A fresh batch of Academy Award nominees came out of the Hollywood oven earlier this morning, and the scent of sweet excitement cut with the bitter smell of disappointment is wafting over the hills of Los Angeles as we speak. When it comes to the Oscars, the behavior of voters is just predictable enough to make critics’ eyes roll to the back of their heads every February. At the same time, it’s inscrutable enough to spawn a sub-industry of bloggers dedicated to following fortunes of different films and performers on the awards circuit.
In the end, though, it’s all just betting—particularly in recent years, when a rapid expansion of AMPAS membership has prompted a shift in the awards body’s activities (mostly for the better). Still, Oscars gonna Oscars. And so there’s a distinction to be made between mere acceptance (see: the presence of the critically drubbed Being The Ricardos and Don’t Look Up on this year’s nominee list) and true disappointment when it comes to the Academy Awards.
On the more positive side, worthy films can also make a strong showing that surprises no one: The Power Of The Dog’s performance in the lead-up to the Oscars made it a safe bet, but that doesn’t detract from the film’s quality. (Speaking of positive movement, not being shocked to see Jane Campion, the only woman to be nominated twice for a Best Director Oscar, on this year’s ballot is a new and nice feeling.)
With this wiggle room in place, writing a list of the biggest snubs and surprises has room for both personal taste and professional prognosticating. We’re favoring the former on our list.