The most shocking snubs and surprises of the 2022 Oscar nominations
Though awards season is once again off to a bit of a slow start (the Critics Choice Awards and others postponed their ceremonies due to yet another COVID surge), things kicked into high gear Tuesday morning with the announcement of the 2022 Oscar nominees.
While the Oscars tend to honor dramatic work, comedic actors Leslie Jordan and Tracee Ellis Ross brought a lively atmosphere to the proceedings as they announced the nominees. They were also joined by movie lovers worldwide, helping to announce this year's nominations.
After a robust and wild awards season, there were, of course, plenty of unexpected moments. Here, EW breaks down some of the biggest snubs and surprises of this year's Oscar nominations list.
SNUB: Best Actress — Lady Gaga (House of Gucci)
All that praying to father, son, and House of Gucci couldn't manifest an Oscar nomination for Lady Gaga. The pop star campaigned like it was for her job for her second Best Actress nomination, enlightening us all about Stanislavsky and Meisner technique through a series of contender interviews, including EW's The Awardist, about bringing Patrizia Reggiani to life. It garnered her nominations with critics' associations, the BAFTAs, and the SAG Awards, but wasn't enough to convince the Academy to recognize her extremely meme-able performance.
SNUB: Best Supporting Actress — Caitriona Balfe (Belfast)
When Belfast opened to raves at a litany of fall festivals, one of the early frontrunners for an Oscar nomination was Outlander star Caitriona Balfe for her warm, steely performance as Ma. Balfe has picked up a litany of nominations across critics' associations, the Golden Globe Awards, the Critics Choice Awards, the SAG Awards, and the BAFTAs. But she was edged out by her Belfast costar Judi Dench as Granny, who picked up a surprise nomination in Balfe's stead. Dench is a longtime Academy favorite, picking up her eighth nomination, while it seems Balfe, as a newcomer to the race, simply ran out of steam after early buzz.
SNUB: Best Supporting Actor — Jared Leto (The House of Gucci)
Jared Leto's performance as the dim-witted Paolo Gucci has been polarizing, with pundits weighing in on Leto's unrecognizable transformation under layers of make-up and comparing his accent to video game character, Mario. But plenty of people loved it and saw another praise-worthy performance from the mercurial Leto in the wild swing. He picked up both a Critics' Choice Award and SAG Award nomination, which seemed to make it a sure bet he'd round that out with another Oscar nod — but Oscar voters did not find the performance so sweet, so seductive.
SURPRISE: Best Supporting Actress — Jessie Buckley (The Lost Daughter)
Irish actress Jessie Buckley's star has been steadily on the rise ever since her breakout roles in 2017's Beast and 2018's Wild Rose. But she proved her mettle playing the younger version of Olivia Colman in flashbacks in Maggie Gyllenhaal's directorial debut, The Lost Daughter. Buckley's been a quiet contender this season, picking up nominations from a few critics' associations, making her inclusion in the Oscar race a pleasant surprise.
SURPRISE: Best Supporting Actor — Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog)
Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose! Jesse Plemons embodied his old Friday Night Lights motto with a surprise nomination for Best Supporting Actor, edging out SAG Award nominees Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar) and Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza). Plemons has picked up a few critics' circle nominations and he is a part of BAFTA's major love for The Power of the Dog. But it's a delight to see him get nominated for his subtle, quiet performance as George Burbank, a rancher who marries Rose Gordon (Kirsten Dunst), thereby disrupting the patriarchal brotherhood of his home. Bonus: Both Plemons and his offscreen partner Dunst are nominated for the film.
SNUB: Best Supporting Actor — Bradley Cooper (Licorice Pizza)
Bradley Cooper credits director Paul Thomas Anderson with reawakening his love of acting, and it's not hard to see why in his off-the-rails performance as producer Jon Peters (who coincidentally produced the Barbra Streisand version of A Star Is Born, which Cooper remade in 2018). Cooper delivered a tour-de-force performance in Best Picture nominee Nightmare Alley, but it's his brief but hilariously memorable performance in Licorice Pizza that's been earning him awards love, including critics' association nods and a SAG award nomination. But it wasn't enough to propel him into an Oscar nomination.
SNUB: Best Supporting Actor — Ben Affleck (The Tender Bar)
Despite earning raves for what many have dubbed one of Affleck's best-ever performances (and being an EW cover star), the Bostonian didn't land a nod for his turn as a bar owner in George Clooney's directorial effort. Affleck plays Uncle Charlie, the owner of the titular bar and a surrogate father to the film's protagonist J.R. Maguire. The part secured Affleck Golden Globe and SAG Award nominations, but it didn't push him into Oscar contention. At least he got a Razzie nom for The Last Duel (which many critics also actually hailed as a fine turn)?
SNUB: Best Original Song — Ariana Grande and Kid Cudi (Don't Look Up)
Though Don't Look Up was polarizing among audiences, one thing seemed a sure bet — pop superstar Ariana Grande would pick up her first Oscar nomination for the film's parody track, "Just Look Up." Grande plays music star Riley Bina in the film, and she even improvised some of the song's funniest lines, according to director Adam McKay. But the Academy said thank you, next to her original tune, despite nominating the film in other categories, including Best Picture.
Rebecca Hall's adaptation of Nella Larsen's 1929 novel was critically acclaimed, but it missed out on much of the awards love, except for its supporting actress, Ruth Negga. Negga earned nods for her work as white-passing Clare from the Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and SAG Awards, but the Academy passed her by. While Negga was Passing's best chance for a nomination, the film missing out on any nomination entirely is a surprising disregard for a film well-regarded for its striking photography and nuanced, thoughtful storytelling.
SNUB: Best Director — Denis Villeneuve (Dune)
Dune nabbed 10 Oscar nominations Tuesday morning, but somehow the visionary behind it all got left out. Villeneuve took a risk bringing Frank Herbert's Dune to the big screen, making a genuine hit out of what many considered an unadaptable novel. It was his unique vision and directorial efforts that spearheaded the gamble of dividing it into two films, and the result was his most commercially successful film to date. He was previously nominated in the category for 2016's Arrival, but it's odd that Dune would receive so much love, without a nod for the man who steered the ship.
SNUB: Best International Feature Film — (A Hero)
If anything seemed a lock for a nomination this year, it was Asghar Farhadi's latest film A Hero. Farhadi is one of the only directors to win the Oscar for Best International Feature Film (previously known as Best Foreign Language Film) twice, having taken home Oscar gold for 2011's A Separation and 2016's The Salesman. A Hero, which follows Rahim (Amir Jadidi) on a two-day leave from prison attempting to get a creditor to forgive the debt that landed him there, seemed poised to make things a hat trick for Farhadi — it won the Grand Prix at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival. But in a stunning twist, A Hero missed out on the category entirely.
SURPRISE: No double nominees in score
A lot of composers pulled double, if not triple, duty this year, most particularly Jonny Greenwood, who turned in scores for Licorice Pizza, Spencer, and The Power of the Dog. But the Academy decided to share the love this year and didn't give more than one nomination to any one contender. It's surprising, but it will be useful when it comes time to vote as no one will end up splitting the vote between themselves.
SURPRISE: Best Picture — Drive My Car
While we correctly called Drive My Car's inclusion in three categories, its Best Picture nomination is a surprising show of strength for a film on the bubble. Across multiple categories, the Japanese film was the biggest surprise of nominations morning. But Drive My Car first hinted at its potential to make a splash in the Oscar race picking up a nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. It was feted at Cannes, where it competed for the Palme d'Or and won Best Screenplay, but many feared the Academy might count it out.
SURPRISE: Joachim Trier and Eskil Vogt, Best Original Screenplay — (The Worst Person in the World)
The writing categories were full of surprises on Tuesday morning. The Norwegian romantic dramedy has been a favorite among critics after first premiering at Cannes and earning Renate Reinsve the award for Best Actress there. Joachim Trier's tale of a woman navigating her complicated love life and search for a career has earned plenty of love from critics' associations around the globe, but predominantly in the Best International Feature and Best Actress categories. But the Academy saw fit to also honor its script.
SNUB: Best Adapted Screenplay — Tony Kushner (West Side Story)
Adapting Arthur Laurents' iconic Broadway book and Ernest Lehman's Oscar-nominated screenplay was a tall order, but if anyone was up to the task, it was Pulitzer Prize winner Tony Kushner. Kushner expanded West Side Story to flesh out Tony's (Ansel Elgort) backstory, deepen the friendship between Tony and Riff (Mike Faist), and provide more social context for the gang warfare at the heart of the story. But Academy voters didn't see a place for Kushner's take on the musical.