Every year, we all have our favourites in the Oscars race and, every year, we all enjoy a good rant about how our favourite film, actress or franchise were done dirty. The Academy Awards can't make everyone happy, of course, and there will always be excellent films that, much to our disappointment, don't quite make it onto the podium. However, some losses sting that little bit more than others, such as the glaring omission of female filmmakers in the category Best Director at the upcoming 92nd edition of the Academy Awards.
Cinephiles across the globe have spent the past few months placing performers such as Jennifer Lopez for 'Hustlers' and Adam Sandler for 'Uncut Gems' at the top of their lists of the most likely candidates for nomination, so when neither of these two actors were included amongst the final cut, it made it clear that there are certain prejudices regarding film that the Academy still clings to even as we move into this next decade of filmmaking.
The surprises weren't just limited to the live-action categories, however, with 'Frozen 2' missing out on a nomination for the Best Animated Film category despite its cult following and positive reception. This snub was just the beginning of a long list, however, and so we've constructed the following breakdown of 11 snubs and 7 shockers that came with the official list of 2020 Oscar nominees.
And the Oscar goes to...
The ceremony for the 92nd edition of the Oscars will take place on the 9th February at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. Following on in last year's footsteps, the gala will not have a host to direct the night's proceedings. What the night will have, however, is a wealth of film stars, a generous helping of humour, a dash of emotion and, of course, a whole lot of controversial results.
1SNUB: Where'd you go, female directors?
Despite the heated debate surrounding Todd Phillips' inclusion in the race for Best Director given that he was not nominated by the Directors Guild of America, no-one can deny that Bong Joon-ho, Quentin Tarantino, Sam Mendes and Martin Scorsese earned their place on the shortlist with their selected films.
However, regardless of which man you believe deserves the trophy, films directed by women have become increasingly present in both popular and critical discussion in recent years. The Academy had every opportunity to acknowledge this with Greta Gerwig who, had she been nominated for Best Director for 'Little Women', would have become the first woman in the history of the Oscars to be nominated twice in that category. 'Little Women' is up for six awards in total, including the coveted award for Best Film, but Greta Gerwig's directorial efforts didn't receive so much as a nod. Other women that deserved to be considered for this category include Céline Sciamma ('Portrait of a Lady on Fire'), Lulu Wang ('The Farewell'), Marielle Heller ('A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood', Lorene Scafaria ('Hustlers') and Jennifer Kent ('The Nightingale'), but these talented filmmakers were also passed over by the Academy when it came to select the (male) nominees.
On a more positive note, 62 women have been nominated across various categories this year, a statistic that smashes the previous record held by the Oscars. A third of this year's nominees are women, making their presence in the ceremony much more strongly felt - with the exception of within the directorial category, of course.
2SURPRISE: 'Joker' takes the Oscars by storm
Many fans of the controversial 2019 hit 'Joker' were overjoyed, if surprised, by the amount of nominations received by the film and its director, Todd Phillips. In fact, this film about one of DC's most iconic villains ended up being the most nominated film of the year, making it the most successful comic to screen adaptation in the history of the Oscars. Could this be a sign that 'Joker' will be the film of the night, or will it fall at the last hurdle? We'd be surprised if the film goes home empty handed, with Joaquin Phoenix the current favourite to clinch the award for Best Actor. Who's laughing now?
3SNUB: People of colour
With Cynthia Erivo settling into her well-earned spot on the list of nominees for Best Actress for 'Harriet' and the Korean cinema phenomenon 'Parasite' garnering a considerable amount of nominations itself, this year's Oscars have just managed to avoid another year of shame under the #OscarSoWhite hashtag (the same cannot be said for the BAFTAs, unfortunately). However, even with these nominations, the 2020 Oscars are still overwhelmingly white. Much like Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Murphy, who received critical acclaim for his big-screen homecoming in 'Dolemite Is My Name', was left out of the final race. The cold shoulder given to the wonderful Lupita Nyong'o following her complex performance in 'Us' is equally disappointing and made many of us eye our kitchen scissors a little too thoughtfully.
4SURPRISE: Tom Hanks makes his return to the Oscars
A week ago, Tom Hanks was awarded the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the Golden Globes for his contribution to the film industry. His emotional acceptance speech trigged more than a few tears, so brace yourselves for Hanks' second surprise of the month: the actor has been nominated for an Oscar for the first time in 19 years. His slot amongst the Best Supporting Actor candidates for his role as Fred Rogers in 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood' is the first Academy Awards nomination he has received since he was up for Best Actor in 2001 with 'Cast Away'. If he wins, that would make it his third Oscar and the first he has gained since 'Forrest Gump' in 1995. Unfortunately, he'll have to overtake candidates such as Joe Pesci or current favourite Brad Pitt to do so, and those two are already pretty far ahead in the race.
5SNUB: Adam Sandler
Few people probably ever thought that they would be disappointed to see Adam Sandler forgotten amongst the nominees for Best Actor. However, his leading role in 'Uncut Gems' was met with widespread acclaim and sent him shooting into the awards race, receiving nominations from numerous critical associations and earning an award from the National Board of Review. His conspicuous absence from the Golden Globes and BAFTAs probably should have led us to catch on to this imminent snub, however. Before the nominees were announced, the actor himself jokingly warned the Academy that if he was not nominated, he'd get his sweet revenge by making (another) shockingly bad movie. At least the money he'll no doubt make from it will soothe the sting of this particular snub, though.
6SURPRISE: Animation beyond Disney
The category of Best Animated Film provided two considerable surprises when the nominees were recently announced. The more pleasant of the two is that this year's nominees are showcasing the impressive animation, artwork and filmmaking coming from across the world. 'I Lost My Body', a French indie flick, and 'Klaus', a Spanish Christmas romp, are amongst the nominations for this year, marking two of the productions associated with Netflix to be represented at the Academy Awards this year.
7SNUB: 'Frozen 2'
The other surprise in the animation category comes from the omission of 'Frozen 2', one of the most hyped films of the year and current favourite at the upcoming Annie Awards for animation. Disney will have to content itself with a single nomination for Best Original Song with 'Into the Unknown', though we doubt that the most ardent of 'Frozen' fans will "let it go" anytime soon.
8SURPRISE: The cinematography of 'The Lighthouse'.
This recent arrival in cinemas, directed by Robert Eggers, is one of the most sophisticated works of visual mastery that this past year of cinema has seen. We are delighted to see it included amongst the nominees for Best Cinematography, even if it's unlikely that the dark psychological drama will be taking home the statuette. That particular prize most likely has the name Roger Deakins ('1917') already etched on it, and understandably so.
9SNUB: Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe
This surprise nomination comes with a bittersweet aftertaste, however. Both Robert Pattinson and Willem Dafoe throw themselves into their performances in 'The Lighthouse', expertly dancing and dueling with each other as only truly accomplished actors can, despite the fact that the young 'Twilight' star is going up against one of the most well-established actors that Hollywood has to offer. Pattinson shone in 'The Lighthouse' and was lauded as delivering one of the best performances of the year from the moment that the film started showing in festivals. Instead, he ended up being one of the worst snubs in the entire awards race.
10SURPRISE: Kathy Bates
Although there is no replacing the incomparable Jennifer Lopez, we are overjoyed to see Kathy Bates receive the recognition she deserves in the Best Supporting Actress category. Her role in Clint Eastwood's 'Richard Jewell' won her the fourth Oscar nomination of her career and her first since 2003. This would be her second win since she clinched the Best Actress award for 'Misery' in 1991, but we wouldn't place your bets too quickly. That particular statue seems to already have Laura Dern's name on it following her star turn in 'Marriage Story'.
Awkwafina deservedly won the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Comedy Film for 'The Farewell', and yet the Academy Awards have overlooked her wonderful performance completely. Though admittedly the Oscars rarely find themselves giving out awards to hidden indie gems such as 'The Farewell', her role as Billi Wang marked the first leading film role of the actress-rapper, and a nomination would have done a great deal to leave the #OscarsSoWhite hashtag where it belongs: in the past.
12SURPRISE: Jonathan Pryce
This year's Netflix campaign certainly discovered the secret to successfully promoting its candidates, with the streaming platform on top as the most nominated studio of the year, with 24 nominations under its belt, though Netflix officials likely have their fingers crossed that this upcoming ceremony will not leave them as disappointed as the Golden Globes did. Jonathan Pryce is amongst the nominees for Best Actor thanks to his role in 'The Two Popes' in a move that very few people were expecting. Nonetheless, the actor's interpretation of Pope Francis and his masterful push-and-pull with Anthony Hopkins certainly deserves all of the applause that it is receiving.
13SNUB: Taron Edgerton
Deserving a little more applause that he is currently getting, however, is Taron Egerton, who took to the big screen as singer Elton John in 'Rocketman'. Egerton took part in a tireless campaign to have the film and his performance recognised and his efforts were so successful that he even ended up taking home the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Comedy Film. The Academy Awards, unfortunately, let the sun go down on this particular actor when they left him without nominations for his role.
14SURPRISE AND SNUB: 'Le Mans '66'
James Mangold's 'Le Mans '66' was well-received by critics, but nobody could have predicted that it would go on to be nominated for Best Film at the Oscars. The film accumulated four nominations in total but, bizarrely, none for Christian Bale, turning this particular surprise into a snub before you could say "ready, set, go".
15SNUB: Robert De Niro
'The Irishman' boasts 10 nominations in this year's Oscars, making it one of the most nominated films of the night, but not one of them is for its leading actor and titular Irishman. Whilst it was certainly difficult to narrow down this year's nominees for Best Actor, which many believe will go to Joaquin Phoenix anyway, 'The Irishman' would have been the perfect Oscars comeback story for Robert De Niro, who has not won an Academy Award since 1981 with 'Raging Bull'. At least he still has a chance at recognition as one of the film's producers alongside Martin Scorsese and Emma Tillinger Koskoff.
Put forth by Columbia as their entry in the race for Best Foreign Language Film, 'Monos' is one of the best films released this year, and that's that. Though it could not have competed with the masterpiece that is 'Parasite', this war drama certainly deserved a look in on this year's list of nominees.
17SNUB: Song Kang-ho
Out of all of the 'Parasite' cast, Song Kang-ho has been the most highly praised this awards season for his role as patriarch Kim Ki-taek. Unfortunately for us, for Song Kang-ho and for Hollywood, the Academy seems dead set on forgetting any non-white actor or actress deserving of a nomination.
18SNUB... WE THINK: The editing of '1917'
Let us close on one of the biggest cinematic debates of the year. The editorial work by Lee Smith may be near invisible to the eye given that this Sam Mendes film is made to resemble a sequence shot, yet perhaps it is exactly that subtly and nuance that deserves the Academy's recognition. Should the editing of '1917' been included amongst the numerous nominations it has already received across the technical categories? May the debate continue.