Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Biggest Snubs And Surprises From The 2023 Oscar Nominations - Looper Staff Reacts

Rejoice, film nerds; the Oscar nominations have finally arrived. 2022 was a pretty solid year when it comes to movies, between mind bending multiverse epics, worlds full of blue people, biopics about The King himself, an autobiography of sorts about the world's most famous filmmaker, and the story of what happens when your friend ghosts you. Now, the best films from 2022 are being rewarded with Oscar nominations... kind of.

Look, you know the drill. Every single year around this time, people get really mad about the Oscar nominations, because there's always a limit to how many projects can get nominated within each category. As a result, there's always snubs, and there's always surprises, because if there's one thing we all know about the Academy, it's this: they have never, not once, made everyone happy all at the same time. It's like Nicole Kidman always says: "heartbreak feels good in a place like this."

There's a lot to be excited about with these Oscar nominations, but there's also plenty of stuff that'll definitely make people mad. Here's our biggest snubs and surprises for the 2023 Oscar nominations.

Nina Starner - Ana de Armas scores a nod for Blonde, somehow

I'm going to get this out of the way: "Blonde" is, in my estimation, an appalling movie. I was dreading watching it, and after I slogged through it, I was, to my mind, proven exactly right. Andrew Dominik's adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates' tome (which I read and which also made me want to crawl into a hole and die) is a nonstop exercise in misery and torture, and as Marilyn Monroe, Ana de Armas is directly at the center of that.

In better projects like the first "Knives Out" film, de Armas has unquestionably proven that she's a talented actress with serious screen presence; hell, she was even better in her bizarre Ben Affleck vehicle "Deep Water" than she is in "Blonde." She spends the movie brutalized and sobbing, attacked by her husbands and boyfriends and studio executives in an endless parade of assault and pain. It is excruciating, and it goes on for almost three hours.

I want the best for de Armas, and that's why I'm so pissed that she earned her first Oscar nomination for this gleeful depiction of cruelty and suffering. I hope she doesn't win for this; I hope this isn't the film on which she builds her legacy. "Blonde" hurt to watch and nothing about it was rewarding; nothing about this project deserves any kind of real-life award.

Pauli Poisuo - Still no Academy love for stunt work

Stunt work is arguably the last major element of movie-making magic to lack recognition by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. This blatant ignoring of an entire trade while (deservedly) recognizing most every other aspect of the process is doubly dumb because elaborate, carefully designed stunts are pretty much the definition of motion picture arts and sciences, Academy. Try to live up to the name, people.

Several other institutions have happily recognized and awarded the consummate professionalism that goes into crafting creative and dangerous physical falls, fights, crashes, and tumbles. Yet, for some reason that gets harder to understand with each passing year, the Academy remains a tiny island of "nuh uh" in a sea of "la la la la, can't hear you" whenever the subject of stunt coordinators and performers is brought up.

Individual actors, filmmakers, and movies get overlooked all the time, but you'd think the Academy would move to fix things after years and years of the glaring omission of an entire category. It has actually drawn criticism before, but the Academy has evidently ignored that as well. There's only one logical explanation for this annual snub: stuffy old Academy is clearly intimidated by cool people who get to do falls and backflips for a living.

Why are you afraid of backflips, Academy? Backflips are awesome. Acknowledge backflips.

Nick Staniforth - Angela Bassett for Wakanda Forever

We're not trying to present a glass-half-empty — honest. Still, we can all agree the likelihood of a performance in a Marvel film getting acknowledged at the Academy felt like more of a pipe dream than the horror genre getting more recognition. Alas, while Oscar said nope to "Nope," Angela Bassett's hair-raising swan song as Queen Ramonda in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" just couldn't be denied. But why would it? In the pantheon of comic book pictures under the Marvel Studios umbrella, Bassett's throne room chewing moment in the eagerly anticipated sequel had audiences sitting up even before they saw the film. The biggest draw in the trailer didn't lose impact when it was finally seen as intended, and it was a considerable portion of Bassett's incredible second Oscar-nominated performance (via IMDb). Her Royal Highness quite frankly killed it.

Will it be enough, though? It's anyone's guess. While Bassett delivered her potentially final appearance in the MCU, that already earned a Golden Globe, the competition at the Oscars this year is fierce. Nevertheless, it says a lot that the most prestigious award ceremony finally acknowledged a role in a franchise that has dominated the industry for the past 15 years. Could this see Jonathan Majors rock up on the podium in the coming years for Kang? Might Tom Holland have it in him to deliver the goods in another stint as Spider-Man for a statue of a little gold man? Fingers crossed, true believers.

Russell Murray - David Bowie's genre-bending documentary gets snubbed

It's unlikely that die-hard fans of David Bowie will ever come to an agreement over "Moonage Daydream's" portrayal of the legendary musical-icon's life and persona. For a star whose career and legacy are steeped in as much myth as they are reality, whose public face could feel intimate one moment and enigmatic the next, perhaps creating a unanimously accepted cinematic version of his life was impossible.

And yet, "Moonage Daydream" is a success even if you can't reconcile it with your own personal perception of Bowie's life. The documentary feature — directed by Brett Morgen ("Montage of Heck," "Crossfire Hurricane") and composed almost entirely of archival footage from throughout Bowie's career as a multi-hyphenate artist — is a raw, trippy, hypnotic, and often euphoric experience that presents the messy and beautiful mind of a creative genius in an abstract yet accessible way. To keep the gushing short, it wonderfully warped my perceptions about what documentary films could look and feel like.

"Moonage Daydream's" exclusion from the Best Documentary Features category is disappointing to say the least and feels like a slight rejection of attempts to bend an overly stiff medium. While there is at least one film I would have personally swapped out in favor of Morgen's musical masterpiece, I will instead take its omission with the same grace exhibited by the director himself on Twitter. As you compile your list of films to catch up on before the ceremonies, however, I must urge you to include "Moonage Daydream" — you won't experience anything else like it this season.

Bravo to Morgen, and to the immortal Starman himself.

Nina Starner - Stephanie Hsu breaks into the Supporting Actress category

I saw "Everything Everywhere All at Once" when it came out last spring, and like pretty much everybody else, I was blown away. From the story to the dialogue — don't get me started on laundry and taxes, or I'll start crying again! — to the performances, "EEAAO" is a visual and emotional marvel that will make you laugh and cry and send your jaw straight through the floorboards, and it deserves every single one of the nominations it earned this morning.

Going into the announcements, though, I was worried — specifically, I was worried about Stephanie Hsu, who plays Joy Wang and also the film's central antagonist Jobu Tupacki, getting left out of the conversation. Ke Huy Quan is the clear favorite for Supporting Actor after cleaning up at the Golden Globes and earning nominations at the SAG Awards and the BAFTAs, and the race for Lead Actress sure seems like it'll come down to Michelle Yeoh and Cate Blanchett, but it also seemed like Jamie Lee Curtis would potentially shut Hsu out of Supporting Actress if the Academy only wanted to honor one actress from the film. Furthermore, between the two, while Curtis is fun and deserving of a nod, Hsu's Joy and Jobu are the emotional heart of the entire enterprise.

Thankfully, the Academy put both Curtis and Hsu in the category, and even though they'll both lose to Angela Bassett for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," it's amazing to see her included. If nothing else, as her career gets started, she gets to put "Academy Award nominee" before her name forever going forward.

Kieran Fisher - Tom Cruise is the Best Lead Actor in our hearts

There isn't a single Best Lead Actor nominee who doesn't deserve their spot on the list. At the same time, no one is more deserving than Tom Cruise for his performance in "Top Gun: Maverick," in which he reprised the role of Pete "Maverick" Mitchell.

Action stars rarely receive a nomination for Best Actor, but Cruise's role in "Top Gun: Maverick" is a prime example of why they should. This movie required most of the cast members to go above and beyond (quite literally) to bring their characters to life. As such, they all deserve recognition at prestigious awards shows. However, Cruise really insisted on taking things to the next level. Per USA Today, producer Jerry Bruckheimer revealed that the actor flew a real F-51 Mustang, which is unsurprising considering that Cruise is a well-documented daredevil. He wasn't allowed to pilot the fighter jets for legal reasons, but he and his co-stars were still up in the sky with professional Navy pilots for those sequences. Cruise experienced every nausea-inducing barrel roll and spine-compressing G first-hand, and he did it for OUR entertainment.

Of course, Cruise also excels during the dramatic moments of "Top Gun: Maverick." The 60-year-old embodies Mitchell and brings genuine pathos to the character, especially during his bittersweet and heartbreaking scene with Tom "Iceman" Kazansky (Val Kilmer). Cruise's daredevil antics often overshadow his acting chops, but he's the real deal. "Top Gun: Maverick" is arguably the most well-rounded performance of his career, and it's one of the better performances by any actor since Cruise's standout turn in "Mission: Impossible – Fallout."

Kim Bell - No love for Nope

I don't usually suggest that the answer to something being objectively crappy, predictable, and transparent is to light the thing on fire and move on, but when it comes to The Academy — aka, Hollywood's version of the electoral college — I'm willing to make an exception.

Art shouldn't have a gate, so I'll never understand why we're supposed to fall all over ourselves with appreciation and applause when its Fancy Gatekeepers manage to let someone or something in that they had no business keeping out in the first place. And yet, every year, I submit to the same futile optimism that insists this year will be different. This year, I thought, there's just no way Jordan Peele's "Nope" — the highest grossing film of the year that wasn't tied to an already-existing IP, narrative, or franchise — won't get at least some recognition. If not a Best Picture or Best Original Screenplay nom, surely a Best Actress nom for Keke Palmer, or some credit for its brilliant Sound Design?


Like "Us" before it, "Nope" joins the list of countless other ground-breaking horror and sci-fi films (including several from 2022) that simply asked far too much. Hollywood loves a movie about Hollywood, but only if said movie allows it to either celebrate itself, or engage in the kind of feigned self-effacement that should earn it its own "Best Institution in a Leading Role" award. And "Nope" wasn't that.

Peele's film not only asked viewers to digest both a surface-level commentary and more than one subtextual theme, it did so while tapping — with taught, relentless tension — into the terror of both the unseen and the too-seen, while (yes, there's more) simultaneously addressing the horror of invisibility, through performances that speak for themselves. All that should have been enough to earn it an invite to the party, particularly considering that party's handful of infinitely (and overtly) less complex and relevant guests.

But of course, it wasn't. Which is maybe, I'll be telling myself, for the best. This party sucks anyway, and there's not enough satin and sequins in the world to convince me otherwise.

Aahil Dayani - James Cameron snubbed for Best Director

Never bet against James Cameron... except when it comes to Oscars, apparently.

Cameron did the impossible this year: he somehow managed to top the original "Avatar" both visually and narratively. "The Way of Water," Cameron's second entry in his ever-expanding Pandora saga, is a cinematic triumph and a true testament to the power of imagination and willpower. Whenever I'm feeling lazy, bored, or want to take a shortcut in life, I wonder "What Would James Cameron Do?"

He certainly wouldn't half-ass anything, that's for sure.

To see his vision of Pandora come to life, Cameron hired a writers room to fully map out the next decade of Na'vi storytelling, scrapped a fully-written script because it didn't "play enough by 'Avatar' rules," and helped develop new forms of technology to capture underwater performances, and so much more. Now, "The Way of Water" has hit $2 billion, a number that confirms it's a true worldwide phenomenon that continues to warrant repeat viewings. Say what you will about the film's narrative (you're wrong by the way), but "The Way of Water" is a visual marvel that redefines what's possible on the big screen.

It's a world that will forever be a remedy for bad days. So why is it that, after delivering a film that pushes visual boundaries, and brought millions of hesitant viewers back to cinemas, that the Oscars couldn't toss Cameron a Best Director nod? Should Cameron's efforts be judged solely by their box office receipts? Not necessarily. But consider how millions of viewers, who may not even speak English, have become captivated by Cameron's beautiful world. "The Way of Water" is proof that cinema is universal. It's proof that the cinematic experience matters.

Did Cameron need a Best Director nomination? Nope... he's probably too busy conjuring up Payakan's next insane moment.

Tom Meisfjord – Eddie Redmayne snubbed for The Good Nurse

Life is complicated, frightening, and bleak. Maybe that's why we strive to find some sense of permanence. Illusory though it may be, any seemingly universal logic is a comfort in a chaotic world. There is peace to be found in the thought that "if X, then Y:" "If" I eat, "then" my hunger will be sated. "If" I strike a match and put it to kindling, "then" I will soon feel warmth. "If" Eddie Redmayne makes a movie that nobody goes to see because it looks like a stone cold drag, "then" he'll get an Oscar nomination.

Guys, what's even the point anymore? What's Eddie Redmayne even doing if he's not getting little scratchums behind his wet pink ears from the Academy? If they're not going to at least nominate the guy, why should he even make movies that get described as "challenging" by someone you're desperately trying to get out of a conversation with at a work function?

Eddie Redmayne has lost a lot the last few years. First he rolled snake eyes on scream-whispering his way through what could have been 20 or 30 "Jupiter Ascending" films, then the "Fantastic Beasts" movies became the second most disappointing thing about the "Harry Potter" franchise. We can't take away his prestige award nods, too.

Also, I have this theory that if he doesn't get an Oscar nomination every three years, he'll turn back into a child's pet chameleon per the rules governing the magic of the kid's birthday wish. I guess time will tell on that one.