I generally think the term “snub” is overused when applied to Oscar voting, because it implies intentionality that is often overwhelmed by the chaotic whims of the voting body. For example, I thought Simon Rex gave one of the best performances of the year in Red Rocket, but given the movie’s subject matter, unusual tone, and lack of other nominations, I think it’s fair to wonder if enough voters bothered to watch it, or really understood it. On the other hand, enough people in the writing branch and directing branch loved Licorice Pizza enough to nominate it in those categories, and it made the cut on the Best Picture ballot, where everyone votes, so it’s safe to say a fair number of folks watched that one–and liked it, too! So I do think it comes across as a snub that Alana Haim, the rock musician and first-time actress who helps anchor that movie, didn’t make it in for Best Actress. Granted, Best Actress has been one of the most consistently competitive categories these last few years, and these nominees were lighter on actresses impersonating real people than I feared. But it’s still three-fifths based-on-a-real-person performances (one of which — Kristen Stewart — I think is absolutely terrific and deserves to win) and, again, that does feel like a conscious decision, to rate Jessica Chastain‘s Tammy Faye Bakker or Nicole Kidman‘s Lucille Ball a higher degree of difficulty than Haim. I understand the thinking: Kidman and Chastain are both beloved, respected, talented performers pretending to be other performers–while Alana Haim is playing someone literally named Alana, whose real-life family plays her family in the movie, and so on. Yet what Haim does in Licorice Pizza is so complicated–funny, charming, angry, anguished, relatable, occasionally inscrutable–that attributing so much of the movie’s success to writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson doesn’t seem right to me (and I doubt it would seem right to him, either). And she does all of this as, essentially, a first-timer! Licorice Pizza is my favorite movie of 2021, and as much as I love Anderson, I don’t know if it would have hit me the same way without Alana Haim.
One of the most talked-about snubs is Denis Villeneuve not receiving a Best Director nod. I think Adam McKay also deserved a nomination in that same category for Don’t Look Up, or par with his nomination for Best Original Screenplay. But I also believe Cate Blanchett was overlooked for Best Supporting Actress for both Nightmare Alley and Don’t Look Up. Both managed to get Best Picture nominations with no acting nods, but she really stood out in both. Her character was a bit more comedic in Don’t Look Up, which is probably why none of the actors from the film ended up with nominations. But she was probably even more of a force in Nightmare Alley and carried that story.
Without a doubt, the biggest snub from this year’s Oscar Nominations is the absence of Denis Villeneuve in the Best Director category. Villeneuve is the creator, the architect for the biggest blockbuster of the year, which garnered 10 Academy Award nominations. The lack of a nomination in best director seems ridiculous and reprehensible, considering how strong Villeneuve’s presence was throughout the season, advertising Dune with his name. Dune is an auteur film, steeped in Villeneuve‘s vision, which manifests itself in his revolutionary approach to IMAX and the portrayal of scale on-screen. As a big fan of the Canadian director’s work, I can say that Dune is his most personal film, mixing many styles and dealing with themes close to his heart. A couple of years from now, we’ll be looking at the 2022 Oscars in disbelief that the mastermind behind one of the best sci-fi films hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar, while Kenneth Branagh has. The difference is that Dune will remain in Hollywood history, while Belfast will be forgotten by people relatively soon.
The biggest snub this year was for The Suicide Squad. I believe it should’ve been recognized for Best VFX and Best hair and makeup. For King Shark alone the film deserved this nomination, he looked incredible in every scene he was in and looked so real. Of course, Starro as well, him and his extensions as they rampaged through the streets of Corto Maltese. The makeup as well was incredible especially for characters like Polka Dot Man and Mongal. I think the VFX category this year just really dropped the ball when films like Godzilla Vs Kong, Eternals, and The Suicide Squad just were not acknowledged for their achievement in visual effects.
It’s been a weird couple years for movie theaters. Audiences have largely opted to experience their cinema from the safety and comfort of their own home, and who could blame them? There’s a global pandemic occurring at the moment. Yet, the wild success of blockbuster films like F9 and Spider-Man: No Way Home sort of put a limit on that argument. If everyone is willing to throw their lives on the line for big-budget action, were they ever really concerned at all? And if not, what type of movie will get them off their couch? The answer, apparently, is not The Green Knight. David Lowery’s epic retelling of the Arthurian classic was one of the most unique experiences I’ve ever had in a movie theater, for more reasons than one. From its heightened realism to its gripping Shakespearean dialogue, nearly every aspect of the film was executed to mesmerizing perfection. It is exactly the kind of project designed to simultaneously bait the Oscars and put people in theater seats. Which is why it’s so baffling Knight received exactly zero Academy nominations. If not for Best Picture, the movie should have at least scored noms for Adapted Screenplay or Cinematography. And Dev Patel? Robbed.
The biggest Oscar snub in my opinion is that they still haven’t added a new nomination category for stunt work in the industry. It’s an essential aspect of cinema and it still gets no recognition by what is claimed to be one of the biggest award ceremonies of the industry. There has been some amazing stunt work done throughout the year and it just seems like a shame that they still refuse to give it any love.