It’s award season and the 2016 Oscar nominees were recently announced. As is the case every year, this causes much excitement, shock, confusion and maybe even a little outrage. One of the biggest surprises this year is the fact that a movie like Mad Max: Fury Road, which is not your typical ‘Oscar’ film, is up for some serious consideration. Whether you were a fan or not, it’s nice that the Academy is acknowledging a film that is different from the usual period-piece dramas that get nominations every year. But like every year, there are plenty of snubs and people upset at who and what didn’t get nominated.
The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag became popular once again this year. It was the second year in a row that no actors and actresses of color were nominated for an award. Benicio Del Toro, Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba, Jason Mitchell, Samuel L. Jackson are only some of the names who should have received recognition for their performances. Even if you ignore the issue of race, even Academy favorites like Quentin Tarantino didn’t get any nominations. Tarantino usually receives (and deserves) a Best Original Screenplay nomination for his films, along with Best Director and Best Film, but this year – nothing.
It’s almost guaranteed that every year, artists and films will be left out of the award conversation – even when they deserved to be part of it. It’s easy to dismiss the Academy Awards and simply not bother being surprised at their list of nominees every year, but every year, we always fall back into our moods of frustration and confusion over what and who is considered Oscar-worthy. While every missed opportunity by the academy is unfortunate, some snubs are definitely more significant than others.
10. Cary Joji Fukunaga For Beasts of No Nation
Beasts of No Nation premiered on Netflix and only opened in a few theaters when it was released. Since its release, the film has received praise and acclaim from both critics and fans. The talented writer, as well as director, Cary Joji Fukunaga, received no Oscar nominations this year for his tremendous work on the film. Being able to pull incredible performances out of your actors should absolutely get you some acknowledgment, especially when the film in question is one of the best of the year. Fukunaga also did a fantastic job with the first season of HBO’s True Detective. Don’t let the Academy fool you, Beasts of No Nation is just as incredible.
9. Idris Elba For Beasts of No Nation
Cary Joji Fukunaga is not the only person snubbed for their role in Beasts of No Nation. Idris Elba didn’t earn any award-talk with his performance as Nelson Mandela, and his role as Commandant in Beasts of No Nation is also unfortunately failing to garner the praise that it deserved. His performance in the film is truly uncompromising, and while the character is a monster, he is completely captivating. Elba has come a long way since Russell “Stringer” Bell on The Wire and he is definitely one of the best actors working today. He came to the U.S. to find work because he wasn’t getting any work in the U.K., and while he has earned some success here, it looks like some still do not recognize his raw talent.
8. Abraham Attah For Beasts of No Nation
Beasts of No Nation is an incredible film that revolves around the character Abraham Attah plays, Agu, and this young actor is absolutely astounding in the role. While it is a shame Elba did not receive any recognition for his role, Attah being left behind is even more surprising. We can only hope that Young Abraham continues with his acting career and gets more roles in the future. Getting an Academy Award nomination brings attention to the project, and particularly to him, and he deserves to be showcased in that way. It would be a shame if Abraham didn’t get the opportunity to get more roles in the future just because the Academy snubbed him.
7. Star Wars: The Force Awakens
Yes, everyone knew this film would be getting Oscar nods for visual effects and sound editing and things of that nature. But if the Academy sees Mad Max: Fury Road as Oscar-worthy, there’s no reason Star Wars: The Force Awakens cannot also be nominated for Best Picture. Nobody can argue that it wasn’t one of the best films of 2015 and breathed new life into this once lifeless series. Even if George Lucas did fumble with the prequels, having to follow him is not an easy task, and J.J. Abrams really knocked it out of the park. They even brought Lawrence Kasdan back to co-write the script, making sure to milk every bit of nostalgia possible, and yet still no best picture nod?
6. Oscar Isaac For Ex Machina
Oscar Isaac is another actor who has been killing it in every role he gets, even if nobody sees the movie (though that may change with Star Wars). Ex Machina was a film that came out near the beginning of 2015, so it was unfortunately out of people’s minds by the time award show talk started up. Isaac’s character, Nathan Bateman, can be best described as “a hyper-articulate baboon with the sort of corrosive personality that proves the dangers of staying inside too long and playing with your dolls.” A very complex character who is intriguing, charismatic, egotistical and damaged – definitely worthy of a nomination.
5. Benicio Del Toro For Sicario
Benicio Del Toro embodied terrifying and magnanimous in Sicario, but his performance went unnoticed. The film was already dealing with incredibly dark and heavy material, and Del Toro’s character cemented the film in its morally-gray center of gravity. Del Toro has been around as an actor for a long time and he’s always been incredible. One of his first roles in American television was on Michael Mann‘s Miami Vice in 1987. And though he has always been good in almost everything he’s been in, this role in Sicario specifically is his best in recent years. Maybe he’ll deliver a phenomenal performance in Star Wars: Episode VIII and finally get recognized by the Academy.
4. Jacob Tremblay For Room
9-year-old Jacob Tremblay won the Critics Choice award for his performance in Room, as well as the National Board of Review breakthrough actor award. This isn’t his first film, but these awards he’s winning and being nominated for, are definitely a first for him. Room tells the story of a mother (Brie Larson) looking after her young son (Tremblay), as they are trapped in a 10-by-10-foot windowless room. The story has some really dark and surprising turns, which makes Tremblay’s performance all the more impressive. Finding a talented child actor in a movie nowadays is an incredibly rare thing, and when it happens, it’s well worth praise.
3. Ryan Coogler For Creed
It’s not every day that somebody can just walk up to Sylvester Stallone and ask if they can add an entry to the Rocky franchise. That’s what Ryan Coogler did, and Marvel was smart to snatch him up for Black Panther after that opening weekend. The seventh film in a franchise wound up being one of the year’s best (besides The Force Awakens of course). The movie has genuine emotion and the boxing sequences are filmed in an extremely engaging way. Everything was on point, and after already writing and directing another Oscar worthy film, Fruitvale Station, a nomination for Best Director would have been appropriate.
2. Mark Ruffalo For Spotlight
Mark Ruffalo has always been a phenomenal actor, whether you look at his career before or after he becomes The Hulk. He continues that streak with his role as Mike Rezendes, a reporter in Tom McCarthy’s Spotlight. It’s the subtle changes throughout his performance that make him so memorable and mesmerizing to watch on screen. Ruffalo’s character works at the Boston Globe during the uncovering of the massive Catholic Archdiocese child molestation scandal. The character is not only incredibly engaging, but resonates with the audience. It’s a shame that he did not get recognized for such an outstanding job.
The Danish Girl is getting more attention than Tangerine is, even though the latter has been getting better reviews than the former. The Danish Girl tells the story of Danish artist Einar Wegener, who underwent one of the first male-to-female reassignment surgeries in the 1920s, with Eddie Redmayne playing the lead. Tangerine stars two transgender actresses and tells a more authentic story, breaking casting and filmmaking conventions by being filmed all on an iPhone. With #OscarsSoWhite trending again, it’s no surprise that the film made by heterosexual, white men gets more award acclaim than the film starring two women of color in the LGBT community.