The day of the Academy Awards nominations is a day of celebration for Hollywood. It’s also a day of rage and annoyance, as entertainment writers remind themselves and others that “Oscar nominations don’t mean that much.” And yet it’s also a day of surprise and joy, as those same entertainment writers remind themselves and others that “Oh yeah, occasionally the Oscar nominations really get it right!”

As is tradition around these parts, we’ve rounded up this year’s biggest Oscar surprises and snubs. Here are the nods that made us fist-pump with joy and the snubs that made us want to punch our walls.

Snub: Delroy Lindo Didn’t Get Nominated for Best Actor and That’s a Crime

I watch a lot of movies – it’s my life and my job. So believe me when I tell you this: Delroy Lindo’s performance in Da 5 Bloods is one of the best performances by an actor I have ever seen. And I mean…ever. So, of course, because the world is cursed, Lindo has been curiously absent from awards season. Sure, plenty of my colleagues have praised the actor’s blistering work as a Vietnam War vet with PTSD in the latest Spike Lee Joint, but awards bodies just haven’t been nominating him. And yet, there remained a sliver of hope that the folks at the Academy would wise up and finally give the man the recognition he deserves. It didn’t happen, and that’s genuinely baffling. (Chris Evangelista)

judas and the black messiah review

Surprise: Judas and the Black Messiah Lands Two Best Supporting Actor Nominations

Daniel Kaluuya gives an unforgettable, towering performance as Fred Hampton, Jr., so it’s not a shock to see him listed in the best supporting actor category. But LaKeith Stanfield, who is also very good but not given quite as much to do, also picked up a nod. The fact that neither of these guys is in the best actor category is more a result of smart campaigning than anything, and I’m certainly glad that their work is being recognized, but it’s surprising that the Academy would select both of these performances and not spread the love around a bit more to other films. I just hope they don’t end up splitting the vote. (Ben Pearson)

Don't Expect Borat 3

Surprise: The Amount of Love for Borat Subsequent Moviefilm

Few movies captured the dark, chaotic energy of 2020 quite like Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, a comedy that is as funny as it is disturbing. And while it tapped into the zeitgeist, this kind of filthy comedy rarely makes a strong showing at awards season. So here’s an exception. The long-awaited Borat sequel walked away with nominations for its screenplay and for supporting actress Maria Bakalova, whose ability to improvise (and survive hostile situations) alongside series star Sacha Baron Cohen left jaws on the floor across the world. (Jacob Hall)

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and Palm Springs

Snub: But Also…Borat Subsequent Moviefilm (and Palm Springs)

Even though Borat Subsequent Moviefilm came away with a couple Oscar nominations, it was only for the awards that are typically used to recognize comedies. Comedy is consistently and wrongly ignored when the Oscar nominations come around, and if one ends up being recognized, it’s often times for writing and/or a supporting performance (see Bridesmaids). That’s why a movie like Palm Springs also wasn’t even in the cards for nominations, despite putting an original spin on the time loop formula and delivering a movie that is all too relevant and timely for the insanity that was 2020. We demand justice for comedy! (Ethan Anderton)

Surprise: Thomas Vinterberg Lands a Best Director Nomination for Another Round

Another Round made a bit of a splash at film festivals, and even snuck its way (deservedly) on a few best of the year lists, but it wasn’t considered much of an Oscar contender outside of the Best International Feature category, where it has been the front-runner. But director Thomas Vinterberg’s Best Director nomination came as a big surprise for the Danish comedy-drama, a charming and low-key movie whose ecstatic final scene elevated it from a humdrum European movie about men in a middle-aged crisis. But Best Director over way more praised directors like Regina King, Spike Lee, and others? Someone at the Academy may have had one too many. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Boys State Review

Snub: The Painter and the Thief, Dick Johnson is Dead, and Boys State Get Shut Out of Best Documentary

This year was an impressive year for potent documentaries, with nominees like Time well on their way to “classic” status. But it was so impressive that a few critical darlings ended up being shut out of the Oscars completely, including /Film favorite The Painter and the Thief, format-breaking personal narratives like Dick Johnson is Dead, and the all-too timely Boys State. The snub of Boys State, in particular, seems to feed into the pattern of films that effectively poke holes at the mythology of America getting the shaft by the Oscars. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Surprise: A Surprising Amount of Love for The Father

Has anyone actually seen The Father? Don’t get me wrong – Anthony Hopkins and Olivia Colman are both frequently fantastic, so it’s not entirely surprising they scored noms. Still, the drama picked up six nominations total, which seems like a lot for a film that has generated very little buzz. Perhaps that’ll change now, as scores of audiences seek this film out to figure out why it landed so many nominations. Bring tissues, it’s a tear-jerker.  (Chris Evangelista)

One Night in Miami Regina King

Snub: Nothing for Regina King, Spike Lee, and Shaka King as Black Directors Get Shut Out

The idea that Regina King, Spike Lee, and Shaka King could make three of the best films of the year –movies that were each recognized by different branches in different areas of the nominations – but not score directing nods is…unfortunate. It’s tough to argue that the existing nominees don’t deserve that recognition, but in a year in which the United States collectively thought more about the Black experience than it arguably ever has, it’s disappointing to say the least that these three filmmakers didn’t get any love in the best director category. (Ben Pearson)

Surprise: Paul Raci Lands Best Supporting Actor for Sound of Metal

Hey, would you look at that? The best performance of 2020 actually got nominated at the Oscars. Paul Raci’s performance as a counselor at a rehabilitation community for the deaf in Sound of Metal is the kind of low-key, quietly powerful performance that devastates individual viewers but rarely moves massive institutions like the Academy. It’s too raw! It’s too real! It’s like you’re watching an actual person and not an actor…which is the kind of acting that, weirdly enough, often gets ignored. So let’s celebrate this one. (Jacob Hall)

Snub: Absolutely Nothing for First Cow

How now, First Cow? Do you mean to tell me that The Academy couldn’t throw a single nomination to Kelly Reichardt’s lovely, quiet movie about two guys in the 1820s who steal milk from a cow in order to make delicious oily cakes? I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, since there’s been very little awards season buzz for First Cow. But it would’ve been nice if the Oscars had recognized the movie in at least one category. (Chris Evangelista)

Surprise: Eurovision Song Contest Lands a Nomination

In addition to comedies traditionally being snubbed by the Academy when it comes to the major awards, they don’t often end up landing nominations in the Best Original Song category. The last time a goofy song from a comedy earned a nomination was “Everything is Awesome” in The LEGO Movie. Thankfully, Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga gets a nomination in this category this year, though it’s for the more heartfelt song “Husavik (My Home Town).” It’s certainly the best song to come from the movie, but we can’t help but still champion “Jaja Ding Dong.” (Ethan Anderton)

adrift jared leto

Snub: Jared Leto Isn’t Nominated for His Deeply Okay Work in The Little Things

Jared Leto is perfectly fine and okay as a suspected serial killer in the not-so-perfectly-fine-and-okay (it’s actively bad) thriller The Little Things. But because he’s a big name playing a weirdo and because recency bias is absolutely a thing in awards season, he has spent the past few months picking up momentum, leading many, including the staff at /Film, to think this nomination was a lock. And it wasn’t. Whew. Hey, the Academy got this right for a change. (Jacob Hall)

Andra Day in The United States vs Billie Holiday

Surprise: Andra Day Gets a Nomination for Hulu Original The United States vs Billie Holliday

Awards pundits were surprised when Andra Day scored a Golden Globe for her work a few weeks ago, but the Globes are…well, the Globes. They’re notoriously ridiculous and not always an accurate bellwether for the far more legitimate Academy Awards. Back in early February, it looked like Day was going to be on the outside looking in. But it looks like the Hollywood Foreign Press Association called this one correctly, because Day scored a nod for Best Actress here and edged out other contenders like Zendaya, Amy Adams, Rosamund Pike, and Sophia Loren. (Ben Pearson)

Snub: La Llorona and A Sun Get Shut Out of Best International Film

Guatemala’s La Llorona has been a favorite of the awards circuit, even if Academy has a well-documented bias against horror. And Taiwan’s A Sun might have been buried by Netflix early in the year, but passionate critics gave it a boost that drove the exquisite family tragedy all the way to the top of many best of year lists. But, despite La Llorona‘s historic Golden Globe nomination and despite the critical buzz surrounding A Sun (which earned a whopping 11 nominations at its home country’s 56th Golden Horse Awards), neither earned a nod for Best International Feature film. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

Pinocchio

Surprise: More Love Than Expected for…Pinocchio?

Well, we certainly weren’t expecting to see any love for the recent adaptation of Pinocchio from director Matteo Garrone, but here we are. The Italian fantasy film not only landed a nomination for costume design but also best make-up and hairstyling. They’re technical nominations, sure, but considering the movie didn’t seem to be on anyone’s radar for nominations this year, it’s just surprising to see. Did we mention that this is the second time Roberto Benigni has starred in a Pinocchio movie? Yes, there are two Pinocchio movies starring Roberto Benigni and one of them just got more Oscar nominations than Da 5 Bloods. Ugh. (Ethan Anderton)

mangrove trailer

Snub: Yes, We’re Still Angry Small Axe Wasn’t Eligible and We’re Going to Complain About It

No, there was no chance that Steve McQueen’s thundering courtroom drama Mangrove would get a nomination over Aaron Sorkin’s mouthy The Trial of the Chicago 7. You’re right, a moody tone poem like Lovers Rock would have been an arthouse curiosity rather than a real Oscar contender. And yes, the Best Actor race might have been too packed for John Boyega’s career-best performance in Red, White, and Blue. But — but! It’s still ludicrous that all five feature films that McQueen directed for his Small Axe series on Amazon were never even considered contenders for the Oscars. The “are they film or are they TV” debate has always been slanted ever since Amazon made the strange marketing decision to categorize Small Axe as as a TV series, and the films got their due at the Emmys, but it’s still a travesty that McQueen directed some of the best movies of last year, and they never made the shortlist. (Hoai-Tran Bui)

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