than most of the people nominated for Best Actor, which makes his absence from the parade of love for ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ too bizarre to comprehend.
Genuinely Puzzling: ‘The LEGO Movie’ is Not Awesome Enough, Apparently
Although “Everything is Awesome” from ‘The LEGO Movie’ snagged a nomination for Best Original Song, the film itself was shut out of the Best Animated Feature race. To many, this must seem like a grievous oversight! How can they nominate two dark horses like ‘The Tale of the Princess Kaguya’ and ‘Song of the Sea’ over one of the most well-liked, critically acclaimed and highest grossing films of the year? Yes, as the title to this section implies, this is a genuinely puzzling snub, especially since the far more generic ‘Big Hero 6’ and ‘How to Train Your Dragon 2’ got in on the action. However, you have to remember this: the Academy is an older crowd (i.e., they’re out of touch) and something as unique (cool) and fast (youthful) and busy (funny) as ‘The LEGO Movie’ probably didn’t appeal to their (old fashioned, outdated, Clint Eastwood-worshipping) tastes.
Genuinely Baffling: ‘Force Majeure’ is Awkwardly Left Out
The Best Foreign Language Film category is a place where a lot of Americans get to discover movies that they otherwise would never hear about, so it’s a shame that the best foreign language film of 2014 didn’t get nominated. ‘Force Majeure’ may have been nominated for a Golden Globe and it may have scooped up tons of accolades and appeared on many top 10 lists, but this chilly, mesmerizing, and pitch-black comedy was apparently not good enough for the Academy. We doubt that the voters would have ultimately awarded a statuette to a movie that’s essentially Michael Haneke directing an long episode of ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ (we say that with so much love), but a nomination felt like a sure thing as of 24 hours ago. What happened here?
Fairly Inexplicable: Jake Gyllenhaal Lost All of That ‘Nightcrawler’ Weight For Nothing
‘Nightcrawler’ is a little too dark, a little too nasty, and a little too cynical to have ever been a major Oscar player. And yet, bits and pieces of it felt primed to receive recognition. Chief among them was Jake Gyllenhaal’s career-redefining performance, which saw him transform himself into a terrifying and hilarious sociopath with no moral qualms and the unnerving ability to speak entirely in generic advice he learned from self-help books. Gyllenhaal has always been a good actor (and the Academy has nominated him before), but this is transcendent work, the kind of performance that will stand out for years to come. Sure, ‘Nightcrawler’ did snag a single nod (for Best Original Screenplay), but like ‘Inherent Vice,’ it feels like the movie’s legacy would be stronger if it was shut out entirely. This is the kind of movie you spring on your friends years down the road. It’s the kind of movie people discover and ask “Why didn’t this get a bunch of awards?”
Totally Inexplicable: ‘Gone Girl’ is Almost Entirely Shut Out
First of all, congratulations to Rosamund Pike, whose equally chilling and funny performance in ‘Gone Girl’ earned her a nomination. After years of toiling in films that were, uh, below her talent, she’s finally broken through. But with that said, where are the rest of the nominations? David Fincher’s meticulous direction got nothing. Gillian Flynn’s faithful but cleverly streamlined adaptation of her own novel got nothing. Even with 10 Best Picture slots, the Academy couldn’t find room for one of 2014’s best and highest grossing films, the rare movie made for adults that managed to become a genuine box office phenomenon. Was the movie too lurid? Too controversial? Or is this a stunning display of bad taste?
WTF: ‘Selma.’ Just ... ‘Selma’
If you look over the 2015 Academy Award nominations, you will see a lot of white face. In fact, of the Best Actor, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor and Best Supporting Actress races, only one nominee isn’t white (and that’s ‘Birdman’ director Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu). That right there says a lot about this year’s nominations. However, it doesn’t fully explain what went wrong with ‘Selma,’ a movie that many thought was a shoe-in to win Best Picture at this year’s awards. To be fair, ‘Selma’ did get a Best Picture nod. And a Best Original Song not. But that’s it. Nothing for David Oyelowo, whose performance as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. has been called a revelation. Nothing for Ava DuVernay, who would have become the first black woman to be nominated for Best Director. And, of course, nothing for editing, cinematography or any of the other technical fields. Movie fans and critics alike are baffled by how one of the year’s best, most vital and most timely films could have been left out like this. But let’s get real: it’s all politics. Forces That Shall Not Be Named kneecapped the film when they spent millions dragging its name through the mud so they could secure nods for a movie that rhymes with ‘The Schimitation Schame.’ But let’s get real: the Oscars don’t matter, but ‘Selma’ does. Let’s see which movies hold up a decade from now.