It’s a question rarely asked, but... are this year’s Oscar nominations actually good? On Tuesday, the line-up for the 2024 Academy Awards was announced, and they’re comfortably the strongest set of nominees in years.
There may have been a lack of surprise surrounding some of the big hitters – such as Christopher Nolan’s nuclear biopic Oppenheimer, with 13 nods, Yorgos Lanthimos’s bizarro fantasy Poor Things with 11, and Greta Gerwig’s vibrant Mattel toy adaptation Barbie with eight – but the list wasn’t entirely without controversy.
The Best Supporting Actress category in particular threw up some unexpected names (what is a Nyad?), while the Best Director and Best Actor categories are shaping up to be the tightest in years.
Some of the year’s biggest films were missed off the list entirely, including the buzzy (but polarising) class satire Saltburn, and Wes Anderson’s fastidious sci-fi comedy Asteroid City.
With less than two months to go until the Oscars ceremony takes place, there’s still everything to play for, with some of the biggest categories still wide open.
Here’s a breakdown of the biggest snubs and surprises from the Oscars 2024 nominations. Also, just to reiterate, what is a Nyad?
The seasons changed on May December
Was Todd Haynes’s darkly comic melodrama just too weird for the Academy? Did Natalie Portman’s craven actor hit too close to home? Was no one feeling Julianne Moore’s lisp? How else to explain the surreal dismissal of May December, which collected just one nod for Best Original Screenplay? If you listen closely you will hear the disappointed cries of Riverdale escapee Charles Melton – a popular possibility for Best Supporting Actor, though in hindsight more of a long shot than many cared to admit.
Are you there, Rachel McAdams’s Oscar? No.
There was hope – albeit a very slim hope – that Rachel McAdams could have snuck in to Best Supporting Actress for Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, a gentle coming-of-age drama from 2023 that boasted sterling performances and winning reviews. Sure, she hadn’t won a single precursor award, and sure, McAdams seems to avoid leaving the house in general, let alone to campaign for acting trophies, but crazier things had happened at the Oscars. Alas, this was not one of them.
Was it a surprise that Saltburn didn’t make an appearance here? The divisive thriller scandalised (some of) the world when it was released on Prime Video over Christmas, becoming the 2023 movie that absolutely everyone had an opinion on. And, unexpectedly, it had been hoovering up awards these last few weeks. On paper, Rosamund Pike seemed like a fair shout for a Best Supporting Actress nomination, if only to be the flamboyant, scene-stealing mascot for a film that the Academy may have wanted to acknowledge in some way. Oh well!
Creator? I actually knew her
We at least now know that someone saw The Creator, Garth Edwards’s oddball sci-fi extravaganza that came and went speedily in September. It popped up twice in the special effects categories today, meaning you probably thought to yourself, “Oh, right, that existed!” twice this morning. And then a third time when Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny got that out-of-nowhere Best Original Score nod.
And sadly Strangers still
In hindsight, the idea of All of Us Strangers scoring a bunch of Oscar nods felt like a bit of a reach. But the inability of this quiet paranormal drama to break through might speak more to the outsized noise of Film Twitter than those actually making decisions in the Academy. Stars Andrew Scott and Paul Mescal are mighty popular online, Andrew Haigh has developed a cult fanbase thanks to his work on Weekend, 45 Years and the TV series Looking – perhaps they all remained a bit too niche for the Academy big leagues?
America Ferrera got the nod…
In one of the most surprising announcements of the day, America Ferrera, who plays the character of “human woman” Gloria in Barbie, was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. The category is, to be honest, full of curveballs – including Jodie Foster, whose turn in the swimming drama Nyad will see her vie for a third Academy Award win – but it’s Ferrera whose name raised the most eyebrows. Her performance was warmly received at the time but remains far less showy than some of her more comedy-focused co-stars.
…while Barbie floundered elsewhere
Speaking of Ferrera’s co-stars, one of the biggest omissions from the list was Greta Gerwig, who was shunned in the (admittedly very competitive) Best Director category. Not just Gerwig, but Margot Robbie, Barbie herself, who was edged out of the Best Actress race. Robbie did, however, get a nomination through her role as a producer on the film, in the Best Picture category. It might not have been the perfect roll call for the hugely successful doll adaptation, but its hopes of glory are still alive and kicking.
Is the Oscars a woman over the age of 25? Because Leonardo DiCaprio’s going nowhere near it. Well, that’s not strictly true – given the glut of nominations Killers of the Flower Moon received, he’ll surely be attending the ceremony – but not as an actor. The Titanic star was passed over for a Best Actor nod, while co-stars Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone were recognised, alongside director Martin Scorsese. Ever since his win for The Revenant, DiCaprio’s apparent desperation for an Oscar seems to have abated; nonetheless, this snub will surely sting.