Would we have more blockbusters (Top Gun, Avatar, Black Panther) nominated for Best Picture than any year in recent memory? Would a female a director crack the Top 5 after women won the last two races? And would Andrea Riseborough’s seemingly out-of-nowhere, last-minute, celebrity-crazed Oscar campaign actually work?
Those were some of the biggest questions heading into Tuesday morning’s 95th Oscar nominations, and now we have the answers (yes and no; no; and wow, yes, it actually did!).
As expected, the Daniels’s sleeper multiverse hit/pop culture phenom Everything, Everywhere All At Once ruled the day, leading the way with 11 nominations. Not expected: the dominance of Netflix’s international anti-war drama All Quiet on the Western Front, which was also everything, everywhere, storming the Oscars with an astounding nine noms, tied for second most overall with the critical favorite The Banshees of Inisherin.
Here are the biggest snubs and surprises from Tuesday’s Oscar nominations:
SNUB: Popular faves Wakanda Forever and Glass Onion miss out on Best Picture
It was a big year for the rarity that is blockbusters that are also award contenders, with sequels Top Gun: Maverick, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Avatar: The Way of Water all earning top dollars and major accolades. Seeing all three of them nominated for Best Picture would spell Oscar’s most “audience-friendly” lineup since… ever? (Having 10 nominees now helps.) Alas, only Top Gun and Avatar made the cut, with Wakanda Forever failing to follow in the footsteps of its 2018 predecessor (though the Marvel hit still fared well with 5 noms, including frontrunner Angela Bassett in Best Supporting Actress). Also left out of the party: the Knives Out sequel Glass Onion, which is the Netflix equivalent of a box office smash, already becoming one of the streamer’s most popular movies of all time.
SURPRISE/SNUB: It’s Women Talking over The Woman King in Best Picture
Although Gina Prince-Bythewood’s period action epic handily defeated Sarah Polley’s intimate drama at the box office, Women Talking emerged as the favorite amongst Academy voters. Polley’s chamber piece ensemble picked up Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay nods while The Woman King was snubbed in all categories. If you ask us, both films are winners.
SNUB: The Best Director category is a boys’ club once again
Paging Natalie Portman. After back-to-back wins by female directors — Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) in 2021 and Jane Campion (The Power of the Dog) in 2022 — this year’s line-up of Best Directors consists entirely of male filmmakers. It’s a depressing oversight that didn’t go unnoticed on social media, where auteurs like Sarah Polley, Gina Prince-Bythewood and Charlotte Wells were all cited as equally deserving nominees.
SNUB: Tom Cruise didn’t soar into the Best Actor race
He may have saved the moviegoing experience when Top Gun: Maverick blew up in theaters, but that wasn’t enough to secure Tom Cruise a spot among this year’s top actors… even with the endorsements of co-stars Glen Powell and Jennifer Connelly. That means the Mission: Impossible star is still waiting on his first acting nomination since 1999’s Magnolia. At least, Top Gun producer — and first time Best Picture nominee — Jerry Bruckheimer made a point of thanking his star in his official statement, writing: “On behalf of Tom, all the filmmakers, cast, Paramount and everyone who worked on Top Gun: Maverick, we are so honored by this recognition from the Academy.”
SURPRISE: All Quiet on the Western Front not Quiet at all
The buzz on Edward Berger’s German-language anti-war drama All Quiet on the Western Front (based on the 1929 novel of the same name) has been strong since its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and was thought to be quietly gaining love in the awards race at just the right time. But surely no one expected nine nominations, with the film in the running Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay and a whole bunch of technical categories. It also quietly became the biggest Oscars player for Netflix, the streamer known for dropping mega-bucks on awards campaigns and that entered the season with their hopes mostly pinned on other films like Bardo, Blonde and Glass Onion – all of which each only scored one nomination apiece.
SURPRISE: Ana de Armas makes the cut for divisive Marilyn Monroe biopic Blonde
Speaking of Blonde, Andrew Dominick’s brutal, bleak, gut-punching, nearly 3-hour think piece about how horrible Marilyn Monroe’s life actually was became one of the film world’s most divisive movies after its September premiere at the Venice Film Festival. By and large, though, even the film’s most ardent haters had to recognize the bold and striking performance of Ana de Armas as the woman born Norma Jeane Mortensen. Academy voters did, handing the on-the-rise Cuban-Spanish actress (Blade Runner 2049, Knives Out) her first nomination.
SURPRISE: Andrea Riseborough’s stealth celeb campaign actually worked
To Andrea, with love. A well-timed groundswell of support from past Oscar winners like Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett and Gwyneth Paltrow pushed Riseborough into the Best Actress race for her barely-seen indie drama, To Leslie. The English actress’s recent revealing interview with co-star and podcasting maestro, Marc Maron, didn’t hurt either. While studios and streamers spend millions on campaigns, the lesson learned Tuesday was that it can be far more effective to just take the celebrity rolodex approach.
SNUB: Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler are among the Black performers overlooked in the lead acting categories
While supporting actor nominations for Angela Bassett and Bryan Tyree Henry provided reasons to cheer, Black performers were notably absent from the Best Actor and Best Actress categories. The high-profile snubs started with Woman King star Viola Davis — who transformed herself into an action hero for the rousing period epic — and Till’s Danielle Deadwyler, who had one of the year’s most memorable scenes. It’s a lapse in judgement that has already earned a drubbing on Twitter.
SNUB: James Cameron isn’t the king of the Oscar world
Titanic and Avatar both sailed past the $2 billion global box office mark and earned James “King of the World” Cameron a pair Best Director nods — and one win — to boot. Avatar: The Way of Water succeeded at the former… but not the latter. While the blockbuster sequel officially joined the $2 billion club over the weekend, Cameron will have to be content with a Best Picture nod, plus three nominations for his crew of technical artisans. Somehow, we think he’s OK with that.
SURPRISE: Ruben Östlund, Triangle of Sadness have happy day
As Academy Janet Yang noted in her opening remarks, the Oscars are voted by over 10,000 film professionals in over 80 countries. It’s no secret that the voting body has grown more international in recent years, and that seems to bear fruit every year now in the Best Director race. In 2019, it was the surprise nomination of Pawel Pawlikowski (Cold War), then Thomas Vinterberg (Another Round) in 2021 and Ryusuke Hamaguchi (Drive My Car) in 2022. This year it’s Ruben Östlund, who edged out a different international favorite Edward Berger (All Quiet) for his wild seafaring puke-fest/social satire Triangle of Sadness. Both Triangleand All Quiet notching Best Picture noms also speaks to the Oscars leaning into a more worldwide approach.
SNUB: RRR didn’t bring Bollywood to Hollywood
RRR may be Twitter’s favorite movie, but the action-packed Bollywood epic failed to stir up similar enthusiasm amongst Academy members. Many of the film’s extremely online fans — including filmmakers Adam McKay and James Cameron — were hoping it might follow the Parasite path to Director and Picture nods. At least those folks can take heart in knowing that the movie has made history in one respect. The movie’s breakout musical number “Naatu Naatu” — which literally has audiences dancing in the aisles — picked up a Best Original Song nomination, the first tune from an Indian movie to achieve that honor.
SNUB: Adam Sandler misses out, again
While Adam Sandler has been a fringe contender all season for his low-key excellent basketball film Hustle, The Sandman caught some wind behind his sails when his latest dramatic coup was honored with a nomination from the Screen Actors Guild, the first he’s ever received. Alas, Sandler was left off the list once again in favor of indie darlings Bill Nighy (Living) and Paul Mescal (Aftersun). Sadly we can’t say it’s that big of a surprise. If the Academy didn’t recognize Sandler for his stunning, career-best work in the buzzfest Uncut Gems, Netflix’s Hustle was taking its shot from half-court.
SURPRISE: Bill Nighy and Paul Mescal sneak into the Best Actor race
Just call them the Maverick slayers. Beloved British character actor Bill Nighy and rising Irish star Paul Mescal took the place of bigger names like Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman and Adam Sandler on the Best Actor list for their star turns Living and Aftersun respectively. Since they face stiff competition from the heavily-favored duo of Brendan Fraser and Colin Farrell, the nomination is the win.
SURPRISES/SNUBS: It’s Brian Tyree Henry and Judd Hirsch over Paul Dano and Eddie Redmayne in Best Supporting Actor
Next to Best Actress and the Academy’s wild decision to go with Andrea Riseborough over Viola Davis and Danielle Deadwyler, the most drama in the acting races came in Best Supporting Actor. Despite only appearing (albeit unforgettably) in The Fabelmans for about five minutes, 81-year-old Judd Hirsch edged out his co-star Paul Dano, notching his first nomination since 1980’s Ordinary People. Equally as surprising was the first nomination for Brian Tyree Henry, who outbuzzed Causeway star Jennifer Lawrence and secured a slot most pundits thought would go to The Good Nurse co-star Eddie Redmayne.
SNUB: Taylor Swift has to shake off Best Original Song miss
The Oscars almost had pop star power rivaling the Grammys. Shortlisted in the Best Original Song category were Taylor Swift (“Carolina” from Where the Crawdads Sing), Lady Gaga (“Hold My Hand” from Top Gun: Maverick) and Rihanna (“Lift Me Up” from Black Panther: Wakanda Forever). While Gaga and Rihanna are in, Swift failed to make the cut, which will leave her stuck at “E” and “G” in EGOT standings. Something (i.e., demand for ticket sales) tells us she’ll be just fine, though.
SURPRISE: Riz Ahmed’s My Year of Dicks moment goes viral
Best Animated Short is not a category that usually trends on Twitter. But it’s also never had a nominee called My Year of Dicks. Presenter Riz Ahmed couldn’t help but giggle when reading off the title of Sara Gunnarsdottir’s ‘toon short, which, yes, is about a girl trying to lose her virginity in the early ’90s. (It’s also yet another reminder that Best Animated Short nominees are rarely all suitable for kids.) To make matters even more humorous was the next title Ahmed had to rattle off: An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake, and I Think I Believe It.