TV & Movies

Oscar Nominations 2023 Snubs and Surprises: The Woman King, Paul Dano, and More

If there is one thing that Oscars nominations morning teaches every year, it’s to never be too sure of a sure thing.

While it’s unsurprising that A24 breakout “Everything Everywhere All at Once” would lead the pack with 11 nominations going into the 95th Academy Awards, as it is pegged to be a Best Picture frontrunner, it is shocking to see crowdpleaser “The Woman King” come up empty-handed, with even Oscar winner Viola Davis not making the final cut for Best Actress.

For the 2023 Oscars, Academy members gave little regard to films directed by women. Was that at the expense of recognizing more international talent, with the German-language “All Quiet on the Western Front” taking a stunning nine nominations?

Some surprises were predictable: We knew that there were a few straggling, unpredictable slots, but didn’t know who would fill them. Now we know voters really did like “Triangle of Sadness,” and “Aftersun” captured enough attention for star Paul Mescal to receive a Best Actor nomination over Tom Cruise (“Top Gun: Maverick”) and Tom Hanks (“A Man Called Otto”).

IndieWire dives into those nods and more, tracking the biggest snubs and surprises of this year’s Oscars nominations below.

The 95th Academy Awards air Sunday, March 12.

Snub: “The Woman King”

An A+ Cinemascore is not an easy feat, and a Toronto International Film Festival premiere often rockets projects into Best Picture contention, yet director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s historical epic received zero Oscar nominations. Many factors could have contributed to its snub, from bias against action films in Best Picture, to Andrea Riseborough’s last-minute grassroots campaign possibly knocking out perennial nominee Viola Davis. Films by Black or women directors received little attention from the Academy; being a Black woman director means being overlooked on two fronts.

Surprise: “Triangle of Sadness”

Going into nominations for the 95th Oscars, it felt impossible to pin down the 10th slot for Best Picture. Everything from “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” to “Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery” to “RRR” was in the mix, but ultimately, the 2022 Palme D’Or winner that had a spot high up on early Best Picture predictions saw it through to the end — even getting a Best Director nomination for Ruben Östlund.

Snub: James Cameron, “Avatar: The Way of Water”

We were all told to never bet against the “Avatar” helmer, but while his epic sequel got a Best Picture nomination, former Best Director winner Cameron did not make the cut. He still has three more sequels to go, so maybe the 2029 Oscars will be his grand return.

Surprise: Paul Mescal, “Aftersun”

Until last week’s BAFTA nominations, the only big nomination for the “Aftersun” star by a televised awards show was the Critics Choice Awards — a group that does not overlap with Academy voters. Mescal not only beat out the aforementioned Toms, he also scored his nod over Screen Actors Guild nominee Adam Sandler (“Hustle”) and Golden Globe nominee Hugh Jackman (“The Son”) — quite the triumph for the 26-year-old.

Snub: Danielle Deadwyler, “Till”

Though her SAG nomination felt like a good indicator that the “Till” standout would be considered, her absence from the Best Actress category could likely be chalked up to voters being resistant toward watching a film about the Emmett Till tragedy, despite all the thought and care Deadwyler and director Chinonye Chukwu put into it being accessible to all.

Surprise: Andrea Riseborough, “To Leslie”

Welp, the viral campaign worked. Though her performance in the small indie has always been acclaimed, the push on social media to get her nominated right as voting was under way may be the new play for actors in little-seen work.

Snub: Paul Dano, “The Fabelmans”

In a reverse of the SAG nominations, Dano was left out of the Best Supporting Actor race, while his co-stars Michelle Williams and Judd Hirsch both made it in. Voters did not respond to his character’s resistance to his son becoming a filmmaker, and sided with the artists in Steven Spielberg’s fictionalized version of his family.

Surprise: Brian Tyree Henry, “Causeway”

While is it a surprise for the “Atlanta” star to be nominated for his soulful performance in Apple TV+’s quiet gem “Causeway,” it might be even more surprising that this is his first Oscar nomination. The Academy showing the character actor some well-deserved love after scene-stealing turns in films like “If Beale Street Could Talk” and “Widows.”

Snub and Surprise: No actors from “Women Talking”

Although most predicted this outcome by now, it is still a bit of a shock that Sarah Polley’s drama about a group of Mennonite women deciding to escape or fight their male terrorizers did not make it into the Best Supporting Actress category. However, the competition was stacked — and with that many amazing performances, the women of “Women Talking” may have canceled each other out.

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