For some in Hollywood, Tuesday morning was a time to celebrate. For the rest, a time to stew bitterly. It happens every year after the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announces its nominations for the Academy Awards – there is only so much love to go around in the industry. Although this year, the snubs somehow seem more egregious than previous years.
Blame it on certain crowded fields or group-think, but there were some legitimately brilliant performances and work that the Oscars thumbed their little golden noses at. Herewith, The Globe and Mail presents an abridged list of the most surprising snubs of the season.
Kumail Nanjiani: The Big Sick works for a number of reasons – its sharp direction from comedy veteran Michael Showalter, its emotional wallop of a script from real-life couple Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, its subtle supporting performances from Holly Hunter and Ray Romano (yes, really!) – but it is held together by the leading performance of Nanjiani. Playing a lightly fictionalized version of himself, the actor and comedian delves into the most personal of subjects – his own romantic failings – and somehow wrings a beautiful, hilarious and charming performance that announces his status as a leading man.
James Franco: The producers of this year's Academy Awards are likely breathing a sigh of relief that Franco didn't earn a best-actor nod for his turn as legendary Hollywood weirdo Tommy Wiseau in The Disaster Artist – it avoids any potentially awkward #MeToo controversy, given the high-profile sexual-misconduct allegations facing Franco. And yet, and yet … the Golden Globes showered Franco with praise just a few weeks ago, and his absence here is, deserving or not, a surprise.
Tom Hanks: Meryl Streep scored her latest Oscar nomination for The Post (I believe that's No. 86 for her, but there's no time to fact-check these things), yet her co-star walked away from Tuesday morning's announcement empty-handed. Perhaps because his role, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, was already so expertly played by Jason Robards back in 1976's All the President's Men – and the Academy isn't too fond of awarding two actors for portraying the same person.
Steven Spielberg: Speaking of The Post … the film entered the awards race in December seeming like a sure thing – Spielberg! Hanks! Streep! Journalism! – yet faltered out of the gate. The Nixon-era drama did score some love from the Academy, including a best-picture nomination, yet nothing for the director himself. Somehow, though, I think he'll be okay. (Martin McDonagh also failed to get a best-director nod even though his film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, was recognized for best picture … yet somehow that feels like a more correct move than taking Spielberg out of the equation.)
Dee Rees: Yes, Mudbound's Rees got a nomination for best adapted screenplay, but if you happened to stumble upon her Netflix film (the streaming giant didn't exactly make things easy), there's little doubt it was one of the year's best-directed movies, too.
Sean Baker: The Florida Project got the nomination everyone was expecting – best supporting actor for Willem Dafoe – but where was the recognition for the director who engineered it? Sean Baker's tale of poverty on the outskirts of Disney World is heartbreaking, beautiful and, yes, magical. Ten years from now, we'll still be talking about it – and this glaring oversight.
Vicky Krieps: Paul Thomas Anderson's Phantom Thread performed better than expected, given its somewhat prickly architecture and P.T.A.'s rocky history with the Academy. But where, I ask, is the love for the film's VIP, Vicky Krieps? The actress goes toe-to-toe with Daniel Day-Lewis and not only survives, but comes out on top in every possible way.
Andy Serkis: It was always a long shot, but there was no more magnificent and revelatory a performance in 2017 than Serkis's take on wary hero Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes. The stumbling block is, and will likely be for some time, the acceptance of CGI-enhanced acting, but there was something truly beguiling about how Serkis ensured his digital creation seemed fully, completely real.
Tiffany Haddish: Along with Serkis, Haddish had the honour of waking up incredibly early in California to read the list of this year's Oscar nominees. And like Serkis, what does she get for her trouble? Nada. It's especially dispiriting given that her turn in Girls Trip was an all-timer: riotous, dangerous, raw, hilarious.
Michael Stuhlbarg and Armie Hammer: Hooray for Timothée Chalamet for scoring a deserved best-actor nomination in Call Me by Your Name, but what about the more-than-able men who supported him along the way? Stuhlbarg's snub feels especially grating, as he also delivered wry turns in this year's The Shape of Water and The Post.