The Academy Awards may be the most prestigious movie awards out there, but that doesn’t mean they always make the best decisions. Join us as we look at which potential nominees got left out and which nominees don’t belong.
The nominees for the 2023 Academy Awards were announced on Tuesday January 24th, and the ceremony will take place on March 12th. We’ll have to wait until then to see who wins, but based on the potential nominees that were left out we DO know who WON’T be winning. After having a few days to think it over, here are our thoughts on the biggest mistakes that the Academy voters made this year.
RRR – Only one nomination
Garrett – While Japanese, Korean films have made some gains at the Academy Awards recently, other non-European film industries have had a tough time outside of the Best International Feature category. This includes Bollywood, arguably the second-biggest film culture in the world. RRR seemed to have all of the goods to finally break through. There was at least a little bit of hope for a best picture nomination, if not more. And yet it’s only nomination came from best song. It hurts that India chose not to submit the film as its entry for Best International Feature Film, despite receiving acclaim and awards on other circuits. Above all, this highlights the issue with the Foreign Film category in an industry that is becoming increasingly global.
Jordan – If you ever wanted an example of witnessing the real-world effect word of mouth has on a movie, look no further than RRR. Seriously, it’s insane how the film went from zero, to all anyone could talk about, with memes and an overall renewed interest in anything Bollywood. It’s wild to me it got so overlooked in all departments, even on the technical side (costumes, cinematography, etc). As Garrett said, it’s an issue with the Academy and not just about “Foreign Films” but what people perceive as foreign. If anything, RRR proved to be capable of breaking boundaries and having mass appeal.
Decision to Leave – International Feature
Garrett – The film to win numerous critics awards for Best Foreign Film, be nominated for Best Film Not In the English Language at the BAFTAs and Golden Globes, and nominee for the Palm d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival did not get a single nomination at the Oscars. This was a film from well-known director Park Chan-Wook who has had a lot of success on the international stage. It received rave reviews, and was submitted by South Korea as their entry into the Best International Feature film category where it was considered to be a favorite. Alas, all of this did not matter enough to the voters this year.
Viola Davis – Best Actress for The Woman King
Garrett – Usually we can look at other major awards nominees to get an understanding of how the Academy voters will vote for the Oscars. In the case of Viola Davis’ acclaimed performance in The Woman King, she earned nominations from The People’s Choice Awards, Golden Globes, Critics Choice Awards, Screen Actors’ Guild, and the BAFTAs. Despite all of those prestigious nominations, Viola Davis did not receive a nomination at the Oscars. Just as surprising is that The Woman King didn’t get any recognition at all, despite positive word-of-mouth. Davis has been on a roll as of late at the Oscars (3 nominations, 1 win in the last 10 years), so maybe there was a bit of voter fatigue.
Jordan – Far and away, my biggest gripe with the Oscar nominations this year is the complete shutout of The Woman King. It’s an impressive story, one that grapples with heavy issues and doesn’t shy away from its own negative elements, that’s told in an impressive way. Visually, it captures the time period excellently, while showcasing SEVERAL powerhouse performances on top of Viola Davis’ stunning lead role. And it got NOTHING.
Stuff like this is where it feels like one step forward, two steps back with the Academy. It’s great we have some more diversity in the nominations with Everything Everywhere All At Once, but it feels like they said “well, we already have one minority focused film in multiple categories, so we’re good!”
Becky – I’m with the rest here regarding the total snub of The Woman King, which is to say I’m completely outraged about it. Viola Davis in particular delivered one of the most powerful performances I’ve seen in recent years and it absolutely deserved recognition from the Academy. I never expected The Woman King to get nominated for every award, but for Viola Davis in particular to get the Oscar snub…..that hurt. She was just as worthy of a nomination as Michelle Yeoh for Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.
Anya Taylor-Joy – Best Actress for The Menu
Becky – This one really makes me mad. As I’ve said many times to anyone who will listen, The Menu was one of the best films I saw in 2022 and that was in large part due to the presence of Anya Taylor-Joy (who I also feel was snubbed for her role in The Northman too). Her performance as Margot in The Menu, going head to head with the insane chef is so good, so utterly relatable, that I’m stunned it’s not getting recognized.
Jordan – Anya Taylor-Joy rules in pretty much all things and that she had TWO stellar performances this year (even if I didn’t care for The Northman overall) and no recognition is insane.
The Batman – Greg Fraser – Best Cinematography
Garrett – The Batman received nominations in 3 categories, but none of those categories was for Greg Fraser’s iconic cinematography. Fraser’s work was recognized with a nomination by the American Society of Cinematographers, the British Society of Cinematographers, and the BAFTAs. The cinematography in The Batman was among the film’s many strengths, and the attention to detail in that regard really set it apart from its peers. It is very uncommon to have a comic book film with such an artistic style, and so it is a real shame that Fraser’s work went unrecognized by the Academy.
Jordan – Even if you didn’t like The Batman (weirdos), objectively speaking, you can’t deny the film is shot ridiculously well. Gotham comes alive in all new ways, and so much of the film’s most impactful moments are accentuated by the way they’re shot. From Batman walking up to the Penguin’s car with the camera still upside down, to the way in which Fraser managed to showcase the connection between the “Bat and the Cat” just in how they were framed…The Batman does a great deal of visual storytelling.
Top Gun: Maverick – Claudio Miranda – Best Cinematography
Garrett – Just like The Batman, the cinematography of Top Gun: Maverick was critical to the success of the film. Miranda created a crisp and warm film texture, which not only harkened back to the original but made the film look downright breathtaking and exhilarating. Miranda’s work received similar accolades as Fraser, and the film also received a nomination for Best Special Effects, which is also heavily dependent on how the movie is filmed. Like The Batman, the cinematography in Top Gun: Maverick may become more fondly remembered and influential than any of the actual nominees from this year.
The Northman – No nominations at all
Becky – Apart from The Woman King getting snubbed, I think the Oscar snub that hurts the most is The Northman getting no nominations. I understand that films like these aren’t for everyone but you can’t seriously tell me that you can look at that film and think that it shouldn’t get any nominations. At bare minimum, The Northman should be up for a Best Cinematography Oscar because each shot of the film is unbelievably well put together. There’s a primal beauty in the way those shots are composed that absolutely deserved recognition and I’m furious it’s not getting recognized.
Jordan – Much as I didn’t personally care for The Northman, I am pretty stunned it was shut out from even the technical awards this year. It’s gorgeously shot with some impressive performances that feel overlooked as a reaction to the film’s story being all over the place.
No Women Directors
Garrett – After two years of female directors making a strong presence at the Oscars (including back-to-back wins!), this year’s Best Director field doesn’t include any. The Academy has been pushing to be more inclusive, and unfortunately in this category they made a step backwards. It wasn’t because there was a lack of potential, and deserving nominees. Best Picture nominee Women Talking was directed by Best Adapted Screenplay nominee Sarah Polley. Aftersun and Causeway were two other female-directed films with acting nominees. And finally, despite the buzz and potential, the Academy did not recognize The Woman King, Till, or She Said at all.
Jordan – As I mentioned up top, it’s always one step forward, and two steps back with the Academy. After finally making some headway in the Best Director category, this year went back to an all male roster. It’s all the more insane considering Women Talking (directed by Sarah Polley) was nominated for Best Picture! Did it direct itself?! This year seems especially egregious considering how many great films hit this year (some getting minor noms) were directed by women.
The Batman – Michael Giacchino; Best Original Score
Becky – When I first heard the soundtrack for The Batman early last year I was convinced that Giacchino’s score was a shoe-in for an Oscar nomination if not the win itself. How could it not be? The score was easily one of the best I heard in 2022 and that’s saying a lot given all the movies I watched. Michael Giacchino gets everything right about how a Batman film should sound: it’s raw, it’s dark, and the themes stick with you even after the movie is over. I know some still like to argue that superhero movies shouldn’t be counted in the same category as “serious” films but with all due respect a soundtrack is a soundtrack and a movie is a movie. Just because the music was written for a Batman film doesn’t make it any less deserving of recognition.
Jordan – I’ve said it a few times before, but I very rarely take particular notice of a movie’s overall soundtrack. It comes from being partially deaf and, generally, not being a huge factor for me. That said, The Batman’s score is one of the few this year that has absolutely stuck with me. Giacchino captured the overall vibe of the Dark Knight in a sweeping, epic score that’s at once contemplative and heart-pounding.
Everything Everywhere All at Once – No VFX Nom
Jordan – Look, I can’t find any fault with the current line-up of VFX nominations, and I’m glad EEAAO got tons of love this year (as many nominations as Return of the King did!), but knowing the story of how this film came together, makes it’s omission from the VFX category a bit of a bummer. If you weren’t aware, the VFX team consisted of only SEVEN people and all they used was an off-the-shelf copy of Adobe Aftereffects. Yes, all the surreal awesomeness of the multiverse film was created using tech you could download and use right now at home. That’s pretty amazing and a testament to their skill.
Triangle of Sadness – Best Picture
Garrett – Much like last year’s Don’t Look Up, Triangle of Sadness is a satirical comedy with a pointed message that would certainly appeal to younger audiences. The inclusion of this film as a Best Picture nominee speaks to the changing demographic of the Academy voters. I don’t think it is a bad thing, but it seems like there were more deserving films with better critical consensus and popularity that could have been nominated instead of this one. Unlike Don’t Look Up, Triangle of Sadness isn’t chock full of Hollywood royalty, although it was the winner of the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Also, as a European film it faced a steeper climb to achieve this nomination. These factors make it seem less likely to be in this position, but whether or not that translates to “less-deserving” is hard to say.
Jordan – Much like Garrett says here, I don’t necessarily think Triangle of Sadness isn’t “deserving” of the nomination, but in comparison with all the other things that got snubbed (The Woman King or even RRR being another ‘foreign’ movie), it seems like an odd choice. Personally, I thought the film was solid and well put together, but didn’t exactly jive with it overall. It wants to feel smarter than it probably is and I’ve always preferred a more subtler satire…
Ruben Ostland – Best Director for Triangle of Sadness
Garrett – This one is a little more questionable than the nomination of Triangle of Sadness for Best Picture. Director Ostland’s win at the Cannes Film Festival certainly played a major role in his nomination, because he received no nominations from any of the other major awards circuits. As such, I feel there are more deserving candidates for this nomination. The film is not necessarily ground-breaking or innovative like some of the other films helmed by this year’s Best Director nominees. Furthermore, the film’s most impressive attribute is its message, which is an accolade regarding the screenplay more than the direction. However, Ostland’s previous films were all highly regarded, especially in the younger demographic, and so perhaps this nomination comes as a recognition of his body of work as a whole more so than in this particular instance.
Jordan – Ostland over Gina Prince-Bythewood?! Absolutely not. Hell, even if they wanted to stick with all dudes, Ryan Coogler is RIGHT THERE! Don’t get me wrong, he does fine work with Triangle of Sadness, but it’s nothing particularly notable. It’s all there and kinda basic (which works for the message being presented). Bah!
Roger Deakins – Empire of Light – Best Cinematography
Garrett – Roger Deakins is a legend in the industry, and I am glad he gets the recognition he deserves with all of the Best Cinematography oscar nominations he has received as of late (7 in the last 10 years, including 2 wins!). But I have a problem with this nomination because the film itself was not very well received. The film’s lack of success has to come, partially from the filmmaker’s inability to utilize the wonderful cinematography to its full advantage. It’s a question of whether we should acknowledge good work in bad films during the major awards. Furthermore, Deakins has been well-recognized as of late, and this nomination comes at the expense of others who did wonderful work which better contributed to their films’ success, such as The Batman, Avatar: Way of the Water, and Top Gun: Maverick.
As always, the Oscars can be a confounding mistress. Which snubs and headscratchers stood out to you this year?