The artists who hand out little gold men every year at the Oscars announced their nominations for the 2022 Academy Awards, and the results were the typical mishmash of predictable choices, pleasant surprises, and disturbing omissions. For every unexpectedly cool decision made by the Academy — A hat trick for Flee! The Worst Person in the World for Best Original Screenplay! The power of the Dunst/Plemons union! — there were a couple head-scratching snubs. Here were the biggest MIA absences and WTF surprises from the Oscar Class of ’22.
Lady Gaga, House of Gucci
No one fought harder for a nomination than Lady Gaga, who actively campaigned all over the world and looked set up after nods by the Screen Actors Guild and BAFTA. In the end, however, it seems like Oscar voters just didn’t like Ridley Scott’s film; the only nomination this true-crime retelling of the fashion magnate Maurizio Gucci’s murder was Best Makeup. No Father-Son-House-of-Gucci genuflecting here.
Bradley Cooper, Licorice Pizza
Queen Gaga can commiserate with her A Star is Born director and co-star, who almost everyone considered a lock for Best Supporting Actor. As the legendary Hollywood producer Jon Peters, Cooper nearly stole Paul Thomas Anderson’s film in a chaotic and unpredictable turn that was truly supporting. Was the part too small? (As Peters himself would tell you there are no small parts, only small people.) Cooper can at least be happy knowing that he appeared in two Best Picture nominees — Nightmare Alley being the other one — but he should have had his name called this morning.
Ruth Negga, Passing
Seriously? It’s tough to explain the complete shutout of Rebecca Hall’s Passing, a delicate and nuanced adaptation of Nella Larsen’s novel of the same name. (It’s not like the Academy still has a bone to pick with Netflix — see: all those Power of the Dog nominations.) It never seemed like an Academy powerhouse, but most people at least expected Ruth Negga’s perfectly calibrated supporting turn to be enough for Oscar. After all, the Academy had nominated her before (Best Actress for Loving in 2017) and her work here as a Black woman passing for white was enough for the Screen Actors Guild, Golden Globes, and BAFTA — it’s rare to get that three-for-three and miss an Oscar nom. A crime, this.
Denis Villeneuve for Best Director, Dune
Long pegged as the one true blockbuster that could place well with the Academy, fans of Denis Villeneuve’s epic adaptation of the Frank Herbert sci-fi classic had a great morning…for a while. Popping up all over the place — Editing! Production Design! Cinematography! — it walked away with the honor of being the second-most nominated film with 10 nods. The person who wrangled all of those complex elements together, however, was missing from the list of choices for Best Director — so maybe it directed itself? Or maybe they’re just waiting to pick him for Part Two? Still: lay off the spice, voters.
Alana Haim, Licorice Pizza
Few rookie actors have owned a film like Alana Haim owns Paul Thomas Anderson’s Licorice Pizza. And despite landing Best Director and Best Picture nominations, PTA’s film underperformed in general on Oscar morning, and while the Best Actress category was especially competitive this year, poor Alana being left off the list feels all sorts of wrong. This is one of those situations where people will look back in just a few years and be surprised that Haim didn’t win, much less get nominated at all.
Tony Kushner for Best Adapted Screenplay, West Side Story
Somethin’s not comin’ his waaaaayyyy! The Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright didn’t just rebuild West Side Story for Steven Spielberg — he gave it a whole new coat of paint and moved a few rooms around, updating various rough patches in the original and adding a different cultural and emotional resonance. The truth is that if you think this beloved musical deserves a Best Picture nomination, it’s simply illogical to think that Kushner doesn’t deserve an Adapted Screenplay nomination too.
Nicolas Cage, Pig
Who doesn’t love a great turn from an actor who feels like he’s proving he still has it? Everyone, of course. So why did the Academy ignore one of the career-best works from a man they’ve honored before? Nicolas Cage found the bruised and battered heart of a man who doesn’t have much left to care about in this world, and while this indie flew slightly under the radar upon its release, it’s already considered another career high for the veteran star. When we look back on his long and winding (and ever-growing) filmography, this is one of the movies we’ll still be talking about. It’s a shame that the Academy chose to be on the wrong side of history.
Caitriona Balfe, Belfast
After its Audience Award win at the Toronto Film Festival, most people had already engraved Belfast on the Best Picture trophy — but it missed a few key nominations on Oscar morning (including Editing and Cinematography). Yet the most shocking snub for Kenneth Branagh’s personal drama was the exclusion of Caitriona Balfe, who plays the steadfast “Ma” in the film about growing up in Northern Ireland among the turmoil of “the Troubles.” It’s great that her costar, Dame Judi Dench, notched a stunning eighth career nomination for her role, of course. But Balfe belonged right next to her.
Mike Faist, West Side Story
Sometimes a performance from a young up-and-comer feels like such a pronouncement of a major talent that the Academy simply has to recognize it. That’s what it felt like for West Side Story fans after seeing how Broadway actor Mike Faist turned the gang leader Riff into a ball of charisma and nervous energy. Even critics who had issues with the musical recognized that Faist has that “it factor” that captivates audiences. His ommission from the Best Supporting Actor category stings. The good news is, he’s probably just getting started.
Procession for Best Documentary
The Academy has a historic problem with non-fiction films, having snubbed some of the strongest documentaries of the last few decades. To that list, we can now add Robert Greene’s searing and moving study of six men processing their trauma from child abuse at the hands of priests. As they try to find peace in this world, they band together in collaborative projects, reminding viewers that healing often needs assistance. It’s a stunning piece of work from one of the best documentary filmmakers working today. So of course the Academy snubbed it.