Oscar nominations were announced this morning, and as always, they went their own way. It’s not surprising that the Best Picture nominees are, once again, out of step with the top box-office performers.
The general public doesn’t know anything about Drive My Car, Belfast, Licorice Pizza or CODA, and King Richard bombed, despite fantastic reviews. There were no Best Picture nominations for critically-lauded box-office smashes like Spider-Man: No Way Home or No Time To Die, though they did get noticed in Best Visual Effects and Best Original Song.
One film that was both commercially successful and a huge powerhouse on nomination morning was Dune. But as with every year, the big discussion leading into ceremony night will surround snubs and surprises. Here are my thoughts on the noms:
Denis Villeneuve misses out on Best Director
Despite Dune nabbing 10 Oscar nominations this year, auteur Denis Villeneuve was passed over for recognition for directing the sci-fi epic. The highly-touted Canadian was expected to land his second direction nom, but a late surge in support for foreign-language film Drive My Car saw Ryusuke Hamaguchi take his assumed slot.
Kirsten Dunst & Jesse Plemons show their Power
One of two real-life couples nominated for Oscars this year (Penelope Cruz & Javier Bardem are the other), neither were tipped to break through in difficult Supporting Actor & Actress categories. But a swell of support for Netflix film The Power Of The Dog landed the film a leading 12 nominations this year, and all four principle cast in the mix for awards consideration.
Ben Affleck has a bad week
Despite a career-best turn as breezy, advice-giving Uncle Charlie in director George Clooney’s serviceable The Tender Bar, Affleck found himself out in the cold again. His other 2021 performance – a campy, devilish turn as a blonde-goateed count in Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel – also landed him a Worst Actor Razzie nomination this week. His recent press campaign expressing his disappointment over no Acting or Directing nominations for 2013 Oscar-winning Argo couldn’t have helped his cause either.
Kristen Stewart makes a royal return
When Stewart missed out on a slew of pre-cursor awards – including the recent BAFTA nominations – many thought it was over for the Twilight alum. But she could not be tamed, and the Academy has recognized her in the Best Actress for this fantastic portrayal of Princess Diana. Stewart is magnetic here, and here’s to hoping she grabs that Oscar too.
Ruth Negga’s Supporting turn passed by
A dominating presence in a subpar movie, many thought Negga’s nomination in the Supporting Actress category for Passing was a lock. She owns the screen, and is the singular reason to see this Netflix original. But, as they often do, the Academy veered in a whole other direction here.
Much has been said about Bardem’s co-star Nicole Kidman, and her wonderful work portrayal Lucille Ball in Amazon Prime Video’s Being The Ricardos. She’s absolutely flawless, but Bardem just seemed he would be passed over as Desi Arnaz in an extremely difficult Leading Actor category. Alas, he somehow managed to push ahead of both Leonardo DiCaprio and Peter Dinklage to nab that last slot.
Voters not enthralled by House Of Gucci’s style
Director Ridley Scott’s hugely divisive, all-over-the-map look at the Gucci family and their sordid history was one of those films people either loved or hated.
However, there were a few pieces of House Of Gucci worth Oscar recognition, and unfortunately the film was only recognized for Makeup and Hairstyling. Lady Gaga and Jared Leto – presumed nominees for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor – just didn’t manage to charm Oscar voters.
It should come as no surprise, consider Leto somehow managed both a Golden Globe nomination and a Razzie nomination for his flamboyant, larger-than-life performance.
Judi Dench nabs 8th Oscar nomination
In a film full of absolutely fantastic performances, the wonderful Dame Judi Dench managed to land an Oscar nod as a smart, wise Granny in director Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. She doesn’t have much screen-time, but she makes the most of it. Her performance helps to anchor a film that requires steady, interesting characters, and I was happy to see her land some recognition.
Caitriona Balfe & Jamie Dornan lose supporting bids
The Matriarch and Patriarch of Belfast somehow managed to be left out, despite Branagh’s Belfast being one of the most well-reviewed films of the year.
Caitriona Balfe was being hugely favoured for her first Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Unfortunately, the combination of Dench’s inclusion and a surprise slot for Jessie Buckley (of The Lost Daughter) just didn’t allow for it.
Jamie Dornan – who was expected to land a Best Supporting Actor nod along with Ciarin Hinds – found himself looked over. It’s my expectation his 50 Shades Of Grey days haven’t been entirely forgotten, despite an eclectic, hugely prominent independent film track record since the racy blockbusters.
Unfortunately, these two couldn’t get slots for their incredible work in the Ireland-set drama.
Drive My Car & Nightmare Alley push into Best Picture race
In a surprising turn of events, Tick, Tick… BOOM! Was pushed out of the main race, and foreign-language Drive My Car made its way in. Nightmare Alley – the glorious Guillermo Del Toro film – had been mostly overlooked until this point. It was welcomed and surprising it landed a Best Picture nomination. Drive My Car may have benefitted from the strong showing of foreign-language flick Parasite a few years back, as it nabbed nods for Best Picture and Best Director unexpectedly.
A Hero can’t crack foreign-language picture list
The amazing, intricate Amazon Prime Video original lost out on that last slot in the Best International Feature category to Bhutan film Lunana: A Yak In The Classroom. I have absolutely no idea what that film is, but it has to be absolutely amazing to knock director Asghar Farhadi’s character study out of contention.