Awards Season

13 Oscar Nomination Shockers: Oprah, Tom Hanks, ‘Inside Llewyn Davis,’ and More

The 2014 Oscar nominations were announced and—surprise!—there were several shockers. From Oprah’s snub to little ‘Inside Llewyn Davis’ love, here are the biggest head-scratchers.

The Weinstein Company; Columbia Pictures

At 8:38 a.m. ET this morning, Thor—excuse me, Chris Hemsworth—stepped to the podium to announce the 2014 Oscar nominations. American Hustle and Gravity led with 10 nominations apiece, followed by 9 for 12 Years A Slave. And, while many of the predicted actors, filmmakers, and musicians received love from the Academy, there were—as per usual—many, many snubs.

Let’s commiserate. Here are the biggest Oscar nomination shockers.

1. No Oprah?

“And you get a nomination! And you get a nomination! And YOU get a nomination!” But sadly, there was none to be had for one of the world’s most influential cultural figures, Oprah Winfrey, who turned in a performance tailor-made for Oscar in Lee Daniels’ The Butler. As Gloria Gaines, the alcoholic, unfaithful wife of longtime White House butler Cecil Gaines, Oprah stole every scene she was in, from her troubling bouts with booze to her epic disco ensemble. Oprah had already been nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar in 1986 for The Color Purple, and in 2012, took home the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award, so it stood to reason that she’d be recognized again. But alas, after her Golden Globe snub, things weren’t looking too hot for Big O.

2. Poor Tom Hanks

Two months ago, most awards pundits had Tom Hanks being nominated for not one—but two—Oscars, for his riveting portrayal of the titular real-life seaman in Captain Phillips, as well as Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks. But alas, Hanks, a two-time Best Actor Oscar winner and five-time Oscar nominee, was completely shut out by the Academy. It’s a shame, for in the final five minutes of the pulse-pounding Captain Phillips, as his sea captain is taken to the infirmary and, covered in blood, shakes uncontrollably, Hanks delivers arguably the best acting sequence of his celebrated career.

3. Robert Redford is Passed Over

I guess All Is Lost wasn’t just a clever movie title. The great Robert Redford, a cinematic icon, the star of The Sting and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, was overlooked for what many considered the finest acting work of his career as a marooned sailor in All Is Lost. The performance is a testament to his hold of the screen, as Redford’s character, who spends the bulk of the film troubleshooting to fix his busted sea vessel, only utters a handful of words, and still captivates us through a series of grunts, shrugs, and one long, loud, “Fuuuuuuck!” Unfortunately, the film has only grossed just north of $6 million at the domestic box office, which didn’t help Redford’s chances.

4. Jonah Hill: Two-Time Oscar Nominee

OK, this wasn’t that surprising. Many pundits had Jonah Hill receiving his second Oscar nomination (last was for Moneyball) for his portrayal of Leonardo DiCaprio’s degenerate lude-popping, cocaine-snorting, hooker-banging stockbroker boy Friday in The Wolf of Wall Street. The surprising thing here is that, and this is not a knock on Hill but the Academy, the Superbad star now has more Oscar nominations for acting (2) than the likes of Robert Redford, Gary Oldman, Ryan Gosling, Alan Rickman, Mia Farrow, Donald Sutherland, Edward G. Robinson, the list goes on.

5. No Emma Thompson, For Shame

With four “locks,” the fifth Best Actress slot came down to two veterans: Meryl Streep for her showy turn as a crabby, dying matriarch in August: Osage County, and Emma Thompson’s performance as Mary Poppins scribe P.L. Travers in Saving Mr. Banks. Many felt that Thompson, one of the most likeable actresses in the biz—did you see her barefooted-and-tipsy Golden Globes presentation?—and an Oscar winner (1993, for Howard’s End) and four-time nominee for acting, would receive the nod. She’d been campaigning pretty hard, and Saving Mr. Banks has grossed over $70 million compared to just over $9 million for August: Osage County, but alas, the Academy loves them some Streep (who doesn’t?), and she also had Oscar oracle Harvey Weinstein on her side. Together, they’re pretty unstoppable (see: The Iron Lady).

Get The Beast In Your Inbox!

Daily Digest

Start and finish your day with the top stories from The Daily Beast.

Cheat Sheet

A speedy, smart summary of all the news you need to know (and nothing you don't).

By clicking “Subscribe,” you agree to have read the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy
Thank You!
You are now subscribed to the Daily Digest and Cheat Sheet. We will not share your email with anyone for any reason.

GALLERY: See the Full List of Nominees

6. Inside Llewyn Davis Given the Shaft

I guess it’s only fitting that, for a movie about artistic failure, it would get screwed come Oscar time, but not many predicted that the Coen Brothers’ stunningly brilliant saga of a tortured folk musician, played by Oscar Isaac, who can’t get out of his own way would only receive two Oscar nominations—for cinematography and sound mixing. The brothers have been nominated for 13 Academy Awards, winning four, but not so for Davis. I spoke with a lot of Academy members who were put off by the film’s somber, cynical tone, which is a shame. Fare thee well, my honeys…

7. Christian Bale Gets In

Since many were predicting that either Tom Hanks or Robert Redford would occupy the fifth slot for Best Actor, many were surprising when the chameleon-like Bale snuck in to receive his second Oscar nomination. The Welshman won the Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 2011 for The Fighter, and apparently filmmaker David O. Russell is his good luck charm, for he received another nod for his turn as Irving Rosenfeld, a nebbishy con man with a hideous comb-over ‘do in American Hustle. Bale packed on over 40 pounds for the role, and the Academy apparently noticed.

8. Blackfish Sleeps with the Fishes

Yes, the wildly popular documentary Blackfish, which exposed Sea World’s cruel and inhumane treatment of its killer whales, failed to receive an anticipated nod in the Best Documentary category. One reason, perhaps, is that the film aired on CNN well before the Oscar nominations were announced, which is a bit of a no-no for the Academy. Or maybe the Academy just enjoys going to Sea World? Your guess is as good as ours.

9. Best Makeup

Yes, everybody: Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa received an Oscar nomination. The rowdy Johnny Knoxville-starring prank-comedy was recognized in the Best Makeup category, along with The Lone Ranger… for pancaking Johnny Depp’s face with white paint and putting a bird on his head?

10. Dallas Buyers Club Surprises

Many pundits had the poignant drama Dallas Buyers Club, which chronicled the efforts of ‘80s-era AIDS activist Ron Woodroof, who smuggled anti-viral medications for AIDS sufferers, on the outside looking in when it comes to Best Picture. But the film, starring Matthew McConaughey as Woodroof and Jared Leto as his transsexual sidekick, Rayon, received a startling six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor (McConaughey), Best Supporting Actor (Leto), and, most shocking of all, Best Original Screenplay (over Inside Llewyn Davis). The Academy chose to nominate 9 films for Best Picture this year, which presumably allowed the film to sneak in.

11. The Music of Inside Llewyn Davis

For all the snubbing of Inside Llewyn Davis, the most shocking thing when it comes to the Coen Brothers film is that its music wasn’t recognized—in any category. The score, arranged by T-Bone Burnett and Marcus Mumford (of Mumford & Sons), is one of the best in years, and the songs—“Please, Mr. Kennedy,” “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me,” “Fare thee Well (Dink’s Song,” to name a few—will stay in your head for weeks. You’re better than this, Academy.

12. American Hustle Sweeps

With nominations for Best Actor (Bale), Best Actress (Amy Adams), Best Supporting Actor (Bradley Cooper), and Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Lawrence), David O. Russell’s sexy caper flick American Hustle became only the 14th film in history to be nominated in all four acting categories. Guess David O. Russell is the go-to guy when it comes to acting nominations. His last film, Silver Linings Playbook, was also nominated in all four acting categories.

13. Her Gets Some Love

Many Academy members—and awards pundits—felt that Spike Jonze’s Her, a beautiful tale of urban ennui and loneliness centered on a melancholic schlub, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix, a revelation), who falls in love with his sentient operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), would be overlooked by the Academy in many of the major categories. Typically, boundary-pushing films like this don’t get Best Picture nods (see: Jonze’s Being John Malkovich), but Her managed to rack up a stellar five Oscar nominations—for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay (Jonze), and more. Sadly, Joaquin Phoenix’s turn as Twombley wasn’t recognized, even though it is, in this writer’s opinion, the finest male acting performance of the year.