Oscar Nominations 2019: The Biggest Snubs and Surprises

Sorry, Timothée.

Photograph by Tim Walker; Styled by Sara Moonves.

There’s an entire industry—from tracking websites to satellite awards shows—meant to parse and predict the Oscar nominations, and yet every year the Academy Awards has a habit of snubbing and surprising so as to let everyone know that ultimately the Academy thinks for itself. This year was no different, and was perhaps even more surprising than in years past, as several A-listers who’d racked up nominations in the minor-league awards shows (Timothée Chalamet and Bradly Cooper, director, included) find themselves now on the outside looking in.

Here, the biggest snubs and surprises from the 2019 Oscar nominations.

Snub: Bradley Cooper for Best Director

For his directorial debut, A Star Is Born, Cooper racked up tons of pre-Oscar nominations, including at the Golden Globes and Directors Guild of America, but failed to land the big one. Oh, well, at least he still has nominations for Best Actor, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Picture to fall back on. Besides, he wasn’t the only snub in this category. Both Green Book‘s Peter Farrelly and If Beale Street Could Talk‘s Barry Jenkins were left nomination-less as well.

Surprise: Adam McKay and Paweł Pawlikowski for Best Director

One of the last major Oscar-caliber movies to be screened, Adam McKay’s vice-presidential biopic Vice underwhelmed critics when it finally hit theaters, despite the protracted hype. But it turns out that the Academy voters liked it enough. They gave McKay, a former Saturday Night Live writer, his second nomination for directing. Perhaps even more surprising was the nomination for Polish director Pawel Pawlikowski for Cold War. Sure, he won the Oscar for Best Foreign film in 2015 for Ida and scored the Best Director award at Cannes for his latest Polish-language effort, but few predicted that would translate to Oscar success.

Snub: Timothée Chalamet for Best Supporting Actor

Though Beautiful Boy arrived to mixed reviews, Chalamet’s performance (combined with his rising-star status) seemed like it could warrant a second Oscar nomination (despite the fact some might have considered him a lead). Yet despite SAG and Golden Globe nominations, he was left out here.

Surprise: Adam Driver and Sam Rockwell for Best Supporting Actor

Seems like the Academy swapped out one flavor of Internet boyfriend for another here, as Adam Driver notched his very first Oscar nomination, for Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. Meanwhile, the Oscars also decided to recognize Sam Rockwell, last year’s winner in the category (for the controversial Three Billboards), for his performance as George W. Bush in Vice. The prognosticators typically saw one or the other nabbing a spot here, but not both.

Snub: Ethan Hawke for Best Actor

After two Supporting Actor nominations and another two for co-writing the Before Sunrise trilogy, Ethan Hawke was poised to land his first Best Actor nomination for First Reformed (yes, he was snubbed at the idiosyncratic Globes, but had numerous critics’ circle wins to back him up). Alas, he wound up First Snubbed instead.

Surprise: Willem Dafoe for Best Actor

In our books, Dafoe should have won last year in the supporting category for his work in (otherwise snubbed) The Florida Project, but perhaps the Oscars are saying sorry with the nomination for his performance as Vincent van Gogh in the appropriately artsy At Eternity’s Gate. This didn’t come out of nowhere (he won the Volpi Cup at the Venice Film Festival), but is something of a surprise considering the film wasn’t widely seen.

Snub: If Beale Street Could Talk in multiple categories

True, Regina Hall was nominated for Best Supporting Actress (and may just be the front runner… and the movie has a good chance to nab Best Score as well), but Barry Jenkins’s Moonlight follow-up failed to earn a spot in the Best Picture circle, contrary to expectations. Jenkins was also unappreciated as director, and, in perhaps the film’s biggest snub, cinematographer James Laxton was left out.

Surprise: Caleb Deschanel for Best Cinematography

This is a minor category in the eyes of the public, but it’s perhaps the single biggest surprise to be found among the nominations this year. Caleb Deschanel (who, yes, is the father of Zooey and Emily) scored a nomination for the German film Never Look Away. He had no previous nominations or wins at any awards show or critics poll for the movie. Though, it’s not like he’s an unknown quantity. This is his sixth nomination in the category, and his next film is The Lion King. Still, a bit of a shocker.

Snub: Troye Sivan for Best Original Song

Hmm, turns out the transformation from YouTube vlogger to Oscar-nominated songwriter wasn’t quite as smooth as expected. Sivan’s song “Revelation” for Boy Erased was snubbed in favor of Willie Watson and Tim Blake Nelson’s “When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings from Ballad of Buster Scruggs*. Oh well, Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” is still the one to beat here.

Related: See the 2019 Oscar Nominations