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The 10 biggest Oscar snubs of the 21st century


“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”, a truth the Academy Awards knows all too well. Not one year of the influential ceremony goes past where a snub or an upset isn’t discussed before, during or after the awards show, with the Academy seeming to get their winners wrong more than they get them right. 

In comparison to recent years, the 2022 lineup is a fairly strong one, featuring such critical favourites as The Power of the Dog and Drive my Car alongside popular commercial picks like Dune and Don’t Look Up.

The snubs, of which there are admittedly few, come in the Best Directing category where Denis Villeneuve was denied a nomination as well as in Best Picture where Sean Baker’s Red Rocket was omitted as well as the animated documentary Flee.

Such snubs are almost meaningless, however, in comparison to the shocking Academy picks from the previous 21 years of the modern century, with multiple categories throwing up several shocks. Without further ado, let’s praise those films and performances that the Oscars shamefully snubbed.

The 10 biggest Oscar snubs of the 21st century:

10. Jake Gyllenhaal for Best Leading Actor – Nightcrawler

Embodying the lead role of Louis Bloom almost a little too well, Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance in Dan Gilroy’s 2014 thriller works to reflect a dark metaphorical spectre of modern-day media, appearing on the crime scene quicker than the police as a gaunt capitalist grim reaper. Delivering one of the performances of the year, how was it that Jake Gyllenhaal missed out on an Oscar nomination for Best Leading Actor?

Granted, 2015 was a stacked year for male performances with the likes of Eddie Redmayne included for The Theory of Everything and Michael Keaton for Birdman, though Gyllenhaal could have certainly taken Bradley Cooper’s spot for American Sniper.

9. Philip Seymour Hoffman for Best Supporting Actor – The Master

There’s no doubt that when the actor Philip Seymour Hoffman passed away in 2014, Hollywood lost one of the most precious contemporary actors, famous for producing some truly baffling on-screen performances. Among the very best is his performance in The Master by Paul Thomas Anderson, with the Academy recognising his brilliance with a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

The actor missed out on taking home the award thanks to Christoph Waltz, however, taking home the award for his sub-par performance in Django Unchained. Hoffman’s acting achievements in The Master are simply superior to Waltz’s cartoonish role in the Quentin Tarantino film. 

8. Andrew Garfield for Best Supporting Actor – The Social Network 

Recognised as one of the greatest films of the 21st century, David Fincher’s The Social Network was treated poorly at the 83rd Academy Awards, winning just three of its eight nominations. This nomination count should’ve been one number higher, however, after Andrew Garfield was shockingly snubbed for Best Supporting Actor despite his compellingly ferocious performance throughout the film. 

Somehow Jeremy Renner pipped the actor to the post by swooping in with an Oscar nomination for his average role in the action thriller The Town. Criminal.

7. Amy Adams for Best Leading Actress – Arrival

These days filmmaker Denis Villeneuve is considered one of the finest directors working in contemporary Hollywood, though back in 2017 he was still making a name for himself. Creating the fascinating sci-fi Arrival, the Villeneuve received worldwide acclaim, with Amy Adams being responsible for much of this glory thanks to her emotionally-resonant lead performance that led from the front foot.

Whilst the film was nominated for a total of eight awards, Adams was omitted altogether and instead, the category was filled with the middling performances of Meryl Streep and Isabelle Huppert.

6. BlacKkKlansman snubbed for Best Picture in favour of Green Book

For many, the 2019 Oscars was a turning point for the awards show, with Spike Lee’s  BlacKkKlansman losing out to Peter Farrelly’s Green Book being the perfect illustration of the Academy’s issues. Rolling out the ‘lost cause’ narrative that celebrated the arrival of the ‘white saviour’, Green Book’s win seemed to sweep contemporary racism under the rug in favour of a story with a predominantly white focus. Despite being born out of a black story, the film belittled the efforts of the actual heroes of the tale, demoting them as mere racial props in their heroic tales of white saviours.

Tackling the issue with humour and a piercing analytical eye, Spike Lee’s film was far superior to Green Book and remains far more pertinent to this very day.

5. Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close nominated for Best Picture ahead of multiple others

This is an Oscar-snubbing extravaganza, with the inclusion of the critically and commercially panned Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close by Stephen Daldry, taking the place of several other, hilariously superior films. Everything from Lynne Ramsay’s We Need To Talk About Kevin, David Fincher’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive and Paul Feig’s Bridesmaids each fell short in the Best Picture category.

Now known as one of the most famous Oscar gaffs of recent memory, the inclusion of Daldry’s awful film is rather bewildering.

4. Chadwick Boseman for Best Actor – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom

The passing of the Black Panther actor Chadwick Boseman was one of the most shocking celebrity deaths of the past decade, with the beloved figure leaving an indelible mark on the history of Hollywood. Nominated posthumously for his final on-screen role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Boseman seemed destined to win the award as one final honour for his contributions to arthouse and commercial cinema. 

Unbelievably, it was Oscar veteran Anthony Hopkins who actually took home the award for the film The Father, with the ceremony itself also seemingly surprised by the decision after they moved Best Actor to be the final award of the night in preparation.

3. Brokeback Mountain snubbed for Best Picture in favour of Crash

Whenever the Academy Awards are discussed as ‘out of touch’, Paul Haggis’ Crash is still discussed in the same sentence, with the laboured moral drama being chosen in favour of the genuine gamechanger of Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain. Typical of the Oscars, a film that purports for social change was picked ahead of the film that actually pioneered a massive shift in the industry. 

Starring Jake Gyllenhaal and the late Heath Ledger, Brokeback Mountain remains an LGBTQ classic, telling the story of two cowboys who fall deeply in love with each other. 

2. Bill Murray for Best Actor – Lost in Translation

Despite being a beloved icon of Hollywood culture, Bill Murray has only once been nominated for an Academy Award, rightfully praised for his performance in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation. In what is an iconic performance in his glittering career, Murray should’ve strutted out the Kodak Theatre with an Oscar statuette in his hand, particularly as his rivals in the category were pretty pitiful.

Including Johnny Depp who was nominated for Pirates of the Caribbean and Jude Law for Cold Mountain, somehow Murray didn’t walk away successful from the category, with Sean Penn swooping in to claim the award for Mystic River. Shocking.

1. The Social Network snubbed for Best Picture in favour of The King’s Speech

No doubt, the invention of social media is one of the most culturally significant moments in modern history, changing the way we communicate, interact with our own subconscious and express our own thoughts and feelings. David Fincher’s exploration of this in the biopic of the Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg has since become one of the most important films of contemporary cinema, defining the imperative capitalist model of modern America.

Somehow, Fincher’s crucial film missed out on the glory of the coveted Best Picture statuette, with Tom Hooper’s painfully average The King’s Speech taking home the award despite the film having since lost all relevancy. Such poor decisions simply cannot be undone.