Some of the Biggest Shocks of the 2014 Oscar Nominations

By January 16, 2014

Oscars logo

This morning, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences announced the nominations for the 86th Annual Academy Awards. We don’t really put much stock in predicting award nominees around these parts, but these are the Oscars we’re talkin’ about, and since it’s the biggest award show in the world and everyone will be talking about them practically non-stop until the broadcast airs on Sunday, March 2nd on ABC. So let’s jump into some of what I consider to be the most egregious snubs and a few of the biggest shocks of this morning’s nominations.

Tom Hanks Not Being Nominated for Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips 1

I know it’s impossible to try to figure out the thought process of a large voting group (especially one that has a membership that’s MUCH older than I am), but giving Captain Phillips a nomination for Best Picture but not including Tom Hanks in the running for Best Actor is completely baffling to me. He was magnetic to watch in Greengrass’s film, and the last shellshocked ten minutes of the movie contained what I consider to be some of the best work of Hanks’ long career. He’s a force to be reckoned with in the film, and I’m disappointed the Academy didn’t judge his performance as worthy of more recognition.

Inside Llewyn Davis Only Getting Technical Nominations

The Coen Brothers’ soulful exploration of what it means to suffer for art only received two nominations: cinematography, and sound mixing. Say what you will about the film as a whole – it’s too meandering for some people, and if you don’t dig the ’60s folk music, I imagine it’d be a tough film to fully enjoy – but I feel like Oscar Isaac should have been included among the best actor contenders. His work as a frustrated but talented artist is a breakout performance for him, and while I can understand the movie not getting a Best Picture nod, only giving it two technical noms seems like it’s shortchanging the movie.

The Incredible Disappointment of Saving Mr. Banks

Saving Mr. Banks 2

This is one I’m truly shocked about. I didn’t particularly care for Disney’s Saving Mr. Banks, but the film had “Oscar bait” written all over it, and the Academy didn’t bite. Emma Thompson was stellar as P.L. Travers (even though her portrayal may not have been 100% true to life, it’s still worthy of praise for how she provides the emotional center of the film. Before this morning, though, I was convinced this film would earn noms for Best Picture and Best Actress; instead, it walked away with only a nomination for Best Original Score. Perhaps the film’s glorification of Walt Disney was a bit too much for voters to handle, especially considering they’re old enough to remember Disney the way he really was, not the way that Tom Hanks portrayed him.

No Joaquin Phoenix for Her

Perhaps his comments about the Oscars being “bullshit” are still too fresh in voters’ minds, but I thought Phoenix did subtle, excellent work in Spike Jonze’s love story about a man falling for his operating system. I guess the Academy didn’t agree.

Pacific Rim Not Getting A Visual Effects Nomination

This one reminds me of The Golden Compass beating Transformers in this category back in 2008. Yes, Guillermo del Toro’s film took place largely at night, and yes, some of the action was shrouded in darkness and shadows. But there was still plenty of amazing CG work here to warrant some Oscar love, and giving the nod to The Lone Ranger left me scratching my head. Yes, that final train sequence is vaguely impressive, but most of Verbinski’s movie is shot like a classical western. I’m sure there are a handful of VFX in the movie, but are they as impressive as the ones in Pacific Rim? I don’t think so. But hey – I don’t have a vote, so I can just complain about it here and see if anyone agrees with me.

The Butler and Fruitvale Station Shut Out

Fruitvale Station had great buzz from its first screening at Sundance all the way up until October, when the big projects like Gravity and 12 Years a Slave started generating heat of their own. I sadly didn’t make time to see it last year, but I’ve heard nothing but excellent things about it. Lee Daniels’ The Butler – another “Oscar bait” project if I’ve ever seen one – getting shut out is actually vaguely satisfying to me (and I admit I’m terrible for thinking that), much in the same way Saving Mr. Banks didn’t get much love: maybe it’ll encourage filmmakers to stop making over the top, pandering movies whose only purpose seems to be racking up awards. Remember The Reader, anyone? Ugh.

Robert Redford Not Being Nominated for All is Lost

Robert Redford All is Lost

Frankly, I didn’t think Redford should have been nominated for this role, although I know he has his supporters out there. I didn’t connect with All is Lost because he never gives the audience a reason to care about him and his situation, but I figured the living legend getting recognized by the industry was a slam dunk. I’m guessing the film was so small that not enough of the voters actually saw it; I’m convinced that the old people who make up a majority of the Academy would have loved Redford’s work in this one, but the movie wasn’t sexy enough to draw enough of an audience. After all, which would you rather watch if you had a pile of screeners sitting in front of you: Scorsese’s bombastic story of excess, or a contemplative character study about an isolated man at sea? Yeah, me too.

What do you guys think about the Oscar nominations this year? Any big surprises? Let us know below.

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Ben is a writer living in Los Angeles, California. His work has been featured at,,,, and many more sites across the web. Some of his favorite movies include The Rocketeer, Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Tombstone, Lucky Number Slevin, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Collateral, Double Indemnity, Back to the Future and The Prestige. Follow him on Twitter: @BenPears.
  • James Evans

    I agree with your reaction about why Pacific Rim wasn’t nominated for Visual Effects

    • Herbert Hamby

      I watched Pacific Rim at the midnight premiere when it was released and it was the best movie I saw in 2013!!

  • Douglas Groff

    Tom Hanks was spectacular in Captain Phillips, how could he not get a nomination??

  • Havem1102

    Really sad to see a movie like prisoners not get any love. Gyllenhall
    and Jackman nailed their roles, even Dano executed a great character
    with minimal dialouge. Even down to that chilling tune was an excellent
    mood enhancement. Hope the producers,directors,case, etc… know that
    they did a great job and hope more films envoke such emotion as this one
    did. Can’t wait to see how many awards the hunger games takes home this
    year for being the new twilight series and a fictional load of ……..

  • kingdoomm

    LOL no hairstyling nomination for American Hustle.

  • geraldine922

    I did not watched the movie so I can’t really advocate or share “outrage”, but I thought Tom Hanks for Captain Phillips was the biggest surprise snub for me, considering how almost every other award has shown recognition, plus he’s Tom Hanks! Everyone is happy he’s out of the slump of Cloud Atlas and Larry Crowne.