It’s that time of year again: the nominations for the 94th Academy Award nominations are out, and while there’s a lot to be excited about, there are also several glaring omissions that have us heated to even think about. Taste in movies is, of course, subjective, but every year there’s always going to be a few things that stand out that we really loved, and, of course, wanted to see honored on the biggest stage in the film world.
Again, it’s not all bad. We’re thrilled, for instance, to see the real-life power couple of Kirsten Dunst and Jesse Plemons both nominated for their performances in director Jane Campion’s meditative slow-burn take on the western, The Power of the Dog. It’s exciting to see some of our old favorites, like Steven Spielberg and Denzel Washington, add more nominations to their already impressive resumes. It’s nice to see Dune—Maybe the best blockbuster of 2021 — land a Best Picture nomination.
But at the same time, Dune did not direct itself. How did Denis Villeneuve possibly miss out on a nomination? Some of our picks are as clear and obvious as that one, while others dig a little deeper. Some movies have been in the “Oscar conversation” and feel like obvious omissions, but there are others that have not been part of that discourse that still deserved that honor on the big stage.
Obviously, I have not seen everything; there will be some things I’ll see in the coming months that are also deserving of this list that I’m blissfully unaware of at this moment. But for now, here are the 10 biggest snubs of the 2022 Oscar nominations.
Denis Villeneueve, Best Director, Dune
Spider-Man: No Way Home may have won at the box office and left Spider-Man and MCU fans with a warm heart, but it was Denis Villeneuve’s Dune that was 2021’s best blockbuster. The director is on an unbelievable run — from Prisoners to Enemy to Sicario to Arrival to Blade Runner 2049—and may have reached yet another peak with his Dune. Never mind the fact that he managed to masterfully adapt a novel that has been historically unadaptable, but the movie is exciting, visually striking, and has great acting everywhere you look. Dune snagged a Best Picture nomination, so that’s great, but the man most responsible for making it so great was left out in the cold. We’ll be waiting for his make-up call (if he deserves it) for Dune: Part Two.
Janicza Bravo, Best Director, Zola
Ben Affleck, Best Supporting Actor, The Last Duel
Affleck’s chaotic, horny, borderline evil turn in The Last Duel is one of the standout performances in what was one of the year’s best (and most underrated) films – and his entire career. Typically a leading man, Affleck steps back here to play a corrupt figurehead who, to put it simply, does not give a fuck. Affleck crushes it in a way he has not since linking up with David Fincher or Kevin Smith.
Alana Haim, Best Actress, Licorice Pizza
How did this one happen? Alana Haim — of the standout band Haim — made her film debut in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza and 100% crushed it from start to finish as the film’s emotional anchor and deceptive protagonist. The movie seems to focus on a young actor (Cooper Hoffman, more on him in a bit), but really at its core winds up following the journey of Alana (Haim), who goes through the ringer over the course of Anderson’s film. Haim proves that she got more than just music chops – and deserved a shot at a statue.
Bradley Cooper, Best Supporting Actor, Licorice Pizza
Cooper has been one of our best actors for a long time by now, and really deserved an Oscar for his acting a while ago — I would’ve given it to him without question for A Star Is Born, but he was equally deserving for Silver Linings Playbook too. This year he had a great leading turn in Nightmare Alley, but it was his scene-stealing 10 minutes in Licorice Pizza that should have landed him yet another nomination for acting. He comes into the movie, brings his energy level up to 100 on the 1-10 scale, and then is done.
It’s a classic supporting performance, and in a world where most of the performances being called ‘supporting’ are closer to lead, there just wasn’t room for such a brief but utterly memorable turn. As we’ve said so often with Cooper, there’s always next year.
Taylor Paige, Best Actress, Zola
Paige does some of the best understated acting you’ll see as the titular character in Zola; the movie would not work if she did not 100% nail it. She’s got a group of extremely animated characters around her — played wonderfully by Riley Keough, Nicholas Braun, and Colman Domingo — and Paige’s what’s happening right now ‘looks ground a character (who previously only existed through the lens of Tweets) in the real world.
Oscar Isaac, Best Actor, The Card Counter
Sometimes, actors have such strong years that it just makes sense that they should have been awarded for something. A classic example of this was in 2008, when Robert Downey Jr. electrified the industry with Iron Man and also made a hilarious turn in Tropic Thunder. He was expected to make an Oscar push with The Judge, but when that movie flopped, he wound up landing a rare comedic Oscar nom for Tropic Thunder. It was a reward for a great year.
Oscar Isaac deserved that in 2021 for The Card Counter, a team-up with legendary writer / director Paul Schrader that found him playing a damaged ex-veteran and ex-con turned card player. It’s a small movie but one that hits hard. Isaac also crushed in Dune and the appropriately cinematic Scecnes From a Marriage on HBO, so it would’ve been nice to see him land a first-career Oscar nomination.
Adam Driver, Best Actor, Annette
Just like his Star Wars and Inside Llewyn Davis costar Oscar Isaac, Adam Driver also had a tremendous year. With three huge movies—House of Gucci, The Last Duel, and Annette—Driver once again showed his range. You could make the case that he deserved a nomination for his turn as a charismatic and terrible swordsman in The Last Duel, but we’d lean toward his deeply weird turn in the deeply weird Annette, a musical where at one point he sings while performing cunnilingus. As Al Pacino says in Once Upon a Time … In Hollywood: “What a picture.”
Cooper Hoffman, Best Actor, Licorice Pizza
Clearly, Cooper Hoffman has an enormous career ahead of him — so we’re not too shaken up about this one. But the son of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman is so damn good in Licorice Pizza (written and directed by his dad’s frequent collaborator Paul Thomas Anderson) that you do feel a little cheated that he did not get in this time (at only 18 years old). Hoffman is a tremendous actor who perfectly captures the humanity of people in the same way that his father did — but in a way that does not feel cheap or schlocky.
Jamie Dornan, Best Supporting Actor, Barb and Star Go To Vista Del Mar
Technically, this movie was not even eligible for this year’s Oscars. And technically, Jamie Dornan did receive an Oscar nomination, for Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast. But guess what? This is my story and I do not care. Dornan takes a page from the Jason Statham in Spy playbook to play a totally hilarious and absurd character — complete with an amazing song and dance number — in what was probably the zaniest and most fun comedy of 2021.
Jodie Comer, Best Supporting Actress, The Last Duel
The interesting outcome of Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel is that due to the nature of the movie’s structure — with viewers seeing three different versions of the same ultimate events — is that the movie’s leads wind up playing three versions of the same characters. And while Matt Damon and Adam Driver do a nice job with this, no one sells it better than Killing Eve‘s Jodie Comer. She also had a big year (appearing with Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy), but there’s a ton of depth to her character in The Last Duel, who’s more than meets the eye.
Nicolas Cage, Best Actor, Pig
We should not be surprised when Nic Cage gives us something really good — he’s done it before, he’ll do it again, and with Pig, he did it in 2021. The one-of-a-kind actor does a lot of weird movies (and a lot of not great movies!), but Pig is a super-intense and not-quite-what-you-expect meditation on grief, loss, and holding on. Cage plays really well with costars Alex Wolff and Adam Arkin as a broken man — and damn good chef! —That we can not help but sympathize with and root for.
David Lowery, Best Director, The Green Knight
An Arthurian legend is a difficult thing to adapt. It’s not like there’s not centuries of movies, television shows, and books based on the mythical king and his cohorts. But Lowery’s loose retelling is visually captivating. Plus, Dev Patel’s performance as the determined knight Gawain is enchanting. Although audiences did not agree with critics — it only has a 50% from that group on Rotten Tomatoes—I’m here to say they’re wrong! It’s the perfect combination of weirdness and fantasy the Oscars should praise.
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