“Oscar Snub” has become a phrase uttered every year at this time, and it’s no wonder why. The Oscars have a long history of failing to nominate films/actors/actresses/directors that are more than worthy of a nomination nod. When a film we found particularly noteworthy isn’t nominated, it leaves a sour taste in your mouth and you wonder what went wrong. Think Leonardo DiCaprio not getting a nomination for Best Actor for 2006’s The Departed. Or when Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind wasn’t considered for Best Picture in 2005.
However, even being nominated isn’t enough anymore. Remember in 2003 when Chicago won Best Picture over superior films like The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Gangs of New York and The Pianist and was met with a collective “really?” by viewers. Or one of the worst to date – Shakespeare in Love wins Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan – seriously?
So how are the nominees selected? For the uninitiated, the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences – made up of some 6,000 members of filmmakers (these can be actors, directors, producers, writers, etc.) who pick 5 choices in their order of preferences for each category. These are all counted up and the nomination with the most picks becomes the first official nominee, and so on and so forth. After the official nominees are announced, the Academy then votes again – one vote per category, and these are your Oscar winners.
Sounds legitimate enough, but why are so many brilliant films, notable performances and exceptional directing sometimes cast aside? This year alone there have been several Oscar snubs that have made me question whether or not the Academy Awards are really still relevant at all, as a celebration of filmmaking or rather just a bunch of Hollywood’s elite picking their favourite film.
The snub most people are talking about is The LEGO Movie. Featuring hilarious voice talent from Chris Pratt, Liam Neeson, Elizabeth Banks and Morgan Freeman, a solid, funny and surprisingly heart-warming story and near universal acclaim from critics, The LEGO Movie failed to garner a nomination for Best Animated Feature Film, instead nominated only for Best Original Song.
Getting even more mind-boggling is the fact that historical-drama Selma, while rightly nominated for Best Picture, failed to acknowledge the outstanding performance given by David Oyewolo as Martin Luther King, Jr. Having only seen him here and there in film in the past few years (most notably Rise of the Planet of the Apes and The Butler), Oyewolo delivered a performance I did not think him capable of, and was convinced a nomination was well on the way for him – I was wrong.
Not to mention the masterful direction of Selma by Ava DuVernay, who would’ve become the first African-American female director to be considered for a Best Director nod, was overlooked for the likes of Bennett Miller (Foxcatcher) and Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game), two directors and films where I found the direction to not be particularly noteworthy, let alone Oscar-worthy. Even George Lucas took the time to comment on this particular Oscar snub.
The biggest snub, for me, is for the film Nightcrawler. While writer-director Dan Gilroy was rightly nominated for Best Original Screenplay, he joins DuVernay in the not-nominated camp. Even more outrageous is a career-best performance by Jake Gyllenhaal as a sadistic but charming videographer not being considered for Best Actor. Sure, Michael Keaton brought a lot to the role of Riggan Thompson in Birdman, but who is to say Val Kilmer or George Clooney couldn’t have done the same? Gyllenhaal immersed himself so much into the character of Lou Bloom, on a level that reminded me of Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in The Dark Knight. Oh, not to mention Nightcrawler isn’t nominated for Best Picture either.
Being such a glamourized event from such a prestigious organisation – those golden statues do look pretty shiny – the Oscars fool us into believing that the nominees and winners of these awards are truly the best Hollywood has to offer. The sad truth of the matter is they've barely scratched the surface of the talent that hits cinema screens each and every year.
A full list of the nominees can be found here: