If Oscar prognostication is a sport, then nominations morning is the playoff game. And of course, as gratifying as it may be to find that you’ve accurately predicted the outcomes, it’s even more satisfying to decry the injustice of the names that went unnamed and debate the merits of those that made the cut. For all the certainty of nods to Viola Davis and La La Land‘s left pinky toe, here are all the unexpected decisions the Academy had in store this morning:
- Essay: The Tyre Nichols Videos Demand Solemnity, Not Sensationalism
- For People With Disabilities, Losing Abortion Access Can Be a Matter of Life or Death
- Inside the Stealth Efforts to Smuggle Starlink Internet Into Iran
- Natasha Lyonne on Poker Face and Creating Characters Who Subvert Leading-Lady Tropes
- How to Help the Victims and Community After the Monterey Park Shooting
- Why Grocery Staples Are So Expensive Right Now
- Quantum Computers Could Solve Countless Problems—and Create a Lot of New Ones
- Where to Watch All of the 2023 Oscar Nominees
- How to Be Mindful if You Hate Meditating
Surprise: Michael Shannon
There’s no debating that Michael Shannon deserves all the awards, all the time. But his performance as a Texas sheriff in Nocturnal Animals has gotten minimal play in awards season thus far. It was his costar, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, whose Golden Globe win upset the expected win for Mahershala Ali; it remains to be seen whether Shannon will do the same on Oscar Sunday, but his presence among the pack is a nice surprise.
Snub: Annette Bening
Bening has been nominated for four Academy Awards, and many believed that her nuanced turn as the mother of a teenaged boy in the late ’70s in 20th Century Women might land her her first win. Alas, she was edged out by a competitive field. At least she and husband Warren Beatty, whose decades-in-the-making Rules Don’t Apply failed to register with voters, can commiserate together.
Surprise: Viggo Mortensen
The star of Matt Ross’ quirky summer indie Captain Fantastic was an outside choice throughout the run-up to nominations for Best Actor. But the absence of Tom Hanks (Sully) and Joel Edgerton (Loving), and the fact that Andrew Garfield was unlikely to be nominated for both Hacksaw Ridge and Silence (he was nominated for the former) made room for recognition of Mortensen’s memorable performance.
Snub: Tom Ford
Surprise: Lucas Hedges
Lucas Hedges’ nomination for Best Supporting Actor for Manchester by the Sea is not exactly a shock, given the now-20-year-old’s breakout performance, and the fact that the Academy likes to recognize talent on the rise. But it wasn’t a given, either, considering the number of pundits who expected Florence Foster Jenkins’ Hugh Grant to box out the newcomer.
Snub: Hugh Grant
Surprise: Mike Mills
The existence of two separate screenwriting categories at the Oscars (adapted and original, as opposed to the Golden Globes’ jamming everything into one bunch) allows more room to recognize deserving screenwriters. This year, one of those writers is Mike Mills, whose nomination is the only nod for 20th Century Women, a charming gem of an indie whose total exclusion would have been a disappointment.
Snub: Amy Adams
Surprise: Yorgos Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou
Snub: Martin Scorsese
Silence, the director’s long-gestating passion project about 17th-century Jesuit missionaries in Japan, has been conspicuously absent throughout awards season, despite overwhelmingly positive reviews. Though it failed to land nominations for Best Picture, Director and Leading Actor (Andrew Garfield), it did receive one much-deserved nod for Rodrigo Prieto’s stunning cinematography.
Snub: Pharrell Williams
After it nabbed Golden Globe nominations for Best Picture (Musical or Comedy) and Best Actor (Ryan Reynolds), it looked like there might be a chance for the pottymouthed superhero to make an appearance at Hollywood’s main event. But superheroes, it appears, are still too middle-brow for the distinguished Academy’s tastes.
Snub – Janelle Monáe (Hidden Figures): 2016 was the year Monáe proved herself as an actress, in both Moonlight and Hidden Figures, and she deserved the Supporting Actress nomination as much as costar Octavia Spencer.
Snub – Denzel Washington (Fences): Though he got an acting nomination, Washington was on the bubble for a directing nomination, as well.
Snub – Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Nocturnal Animals): His surprising win at the Golden Globes had some wondering whether he’d crack the Oscar bubble, too. But the honor went to his costar, Michael Shannon.
Snub – Tom Hanks (Sully): America’s dad-slash-David S. Pumpkins didn’t make the cut this year for his performance as pilot Chesley Sullenberger, making it 17 years and counting since we’ve seen him nominated.
Snub – Sunny Pawar (Lion): He may be only 8 years old, but the young actor carried the first half of Lion.
Snub – Finding Dory: Pixar’s one film in 2016 proved that some sequels are as worthy as the original. If only the Academy had a category for most adorable baby blue tang fish, it would certainly have gone unopposed.
Snub – Weiner: When it was released at Sundance a year ago, Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg’s Anthony Weiner documentary had the distinct, metallic scent of an Oscar. But in a particularly strong year for docs, it didn’t end up among the gilded five.
Surprise – Mel Gibson (Hacksaw Ridge): Though the director’s name has been present throughout the lead-up to the announcement of nominations, the Academy’s decision to recognize him represents a definitive and unexpected comeback after years of negative attention.