Movie News & Reviews

Painful! Oscar nominations’ 10 worst snubs, with reaction

“The Lego Movie” was seen as a favorite to win best animated movie, but it wasn’t even nominated.
“The Lego Movie” was seen as a favorite to win best animated movie, but it wasn’t even nominated. Warner Bros.

“Selma” gets only two nominations? “The Lego Movie,” one of the most popular and critically acclaimed films of the year, misses an animation nomination? And where is “Gone Girl”?

Here are the 10 most egregious snubs among the Academy Award nominations announced Thursday:

1. ‘Selma’

Yes, this moving, critically revered civil rights story snagged a best picture nomination. And a nod for original song (for Common and John Legend’s Golden Globe-winning “Glory”). But that’s all. David Oyelowo delivered one of the best performances of the year as Martin Luther King Jr. And director Ava DuVernay made it all happen. But President Lyndon Johnson’s admirers have complained that the film paints him in a bad light. This is not the first “based on a true story” picture under fire for historical inaccuracies (“Lincoln,” “A Beautiful Mind”). But the academy should be more concerned with art than history.

2. “The Lego Movie”

What? Was it too cool? Too groundbreaking? Too surprising? Too entertaining? Everything is awesome in this animated adventure, starring the voices of Chris Pratt and Will Ferrell. Critics loved it (96 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes). Audiences loved it (the year’s fourth-highest-grossing movie with $258 million). But it was passed over for “Big Hero 6,” Golden Globe winner “How to Train Your Dragon 2,” “The Boxtrolls” and two obscure foreign entries, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” and “Song of the Sea.” At least “Lego” was nominated for original song.

3. “Gone Girl”

This gripping, surprising psychological thriller could easily have been nominated for best picture, director (David Fincher) and screenplay (which KC’s Gillian Flynn adapted from her best-seller). But its only recognition was a best actress nomination for the excellent Rosamund Pike. Was it too toxic for the tame academy to swallow?

4. Diverse performers

Among the 20 acting nominees, guess how many are nonwhite? Zero. Such a disappointment after last year, when three were black, including supporting actress winner Lupita Nyong’o of “12 Years a Slave” — which won best picture. This year’s actor race is indeed very competitive, but “Selma’s” David Oyelowo deserved one of those slots. And if Marion Cotillard can sneak into the best actress field with the little-seen “Two Days, One Night,” why not newcomer Gugu Mbatha-Raw, for either “Belle” or “Beyond the Lights”?

5. Diverse directors

If diversity is a problem among acting nominees, it’s a travesty among directors. In all of academy history, only three nominees in this category were black (all were men; none have won) and only four were women (Kathryn Bigelow won for 2009’s “The Hurt Locker”). Angelina Jolie did an admirable job with “Unbroken” but not quite admirable enough (her movie is up for three technical awards). The true snub was for director Ava DuVernay, whose powerful “Selma” could have made her the first black woman to be nominated. One consolation: One of the five nominees is not white: Alejandro G. Inarritu for “Birdman.”

6. Jennifer Aniston

The former “Friend” ditched the comedy to transform into a chronic-pain sufferer in “Cake.” The drama (which hasn’t, and may never, play in KC and has no DVD date yet) was dismissed by critics, but her performance was good enough to earn nominations from the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild. Maybe she’ll have to suffer more to get Oscar’s attention.

7. Clint Eastwood

The Directors Guild of America saw fit to give Old Squint Eyes a coveted nomination, and he won the directing award from the National Board of Review. But strangely, while Oscar voters liked “American Sniper” enough to give it picture, actor and screenplay nominations, Eastwood, once a perennial nominee, was passed over.

8. Jake Gyllenhaal

The actor got really twisted playing a creepy, bloodthirsty news cameraman in “Nightcrawler.” Maybe too twisted? Looks like crazy Steve Carell in “Foxcatcher” and going-crazy Michael Keaton in “Birdman” were all the academy could handle in the best actor category. At least “Nightcrawler” got some love for its original screenplay.

9. “A Most Violent Year”

Oscar Isaac and Jessica Chastain are exceptional in J.C. Chandor’s crime drama about New York immigrants. But the movie wasn’t promoted much, and it’s arriving late to the party — after opening in a handful of cities last month to qualify, it won’t hit KC theaters until Jan. 30. Coming in with zero nominations won’t help the box office.

10. “Life Itself”

This poignant celebration of the late movie critic Roger Ebert seemed like a favorite to win the documentary category. But it wasn’t even nominated. This after its director, Steve James, was snubbed for his acclaimed 1994 basketball documentary, “Hoop Dreams.” Thumbs down.

The Academy Awards will be presented Feb. 22.

To reach Sharon Hoffmann, call 816-234-4457 or send email to shoffmann@kcstar.com.

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