After months of festival screenings, schmoozing luncheons, and lesser award shows, this year’s Oscar season finally got real and cut the dead weight this morning when the Academy Awards announced the final roster of nominees. As is always the case, there were a number of pleasant surprises (congrats on that Best Visual Effects nod, Ex Machina!).
And, naturally, there were a much larger number of devastating omissions, as dreams were dashed and the toilets into which studios sunk their campaign dollars were finally flushed. Some of the snubs were probably deserved, but several others will be remembered as egregious oversights. Here are the 12 most glaring of them all.
1. Best Picture, Carol
Adapted from a landmark Patricia Highsmith novel and steered through awards season by merciless gamesman Harvey Weinstein (the George Patton of Oscars), this heart-stopping period romance about the love that blossoms between two women in 1950s New York has seemed like a sure thing ever since it debuted to rave reviews at Cannes last May. While the movie’s legacy will doubtlessly survive this year’s most egregious snub, it seems as though the film’s patience and precision didn’t align with Academy tastes — a familiar tune for director Todd Haynes, who was also denied a nomination. The Oscars aren’t just about how deep a film hits, but also how wide, and it was there that Carol ran into trouble.
2. Ridley Scott, Best Director (The Martian)
Nobody assumed The Martian would be such a major player in this year’s awards race, especially since Ridley Scott’s two most recent movies (The Counselor and Exodus) weren’t exactly connecting with audiences or Oscar voters. But it turns out that people really want to watch Matt Damon listen to ABBA while he self-fertilizes space potatoes, and the film became enough of a hit to put it in contentions. Of all the nominations it seemed likely to receive, Best Director was the one that most people took for granted — not only is Ridley Scott a legend, but the Academy has begun seriously rewarding filmmakers for boundary-pushing technical achievements (i.e. Alfonso Cuarón for Gravity and Ang Lee for Life of Pi). While The Martian picked up five nods, it was slighted in the only category it was actually expected to win.
3. Michael Keaton, Best Supporting Actor (Spotlight)
Everybody loves Michael Keaton. That’s just a fact of life. And now that he’s back in the spotlight (ugh) thanks to last year’s Best Actor nomination for Birdman, it seemed inconceivable that the Academy would ignore his engaging and quietly embattled turn as Boston Globe editor Walter “Robby” Robinson. It’s one of Keaton’s very best performances, and the soul of the movie that is still most likely to snag Best Picture. So what gives? Unfortunately for Keaton, subtlety wasn’t the name of the game this year, and since the vote was split between so many of his co-stars (all of whom were competing in the Supporting categories), the nod went to Mark Ruffalo for his comparatively flashy turn as Robinson’s most dogged employee.