2023 Oscar nominations: The biggest snubs and surprises

The nomination lists we never saw coming

The 2023 Oscar nominations are here, and the list is filled with jaw-dropping snubs and surprises, including a shocker that could change the way films are campaigned for awards in the future. One snub also may have knocked a former frontrunner out of the Best Picture race entirely. Here are the most stunning snubs and surprises from this year's Oscar nominations and what to make of them:

Surprise: Andrea Riseborough for Best Actress

She actually did it.

In a shocking twist, Andrea Riseborough's last-minute, out-of-nowhere Oscar campaign really worked. Just when pundits thought the Best Actress field was set in stone, seemingly everyone in Hollywood recently flooded Twitter with (sometimes identical) posts praising Riseborough's performance in the little-seen indie movie To Leslie, and this belated, apparently coordinated effort was enough to earn her a Best Actress nomination. 

It was among the most stunning Oscar surprises in recent memory considering To Leslie had virtually no buzz or presence in the awards race until this campaign popped up right as nomination voting opened. But this could permanently change the way studios campaign for Oscars in the future, suggesting that strategically waiting to push a film until the eleventh hour can pay off big time. 

Snub: No Viola Davis or Danielle Deadwyler for Best Actress

But while Riseborough was in, two seemingly unstoppable Best Actress candidates were out: Viola Davis for The Woman King and Danielle Deadwyler for Till, even though both were nominated at the Screen Actors Guild Awards and appeared to be shoo-ins. As a result, there were no Black women nominated for Best Actress this year, and The Woman King and Till received zero nominations at all. 

Surprise: Ana de Armas for Best Actress

It perhaps shouldn't have been much of a surprise after her prior nods at the British Academy Film Awards and SAG Awards. But Blonde's Ana de Armas made it into Best Actress over Davis and Deadwyler despite her Marilyn Monroe film sparking significant backlash and even leading the Razzie nominations. Did Colin Farrell praising de Armas during his Golden Globe speech help turn the tide? She had better be sending him a thank you card, at the very least. 

Snub: No Paul Dano or Eddie Redmayne for Best Supporting Actor

If just one star from The Fabelmans was going to be nominated for Best Supporting Actor, we wouldn't have guessed it would be the one who's barely in the movie.

But Judd Hirsch earned an Oscar nomination despite only appearing in the Steven Spielberg film for about 10 minutes, while Paul Dano, who is in the entire movie playing the crucial character of Spielberg's father, was snubbed. Was Dano's work just a bit too subtle for the Academy, especially compared to the more theatrical Hirsch performance? 

Past Oscar-winner Eddie Redmayne was also snubbed in the supporting actor category for The Good Nurse despite prior recognition at the British Academy Film Awards, Golden Globes, and Screen Actors Guild Awards. This might hurt a little. 

Surprise: Brian Tyree Henry for Best Supporting Actor

But the absence of Paul Dano and Eddie Redmayne left room for Brian Tyree Henry to sneak into Best Supporting Actor, earning his first Oscar nomination for Causeway despite that being a somewhat more under-the-radar film that earned no other nominations. Never underestimate the power of Apple's Oscar campaign machine.  

Snub: The entire cast of 'Women Talking'

Sarah Polley's Women Talking just barely had a presence on the nominations list, earning nods for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. But despite the film being one long acting showcase featuring some of the best performers working today — including Claire Foy, Jessie Buckley, and Rooney Mara — not a single member of its cast was nominated. Polley also wasn't nominated for Best Director, meaning all five nominees in that category were men. 

It was a surprisingly poor showing for a film that once seemed like a legitimate threat to win Best Picture after it was a runner-up for the Toronto International Film Festival's People's Choice Award. Women were talking, but the Academy clearly wasn't listening. 

Surprise: 'Top Gun: Maverick' for Best Adapted Screenplay 

Has the time come to consider the possibility that Top Gun: Maverick could win Best Picture?

No, Tom Cruise wasn't nominated for Best Actor as some pundits predicted. But Maverick did earn a surprise screenplay nomination, which is typically needed to win the top prize. Granted, Best Picture winners also usually need acting and directing nominations, neither of which Top Gun received, and the film was weirdly snubbed in Best Cinematography. Still, Maverick making it into the screenplay category indicates the Academy believes the film wasn't simply an accomplishment for its spectacle and thrilling action, but as an overall movie, which can only be a good sign. 

But this meant The Whale was bumped from the Best Adapted Screenplay category (in addition to being snubbed for Best Picture), even though the screenplay is arguably more important to that film given it's sort of like a filmed play. With Brendan Fraser and Hong Chau getting nominated, it seems the Academy may have loved the performances in The Whale more than the movie itself. 

Snub: No Taylor Swift for Best Original Song

It must be exhausting always rooting for Taylor Swift to get an Oscar nomination. The singer's dreams of winning an Academy Award have once again gone up in flames after she wasn't nominated for Best Original Song for "Carolina" from Where the Crawdads Sing, another blow after her "All Too Well" video was left off the shortlist for Best Live Action Short Film. So much for a gold rush. 

Snub: No James Cameron for Best Director

What happened to being king of the world? James Cameron earned a Best Director nomination for the original Avatar, which was also up for Best Picture in 2010. But though the long-awaited sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, was nominated for Best Picture, Cameron was surprisingly absent from Best Director this time — perhaps because the Academy realizes it will have about a million more chances to honor him. 

Surprise: Ruben Ostlund for Best Director

We thought there might be a surprise in Best Director given the director's branch has been known to throw curveballs, but we didn't foresee that surprise would be Ruben Ostlund sneaking in Triangle of Sadness

The Palme d'Or-winner had a surprisingly strong showing in general, also making it into the Best Picture category, while the Knives Out sequel Glass Onion earned just one nomination for its screenplay. Apparently, there's only room for one Best Picture nominee involving skewering the rich and boats. 

Snub: No 'Decision to Leave' for Best International Feature Film

Some pundits thought the fifth Best Director slot could go to Park Chan-wook for Decision to Leave, but his acclaimed South Korean romantic thriller surprisingly earned zero nominations, not even making it into Best International Feature Film. The buzzy three-hour Indian epic RRR also received no nominations outside of Best Original Song, though that can be partially blamed on India failing to choose it as its official Best International Feature Film submission. 

Snub: No 'Babylon' for Best Picture

Damien Chazelle described Babylon as a "hate letter to Hollywood," and, well, it looks like Hollywood hated it. The film earned no above-the-line nominations, so the dream of there being a Best Picture nominee that opens with an elephant defecating into the camera is officially dead. 

Snub: No 'The Fabelmans' for Best Film Editing

Film editing is a weirdly important category to watch given the movie that wins Best Picture is almost always nominated for that award. In the 21st century, the only Best Picture winners without an editing nomination were Birdman and CODA. Birdman's snub made sense considering that movie is meant to look like one long shot, and CODA's snub was also understandable because the surge in momentum that led it to a Best Picture win didn't happen until after the nominations were announced.

But there was no obvious reason for The Fabelmans to not be nominated for editing, making this a significant setback. Combined with the film's poor performance at the BAFTAs, it could indicate Steven Spielberg's autobiographical movie, once the apparent frontrunner, is no longer win competitive in Best Picture. 

Everything Everywhere All at Once and The Banshees of Inisherin were both nominated for editing, though, cementing the idea that Best Picture may be a two-way race between them — with Top Gun: Maverick, which also earned an editing nomination, having the possibility to surprise. 

Either that or Best Picture goes, in a major upset, to Andrea Riseborough.


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