Dear readers, this year’s path to the Oscars has officially kicked off. With the 2023 Academy Award Nominations now freshly released into the world, the endgame of awards season is truly in sight. As usual, some pleasant surprises were to be had, especially with films like All Quiet on the Western Front and Triangle of Sadness earning some dark horse nominations throughout the field.
But for all of the joy that can come out of 2023’s most surprising Oscar noms, there’s always cases like Tom Cruise, Sarah Polley, and Jordan Peele’s Nope, where the snubs speak just as loudly. It’s time for the conversation that always takes place on Oscar nomination morning, as those are just three of the 13 cases of snubbery we’re about to discuss. Brace yourselves folks, it’s time to wade through the big snubs that came from the 2023 Oscar nods.
Tom Cruise – Best Actor, Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick was a huge part of helping bring people back to the movies, and the spectacle that nailed its Best Picture nomination was only part of the equation. Tom Cruise’s return to Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell was also one for the books, and a performance that really dug deeper into the icon we were introduced to in the late ‘80s. How that was overlooked is beyond me, and it’s only the beginning of the overlooked gems.
Viola Davis – Best Actress, The Woman King
An unshakable presence in whatever she does, Academy Award winner Viola Davis had people talking about her acting and action prowess with The Woman King. Proving that it’s even hard for a previous winner to land on the ballot, Davis’ performance in director Gina Prince-Blythwood’s historically inspired epic failed to make the final pack. Your guess is as good as ours as to how or why that even happened, as even our own Corey Chichizola saw that promise in our official Woman King review.
Sarah Polley – Best Director, Women Talking
You could have seen it coming a mile away. While writer/director Sarah Polley was nominated for Best Original Screenplay with her Women Talking script, her lack of a Best Director nod is still pretty glaring. Once again, no female directors are in the running for this competition, and this omission seems like the loudest flub. We questioned if 2023 was going to be another terrible Oscar year for female directors, and to be proven right is something that never feels good.
The Women Talking Acting Ensemble
Let’s just knock this related disappointment out of the park while we’re at it, because the lack of acting nominations for Women Talking is just as upsetting. There were a lot of fantastic choices, as Sarah Polley assembled one hell of an ensemble to tell this particular story with. The fact that even the safe option like Frances McDormand, or blazing performances from Jessie Buckley and Claire Foy were all ignored is pretty crazy for a Best Picture nominee.
James Cameron – Best Director, Avatar: The Way of Water
No matter what you thought of the movie, you have to admit that James Cameron is a directing madman for the way he tackles movies like Avatar: The Way of Water. To keep all of those plates spinning, over multiple films, and with other duties like being one of the series’ co-writers is something that deserves quite a bit of credit. But somehow, those efforts on the 2022 follow-up, as well as Cameron’s devotion to Cinema weren’t as noteworthy as his 2009 original.
RRR – Best Picture/Best International Feature Film
Throughout a good portion of 2022 director S. S. Rajamouli’s RRR became a cinematic sensation that was truly a must see. Dazzling visuals, high octane action, and an infectious energy filled the film with a joy that seemed to sweep the land, and nab the catchy “Naatu Naatu” a nomination for Best Original Song. And yet, even with James Cameron himself paying Rajamouli’s film some pretty high praise, this would-be barnstormer missed out on both Best Picture and Best International Film. This may not have ended in bloodshed, but it’s certainly ending in tears.
Decision To Leave – Best International Feature Film
Director Park Chan-Wook’s “romantic mystery film” Decision To Leave is another project that felt like it would have assuredly gotten a spot in the Best International Feature Film category. Between the pedigree of the Oldboy director, and the solid art house buzz that centered around the film, it was a prospect too good to be ignored.
Michael Giacchino – Best Original Score, The Batman
How deep does the snub for Michael Giacchino’s music for The Batman run? It wasn’t even on the shortlist for the honors of Best Original Score. A rousing sonic reinterpretation of the character often represented in the DC movies canon, words can’t even describe the disappointment that this heavy hitter somehow got forgotten. However, the intro to “A Bat In The Rafters, Pt. 2” would absolutely do the trick.
“Ciao Papa” – Best Original Song, Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio
One movie that’s been pretty consistent with its fortunes has been Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio. The good news is that this consistency continued with the Netflix original’s nomination for Best Animated Feature Film. Of course, the bad news is that the stirring yet simple song “Ciao Papa” was not nominated in the Best Original Song category. Consistency only goes so far, we suppose.
Sadie Sink – Best Supporting Actress, The Whale
Imagine if A24 somehow grabbed four of the five Best Supporting Actress nominations this year. It’s easy, even if you don’t try, because three of the slots went to Hong Chau’s performance in The Whale, as well as Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu’s roles in Everything Everywhere All At Once. The fourth honor could have gone to Sadie Sink, as the Stranger Things star landed quite well with critics in The Whale’s overall ensemble. Alas, Ms. Sink’s snub prevented that well-earned potential from happening; but her crucial experience working in The Whale still remains.
Nope, She Said, And The Menu Were Total Shutouts
The field of snubs above is bad enough to send commentators of all sorts into a frenzy. Yet perhaps the king of all of these omissions has to come from the unpleasant truth that Nope, She Said, and The Menu were all total Oscar shutouts. Nope especially hurts, as its critical and commercial crossroads felt ripe for some goodwill between the audience at home and the dignitaries in the Dolby Theatre.
Not to mention, She Said and The Menu both felt like timely dives into current issues, and the former option had previous nominee Carey Mulligan feeling like a runaway nomination. As for The Menu, the sleek and cutting satire seemed like it was having a moment with fans reacting to its twisted tale rather enthusiastically. But as we saw with Triangle of Sadness, there was apparently only room for one scathing societal takedown at the table.
This isn’t nearly all of the snubs that people may have woken up to with this morning’s nominations. It’s only the ones that seemed to cut the deepest and the most surprising. Whomever wins at this year’s Oscars is of course going to be a subject of great debate and discussion. With snubs like these though, that conversation is only going to be all the more heated, as the alternates just might seem like a better choice in the long run. We’ll see how things pan out on Sunday, March 12th, when the 95th Academy Awards air on ABC, at 8 PM ET.