It wouldn’t be the Academy Award nominations without a few shockers mixed in, and this year was no exception. While some big names like Margot Robbie and Leonardo DiCaprio missed out on acting nominations, there were also some unexpected inclusions along the way.
Here, Variety breaks down the biggest snubs and surprises of the 2024 Oscar nominations.
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SNUB: Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig, “Barbie”
The powerhouse duo responsible for the biggest movie of the year found love in other categories —Robbie is included in the film’s best picture nomination as a producer and Gerwig saw her screenplay (with co-writer Noah Baumbach) recognized. But Robbie ultimately missed on the competitive best actress lineup while Gerwig was shut out of director.
SURPRISE: America Ferrera, “Barbie”
Though its leading lady and director didn’t land nominations, “Barbie” co-star Ferrera was able to score a supporting actress nod for her role in the megahit, despite missing out at SAG Awards and Golden Globes.
SNUB: Leonardo DiCaprio, “Killers of the Flower Moon”
The Oscar winner seemed like a sure thing since the premiere of “Flower Moon” at Cannes last May. But after missing out on a SAG nomination, there were fears he would fail to show up on the best actor list for his acclaimed turn as Ernest Burkhart. It’s not the first prominent miss for the actor. Perhaps some voters were turned off by how unsympathetic his character came off, or he was just a victim of a wildly competitive category.
SNUB: The Actors of “May December”
Coming into the season, the trio of performances at the center of Todd Haynes’ latest film looked promising. Both lead Natalie Portman and supporting actress Julianne Moore were previous Oscar winners, and supporting actor Charles Melton was considered a major breakthrough. In fact, Melton took home the Gotham Award over some stiff competition early on. Golden Globe, Spirit and Critics’ Choice noms followed — but then the cast was left out at SAG. Sadly, that foretold the Oscar nominations, in which all three actors were shut out.
SURPRISE: Sandra Hüller, “Anatomy of a Fall”
While Hüller has been buzzed about all season and many expected her to make the cut into best actress, she failed to register at the SAG Awards, a major precursor. But there’s clearly strong love for the movie, and she found herself nominated for best actress at the Oscars.
SURPRISE: Justine Triet “Anatomy of a Fall”
Among a murderer’s row of adventuresome and deserving filmmakers whose work was widely recognized across all of the Academy’s categories, Triet nevertheless managed to be the big surprise in this category, even if her work is more than equal to that of her competitors. Triet creates an intense and provocative reality on screen as a celebrated writer attempts to clear her name for the death of her husband. It’s mesmerizing viewing, and should make for an equally mesmerizing race to this year’s best director Oscar.
SNUB: Eric Roth and Martin Scorsese, “Killers of the Flower Moon”
With 10 nominations, Scorsese’s Osage Nation murder mystery was well-represented this year. But the screenwriting duo of Scorsese and seven-time nominee Roth went unrecognized for their transformation of what on the page was largely a police procedural into a multidimensional portrait of an Indigenous community as it navigates the decimation of its people.
SURPRISE: Best Editing, “The Holdovers”
The other nominees in the editing category are anything but a surprise, given either the established pedigree of the artisans responsible for them, or in the case of “Anatomy of a Fall,” the integral role that editing plays in navigating the complexities of a story whose sense of objective truth is constantly being re-evaluated. Kevin Tent’s work on “The Holdovers,” by comparison, is decidedly more understated, but perhaps it’s precisely its authenticity in recreating the sensibility, pacing and style of an actual 1970-set film that earned its recognition here.
SNUB: Alexander Payne, “The Holdovers”
The strong showing for “The Holdovers” makes the omission of its director all the more surprising. Though a lot of great filmmakers ultimately didn’t make the cut for director, Gerwig and Payne did score DGA noms – usually a strong indicator that Oscar will follow.
SURPRISE: Jonathan Glazer and “The Zone of Interest”
…Or has Glazer’s singular portrait of evil (and indifference to it) simply been hiding in plain sight? Glazer not only broke into the competitive director race, the film received five nominations, including picture, adapted screenplay, international feature and sound. Glazer and his collaborators have consistently collected awards since the 2023 Cannes Film Festival, where it won the competition’s Grand Prix and its FIPRESCI prize. Burrowing its way uncomfortably but undeniably into the consciousness of every viewer that sees it — much less the film community in general — “The Zone of Interest” achieves a goal that’s the inverse of what its Nazi characters experience as they live obliviously next to the Auschwitz concentration camp: it could not be ignored.
SNUB: Penelope Cruz, “Ferrari”
Though it’s one of the best films of Michael Mann’s career, “Ferrari” was fully locked out of nominations in any category at the 2024 Oscars. Among its many virtues, the snub that stings the most is a lack of recognition for Cruz, who brings to life namesake auto manufacturer Enzo Ferrari’s estranged wife Laura with an unforgettable emotional force that holds the entire movie together. Particularly after Cruz received a nomination for the SAG Awards, a spot in Oscar’s final five seemed the next step; but victory road for Mann’s film seems like it will have to live in the hearts and minds of the moviegoers that love it.
SNUB: “All of Us Strangers”
There was strong sentiment for this sensitive tale of a grown man who encounters his parents at the young age he last saw them, particularly for Andrew Haigh’s adapted screenplay and Andrew Scott’s beautiful lead performance. But the film was completely shut out of nominations.
SNUB: Willem Dafoe, “Poor Things”
The beloved actor, a four-time Oscar nominee, was expected to score a nod for his tender turn as Emma Stone’s fatherly creator in “Poor Things,” particularly after landing a SAG Award nomination over co-star Mark Ruffalo. But in the end, it was Ruffalo who snagged a supporting actor nomination.
SURPRISE: Becky G’s “The Fire Inside” (from “Flamin’ Hot”)
Notwithstanding the resuscitation of Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s ineligible “Murder on the Dancefloor” from Emerald Fennell’s altogether ignored “Saltburn,” no movie-related song has occupied the pop space in 2023 more than Dua Lipa’s “Dance the Night.” That proved irrelevant — or maybe the Motion Picture Academy figured they’d given “Barbie” enough in this category — which meant Diane Warren’s “The Fire Inside,” performed by Becky G, earned her a 15th nomination. After receiving an honorary award in 2022, will this mark her first win of a competitive Oscar? We’ll see.
SNUB: Best Documentary, “American Symphony”
Written, shot and directed by previous Oscar nominee Matthew Heineman, “American Symphony” enjoyed a seemingly unstoppable surge earlier in awards season as his film, following a year in the life of musician Jon Batiste, circulated among top-tier festivals around the world. Though Moses Bwayo and Christopher Sharp’s “Bobi Wine: The People’s President” is eminently deserving of a nomination for its portrait of the Afrobeat musician’s transition into politics, the fact that it was recognized while Heineman wasn’t is unexpected.
SNUB: Rosamund Pike and Emerald Fennell, “Saltburn”
Though some might say Emerald Fennell’s wicked tale of an outsider who insinuates himself into a wealthy family was always a long shot, the movie also had its fans. It also had a strong showing at the BAFTA Awards last week, giving more hope that there might be nods for supporting actress Rosamund Pike or Fennell’s original screenplay. But in the end, the film didn’t register with Oscar voters.
SNUB: Pedro Almodovar, “Strange Way of Life”
Almodovar has nine career nominations for his vivid, masterful body of work — including last year for “Parallel Mothers.” “Strange Way of Life” marks his second project directed in English, focused on a reunion of gunslingers after 25 years. Perhaps Wes Anderson’s “The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar,” the anchor of his series of Roald Dahl shorts, took the spot intended for the Oscar stalwart.
SURPRISE: John Williams for Best Score, “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny”
Perhaps it was a foregone conclusion given Williams’ announcement that he’d be retiring from composing, but his return to the “Indiana Jones” franchise otherwise marks a big surprise in a year with a lot of distinctive and powerful film music. It’s not like he’s never been recognized before: the nod is his 54th career nomination, and could mark his sixth win.
SNUB: Daniel Pemberton for Best Score, “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”
Given Williams’ recognition in this category — notwithstanding his position in the industry — the fact that “The Dial of Destiny” got nominated at least indicates that the Academy was taking genre films seriously in 2023. So why not Pemberton’s groundbreaking work in “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse”? Not only did he work hand in hand with musician and producer Metro Boomin to create a fully-integrated hip-hop and R&B-themed soundtrack, but he nimbly built a sonic backdrop for the film that perfectly encapsulates its reality-bending storyline.
SURPRISE: Animated Film, “Robot Dreams” and “Nimona”
Rather than nominate more high-profile animated features like Disney’s “Wish” or Netflix’s “Leo,” voters instead opted for the sci-fi comedy of “Nimona” (also from Netflix) and the Spanish-French “Robot Dreams.” Perhaps not a shocker to those in the know — both films are up for Annie Awards — they’re welcome inclusions in a strong year for animation.
SURPRISE: Best Cinematography, “El Conde”
Some prominent titles missed out on a cinematography nomination, including “Barbie” — though Rodrigo Prieto is still recognized in the category for “Killers of the Flower Moon.” But the great Edward Lachman landed his third nomination in the category for Pablo Larraín’s clever satire about a vampire eager to die.
SURPRISE: Visual Effects, “Godzilla Minus One”
After opening in U.S. theaters in December, “Godzilla Minus One” experienced a late surge driven by the passionate individuals who comprise what is affectionately referred to as “Film Twitter,” prompting demands for either (or both) an international or best picture nomination. Though those didn’t happen — even Godzilla can’t fight the machine known as awards season campaigns — its nod in this category doesn’t feel like a consolation prize: reportedly assembled by a crew of just 35 artists, the film’s 610 effects shots not only look convincing but massive on screen, giving the Japanese creation authentic new life in its native country after two American films and an accompanying TV series for Apple TV+ attempted to harness the creative fire in the franchise’s belly for domestic success.
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