10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

premiososcar 10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

Such a strange tension exists between not caring one bit about the Academy Awards and caring so deeply that you are compelled to tweet endlessly about how angry they’ve made you with their various “snubs.” For an awards show that so many insist doesn’t matter, it sure does create a lot of personal animosity. Then again, most of the outrage occurs on Twitter, which is a hyperbolic medium of expression anyhow, so any registered emotion about the nominations for the 86th Annual Academy Awards should be received through a bit of a muted filter.

Most people focus on what’s left off the ballot after the nominees are announced, and this is understandable. By and large, those included in the Oscar ceremony get some amount of a publicity push, attaining a certain credibility in the eyes of the general public. Those that are excluded aren’t exactly damned to obscurity, but it does kind of suck to see some of the best work that’s been put out in the past year in movies go unrecognized by what’s perceived as the most prestigious award ceremony in the industry.

That being said, it’s still worth noting some of the pleasant inclusions in this year’s Oscar group. American Hustle’s stellar cast was recognized, even though I might have slightly preferred Jeremy Renner’s performance to Bradley Cooper’s. Her and The Wolf of Wall Street had surprisingly strong showings. The Act of Killing and 20 Feet From Stardom are deserving nominees in the documentary category. And as a populist pick, Philomena gets into the top nine Best Picture nominees, which is certainly more praiseworthy than previous such entries like The Blind Side or The Help.

Overall, it’s as good a group of nominees as can be expected. Nevertheless, here are 10 surprising and/or notable names that were left out of contention for this year’s Academy Awards.

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1) Llewyn Davis can’t catch a break

Inside Llewyn Davis tease 001 10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

Poor Llewyn Davis. He’s been described rather aptly as having the fault of being in the right place at precisely the wrong time. Anyone who’s seen the movie knows exactly how this plays out for him. And now, fittingly, for a story about a guy who has all the talent in the world but can’t seem to get anyone to recognize it, Inside Llewyn Davis fails to be recognized by the Academy in just about every category.

It scored 2 nominations: one, very deservedly, for its outstanding cinematography by Bruno Delbonnel, and the second for sound mixing. I guess the sound mixing on “Please Mr. Kennedy” was good enough for that nomination, but not for Best Original Song. Despite being on the top of many critics’ Best of 2013 lists, the Coen brothers received no recognition for their direction, screenplay, nor editing. Oscar Isaac was left out of acting contention too, although this year’s lead actor field is exceptionally strong. And even though there was one unfilled spot in the Best Picture field with only 9 films being nominated, Llewyn Davis didn’t make the cut. It’s as if the Coens wrote the story for how awards season would play out for their movie. It plays its heart out, but in the end, the Academy looks at them and says “I don’t see a lot of awards here.”

For more on Inside Llewyn Davis, check out our exclusive video interview with the cast below.


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2) Barkhad Abdi is the captain now

Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips 10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

Out of the three major awards anticipated for Captain Phillips, not including a Best Picture nomination, which it received, only Barkhad Abdi was recognized for his supporting performance as the Somali pirate, Muse. His nomination was nice to see, given that it was a difficult role to leave a mark on, and in his debut acting performance, this new face from Minnesota brought life and individuality to his character.

That, of course, makes one wonder about how the director who is responsible for such a strong performance from a first-time actor could be completely snubbed in his respective category. Paul Greengrass has established himself as a top tier director for his ability to stage action ripped from real-life headlines, and this film is certainly his best since United 93, but what sets this film apart from his others is the performances by lead players Abdi and Tom Hanks. Hanks, similarly, was left out of consideration for Best Actor, despite delivering possibly the strongest scene of his career in the final sick bay scene. But again, both were strong fields, and I’m actually happy that Alexander Payne got a nomination for Nebraska. It was one of the year’s best films and it’s nice to see that it wasn’t overlooked.

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3) All Is Lost is not a winner

All is Lost Robert Redford 10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

On the heels of a positive night at last Sunday’s Golden Globes, J.C. Chandor’s All Is Lost got one lonely Oscar nomination for its sound editing. That’s too bad, because Alex Ebert’s original score for the film, which earned him a Golden Globe win, is one of the best of the year. The frustration comes from the impression that Ebert’s score contributed so significantly to All Is Lost and was indeed a major factor in the success of that movie, whereas a score like John Williams’ nominated work for The Book Thief may be good on its own, but doesn’t serve its material quite as strongly (or so I deduce from what I’ve read about the film, which I have not seen, so I could be completely off base here).

Again, All Is Lost suffers from a crowded field in the category of Best Actor, which is the only acting award it could compete for, as Robert Redford performs an entire one-man show. It’s for this reason that many expected him to earn a nomination—not only for the fact that he’s an elder statesman of the industry, which often results in closer consideration from the more senior demographic of the Academy, but because he has to carry to the entire movie on his own shoulders. It’s a physical role that makes you marvel at what this 77-year-old can still do. But now, all Academy members can do is write-in a ballot with Redford’s name, stick it in a bottle, and throw it out into the open sea.

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4) Noprah

The Butler 9 10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

The divisive Lee Daniels’ The Butler must have divided Academy voters, as the only Butler to be included in this year’s Oscar nominations was Will Butler of Arcade Fire for his work on the score for Her. While a Best Picture nomination was a long shot, and Best Director all but out of the question for The Butler’s Lee Daniels, Oprah Winfrey was expected to be in contention for a Supporting Actress nod, but was snubbed. Oprah! Snubbed!!

Her work in the movie is excellent, but I’m not sure who to replace in the category. Maybe Julia Roberts for August: Osage County, but certainly not Sally Hawkins, which might be my favorite performance of the year in Blue Jasmine, nor Lupita Nyong’o, the likely frontrunner for 12 Years a Slave. June Squibb is great in Nebraska too, though I must say, I was more impressed by the smaller supporting role of Angela McEwan in that film.

Sorry, Oprah.

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5) Blue is the Warmest Color left out in the cold

Blue isthe WarmestColor Feat 10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

Another competitive race in this year’s edition of the Academy Awards is the Foreign Language Film category. One omission that is worth noting is Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises, though that did get a nomination for Best Animated Feature, and is probably the favorite to win.

The nominees for Foreign film feature Golden Globe winner and presumed frontrunner The Great Beauty, The Broken Circle Breakdown, The Hunt, and a couple of dark horses from Cambodia and Palestine.

The Past is a bit of a surprising absence from this list, but the big name left out of consideration is the controversial Palme d’Or winner, Blue is the Warmest Color. It gained attention for its long lesbian sex scenes, but even moreso for its compelling story of a young woman coming of age in terms of her sexual identity but also just as an adult woman. The love story is pivotal but not principal to the lead character Adele, who is played by Adele Exarchopoulos, who was also excluded from the Best Actress category, somewhat unsurprisingly. It’s unfortunate to see one of the best movies of the year go without mention at the Oscars, but it’s had enough good press, and perhaps the more obscure titles nominated will get more out of the publicity.

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6) There’s no Saving Mr. Banks

Emma Thompson and Tom Hanks in Saving Mr. Banks 10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

Also surprising is the one measly nomination for Saving Mr. Banks, which gets a nod for Thomas Newman’s original score. It’s a bit of a divisive movie, with many dismissing it as “Oscar bait,” whatever that actually means. I found it to be charming and different from most of the fare released this year though and I think it would have been a welcome addition to the Best Picture category, had there been a tenth title included (and if Llewyn Davis had to be left off).

The biggest shock, however, might be that Emma Thompson was excluded from the Best Actress category, bumped out by an impressive group of performers delivering strong work in 2013. If she were to have replaced any of them, it might have been Sandra Bullock, despite an extraordinary performance in Gravity, or maybe Judi Dench, whose work on Philomena was strong but not earth-shattering.

Then again, I don’t mind John Lee Hancock being snubbed because his career was made by receiving a nomination for The Blind Side. So he’s done alright.

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7) Could have been better for Her

Her FILM 10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

Nearly everyone who sees it seems to agree that Her is one of the past year’s best and most charming movies, but even so, it’s a bit of a surprise to see how many Oscar nominations it earned. The biggest pleasant surprise has to be its inclusion in the Original Song category, with Karen O getting a nod for her “Moon Song,” one of the sweetest and most beautiful musical moments at the movies this year. Arcade Fire and Owen Pallett’s original score was also nominated, which gets the band one step closer to the coveted EGOT.

So it’s hard to be unsatisfied with how Her fared this year, but if it were up to me, I would have included Scarlett Johansson in the running for her wonderful performance as Samantha, even though I know she’s not technically eligible for whatever arbitrary reason. More disappointing is that Joaquin Phoenix didn’t make it in, because like Robert Redford, most of the movie relies on him occupying the frame and making Theodore Twombly the most endearing character of 2013. And Spike Jonze really deserves more recognition as a director, but he should win for Best Screenplay, so let’s not be too greedy.

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8) 12 Years a Slave, only 9 nominations

film 12yearsaslave 650 10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

As expected, 12 Years a Slave garnered 9 big nominations and is a heavy favorite to take home Best Picture following its win at the Golden Globes. What was not expected was that it received fewer nominations than two other movies that both received 10.

The first of the two is Gravity, which understandably received a lot of recognition for its technical excellence, making the whole concept of accumulating the number of Academy Award nominations somewhat misleading when comparing the multiple fields for sound and visual effects to scripts and acting.

The other movie to get 10 nominations is American Hustle, thanks to another ensemble piece by David O. Russell that earned nods in all four acting categories. 12 Years could have eclipsed these two contenders for most nominations had it made the cut in a couple more categories that it was expected to be recognized for: cinematography and score.

Sean Bobbitt’s cinematography in combination with Hans Zimmer’s music helped give 12 Years a Slave its distinct tone and were crucial to Steve McQueen’s vision in relating Solomon Northup’s story with the utmost impact, and yet they were nudged out by other less deserving work. And that’s the way it goes with these awards, further demonstrating why it’s best to consider the Academy Awards as merely one of many sources for film recognition in a given year.

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9) Great day for SeaWorld

Blackfish 10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

The documentary field in 2013 may be the strongest of any year to date. The Act of Killing was nominated, which is good, as there likely would have been some kind of riot from its many passionate advocates. 20 Feet From Stardom is outstanding, and it’s nice to see it recognized. I have yet to see The Square, but those who have hail it as a masterpiece.

There were literally dozens of docs that could have been nominated this year, including Tim’s Vermeer, At Berkeley, After Tiller, The Crash Reel (my personal favorite documentary of the year), The Armstrong Lie, and many more.

I think that people will be most disappointed that Blackfish was not included though, and as many have pointed out already, the big winner of the day might be SeaWorld, who are the primary target of the scathing documentary for their mistreatment of marine mammals. The movie has already garnered a lot of attention on CNN and elsewhere, and SeaWorld has been making statements left and right claiming the movie is misleading and a misrepresentation of their practices. I’m of the opinion that it deserved to be listed with the other great documentaries of the year, maybe in place of Dirty Wars, although that was a great and revelatory film.

Either way, SeaWorld is likely breathing a sigh of relief, as this is one category where inclusion can actually make a real life difference for some of the causes behind the movies that were made.

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10) Stories We Tell gets told ‘nope’

Stories We Tell1 10 Noteworthy Omissions From The 2014 Academy Award Nominations

The one documentary, indeed the one movie, that I was pulling for the most was Sarah Polley’s absolute masterpiece of a personal film, Stories We Tell. I’ve never seen such a private story be extended in such a way to illuminate compelling philosophical ideas about how we make sense of our lives and how we decide to relate it to the people around us. The consolation I take is that it’s hard to categorize it as a pure documentary, and it was also released so long ago for those of us in Canada that its greatness is already long established and an Oscar won’t contribute that much to the movie’s legacy, which is already firmly in place. It’s just a matter of time until Polley gets the Oscar recognition she deserves, but she’s still young and her moment will come.

There are other examples of work many wish would have been nominated but were unsurprisingly unmentioned as well: James Franco in Spring Breakers, Daniel Bruhl in Rush, the cast of Prisoners, Michael B. Jordan in Fruitvale Station. These movies will go down in history as receiving fewer nominations than whatever the hell Alone but Not Alone is/was. A better test of the greatness of movies and performances is, as we most likely all agree, the test of time. Plenty of Academy Award nominees and winners have faded into oblivion while work that went unrecognized in its time is now celebrated generations later. That, however, is a little more difficult to tweet about.

Are you pleased or disappointed with the nominations for the 2014 Academy Awards? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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  • Vitamin D

    Aparently, Im the only one who saw Out of The Furnace. Feels like Im taking crazy pills here

    • wikig1itch

      I was really disappointed by it, it felt so flat… but Bale & Harrelson are great though

  • sky_erosion

    Blue is the Warmest Colour is not an omission, since the production company simply released it too late in France for the Foreign Language Film category. You could argue though that it was an omission for Best Film in general and Best Actress…