The Biggest Snubs and Surprises From the 2023 Oscar Nominations

Culture

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The 95th Academy Awards race is getting spicier by the minute. This morning, Allison Williams and Riz Ahmed finally doled out the season’s long-speculated Oscar nominations via livestream, thrilling some—a nomination for Stephanie Hsu! Women Talking for Best Picture!—and baffling others—another year of all-male Best Director contenders? In 2023? The final line-up is an intriguing blend of mainstream hits, prestige favorites, audience-overlooked gems, and indie darlings, but such a clever mix won’t make up for glaring errors and omissions. This year, the Academy all but ignored some of the year’s best performances, even if it meant a few standouts got their time in the sun.

Below, let’s dig into the snubs and surprises that drew our attention (and ire) in the 2023 Oscars slate.

Surprise: Stephanie Hsu is nominated for Best Supporting Actress.

Hsu has been largely left out of the supporting actress race as she’s been overshadowed by Everything Everywhere All at Once costar Jamie Lee Curtis. But to let her performance go unnoticed would be criminal. She showed off her range in dual roles: Joy, a young queer woman who’s lost touch with her mother, and Jobu Tupaki, the jumpsuit-wearing, confetti-spraying, bagel-making villain of the multiverse. Thankfully, the Academy saw enough room for both her and Curtis in the category.—Erica Gonzales, senior culture editor

Snub: Dolly De Leon doesn’t earn a Best Supporting Actress nod.

Granted, the supporting actress race category is already stacked, and Angela Bassett’s more than favored to win. But with Triangle of Sadness appearing in major categories like Best Original Screenplay, Best Director, and Best Picture, it’s bewildering that the Academy didn’t nominate the best part of the film: Dolly De Leon. The veteran Filipina actress delivered a gripping performance as housekeeping staffer Abigail and has been earning praise ever since Triangle premiered at Cannes. The film’s plot-twist third act would be nothing without her.—EG

Surprise: Hong Chau gets a shot at Best Supporting Actress.

Brendan Fraser, who’s enjoying a fulfilling comeback tour with The Whale, has earned most of the public praise for Darren Aronofsky’s latest film. (He got a lead actor nod today too.) But the buzz around his return has outshined the talented Hong Chau, who has a marvelous role as his friend and caretaker Liz. She’s received smaller accolade nominations from film critics so far, but her Oscar nomination is much deserved.—EG

Surprise: Brian Tyree Henry clinches a nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Henry is a welcome surprise as a first-time Oscar nominee. Both a past Tony and Emmy nominee, the Atlanta star is warm and grounded as James opposite Jennifer Lawrence’s Lynsey in Causeway, a film from Lila Neugebauer that explores loss, healing, and friendship. It bowed relatively quietly on Apple TV+ compared to the bigger contenders in this year’s Oscars, but it’s nice to see Henry was able to break through and get his flowers.—EG

Snub: Taylor Swift fails to secure a chance at Best Original Song.

While Swift’s All Too Well short film wasn’t in the running, her and Aaron Dessner’s “Carolina” from Where the Crawdads Sing ended up on the original song shortlist. But though Folklore won her an Album of the Year Grammy, this Folklore-esque track didn’t enchant voters enough for an Oscar nomination. With her ambitions as a director made clear, this likely isn’t Swift’s last chance at being considered for a prestigious film award.—EG

Surprise: Paul Mescal snags the Best Actor opportunity he so deserves.

The emotional father-daughter character study Aftersun has enjoyed almost exclusively rave reviews amongst critics since its debut in October 2022, but there was still lingering anxiety that lead actor Paul Mescal might be overlooked in favor of flashier performances. His acting as young father Calum, who treats his preteen daughter to a weeklong vacation in Turkey, is tender and thoughtful, shattering in its impact even when Mescal’s choices are so subtle as to seem almost opaque. Praise be that the Academy took notice of Mescal, who’s become one of Hollywood’s strongest up-and-coming actors in the years since Hulu’s Normal People tossed him into the spotlight.—Lauren Puckett-Pope, associate editor

Snub: Till’s Danielle Deadwyler is denied a Best Actress nomination.

There are few snubs on this list as frustrating as Danielle Deadwyler’s missing name from the Best Actress list. She’s astounding in the biopic Till, in which she plays Mamie Till-Mobley, mother of Emmett Till, with a pitch-perfect blend of iron resolution and explosive grief. The film would simply not work without her, and to see Deadwyler consistently overlooked—she’s equally good in the HBO series Station Eleven—is a puzzling shame.—LPP

Surprise: Andrea Riseborough gets a Best Actress slot.

One we didn’t see coming: Andrea Riseborough (Birdman, Possessor), star of the indie To Leslie, landed in the best actress race even though the film lacked the mainstream awards campaign of its competitors. The Michael Morris-directed drama premiered at SXSW last March before its under-the-radar theatrical and VOD release in October. It stars Riseborough as a single mother in Texas struggling to get by after her lottery winnings run out. Despite its hushed debut, after the film got a handful of celebrity cosigns, Riseborough’s going to the Oscars.—EG

Snub: Several excellent films are overlooked in the Best International Film category.

This is the problem when international films are relegated to only one category: a multitude of amazing projects are left to the wayside. That includes last year’s buzzy releases like Alice Diop’s Saint Omer from France, Marie Kreutzer’s Corsage from Austria, and Park Chan-wook’s Decision to Leave from South Korea. While the final selections, such as Belgium’s Close and Poland’s EO, feel deserved, it’s also worth noting the nominees are mostly from European countries (except for Argentina, 1985). Davy Chou’s Return to Seoul from Cambodia, Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Bardo, False Chronicle of a Handful of Truths from Mexico, and Saim Sadiq’s Joyland from Pakistan are among those shortlisted that were edged out. And films like Alcarràs and RRR didn’t even make the shortlist.—EG

Snub: RRR receives little love from the Academy.

RRR deserved more than a sole nomination for Best Original Song. (Though “Naatu Naatu” is a certified bop—and it makes history as the first Telugu-language nominee.) The eye-popping maximalist saga, which blends comedy, action, drama, and more, was snubbed in categories like Best Visual Effects, Best Production Design, Best Sound, Best Costume Design, and even Best Picture.—EG

Snub: Neither Aftersun, nor its director, Charlotte Wells, get the recognition they deserve.

Mescal is getting accolades for Aftersun, thankfully, but that doesn’t make up for the otherwise tepid awards recognition tilted in the A24 vehicle’s direction. Aftersun didn’t pick up a Best Picture nomination this year, nor did director Charlotte Wells earn a Best Director nod. Both are grievous omissions, but Wells’ absence from the Best Director list is especially frustrating, given how expertly Aftersun is crafted. Equal parts found footage, long, crooked shots, and atmospheric immersion, the film plays with perspective in a manner that’s not just creative; it’s effective.—LPP

Snub: There are no female directors nominated for Best Director this year. Again.

In nearly a century of Oscars history, only three women directors have won the Best Director category. Only seven women have ever even been nominated. That alarming statistic won’t be changing this year, as the Academy once again overlooked numerous candidates—where’s Wells? Gina Prince-Bythewood? Sarah Polley?—in favor of an all-male slate.—LPP

Surprise: Women Talking gets its flowers in the Best Picture category.

Now here’s a pleasant shock. Women Talking, one of the quieter Oscars contenders this year, was honored not just in the all-but-guaranteed Adapted Screenplay category but in the biggest category of the night: Best Picture. There’s no doubt the film will struggle to compete with heavy-hitters like Everything Everywhere All at Once, but the nod does much more than pay lip service to Polley and her stacked, almost all-female cast. Hopefully, it’ll spur new interest in one of the most nuanced, affecting films of the season.—LPP

Snub: Nope is shut out of the Oscars conversation.

To see the Keke Palmer-led, Jordan Peele-directed Nope ignored in not just a few but all of the Oscars categories this year is a huge disappointment, not to mention an ugly sign that Hollywood awards circles are still wishy-washy about horror. Nope might not be a prestige entry, but then again, neither is Avatar: The Way of Water, and certainly not Top Gun: Maverick—both nominated for Best Picture. (The Batman didn’t get much in the way of Oscars appreciation this year either, but at least it wasn’t completely erased in the manner of Nope.) Still, given both Palmer and Peele’s considerable talent, this season’s denial is a mistake the Academy should definitely amend in the coming years.—LPP

Surprise: All Quiet on the Western Front scoops up numerous nominations.

The World War I drama directed by Germany’s Edward Berger swept with nine nominations, tying in second place with The Banshees of Inisherin. (Everything Everywhere All at Once came in first with 11.) Based on the true story of writer Erich Maria Remarque in WWI, the film’s recognition by the Academy is expected, but the extent of its nominations come as a surprise: along with International Feature Film, it also received nods for Adapted Screenplay and Best Picture. The Academy loves a sweeping drama, and this one, which premiered in Toronto last September and began streaming on Netflix in October, has gotten its attention.—EG

The 95th Oscars will air live Sunday, March 12 on ABC.

Headshot of Lauren Puckett-Pope

Associate Editor

Lauren Puckett-Pope is an associate editor at ELLE, where she covers film, TV, books and fashion. 

Headshot of Erica Gonzales

Erica Gonzales is the Senior Culture Editor at ELLE.com, where she oversees coverage on TV, movies, music, books, and more. She was previously an editor at HarpersBAZAAR.com. There is a 75 percent chance she’s listening to Lorde right now. 

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