By John H. Foote
Lots of history was made today as the Academy Award nominations were playfully announced live in Los Angeles and beamed and streamed around the globe. But with history came several major snubs that will be discussed frequently over the next 15 years. Dissecting the nominations this afternoon, I came up with 10 of the most shocking omissions, nominations everyone thought were going to happen, but then did not. That said, a couple are nominations I thought would happen but did not are here too. Hey, it’s my list, shoot me.
While history was made, the snubs are the big story this year. Here are the biggest.
- BEST PICTURE — FIRST MAN — The year’s best film film according to myself and Sasha Stone at Awards Daily, an absolute masterpiece of storytelling, great acting, fine direction and smashing effects. Damien Chazelle superbly directed the story of Neil Armstrong, the first man to set foot on the moon. Chazelle does something no other director ever has done in shooting a space epic, he showed us what the astronauts could see, the film was told from their point of view. A stunning work of art.
- BEST DIRECTOR — BRADLEY COOPER FOR A STAR IS BORN — Despite a DGA nomination, the Academy directors branch did not smile on Cooper this morning, the biggest surprise of the day because he had all but been assured the nomination. Rumours about his out of control ego shot through Hollywood, and maybe the directors who vote got sick of his success. That said, he directed a fine film, a blockbuster hit and guided Sam Elliott, Lady Gaga and himself to acting nominations. No slouch behind the camera, he deserved a nomination. The Academy might have just helped his film win Best Picture the same way snubbing Ben Affleck helped Argo win in 2012.
- BEST ACTOR — ETHAN HAWKE IN FIRST REFORMED — He won the LA, NY and the National Society of Film Critics Awards as Best Actor, but that did not transfer to so much as a nomination. It should have. Willem Dafoe took the nomination that belonged to Hawke, who gave a career best performance as a lost minister. Tragic.
- BEST ACTRESS IN NICOLE KIDMAN IN DESTROYER — For the finest work of her career, Kidman was snubbed. Now in any other year she would be leading the pack and likely the winner, but this was an exceptional year for women. Kidman leaned down, wore no make up and looked like the living dead in portraying a tough cop on the hunt for a killer. Sure she was on the fringe as a nominee, but nothing would have made me happier than to see her nominated. In years to come this will be hailed as her finest work.
- BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR — TIMOTHEE CHALAMET IN BEAUTIFUL BOY — Nominated for Best Actor last year, Chalamet was expected to be here again for supporting actor as the drug addicted young man in Beautiful Boy. Opposite Steve Carell the film was OK, but lacking an edge needed to truly explore drug addiction. It was a good performance, not a great one, and the film was nothing special.
- BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS — CLAIRE FOY IN FIRST MAN — Foy was expected to earn her first nomination for her performance as Neil Armstrong’s emotionally battered wife. Foy owns the screen when on, all eyes go to her. She and Gosling have electric chemistry together and her performance is fully bodied. Not sure what happened, but she was robbed.
- BEST SCREENPLAY ADAPTATION — FIRST MAN — Josh Singer adapted the book, and it passed from Clint Eastwood to Damien Chazelle to direct. Singer seems to have given the director a perfect blue print for this brilliant biography that is also an adventure in space. Smart, emotional and spot on.
- BEST MUSICAL SCORE — FIRST MAN — From TIFF onward, this film was a shoo in, until this morning. The gentle music under Neil Armstrong’s life to the soaring music as they take off for the moon and the haunting strains as they land. The score never telegraphs, instead enhancing, which is exactly what a great score should do.
- BEST FILM EDITING — A STAR IS BORN — A beautifully cut film, especially the concert sequences, most Best Picture nominees are nominated for editing. This should have been the case here, as Cooper directed a lovely film that must have cut so easily in the editing room.
- BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE — WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOUR? — Easily the years most critically acclaimed documentary, the absence of the film is glaring because it was also very popular. In a year stuffed with great biographical docs, such as Hal, Whitney and RBG, this compelling look at children’s show host Mr. Rogers was extraordinary and a part of many childhoods and pop culture.
John H. Foote is a well-recognized Canadian film critic/historian who has been an active critic for 30 years. His deep love for the movies began at a very young age. He began his career as co-host of the popular TV show Reel to Real where he remained for nine years. While on TV he began dabbling in education, eventually ascending to Director of the Toronto Film School, where he also taught film history. After leaving the college to care for his wife, he returned to teaching at Humber College where he taught both Film History and Method Acting Theory. John has written two books: “Clint Eastwood – Evolution of a Filmmaker” and the upcoming “Spielberg – American Film Visionary”. He is currently working on two books, one about the films of the seventies and another on the films of Martin Scorsese. Through his career he has worked in TV, radio, print and the web. John has interviewed everyone in the industry (more than 300 interviews) except Jack Nicholson, he says sadly. Highlights include Martin Scorsese, Tom Cruise, Meryl Streep Robert Duvall, Jane Fonda, Francis Ford Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow.