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Academy Awards countdown: Here are eight of the biggest Oscar snubs this year

Leonardo DiCaprio and Margot Robbie are just some of the cinematic talents that have failed to make the cut for this year’s Oscar nominations.




Less than 1 minute Minutes




Less than 1 minute Minutes

The Academy Awards (otherwise known as the Oscars) have come in for their fair share of flak since the ceremony was first held in 1929. One of the main gripes is the way many worthy movies and actors are overlooked. 

Some of the most notable exclusions for Best Picture include Citizen Kane (1941), Saving Private Ryan (1998) and Brokeback Mountain (2005), which are often considered to be among the greatest movies ever made, but lost out to nominees that are now less highly regarded. 

Various performers and directors have also been snubbed for the coveted golden statuette over the years, including the likes of silent movie icon, Charlie Chaplin, who was sidelined by the Academy for much of his career until 1972, when he received an Honorary Oscar

Renowned British director, Alfred Hitchcock is another major cinematic figure whose directing talent was never celebrated with a Best Director Oscar despite being responsible for cinematic masterpieces such as Rear Window (1954) and Psycho (1960). 

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There is no single reason to explain the apparent snubs. In some cases, it is because of the political climate, which was the case with Chaplin, who fell victim to the anti-communist sentiments prevalent in the 1940s and 1950s.

Other times, works were sidelined due to the random personal preferences of members of the Motion Picture Academy, who make up the Oscar voters. As Academy Awards expert Noah Isenberg said in an interview with Parade, “You have to remember tastes are subjective and individual, and certain films accrue value in time.”  There is also a fixed number of nominations, meaning that controversial exclusions are inevitable.

Scheduled for the evening of 10 March Eastern Standard Time (the morning of 11 March in Macao), this year’s 96th Academy Awards will once again see a host of nominees vying for the much coveted golden statuettes, including frontrunner Oppenheimer (2023), which is leading the pack with a total of 13 nominations. This is closely followed by Poor Things (2023) and Killers of the Flower Moon (2023), which earned 11 and 10 nominations respectively. 

Much like in previous years, however, a number of films and talents have missed out on nominations, in spite of being critically and commercially well-received. In recognition of them, here are 8 of the biggest Oscar nomination snubs this year. 

Snubbed for Best Actress in Barbie: Margot Robbie 

In recent years, Australian Margot Robbie has seen an astronomical rise in her popularity, thanks to her role as Harley Quinn in the DC Extended Universe and her mesmerising performances in films such as I, Tonya (2017), which scored her a Best Actress nomination at the 90th Academy Awards. 

As a testament to her talent, Robbie managed to make the role of Barbie her own, creating a character that audiences can sympathise and laugh with, as they witness her dealing with issues in Barbieland and the real world. Unsurprisingly, the film earned over $1.4 billion at the box office, beating its competitor Oppenheimer to become the highest grossing film of the year. 

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In a rather controversial move, the Oscars decided not to nominate the Hollywood star for a Best Actress category, which prompted backlash from fans and celebrities such as Hilary Clinton. In a tweet to Robbie and the film’s director Greta Gerwig (who was also snubbed for Best Director), the former US Secretary of State offered words of encouragement, telling them that “while it can sting to win the box office but not take home the gold, your millions of fans love you.” 

Snubbed for Best Picture: Origin

Origin is a fictionalised retelling of the globe-trotting experiences of author Isabel Wilkerson, as she attempts to finish her real-life nonfiction work, Caste: The Origin of Our Discontent, which analyses racism and segregation throughout history. 

When the film debuted at the 80th Venice Film Festival, it was very well received, with the director Ava DuVernay receiving a nine-minute standing ovation. Most critics were also blown away by the picture, with film reporter Robert Daniels hailing it as “a dense, forceful masterwork, and, quite simply, the most radical film of DuVernay’s career.” 

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The Academy’s enthusiasm towards Origin, however, has been understated, to say the least, with not a single nomination for the film. In response to being shunned by the Oscars and other major awards, the director posted a now-deleted post on Instagram in which she expressed her wish that lead actress, Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor, be also entitled to the “commercials and magazine covers and all the other things” that actresses normally receive during awards season.

Despite her disappointment, the director said in an interview with Today that she is motivated to continue filmmaking because she is “an artist.” 

Snubbed for Best Actor in Killers of the Flower Moon: Leonardo DiCaprio 

Regarded as one of the best actors of his generation, Leonardo DiCaprio is no stranger to being consistently snubbed by the Academy. Despite receiving a total of seven Best Actor nominations for his performances in acclaimed films such as The Wolf of Wall Street (2013) and Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019), DiCaprio has so far only managed to bag the prize once, for his role in The Revenant (2016). It was certainly well-deserved as that particular film saw the American actor having to go through various ordeals, including being attacked by a bear, eating raw bison liver and swimming in freezing waters. 

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This year, DiCaprio has missed out his chance of earning a second Best Actor Oscar, with no nomination for his leading role in Killers of the Flower Moon (2023). Directed by Martin Scorsese, the movie sees the 49-year-old actor portray Ernest Burkhart, a World War I veteran who finds himself implicated in a plot to murder his wife’s family and other Osage Indians for their oil money. 

Although the Academy has not given DiCaprio his due, Scorsese is adamant that that the actor’s performance will endure, noting in a Variety interview that DiCaprio went “far into the complexities and contradictions of a man who was so weak, so malleable, who did such unspeakable things, but who also truly loved his wife.” 

Snubbed for Best Picture: All of Us Strangers

An adaptation of Strangers, the 1987 Japanese novel by Taichi Yamada, All of Us Strangers is part ghost story and part gay romance. The movie centres on Adam, a screenwriter in his forties, who begins to interact with the ghosts of his dead parents, while developing a romantic relationship with his neighbour Harry. 

Despite receiving near universal praise, the film surprisingly did not garner a single Oscar nomination. Prejudice against LGBTQ+ themes has already been dismissed as a possible reason, as this year’s Oscar has gay performers Colman Domingo and Jodie Foster receiving nominations for their performances as queer characters.

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Possible causes for the snub have been floated by fans, with some claiming that its limited release in the States at the end of the year and unconventional subject matter meant that it never gained the same traction and attention as other films. Likewise, the strong competition during this year’s Oscars means that it may have very well fallen off the radar of many Academy voters. 

Nonetheless, All of Us Strangers has won the admiration of various film makers, including celebrated British filmmaker Edgar Wright who was full of praise for director Andrew Haigh in his essay about the movie. He wrote that he was “in awe” of the film, which diverged from the conventional ghost story by ending on “a moment of infinite beauty” rather than leaving audience members with a feeling of “sadness or shock.”

Snubbed for Best Actress in Past Lives: Greta Lee 

The indie film Past Lives (2023) was the surprise hit of last year, earning accolades left and right, with cinematic maestro Christopher Nolan praising it as “subtle in a beautiful sort of way.” 

In the film, Lee portrays a Korean-American woman named Nora who must come to terms with fate and destiny, as she rekindles a relationship with her South Korean childhood sweetheart Hae Sung who visits her in New York. Rather than adopt the heavy-handed approach that is typical of Hollywood romances, Past Lives has Nora and Hae Sung show their affection for each other through smiles and intense eye contact. 

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For many audience members, Past Lives was their first introduction to Lee, even though she had already been in the entertainment business for almost two decades, starring in television series such as Girls and The Morning Show

Despite her breakout performance, which anchors the film, the Academy chose not to nominate her for best actress. Nonetheless, Past Lives received an Oscar nod for Best Film and Best Original Screenplay, a testament to the picture’s brilliance and Lee’s ability to bring her character to life. 

Snubbed for Best Documentary Feature Film: American Symphony 

The snubbing of American Symphony comes as a surprise, given that the documentary has won multiple awards from various film festivals and film critic associations since its release on 31 August 2023.

The film follows Grammy-winning musician Jon Batiste over the course of a tumultuous year, as he prepares for his Canergie Hall concert, while dealing with his wife’s leukaemia remission. 

Originally, director Matthew Heineman, who is best known for films on wars, had intended the film to document Batiste’s meetings with various musicians prior to his performance of the orchestral work for which the film is named. However, as the filmmaker noted in an interview with the Chronicle, “We had to pivot before we even got started, because life intervened.” The core of the film thus shifted to the relationship between Batiste and his wife.

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As with any good documentary, the film gives an intimate and unfiltered portrait of Batiste, showing him at his high and low points. One particularly revealing scene has the award-winning artist consulting his therapist, as he deals with a panic attack.

While American Symphony was not nominated for best documentary, it may not go empty-handed this Sunday, as the film’s song “It Never Went Away” bagged a Best Original Song nomination.

Snubbed for Best Director in The Killer: David Fincher 

In a career spanning over two decades, acclaimed director David Fincher has been awarded a Golden Globe Award, a British Academy Award, as well as many other major film prizes. The golden statuette, however, has eluded him every step of the way, even though the Academy has nominated him for Best Director three times. 

Fincher doesn’t appear to be getting his lucky break this year either, as his movie The Killer (2023) failed to get a nomination. The film, which marks the auteur’s long-awaited return to the crime thriller genre, stars Michael Fassebender as the titular hitman who finds himself having to deal with the fallout from a botched murder.

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While the general consensus is that The Killer is not among Fincher’s greatest work, with Seattle Times film critic Moira Macdonald describing it as “more of an offbeat character study with impressive production values than a fully realised drama,” the film is still solidly made, featuring classic Fincher tropes such as a focus on criminal psychology and the darker aspects of society. In that respect, The Killer is sure to please fans of Seven (1995) and Zodiac (2006). 

Snubbed for Best Original Score in The Boy and the Heron: Joe Hisaishi 

Joe Hisaishi may not be a household name internationally, but his music is recognisable to many people, with Summer from Kikujiro (1999) and Spirited Away (2001) being among some of his most celebrated film scores.

The prolific composer’s decades-long collaboration with Hayao Miyazaki, the godfather of Japanese animation, continued last year in The Boy and The Heron, which is arguably one of the director’s most personal films. 

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Semi-autobiographical in nature, Miyazaki’s work centres on a boy named Mahito who finds himself in a world populated with fantastical creatures, while having to deal with his personal demons following the death of his mother. Hisashi’s score complements the film in the best way possible, evoking mystery, optimism and sorrow at just the right moments.  

Despite his considerable contribution to the cinematic soundscape, Hisaishi has never been nominated for an Academy Award and continues this streak with this year’s ceremony. This is all the more unfortunate, as The Boy and the Heron has been widely publicised as the 83-year-old Miyazaki’s last film – even though the vice president of Miyazaki’s production house, Studio Ghibli, told the BBC that “there are new ideas that he talks about…[so] I don’t think he will ever be ready to retire.” 

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