Oscar Snubs, Surprises: 2014

Well, the Oscar nominations are in and Twitter has exploded with the usual flurry of WTF?s, OMG!s and TOLDJA!s (perhaps we follow the wrong people). And while in general it seems like a lot of the last-minute trend predictions went in the right direction (Redford went very cool for “All is Lost,” “Inside Llewyn Davis” too, though perhaps not quite icy enough to predict a near-total shut-out), in amongst the various entirely expected nominations there were a fair number of films and performances we didn’t expect to see, and a few we had to double check we didn’t (you can read our full predictions here to see how right and wrong we were).

Expect this conversation to motor on over the coming days and weeks, but here’s our first rundown of the snubs, shocks and even those pleasant surprises that were announced to the bleary-eyed few early this morning, by the President of AMPAS and her lovely assistant Chris Hemsworth who gets our nomination for Best Looking Rumble-Voiced Man Dressed In A Snazzy Suit At 5am.

Snubs & Shocks:

Saving Mr. Banks

“Saving Mr. Banks” & “The Butler”
Not a great year for the middlebrow, this one. "Lee Daniels' The Butler," which was at one time thought to be a sure-fire Academy favorite, didn’t get a single nomination, despite having had three SAG nominations—its lack of love from the other guilds clearly showed the way on this one, although even Oprah Winfrey missing out was a little bit of a surprise. You wouldn’t want to be her assistant right now. More of an upset was “Saving Mr. Banks,” which at one point had been tipped by some not just as a surefire Best Picture nominee, but even a possible winner. As it turned out, the film, a warm crowd-pleaser that fit with the movies-about-movies narrative that proved so useful for “The Artist” and “Argo,” picked up only a single nomination, for Thomas Newman’s score.

Inside Llewyn Davis

“Inside Llewyn Davis”
Not so much a shock, because we’d felt the air coming out of this one as soon as it started to screen: Academy members just didn’t seem to respond to a film about mediocrity and failure. But given that even the similarly unfriendly “A Serious Man” was a nominee for Best Picture, it still stood an outside chance. In fact, the film did even worse than we were anticipating: the Coens and lead Oscar Isaac were snubbed, and it even missed out on a Screenplay nod, a category in which the Coens have been nominated six times (and won twice). At least it got two nominations, for Cinematography and Sound Mixing, although that’s the same number as critical and commercial disaster “The Lone Ranger.”

Captain Phillips

Paul Greengrass & Spike Jonze
In fairness, the Best Director category was brutally tough this year, so someone was always going to be left off. It’s just a shame that it was Paul Greengrass and Spike Jonze, who did some of the strongest work of the year. Interestingly, both are prior nominees, and both for films that didn’t get Best Picture nominations (“United 93” for Greengrass, “Being John Malkovich” for Jonze). This time it was the reverse, and the film got Best Picture nods without the filmmakers picking them up. After a couple of years when people like Terrence Malick and Michael Haneke were nominees, the director’s branch played it safer this time around.

Captain Phillips

Tom Hanks
There was a point at which it seemed that, after over a decade of missing out (his last nod was for “Cast Away”), Tom Hanks would come away with two Oscar nominations this year, with both his performances in “Captain Phillips” and “Saving Mr Banks” getting buzz. But there was always going to be blood on the floor in the Best Actor race (Oscar Isaac and Robert Redford also missed out, which many had predicted—the latter might have been a threat to win if he’d bothered campaigning, but seemed mostly uninterested in the whole circus), and Hanks was the most surprising and high-profile casualty. It’s a particular shame, because the film sees him give his best performance in a long time.