Along with every analysis of the Academy Awards race comes the inevitable look at the snubs. With a finite amount of nominations handed out in every category (although the recent expanding of the Best Picture field allows for a little bit of the controversies to die down) those five coveted slots in the other major categories are absolute gold – pun completely attended.
That’s not a lot of room for lot of deserving nominees, and this year – in particular – it’s sparked a furor, especially when all twenty of the acting nominees are as white as the driven snow. The boycott talk has started to snowball, and there’s even pressure on Chris Rock to bail on hosting the ceremony. Oh, and trust us, some of those very deserving minority snubs are right here in our list of the ten biggest Oscar snubs.
Best Picture; Best Director (Ryan Coogler); Best Actor (Michael B. Jordan); Best Supporting Actress (Tessa Thompson)
The relative shutout of Creed (it only garnered one major nomination, for Sylvester Stallone’s world-weary portrait of a breaking-down Rocky Balboa) has been one of the flashpoints of criticism for this year’s lily-white Oscars. Is the scorn justified? To a degree, it very well may be; it would have been nice to see the vibrant Creed among the Best Picture nominees, and for Ryan Coogler’s steady direction to have been acknowledged. It’s less of a slam-dunk for its shut out acting nominees – Jordan and co-star Thompson are great, but Stallone’s wounded Rocky is what sticks with you. It’s not a new generation’s franchise, not quite yet.
Beasts of No Nation
Best Supporting Actor (Idris Elba)
This one’s just a flat-out whiff. Anyone who saw Elba’s terrifying, towering performance in the harrowing African child-soldier film could have pegged him for at least a nomination for the Netflix-distributed Beasts of No Nation (and it’s not like the Academy voters wouldn’t have access to that service). Stunning as it may seem, Elba never received an Emmy nomination for The Wire, or an Oscar nomination. Look for them to deliver a nice make-up nomination for him for the next high-profile role he receives.
Best Director (Ridley Scott)
Here’s the strange thing about Scott’s snub – if he had been nominated, he’d probably be the favorite now. Despite Scott’s sterling career (Alien, Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, loads of others), he’s never taken home an Oscar. A nomination for his deft work in The Martian could have easily put him in the lead, over Thomas McCarthy of Spotlight (not really a directing showcase) and the just-honored Alejandro González Iñárritu for The Revenant. Sir Ridley will have to wait for next year. Lenny Abrahamson (of the terrific Room) likely took his place.
Best Supporting Actor (Jacob Tremblay)
It’s an incredibly fine line childhood actors have to tread, especially in heavy roles – to be emotional and real without slipping into annoyance or coming off as cloying. Tremblay absolutely nails it in Room, delivering a staggering performance that’s key to the movie; without it, the film (which filters its harrowing story through his eyes) would fall apart. Brie Larson will win a well-deserved Oscar for her role as Tremblay’s mother, but it would have been nice to see Tremblay up on stage with her.
Best Picture, Best Director (Alex Garland), Best Supporting Actor (Oscar Isaac)
It’s always nice to be on the right side of history. In a decade, odds are that Alex Garland’s wonderfully constructed Ex Machina will be remembered as a sci-fi classic on the level of Blade Runner, The Matrix or Alien. Neither of those were nominated for Best Picture, either, so at least they’ll have something in common. It wasn’t shut out – Garland got a Screenplay nomination – but nods for his direction, Best Picture and Oscar Isaac’s tremendously memorable bro-genius programmer performance would have been nice to see.
Best Actor (Will Smith)
Part III of the racial controversy. Concussion, as a picture itself, seemed to lose a lot of steam as it came into awards season, but there wasn’t any shortage of accolades for Smith’s heartfelt performance as Dr. Bennet Omalu. If nothing else, his performance could have knocked out Eddie Redmayne’s showy turn in The Danish Girl.