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The 96th Academy Award Nominations, snubs and surprises

(Samuel Ramos/Unsplash)

It goes without saying that the annual Academy Awards, more commonly known as the Oscars, is a massive event that rivals the Super Bowl as the biggest night in entertainment. Every year, countless directors, writers, composers and artists put forth their work to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences in the hopes of being able to stand on that stage and accept the coveted Oscar. These artists hope to be honored by the Academy for their work and dedication to film. However, to even win an Academy Award, a film must first secure a nomination—and the nominations for the 96th annual ceremony were just revealed.

As with every year, the Oscar nominations came with an equal number of expected sweeps, disappointing snubs and shocking surprises. Two easily predicted films went home with the most nominations: “Oppenheimer” and “Poor Things.”

Christopher Nolan’s harrowing and epic biographical thriller “Oppenheimer” garnered the most nominations with 13 to its name. Oppenheimer’s nominations include Best Picture, Best Director for Nolan, Best Actor for Cillian Murphy, Best Supporting Actor for Robert Downey Jr., Best Supporting Actress for Emily Blunt, Best Cinematography for Hoyte Van Hoytema and Best Original Score for Ludwig Göransson. “Oppenheimer” got a staggering number of nominations, deservedly so. Seeing as it has already taken home the Golden Globes for Best Director and Best Motion Picture – Drama, it is easy to predict that “Oppenheimer” will walk away the big winner at the Oscars as well.

The other film that swept the nominations, “Poor Things,” is Yorgos Lanthimos’ utterly insane, stylish and morally dubious fantasy feature which walked out with 11 nominations. Alongside Best Picture and Best Director for Lanthimos, “Poor Things” also received nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay for Tony McNamara, Best Cinematography for Robbie Ryan, Best Original Score for Jerskin Fendrix, Best Supporting Actor for Mark Ruffalo and Best Actress for Emma Stone. Stone may be shaping up to take home the Oscar for her widely acclaimed performance as Bella Baxter in the film.

Meanwhile, two films stand out for having a questionable number of snubs: Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie.”

“Killers” walked out with several nominations to its name, including Best Picture, Best Director for Scorsese, Best Supporting Actor for Robert De Niro and Best Actress for Lily Gladstone, the only major rival to Emma Stone in that category. However, Leonardo DiCaprio got snubbed for Best Actor alongside Scorsese and Eric Roth for Best Adapted Screenplay.

“Barbie” got several respectable nominations, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor for Ryan Gosling, two Best Original Song nominations (Gosling’s hit single “I’m Just Ken” and Billie Eilish’s somber and gorgeous “What Was I Made For?”) and even a surprise Best Supporting Actress nomination for America Ferrera. However, the film also got two grotesque snubs. Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig both were unrecognized for Best Actress and Best Director, respectively. Robbie is credited as a producer for the film’s Best Picture nomination and Gerwig’s screenplay (co-written by Noah Baumbach) was nominated in Adapted Screenplay, but it is nonetheless disrespectful to the care and expertise both women brought to the film.

On the topic of snubs, there are several in other categories that are worth recognizing. Despite being one of the most acclaimed and profitable films of the year, “Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse” only walked away with a Best Animated Feature nomination, being snubbed in Best Original Score for Daniel Pemberton and Best Visual Effects. On top of it losing the Score nomination to “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny” which is lukewarm at best, “Spider-Verse” is not a safe bet to win Best Animated Feature with the uptick in accolades for Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and The Heron.” This intersection of films is making the race for Best Animated Feature a very close one this year.

There were other shocking snubs this year. Alexander Payne got snubbed for Best Director despite how well “The Holdovers” did in other categories; “Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie” went unrecognized for Best Documentary Feature; “Poor Things” got snubbed for Best Visual Effects despite all its other nominations; films such as “The Iron Claw,” “Air,” “Ferrari,” “All of Us Strangers” and “Saltburn” were given zero nominations whatsoever; and the French film “The Taste of Things” went unrecognized in Best International Feature. This snub could have easily been avoided if France had chosen Justine Triet’s masterful “Anatomy of a Fall” as their selection instead.

Speaking of “Anatomy of a Fall,” it is time to talk about the pleasant surprises to be found among this year’s batch of nominations. Justine Triet managed to get a Best Director nomination for “Anatomy,” alongside Best Original Screenplay with co-writer Arthur Harari, Best Actress for Sandra Hüller and Best Picture. Despite the tough race in Best Animated Feature, “Nimona” earned itself a nomination over Disney’s “Wish.” “Godzilla Minus One” managed to snag a nomination for Best Visual Effects despite the film being otherwise ignored in other categories. Furthermore, the utterly horrifying Holocaust feature “The Zone of Interest” received four additional nominations on top of Best International Feature. These nominations include Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director for Jonathan Glazer, Best Sound and even Best Picture.

There were quite a few surprises and snubs with this year’s nominees, as always. Yet, we now know what to expect when the ceremony finally comes around. Snubs such as the baffling–if not insulting– omissions of Gerwig and Robbie are hard to ignore, but there were a good number of deserved nominations for other films. What will end up taking home the prizes themselves is yet to be seen, but we will find out when the Oscars air on March 10.

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