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The 16 Most Surprising Things About This Year's Oscar Nominations

No nominations for Tom Hanks, Robert Redford, Oprah, or Emma Thompson, but Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa is an Oscar nominee. Crazy!

1. No nomination for Tom Hanks in Captain Phillips.

Columbia Pictures

This is just insane. Tom Hanks has been Captain Hollywood for decades now, and his performance in Captain Phillips is the best he's given in ages. The final 10 minutes of the film, as Phillips finally absorbs the harrowing trauma he's been through for days, are an acting master class. The Best Actor category was by far the most competitive this year, and I guess Hanks just could not avoid the surge of support for American Hustle and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Wait, sorry, I just realized again Hanks isn't nominated for this performance. It's really crazy!

2. No Oprah, and nothing for Lee Daniels’ The Butler.

The Weinstein Company

Maybe the Academy couldn't get over Oprah Winfrey's Oprah-ness, but she was so surprisingly good and non-Oprah-esque as the long-suffering wife of a White House butler in Lee Daniels' film that the goodness of her performance is pretty much the only thing people who've seen the movie can agree on. More likely: Even though the film was a bona fide hit (it grossed $116.4 million in the U.S.), the Academy just didn't like its embrace of historical melodrama. The bizarre fight between The Weinstein Company and Warner Bros. over the title likely didn't help, either. The movie got zero nominations. Zero!

3. And no Robert Redford either!

Roadside Attractions

Like I said, there is no more competitive Oscar category this year than Best Actor. And Redford's film — All Is Lost, about a man stranded in the Indian Ocean after his yacht is struck by a floating shipping container — is the least seen among the main contenders. (It's grossed just $6.1 million.)

But Redford's near wordless performance is also crazy great, grueling as hell, and unlike anything the 77-year-old has done in his entire career. There was a period this fall when it seemed like Redford could be a favorite to win this year, and now he's not even invited. It's a real shame.

4. Nothing for Emma Thompson, and almost nothing for Saving Mr. Banks.

Walt Disney Pictures

Last month, a veteran entertainment journalist predicted to me that Saving Mr. Banks was going to win Best Picture. Instead, its only nomination is for Best Score. Not even Emma Thompson's brilliantly brittle performance as Mary Poppins author P.L. Travers earned nomination. There was a lot of grousing that the film made Travers seem too much like a harridan and Tom Hanks' Walt Disney seem too much like an avuncular and patient god of Hollywood. It would appear that that grousing translated into the Academy virtually ignoring this movie.

5. Captain Phillips' Paul Greengrass and Her's Spike Jonze miss out on Best Director nods.

Columbia Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Captain Phillips and Her — both Best Picture nominees — are astonishing feats of careful and riveting directorial choices, and Greengrass is even a Directors Guild nominee. But the Academy's directing branch voted instead to honor David O. Russell for the controlled chaos of American Hustle, Alexander Payne for the spare understatement of Nebraska, and Martin Scorsese for the three-hour bacchanalia that is Wolf of Wall Street. (12 Years a Slave's Steve McQueen and Gravity's Alfonso Cuarón were always locks in this category.)

6. Nothing for Enough Said.

Fox Searchlight

In an alternative universe, Nicole Holofcener's subtle, lovely, moving romantic comedy about two divorced empty nesters (played brilliantly by Julia Louis-Dreyfus and the late James Gandolfini) would have earned nominations for Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, and Best Original Screenplay. I wish I lived in that alternative universe. Instead, I have to live in this one, where Enough Said got nothing. Oof.

7. No Best Animated Feature nomination for Monsters University.


Pixar won this category last year (with Brave), but I guess the Academy just isn't into animated prequels? Instead, the Academy nominated a small, French animated film called Ernest & Celestine, about a bond between a mouse and a bear. Here is the trailer!

8. Ten nominations for American Hustle — but not for Best Makeup and Hairstyling?!

Columbia Pictures

American Hustle continues director David O. Russell's uncanny streak of earning nominations in all four acting categories (a feat his film Silver Linings Playbook achieved last year, the first time since 1981). With 10 nominations — including Christian Bale for Best Actor and Amy Adams for Best Actress, neither of which were anything close to guarantees! — the movie is in a neck-and-neck-and-neck race for Best Picture with Gravity and 12 Years a Slave.

And yet, it did not win recognition for its outrageous parade of '70s hair and makeup. This makes zero sense to me.

9. No cinematography or score nomination for 12 Years a Slave?!?!

Fox Searchlight

I'm flabbergasted over this. Sean Bobbitt's gorgeous, unflinching camerawork in 12 Years a Slave is unmistakably great, and I'm still thinking about Hans Zimmer's alternatively delicate and driving score. (Some note there are too many traces of Zimmer's past work in it, which I can't argue with.) The lack of these two nominations indicates a possible cooler attitude towards 12 Years a Slave from some Academy branches, which may hurt its chances for a Best Picture win.

10. Only two nominations for Inside Llewyn Davis, neither of which is for its music.

CBS Films

Though the infectious "Please Mr. Kennedy" wasn't eligible for a nomination, it just seems weird that what amounts to practically a folk musical isn't recognized at all for its music — especially since its Best Sound Mixing nomination indicates that the Academy thought that the music sounded amazing.

11. No Stories We Tell in the Best Documentary category.

Roadside Attractions

No one saw this movie, I grant you, but Sarah Polley’s stunning examination into her own complicated parentage was one of my absolute favorite movies of the year. There is a twist in the film that I can’t really talk about without spoiling it, but I can understand why some sticklers in the Academy wouldn’t be thrilled by the idea of this film getting a nomination in the documentary category, considering what a documentary is supposed to be. I am not one of those sticklers, however, and definitely think it should have been nominated!

12. No nomination for Joaquin Phoenix.

Warner Bros. Pictures

This is maybe more of a personal disappointment, but the entire reason Her works at all is thanks to Phoenix's deeply vulnerable work. I wish he could be nominated too, in addition to the Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay recognition!

13. No Blue Is the Warmest Color nomination for Best Foreign Language Film?!?

Sundance Selects

This is definitely odd, but not for the reason you may think. Due to a somewhat arcane rule about when a film needs to have screened in its native country to be considered for this year's Oscars, the most talked about foreign film of 2013 wasn't eligible for this category this year. (It will be next year, if France chooses to submit it.) Perhaps even stranger, Iranian writer-director Asghar Farhadi's The Past was eligible, but it did not make the short list for possible consideration.

14. Sally Hawkins nominated for Best Supporting Actress!

Sony Pictures Classics

Enough with who didn't get nominated. Let's celebrate this unexpected nod for the always fabulous Hawkins, who gives a lovely and layered performance as a decent, middle-class San Franciscan who takes in her disgraced upper-crust sister (Cate Blanchett, a huge front-runner for Best Actress) when she falls on financial hard times.

15. Jonah Hill is now a two-time Oscar nominee!

Paramount Pictures

Without Hill's performance as a morally empty stock trader, Leonardo DiCaprio would have had very little to act against seeing as The Wolf of Wall Street often feels like a brilliantly sustained monologue. But Hill throws himself completely into several of the film’s most memorable set pieces. I may be wrong about this, and will update if I am, but I’m pretty certain this is the first time someone has been nominated for a performance containing a scene in which the character masturbates at a pool party using a prosthetic penis.

16. Best Makeup and Hairstyling for Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa! Yup!

Paramount Pictures

The Oscars, everybody!

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