by Nicol Latayan
“It’s an honor just to be nominated.”
That’s definitely one of the most overused sentences every awards season. For the most part, it holds true. While being an Oscar winner can open new doors for you, being an Oscar nominee is in itself a huge recognition. After all, you can already attach the phrase “Oscar nominee” to your name every single time it's mentioned, and this holds true for Jonah Hill, Elizabeth McGovern, John C. Reilly and even Kate Hudson.
However, not everyone gets to be called Oscar nominees for their acclaimed work, and this year produced some of the most notorious Oscar snubs in history. In the Best Director category alone, no one expected Argo’s Ben Affleck and Zero Dark Thirty’s Kathryn Bigelow to miss the list. Let’s take a look at the glorious company that they both belong to as the group that Oscar snubbed:
1. Margaret Hamilton, “The Wizard of Oz” – Best Supporting Actress, 1939
Nominees that year: Olivia de Havilland, “Gone with the Wind”; Geraldine Fitzgerald, “Wuthering Heights”; Hattie McDaniel, “Gone with the Wind”; Edna May Oliver, “Drums Along the Mohawk”; Maria Ouspenskaya, “Love Affair”
While there is no denying that Hattie McDaniel’s historic Oscar win for Gone with the Wind was every inch deserved, let’s take a moment to give the spotlight to another iconic supporting actress performance that will always be remembered in film history. As the Wicked Witch of the West in the Best Picture nominee The Wizard of Oz, Margaret Hamilton’s villainous turn was more than convincing; it was one for the books, and it’s a shame that she was not recognized for this performance at all.
2. Anthony Perkins, “Psycho” – Best Actor, 1960
Nominees that year: Trevor Howard, “Sons and Lovers”; Burt Lancaster, “Elmer Gantry”; Jack Lemmon, “The Apartment”; Laurence Olivier, “The Entertainer”; Spencer Tracy, “Inherit the Wind”
Every time someone mentions the classic Psycho, all credit goes to Best Supporting Actress nominee Janet Leigh. While she is deserving of the recognition, there seems to be a team player that is pretty much unrewarded and barely mentioned. Anthony Perkins’ Norman Bates got shafted for the entire Psycho love at the Oscars, and one does not need to be a fan in order to recognize his indelible presence in this Hitchcock classic.
3. Mia Farrow, “Rosemary’s Baby” – Best Actress, 1968
Nominees that year: Katharine Hepburn, “The Lion in Winter”; Patricia Neal, “The Subject was Roses”; Vanessa Redgrave, “Isadora”; Barbra Streisand, “Funny Girl”; Joanne Woodward, “Rachel, Rachel”
From one horror classic to another, Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby is also one that was never showered with Oscar love. While it managed to squeak in a win for supporting actress Ruth Gordon, its only other nomination is for Polanski’s adaptation of this Ira Levin novel. However, one glaring snub was for its lead actress, Mia Farrow, in a career-best performance as the mother Rosemary. Also, this was probably her closest shot to an Oscar nomination, seeing that she hasn't received any Oscar nomination in her entire career.
4. Malcolm McDowell, “A Clockwork Orange” – Best Actor, 1971
Nominees that year: Peter Finch, “Sunday Bloody Sunday”; Gene Hackman, “The French Connection”; Walter Matthau, “Kotch”; George C. Scott, “The Hospital”; Chaim Topol, “Fiddler on the Roof”
In one of his most iconic performances to date, Malcolm McDowell’s role as Alex in Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange has stood the test of time in terms of remarkable performances. When the movie received Oscar nods for Best Picture, Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay for Stanley Kubrick and Best Editing but nothing for its lead actor, you know something’s flawed with the nominees that year. Add the fact that most of the nominated actors in his category were for performances that are dated and unremarkable now. McDowell’s miss is definitely one of the worst snubs in Oscar history.
5. Steven Spielberg, “Jaws” – Best Director, 1975
Nominees that year: Robert Altman, “Nashville”; Federico Fellini, “Amarcord”; Milos Forman, “One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest”; Stanley Kubrick, “Barry Lyndon”; Sidney Lumet, “Dog Day Afternoon”
This is a pretty inspired lineup, if you ask me. You have five of the most remarkable directors whose names can intimidate newbies. But then again, there’s another director missing from the list. For coming up with a cult classic that is still celebrated today, Steven Spielberg’s directorial duties for Jaws is very underrated. For all the downplaying that it received during the production of the film, it takes some risky shoes to fill in order to come back with a bang and deliver this classic. For that alone, a Directing nomination would have sufficed for Spielberg.
6. Donald Sutherland, “Ordinary People” – Best Actor, 1980
Nominees that year: Robert de Niro, “Raging Bull”; Robert Duvall, “The Great Santini”; John Hurt, “The Elephant Man”; Jack Lemmon, “Tribute”; Peter O’Toole, “The Stuntman”
In 1980, Ordinary People, despite only having six nominations, emerged as the big winner that night winning four out of its six bids including the coveted Best Picture prize. But this mainly three piece ensemble was still under-rewarded when Donald Sutherland, the father of the family, missed out on a nomination. The snub was unexplainable considering they nominated her onscreen wife Mary Tyler Moore and even gave the win to their son Timothy Hutton. Like Mia Farrow, Sutherland hasn't been embraced by the Academy for the rest of his career.
7. Dennis Hopper, “Blue Velvet” – Best Supporting Actor, 1986
Nominees that year: Tom Berenger, “Platoon”; Michael Caine, “Hannah and Her Sisters”; Willem Dafoe, “Platoon”; Denholm Elliott, “A Room with a View”; Dennis Hopper, “Hoosiers”
This one is an interesting case as the snubbed actor wasn't technically snubbed. Simply put, he was nominated for the wrong performance. Getting acclaimed for his Hoosiers performance was what made Dennis Hopper an acting nominee, but we wish that it was his performance in David Lynch’s classic Blue Velvet that showed his acting caliber. Had he been nominated for that, it’s pretty certain that it would not have been an easy win for (the equally deserving) Michael Caine.
8. Michelle Pfeiffer, “The Age of Innocence” – Best Actress, 1993
Nominees that year: Angela Bassett, “What’s Love Got to Do With it?”; Stockard Channing, “Six Degrees of Separation”; Holly Hunter, “The Piano”; Emma Thompson, “The Remains of the Day”; Debra Winger, “Shadowlands”
After sweeping all critics wins and a Golden Globe but still lost to Driving Miss Daisy’s Jessica Tandy in 1989, it seems as if Michelle Pfeiffer’s next vehicles would have ensured her the Oscar. She got nominated one more for Love Field in 1992, but lost again. This made her more overdue than ever, so when she starred in a Martin Scorsese period piece that is based from an acclaimed novel and with a cast including Oscar winner Daniel Day Lewis and then-it girl Winona Ryder, it seems that the stars finally aligned for an Oscar win. The entire buzz came to an end when she was not announced as one of the nominees for Best Actress that year. Until now, we’re still waiting for Pfeiffer’s follow up Oscar nod.
9. “Hoop Dreams” – Best Documentary Feature, 1994
Nominees that year: “Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter”, “D-Day Remembered”, “Freedom on My Mind”, “A Great Day in Harlem”, “Maya Lin: A Strong Clear Vision”
Prior to the Oscar season, this documentary about two African-American students’ dreams to be professional basketball players has been making the rounds among critics and was even a possible contender for Best Picture (a first for a documentary back then). When the Oscar nominees were revealed, this Sundance darling while nominated for Best Editing, was nowhere to be seen in the Documentary Feature category. An Oscar investigation followed suit, and it was then revealed that skew voting ruined its chances with some members ranking it a zero, just to boost other film’s scores.
10. Romania’s “4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days” – Best Foreign Language Film, 2007
Nominees that year: Austria’s “The Counterfeiters”, Israel’s “Beaufort”, Kazakhstan’s “Mongol”, Poland’s “Katyn”, Russia’s “12”
In 2006, the Academy introduced the “shortlist” format when coming up with the nomination for the Best Foreign Language Film category. From all the eligible competing submissions, a top nine based on the average grades would be announced earlier and that's where the five nominated foreign language films will come from. A year after, Cannes Palme d’or winner, Romania’s submission “4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days” missed the shortlist which incurred a lot of controversy in this category. This prompted the Academy to come up with a smaller committee
that will give “artsy” movies with unconventional themes slots in the nine-film shortlist.
11. “The Wrestler” – Best Original Song, 2008
Nominees that year: “Down to Earth” from Wall*E, “Jai Ho” and “O Saya” from Slumdog Millionaire
With only three nominees in this category, it seemed odd that one of the most viable contenders, Golden Globe winning “The Wrestler” by Bruce Springsteen was nowhere to be seen in the Best Original Song category when it was even perceived as an early front-runner months before. Whatever the reason was for its exclusion, we won’t ever know. But one thing’s for certain, in a field of three, two Slumdog Millionaire songs sounded wrong – so wrong.
12. Christopher Nolan, “Inception” – Best Director, 2010
Nominees that year: Darren Aronofsky, “Black Swan”; Ethan and Joel Coen, “True Grit”; David Fincher, “The Social Network”; Tom Hooper, “The King’s Speech”; David O. Russell, “The Fighter”
When it comes to Academy genres, science fiction and fantasy is one of the most underrated ones. Throughout history, while sci-fi films get recognition, they are usually relegated to the technical awards such as Best Visual Effects or Best Makeup. That’s why in 2010, when Christopher Nolan’s Inception received both critical and commercial love, it was considered as a breath of fresh air for the sci-fi genre. Nolan surprisingly missed the Best Director nomination that year after sweeping all precursor nominations, and he received a consolation nomination for his writing in it instead.
13. “The Adventures of Tintin” – Best Animated Feature, 2011
Nominees that year: “A Cat in Paris”, “Chico and Rita”, “Kung Fu Panda 2”, “Puss in Boots”, “Rango”
Steven Spielberg’s first venture into animated feature film-making was widely embraced via the film adaptation of the popular comic series, The Adventures of Tintin. One of things that got people intrigued with this project is its motion-capture approach, which certainly is a far cry from the usual animated films nominated at the Oscars. After winning accolades from the New York Film Critics Association, the Golden Globes, and the Producers Guild Association, it seemed like a sure bet for at least a nomination, but that did not happen. Oscar analysts say the motion-capture format is a hit or miss, and after the Oscar snub, it’s pretty clear that it is a miss.