For all their claims of not caring about accolades and awards, few winners have ever managed to resist shedding a tear or two when winning their first Oscar. The Academy Awards remain a mixed bag, capable of delivering emotional rewards and agonizing rejections. This year promised to be unlike any other Oscar season as in-person campaigning was completely forbidden. Thus, everyone had to rely on the strength of their finished product’s appeal to voters. Naturally, this yielded both expected and controversial nominations and snubs that will undoubtedly dominate the headlines for weeks to come. Read to learn more about the biggest Oscar snubs and surprises from this year:
Snub: One Night in Miami – Best Picture
One Night in Miami was undoubtedly one of the more creative movies that were made this year. The plot itself has both fiction and reality elements to it as it features Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke. While each of these men are titans in their own right, they never had the kind of interaction the movie is based on. The performances were particularly strong and managed to leave a lasting impression. So did the movie’s script, as they’re both adequately acknowledged in the Best Supporting Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and the Best Original Song categories.
However, rather shockingly, the movie hasn’t received a Best Picture nod. What makes this omission particularly fishy is the fact that ten films can be nominated in the Best Picture category, but only eight were nominated this year. This indicates that the Academy made a willful decision to reject One Night in Miami from the finalized list purposefully.
Surprise: Borat Subsequent Movie Film – Best Adapted Screenplay
Borat‘s sequel, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, was one of the most enjoyable movies from 2020. It made sense that a crazy year’s cinematic crescendo would be the sequel to a movie that redefined satire. It was just as outrageous and shocking-inspiring as the original that managed to fool the then-Vice President, Mike Pence, and Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Guiliani. The last part alone was enough to warrant a rightful Best Supporting Actress nomination for newcomer Maria Bakalova.
However, people were less enthusiastic about the movie’s chances of winning a nomination in the screenplay department, considering the caliber of film it would be competing in. That doesn’t matter now since, as ridiculous as it sounds, Borat Subsequent Moviefilm: Delivery of Prodigious Bribe to American Regime for Make Benefit Once Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan is a two-time Oscar nominee.
Snub: Aaron Sorkin – Best Director
On the rarest occasion, there comes a movie that achieves more than anyone could have imagined, and yet, it’s never enough. That seems to ring true for The Trial of the Chicago 7, particularly its director, Aaron Sorkin. While the movie itself has been nominated for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor gongs, the man who made it all possible has been shockingly ignored. It has inevitably drawn parallels with Argo, where a movie is showered in accolades, apart from the one that matters the most.
While this isn’t a complete snub, as Sorkin will still take home a meaningful reward if he wins Best Original Screenplay, it makes no sense to nominate a man for his writing and then ignore its execution.
Surprise: Paul Raci – Best Supporting Actor
Sound of Metal has dominated headlines for Riz Ahmed’s soul-stirring performance. However, Paul Raci’s calmer and more level-headed portrayal of a deaf Vietnam-war veteran running a community for deaf addicts seem to have captured the Academy’s attention just the same. This was an odd decision by industry standards since Raci had been snubbed at both the Golden Globes and the SAG awards.
While Ahmed’s character is the movie’s beating heart, it’s Raci’s calm demeanor that threads it all together and ultimately gives the film its crucial relatability element that ended with Sound of Metal bagging both the Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor nominations.
Snub: Jodie Foster – Best Supporting Actress
Jodie Foster’s Oscar nomination was both a surprise and was also completely expected, depending on who you ask. Her performance in The Mauritanian has earned her universal acclaim, and she’d be an instant shoo-in for at least a nomination if it weren’t for an unwritten rule the Academy has been following since the Bush years. Any legal dramas that had anything remotely to do with the human-rights abuses have been controversially overlooked in the past. The Mauritanian joins that long list of excellent movies that have faced the snub.
Moreover, Foster’s absence from the list of nominees is conspicuous considering how she’s already won the Golden Globe for the same role, making her just the 4th winner in history to be denied a subsequent Oscar win, let alone a nomination.
Surprise: Húsavík – Best Original Song
Húsavík created a nice bit of history with its Oscar nomination. For the uninitiated, what makes Húsavík’s nomination such a pleasant surprise is that it is originally a Eurovision track that is primarily a soul-inspired ballad. That particular genre hasn’t been the Academy’s favorite in the past, highlighted by the fact that Húsavík is the first jazz song to be nominated in the Original Song category. This might signal an indication that the Academy is more than willing to look at comedies and light-hearted properties with just as much seriousness as other genres.
Additionally, while the verdict is still out on whether the Academy’s doing enough for diversity in terms of race and gender, at least it has demonstrated a willingness to embrace a broader range on a genre level.
The (Missing) Highlight of the Oscar Nominations: Da 5 Bloods Snubbed Across The Board
The Academy’s past is withered with snubs that ultimately do not reflect well on it today. From denying Citizen Kane a Best Picture to demoting Al Pacino to Best Supporting Actor for The Godfather, and perhaps most criminally, awarding Dances with Wolves the Best Picture award instead of Goodfellas, the Academy’s history is far less than stellar. So, it’s no surprise that it has managed to write another notorious chapter in that long list of follies. Both Chadwick Boseman and Delroy Lindo were denied well-deserved Oscar nominations.
This was Chadwick Boseman’s last feature movie and arguably his best performance to date. Additionally, Delroy Lindo delivered one of the emotionally gut-wrenching performances of the past decade. It is nothing short of a creative crime that Da 5 Bloods has been restricted to just one Academy nomination in the form of a Best Original Score while being completely overlooked in all other major categories, including a Best Director and Screenplay nomination for Spike Lee.