Arts & CultureFilm & TV

Oscar nominations: snubs and surprises

The Academy Award nominations were announced on Tuesday morning, narrowing down the list of potential winners for the season’s most-watched award show. 

This year, the Academy distanced itself from the #OscarsSoWhite controversy and nominated a diverse list of creators and actors in the film industry. In fact, with nominations for Denzel Washington, Viola Davis (both co-star in Fences), Naomie Harris (Moonlight) and others, the Academy nominated six black actors, the largest number in history. The shift in diversity reflects changes made last year following an all-white ballot of acting nominations.

Damien Chazelle’s La La Land led the pack with a record-tying 14 nominations, while Manchester by the Sea earned six. As usual, there were plenty of snubs and some especially surprising picks. Here are a few:


Hidden Figures

Hidden Figures capped off few weeks at the top of the box-office with three Oscar nominations, a surprise given its relatively late Christmas Day release. The nods for best picture, best adapted screenplay and best supporting actress (for Octavia Spencer) cemented its position as a serious contender. It is also the first time a streaming service (Amazon) has been nominated.

Hacksaw Ridge

Mel Gibson’s semi-religious war film follows the real-life pacifist Desmond Doss during World War II’s Pacific Campaign. It earned a surprising six nominations, including best picture, best director, and best actor (for Andrew Garfield). The nominations come as a surprise given the film’s somewhat lukewarm reception and the past controversies surrounding Gibson himself. The actor, writer and director spent ten years blacklisted and shunned from Hollywood following the leaked recording of a drunken tirade.

Meryl Streep

The heavily lauded actress was nominated for the 20th time for Florence Foster Jenkins, a well-received dramedy that nonetheless fell under the award show radar prior to the Golden Globes in January. That ceremony saw Streep delivering a stirring speech against President Donald Trump, a move that, given the Academy’s penchant for playing politics, may have cemented the nomination this morning.


Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals was critically acclaimed upon release, in no small part thanks to Taylor-Johnson’s electrifying performance. The actor earned a Golden Globe a few weeks ago, leading many to believe he had secured an Academy Award nomination. Instead, co-star Michael Shannon took Taylor-Johnson’s place on the ballot in a head-scratching omission.

Amy Adams

Amy Adams has already proven to be an Oscar favorite. She has been nominated five times, but has yet to win the award. Her incredible role in Denis Villenuve’s Arrival appeared to be an inevitable lock — until she was completely left off of the Oscar ballot. The move is unexpected, but may signal a shift in the Academy’s usually predictable tastes surrounding actors.


Martin Scorsese, already a living legend in the film world, finally completed his passion project, a violent yet contemplative period piece set in 17th century Japan. The filmmaker has found awards success before, particularly for The Departed, which won him his first best director Oscar. Yet the director (and his film) earned only one nomination, for best cinematography. Silence’s grim material, as well as its slow-paced, cerebral approach to internal conflict, may have played against its chances with Academy members, who tend to favor uplifting stories.

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Dana Alston

Dana Alston

Dana Alston is an Associate Arts & Culture Editor from San Jose, CA. He writes about film, music, and television. Paul Thomas Anderson is his one true god.

You can follow his meme-endorsed social media ramblings @AlstonDalston on Twitter or Letterboxd, or shoot him some eloquent hate mail at [email protected]