10 Biggest Snubs Of The 2015 Oscar Nominations
With the 87th Annual Academy Awards less than a week away, it’s as good a time as any to take stock of where the Academy missed the mark with this year’s nominations. 2014 was a particularly strong year for film, making the already limited number of nominations available feel even more inadequate than usual. Thankfully, there were some deserved nominations as well, including the accolades heaped upon films like Boyhood, Whiplash, and The Grand Budapest Hotel. Unfortunately, the list of nominations in general this year are disappointing to say the least, with lackluster films like American Sniper, The Imitation Game, and The Theory of Everything receiving undue praise while much better films are all but ignored. The following 10 items were robbed of nominations this year and represent the 10 biggest snubs of the 2015 Academy Awards.
10. Life Itself – Best Documentary Feature
The Best Documentary Feature award is already an undervalued category of the Academy Awards, but it still generally highlights some of the year’s most significant and well-made documentary films. Life Itself is a film with Oscar written all over it, considering its subject is the late Roger Ebert, America’s greatest film critic and one of American culture’s most significant voices. A film about one of film’s most important icons is the kind of thing that the Academy usually lavishes praise upon, making its exclusion from the Best Documentary Feature category stunning. More than that, Life Itself was one of the most popular and best-reviewed documentaries of the year, which makes its exclusion all the more perplexing.
9. Foxcatcher – Best Picture
Ever since the Best Picture category increased its number of nominees from 5 to a maximum of 10 in 2009, there has been an even closer correlation between the films nominated and the Best Director category. Since the year’s best directors usually direct the year’s best films, it only makes sense that these 2 categories would be very similar looking, even taking into consideration that the latter category still only has 5 nominees. That is why it is bizarre when a director is nominated, but the film they directed is not. Foxcatcher is 2014’s anomaly, as it has earned numerous accolades, including Steve Carrell for Best Actor, Mark Ruffalo for Best Supporting Actor, and of course, Bennet Miller for Best Director. It is very curious that a film with this many nominations in other significant categories did not receive a Best Picture nomination, especially when there was still space on the block, as only 8 films received nominations this year.
8. Snowpiercer – Production Design
In a perfect world, Snowpiercer would have warranted serious consideration for a Best Picture nomination, as it is a modern science fiction masterpiece. Of course, soon-to-be cult films like Snowpiercer are generally shown little love by Academy voters, but surely the film still deserved a nomination for its beautiful production design. Taking place aboard a life-sustaining train in a post-apocalyptic frozen world, Snowpiercer’s production design team, led by Ondrej Nekvasil, brought the closed ecosystem of the film’s eponymous train to life in stunning detail. The production design of the film is inherent to its plot, as each new train compartment that the film’s characters open also reveals an ever more sophisticated, interesting take on what a world-travelling train containing the last of humanity might look like.
7. Gone Girl – Best Picture
The latest film by thriller master David Fincher, Gone Girl is simply a tour de force – an adaptation of a stellar novel translated fully intact to the screen with style and substance to spare. An adaptation of Gillian Flynn’s novel of the same name (and based on a phenomenal adapted screenplay written by Flynn herself, which was also shockingly shut out for a nomination), Gone Girl is smart, edgy, and refreshingly ambivalent about its intentions. Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike star as a young married couple with numerous secrets that are thrown into the public eye after Pike’s character goes missing, with Affleck’s husband as the prime suspect. How this film, with its incredible cast and stunning direction, failed to garner a Best Picture nomination is its own mystery. Fincher’s films are generally popular in awards season and Gone Girl is easily one of his best works to date.
6. The Lego Movie – Best Animated Feature
Everything is most definitely not awesome when it comes to this year’s Best Animated Feature category, a segment of the awards that is usually free of controversy or massive upsets. Surprising many, The Lego Movie, one of the year’s best animated movies, as well as one of its funniest, was left off the list of nominees. Many critics and pundits point to the fact that the Academy membership is primarily comprised of older men who are increasingly out of touch with today’s entertainment, and wrote off The Lego Movie as a glorified commercial for a children’s toy. Those who actually saw the film and recognized its many merits know this to be an overly simplified generalization, as The Lego Movie was anything but a cynical cash-grab designed to sell more Lego (though it probably still helped sell a lot of Lego).
5. Tilda Swinton – Best Supporting Actress (Multiple Roles)
It’s difficult to think of another actor or actress who had a more brilliant year than Tilda Swinton. The acclaimed British actress had no less than three outstanding performances that could have qualified for a Best Supporting Actress nomination – and yet, for some unfathomable reason, she has exactly zero. Whether it was dawning age make-up to play a European aristocrat in The Grand Budapest Hotel, a set of false teeth to play the monstrous Mason in Snowpiercer, or a rocking pair of shades to play a centuries-old vampire in Only Lovers Left Alive, Swinton knocked it out of the park this year and not honoring her for at least one of these excellent performances is a brutal robbery.
4. Nightcrawler – Best Picture
To put it simply, Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler is one of the best films of the year and its omission from the Best Picture category is a tremendous oversight. A pulse-pounding thriller anchored by a career-best performance by Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler explores the seedy underbelly of cable news networks more concerned with reaching evermore shocking and exploitative heights than ethical practices or morality. Gyllenhaal plays Lou Bloom, a cutthroat, driven entrepreneur who finds success working as a “nightcrawler”, an especially detestable brand of journalist who films late-night human tragedies such as car crashes and homicides. Nightcrawler is an indictment of the American Dream and just how far some will go to earn success, which is ironic subject matter for a film that deserves all the success and recognition it can get. Unfortunately, earning a deserved Best Picture nomination was not in the cards for one of 2014’s greatest films.
3. David Oyelowo – Best Actor (Selma)
There has been a lot of criticism of this year’s Oscar nominations, with some critics pointing out the fact that these are the whitest Oscars in almost two decades and it’s not hard to see why. Along with an even more significant snub that takes the top spot on this list, the omission of black actor David Oyelowo for his outstanding performance in Selma is a downright embarrassing oversight. In a year that saw racial tensions in America reach depths that are frankly an outright embarrassment in 2014, not honoring one of the year’s best performances, regardless of the color of the actor’s skin, is just not acceptable. Oyelowo’s portrayal of Martin Luther King Jr. was absolutely riveting, and should have been given the praise and honor it deserved.
2. Jake Gyllenhaal – Best Actor (Nightcrawler)
It feels like Jake Gyllenhaal, arguably one of his generation’s best male actors, is destined to be continually ignored by Academy voters, even when he is turning in what may be his finest performance to date. Make no mistake: Nightcrawler, as excellent as it is in itself, is a vehicle for Gyleanhaal to completely and utterly steal. He owns the film with a commanding, disturbing performance as the creepy, hard-working Lou Bloom, a character so despicably likeable that he should be remembered as one of 2014’s standout characters. Gyllenhaal’s snub is evidence of the ridiculous politics and campaigning that go into awards season nominations, where the best performances are not always recognized if they don’t have the right people pushing for them. Whatever the case, it’s hard to argue that Gyllenhaal doesn’t deserve a spot on the Oscar ballot for his career-best work in Nightcrawler.
1. Ava Duvernay – Best Director (Selma)
The Academy’s slight against Selma continues with what is arguably the most egregious and boneheaded oversight of this year’s Academy Awards nominations – the omission of Selma director Ava Duvernay in the Best Director category. Not only did Duvernay deserve the nomination based on her outstanding work alone, but the Academy missed an important opportunity to honor a female director, something that happens so seldom that only four women have ever been nominated, with only one ever winning the award (Kathryn Bigelow in 2009 for The Hurt Locker). To say that women are underappreciated by the Academy Awards would be a gross understatement at best. There is a small silver lining in that Duvernay’s work is being recognized through Selma’s Best Picture nomination, but that is small comfort to an increasingly prejudice-aware public that is growing tired of the white, male-dominated crop of nominees and winners that the Academy Awards present year after year.