Oscar Shortlists: Snubs and Surprises

Oscar Shortlists: Snubs and Surprises

Shortlists were announced yesterday in ten categories for the 95th Oscars. The three films that picked up the most mentions all have powerful legacies behind them. All Quiet on the Western Front, which appears on five shortlists and serves as Germany’s official Oscar entry for Best International Feature, is a new version of the 1930 film of the same name that won Best Picture at the third Oscar ceremony almost a century ago. Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of Water are both sequels to films that won three Oscars apiece, including in the shortlisted categories of score and visual effects, respectively.

While they weren’t a tremendous number of startling omissions or shocking inclusions, there are still some worthwhile takeaways from the lists.

Snub: Good Night Oppy

This endearing nonfiction film about the Mars rovers took home a handful of prizes at the Critics’ Choice Documentary Awards and was widely seen as a likely nominee in the Oscar category of Best Documentary. Yet it wasn’t among the fifteen finalists in that race, and also didn’t survive the splicing of the Best Visual Effects list from twenty to ten.

Surprise: Crimes of the Future

David Cronenberg is an acclaimed filmmaker whose projects don’t often align with Oscar voters’ taste, with a few notable exceptions like A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. His latest, however, is absolutely not something that would be seen as generally pleasing, but his future-set horror fare did manage to secure a spot on the shortlist for Best Makeup and Hairstyling.

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Snub: Klondike

Ukraine’s official Oscar entry for Best International Feature is a grim, devastating look at the war-torn country set during a different conflict than the current one. But the international spotlight on what’s happening there now and the unfortunate relevance of a film set nearly a decade ago seemed like it would have been enough to merit a spot on the Best International Feature shortlist, which didn’t happen.

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Glass Onion
Courtesy Netflix

Surprise: Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery

The sequel to the 2019 film Knives Out has been enjoying acclaim ahead of its debut on Netflix this week, and it may well make waves in major categories when Oscar nominations are announced. But its placement on the Best Original Score shortlist is baffling since composer Nathan Johnson has barely been recognized by any other awards groups for either the first or second film, and the original didn’t even make the shortlist. Fortunately, it’s a great score and a worthwhile inclusion.

Snub: RRR

One important note when it comes to this ultra-popular Indian film is that it was not selected by the country as its Best International Feature submission (the film that was, Last Film Show, made that shortlist). But the buzz it’s garnered suggested that it might be able to earn mentions for its score, sound, and visual effects. But none of those came to pass, and instead it appears on just one shortlist: for its very catchy song “Naatu Naatu.”

Don't Worry Darling

Surprise: Don’t Worry Darling

Any awards hopes for this film evaporated when more people were talking about the feud between director Olivia Wilde and star Florence Pugh than the movie itself. Its dreams of craft recognition may remain alive, however, due to it placing on the Best Original Score shortlist. Composer John Powell’s one and only previous Oscar nomination was for How to Train Your Dragon twelve years ago.

Snub: Everything Everywhere All at Once

It’s important to stress that this Best Picture frontrunner did make three of the shortlists, for its score, song (“This is a Life”), and sound. But it missed out in one important place where it had many the twenty-wide finalist list that was publicized a few weeks ago. Its visual effects are a key component of the experience, and its failure to secure a spot on that shortlist has some prognosticators worried that Oscar voters won’t fully embrace its wildly inventive style (it also missed in makeup and hairstyling).

Surprise: The Voice of Dust and Ash

Every year, there are one or two films that most voters have never heard of that find themselves on the shortlist for Best Original Song. One – Tell It Like a Woman – features a song from Diane Warren, a thirteen-time nominee who finally won an honorary award last month. The other is “Dust and Ash” from the Iran-set documentary The Voice of Dust and Ash, which comes from Norah Jones and J. Ralph, who was previously nominated for songs from three equally under-the-radar features: Jim: The James Foley Story, Racing Extinction, and Chasing Ice.

The Batman

Snub: The Batman

Like EEAAO, the latest incarnation of the Dark Knight appears on three shortlists: makeup and hairstyling, sound, and visual effects. That only makes its miss on the Best Original Score shortlist all the more glaring.

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Michael Giacchino, a past Oscar winner for Up and a nominee for Ratatouille, has been feted by a number of awards bodies this season already for his moody anthem but came up short here.

Surprise: Moonage Daydream

A spot for the acclaimed David Bowie film from Brett Morgen on the Best Documentary shortlist was all but guaranteed. But a second shortlist appearance in the category of Best Sound is a much bigger get, an ode to the successful editing and sequencing of a film made up primarily of archive footage. The last – and only – documentary to score a Best Sound nomination was Woodstock way back in 1970.

Peruse all ten shortlists here.

Check out more of Abe Friedtanzer’s articles.

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  1. Oscar is such a joke. They don’t like what people adore. How can they snub RRR for best picture and director or for VFX or sound score?? Typical …stereotypical mindset of picking boring artistic drama movies that noone has seen over populistic mainstream artistic cinema. I also witness biased attitude and mindset of academy for shortlisting movies from certain countries.