The most egregious Oscar snubs, from Bradley Cooper to Mr. Rogers to the theremin

Pour one out for the first-time director.
Pour one out for the first-time director.
Image: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni
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Actors Tracee Ellis Ross and Kumail Nanjiani announced the nominees for the 91st Academy Awards this morning (Jan. 22), and as usual, there was a mix of good, bad, and very bad.

There are snubs every year. With more good films and performances than there are spots, we shouldn’t expect the Academy to get it all right. (Maybe they should just expand the number of nominees, but that’s another story.) But this year there were a few snubs that were particularly blatant.

Before we get into the complaints, there were some clear positives in this year’s slate of nominees. Spike Lee finally got his first Oscar nomination for best director for BlacKkKlansman, becoming only the sixth black filmmaker in history to be nominated for the award. Black Panther became the first superhero movie ever to earn a best picture nomination. The two leading actresses in Roma (which led the field with 10 total nominations, tying The Favourite), Yalitza Aparicio and Marina de Tavira, were both nominated for their performances in the Alfonso Cuaròn film. So it wasn’t all bad.

But these were the snubs that stung the most (see the full list of nominees here):

Bradley Cooper (the director)

Bradley Cooper (the actor) was not snubbed—he was nominated for his performance as the washed-up rocker Jackson Maine in A Star Is Born. But Cooper was shockingly not nominated as director of the film, despite him being one of the favorites headed into this morning’s announcement. Perhaps the Academy thought Cooper’s acting nomination was enough. Or perhaps the other actors voting for the awards were just jealous? Who knows. Either way, Brad Coops deserved recognition for his impressive directorial debut.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

The film Academy voters are apparently the only people on the planet who don’t want to be neighbors with Mr. Rogers. Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the universally adored documentary about the universally adored children’s TV producer Fred Rogers, was inexplicably left out of the best documentary feature category. Like Bradley Cooper for director, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? was considered one of the frontrunners in the race, based on its critical acclaim, box office strength, and performance in previous award shows. We’ve got to say, it’s not a very beautiful day in the neighborhood.

First Man original score

Theremin enthusiasts, unite! You don’t have to be a fan of the strange electronic instrument to realize that Justin Hurwitz’s original music for the Neil Armstrong film First Man was transcendent—easily among the five best scores of the year, if not the very best one.

It was certainly the most creative, as Hurwitz used the theremin—an eerie-sounding instrument that falls somewhere between “a ghost wailing” and “EDM concert”—to represent Armstrong’s grief after the death of his young daughter, and the deaths of several astronaut friends in training leading up to the moon landing.

Whatever, First Man doesn’t need your stinking Oscar anyway. (And Hurwitz already has one, for composing the music for La La Land.) Oscars notwithstanding, we’ll always have this beautiful music to revisit:

Women directors

The good news is that Green Book director and renowned penis-flasher Peter Farrelly was snubbed in the directing category, suggesting that maybe all that controversy did hurt the film’s Oscar chances. The bad news is that no women filmmakers were nominated, proving once again that the Oscars are, well, quite bad!

It’s not as if there weren’t any great women directors to choose from: Debra Granik (Leave No Trace), Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), Chloe Zhao (The Rider), and Tamara Jenkins (Private Life) are just a few of many that deserved a nomination.

And with Hollywood becoming even less gender diverse than it already was, this problem is unlikely to go away any time soon.

Bo Burnham

While it’s disappointing, it’s not a complete surprise that Bo Burnham, the young writer-director of the dramedy Eighth Grade, was not nominated for writing or directing.

What really stings is the fact that he was left out of an original screenplay category that included Nick Vallelonga, one of the Green Book screenwriters who himself was embroiled in some controversy last week when a tweet of his resurfaced echoing Donald Trump’s debunked, racist conspiracy theory that he witnessed Muslims cheering during the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Also, the Green Book screenplay wasn’t very good, and Eighth Grade‘s was. So there’s that.

Burnham, who’s only 28, will probably have more opportunities down the road to take home a statuette, but that doesn’t make this one any easier to swallow.

More snubs:

  • No Burning in the best foreign film category. That’s awful.
  • No Timothée Chalamet in the best supporting actor category for his performance as a teen struggling with drug addiction in Beautiful Boy. Meanwhile, Sam Rockwell was nominated for his impression of George W. Bush in Vice. It’s a perfectly fine caricature, but not an actual performance as Chalamet’s is.
  • First Man in general. Ryan Gosling and Claire Foy both deserved nominations for their performances as Neil and Janet Armstrong. The film also should have received cinematography and editing nominations.
  • Absolutely nothing for Mission: Impossible – Fallout, which means my lobbying campaign shockingly did not work. It’s okay—they just greenlit two sequels.
  • Nothing for Widows, Hereditary, Eighth Grade, Leave No Trace, Annihilation, Wildlife, and Suspiria, and not nearly enough for If Beale Street Could Talk.