The nominees for the 95th Academy Awards included a number of well-received films and a double-digit take for Everything Everywhere All at Once. But there were other films expected to do somewhat well, like She Said and The Woman King, that ended up completely empty-handed. Here are ten worthwhile movies to see that likely just missed on landing any Oscar bids.
Despite being the third South Korean film to make the Oscar shortlist for Best International Feature in five years, Decision to Leave, a detective mystery romance from master director Park Chan-wook, didn’t net any mentions. Parasite remains the only Korean film ever nominated in the Oscar foreign film race, but this sprawling, twisty thriller deserved consideration too.
Return to Seoul
While Cambodia has also only ever been nominated once for an Oscar, this year’s official selection, Return to Seoul, looked to change all that after a Best Picture win from the Boston Society of Film Critics and a strong reception at Cannes and the New York Film Festival. This story of a young woman processing how she wants to deal with meeting her birth parents is very potent and well-done, with a superb lead performance from Ji-Min Park.
Another international entry earned press when its home country, Pakistan, banned the film after it was selected as its submission to the Oscars. This celebration of diversity and the LGBTQ community in a Muslim-majority country is a welcome breath of fresh air featuring terrific leads, and could have been the first Pakistani film nominated for Best International Feature.
This documentary about the Uru-eu-wau-wau community in Brazil not only showcased the danger faced by the indigenous people from invaders trying to take their land by force but also allowed them to tell their own story. It’s precisely the kind of nonfiction film that both documents and educates, giving voice to a group that has for too long been ignored by the rest of society.
Anyone living during the COVID-19 pandemic knows the difficulties of coexisting with others who don’t share the same beliefs, and filmmaker David Siev adds a dimension to that with a look at his family’s restaurant. His father’s Cambodian heritage and their conservative neighbors in Northern Michigan make this a riveting and emotional documentary.
Five-time Oscar nominee Richard Linklater fought hard to make sure his imaginative rotoscoped film was eligible in the Best Animated Feature category, but it didn’t result in a nomination. His nostalgic, creative depiction of a young boy looking to the sky featured his signature inventive energy and was a remarkable visual treat.
Ron Howard’s dramatization of the daring water evacuation of a children’s soccer team in Thailand managed to add new depth to information previously conveyed in the similarly Oscar-snubbed documentary The Rescue. Though it wasn’t considered a likely contender in major categories, it did make the visual effects shortlist for its intense recreation of the breathless dives.
This New York Film Festival premiere paid tribute to the activism done by Mamie Till-Mobley following the violent killing of her son Emmett. Its Oscar campaign never manifested much outside of its staggering lead performance from Danielle Deadwyler, who delivered a towering turn that unfortunately did not make the Oscar list for Best Actress.
The $15 million acquisition at Sundance by Apple of Cooper Raiff’s follow-up to his SXSW prize-winning Shithouse led to ads for the film before each Tribeca Film Festival screening that made it look like the next CODA. Despite a winning script and endearing performances from Raiff and Dakota Johnson, the Oscar campaign for this gem fizzled.
Late-breaking isn’t always great, and director Marc Forster revealed at this film’s early December premiere that it had just been finished. The original Swedish film A Man Called Ove managed two Oscar nominations but, even with the power of Tom Hanks onscreen and a song by his wife Rita Wilson, this delightful dramedy didn’t end up with anything to take home.