These are the most egregious errors on the part of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, in order of outrageousness and indefensibility, from brain-meltingly inexplicable to bemusedly obtuse — according to me, at least.
Best Picture: American Hustle • Captain Phillips • Dallas Buyers Club • Gravity • Her • Nebraska • Philomena • 12 Years a Slave • The Wolf of Wall Street
Snubbed: Inside Llewyn Davis. On the surface, this story of a struggling folk musician in 1961 New York is just a small and quirky film, but the Oscar-winning Coen Brothers (Fargo, No Country for Old Men) have crafted yet another idiosyncratic movie about a particularly peculiar fellow moving through a world he barely comprehends — Llewyn Davis is a purist who refuses to compromise even one iota to claim the fame he desperately desires but which dangles just beyond his reach.
Best Director: David O. Russell, American Hustle • Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity • Alexander Payne, Nebraska • Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave • Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street
Snubbed: Inside Llewyn Davis was screwed again. Joel and Ethan Coen write, produce and direct their features as a binary unit, with a kind of hive mind operating in perfect sync. Together they put out movies that no one person could possibly manage.
Best Supporting Actor: Barkhad Abdi, Captain Phillips • Bradley Cooper, American Hustle • Michael Fassbender, 12 Years a Slave • Jonah Hill, The Wolf of Wall Street • Jared Leto, The Dallas Buyers Club
Snubbed: James Franco, Spring Breakers. I am far from the world’s biggest Franco fan, but even I had to admit that his work as blinged-out drug dealer Alien in the deceptively clear-eyed and thoughtful social critique was completely astonishing. He was barely recognizable as human. Franco’s delivery of Alien’s “Look at all my shit” speech while on a bed covered with guns, drugs and half-naked coeds was the most devastating takedown of out-of-control consumerism of the year. (Take that, The Wolf of Wall Street!)
Best Supporting Actress: Sally Hawkins, Blue Jasmine • Jennifer Lawrence, American Hustle • Lupita Nyong’o, 12 Years a Slave • Julia Roberts, August: Osage County • June Squibb, Nebraska
Snubbed: Jena Malone. She more than held her own against America’s Sweetheart, Jennifer Lawrence in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire as pitiless formervictor Johanna Mason, creating a character Katniss was afraid of. But no love from Oscar. As Johanna screamed: “F*ck that! And f*ckc everyone that had anything to do with it!” Johanna may have been talking about the Capitol, but it could apply to the academy, as well.
Best Documentary Feature: The Act of Killing • Cutie and the Boxer • Dirty Wars • The Square • 20 Feet From Stardom
Snubbed: Blackfish. The only documentary that 99 percent of America has actually even heard of was mysteriously denied a nomination — sending a lot of suspicious glares at
$eaWorld SeaWorld, which claimed the movie didn’t hurt it while simultaneously screaming about a hatchet job. Hmmm. I look at it this way: The documentary category has its own individual, ridiculously arcane nominating process and its incestuous nature long ago robbed it of even a modicum of credibility.
Best Visual Effects: Gravity • The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug • Iron Man 3 • The Lone Ranger • Star Trek Into Darkness
Snubbed: Pacific Rim. How could a movie that shows us realistic giant robots fighting believable kaiju (giant monsters) not even get nominated? Giving the cringe-inducing The Lone Ranger the prestige of a VFX nomination (for what, exactly?) is crazy, but snubbing Gipsy Danger and the rest is apocalyptic!
Best Actor in a Leading Role: Christian Bale, American Hustle • Bruce Dern, Nebraska • Leonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Street • Chiwetel Ejiofor, 12 Years a Slave • Matthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers Club
Snubbed: No Tom Hanks? I thought the academy loved him unconditionally.
Best Actress in a Leading Role: Amy Adams, American Hustle • Cate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine • Sandra Bullock, Gravity • Judi Dench, Philomena • Meryl Streep, August: Osage County
Snubbed: Anyone who isn’t Meryl Streep. I think Oscar ballots come preprinted with her name already filled in.
So that’s my list of the worst of the worst. What about you — which snubs did you think were the most egregious? Any pleasant surprises?