The most shocking snubs and surprises of the 2023 Oscar nominations

And the Oscar nomination goes to...

At last, we know who made the cut for the 2023 Academy Awards. But who was among the Oscar snubs and surprises? While the awards industry has generated robust and accurate pundit predictions, there are always at least a few shocks come nomination morning.

2023 has marked what feels like the first normal awards season since COVID-19, with the Golden Globes back on NBC for better or worse and the absence of postponements or virtual awards presentations.

Brian Tyree Henry in Causeway, Tom Cruise in Top Gun, and Viola Davis in the Woman King
Brian Tyree Henry in Causeway, Tom Cruise in Top Gun, and Viola Davis in the Woman King

Wilson Webb/Apple TV+; Scott Garfield/Paramount; Sony

Was it a banner year for blockbusters receiving recognition? Or did big box office once again not add up to awards love? Let's take a look at the biggest snubs and surprises of this year's nominations list, revealed Tuesday morning by Allison Williams and Riz Ahmed from the Academy's Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills, Calif.

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Brian Tyree Henry and Jennifer Lawrence in "Causeway
Brian Tyree Henry and Jennifer Lawrence in "Causeway

Wilson Webb/Apple TV + Brian Tyree Henry and Jennifer Lawrence in 'Causeway'

SURPRISE: Best Supporting Actor — Brian Tyree Henry (Causeway)

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the morning came in the Best Supporting Actor category with this nomination for Brian Tyree Henry. Most awards pundits gave him considerably low odds, if he made their predictions lists at all. But Henry eked through with this soulful, quiet performance of a young man grappling with the grief and guilt of losing his young nephew. Henry earned early praise for his work opposite Jennifer Lawrence in the drama. After its gangbuster success with Coda, 2023 marked a quiet year for Apple on the awards contenders front. But Henry puts them in the running once more.

SNUB: Best Supporting Actor — Paul Dano (The Fabelmans)

The Fabelmans emerged as an early favorite in the Oscar race when it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival to much acclaim (including winning the People's Choice award). With that came early buzz for its acting ensemble, including nominees Michelle Williams and Judd Hirsch. But in recent weeks, Paul Dano had surged with nominations from the Critics Choice and SAG Awards. His sensitive, mild-mannered portrayal of a dramatized version of Steven Spielberg's father seemed likely to bump Hirsch off the list. Instead, Hirsch — with his brief scene as Uncle Boris — made the cut, becoming the second-oldest actor ever nominated after Christopher Plummer.

Top Gun: Maverick
Top Gun: Maverick

Paramount Pictures Tom Cruise in 'Top Gun: Maverick'

SNUB: Best Actor — Tom Cruise (Top Gun: Maverick)

While Tom Cruise still is up for Oscar gold as the producer of Top Gun: Maverick, many expected him to break through in the acting category (alongside Angela Bassett's nomination for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, it would've marked a banner year for acting nominations from blockbuster films). Cruise has been nominated for acting three times previously — for Born on the Fourth of July, Magnolia, and Jerry Maguire — but while Maverick might be able to break through to Mach 10, he couldn't bust into the Oscar race.

SURPRISE: Best Original Song — Diane Warren (Tell It Like a Woman)

If anyone is a mainstay in the Best Original Song category, it's Diane Warren. She's now been nominated 14 times in the category without a win. But after receiving an honorary Oscar at the Governor's Awards this year, many assumed Warren wouldn't sneak in with a competitive nomination once again. Particularly because she had steep competition in buzzy pop stars like Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, Rihanna, and Lady Gaga, and her entry, "Applause," is from a movie people have barely heard of, Tell It Like a Woman. But we should never underestimate Warren's popularity with voters in this category.

SNUB: Best Original Song — Taylor Swift (Where the Crawdads Sing)

This might be a hard one to shake off. Taylor Swift is zero for two in the 2023 awards race. After missing out on the shortlist for Best Live Action Short Film for her All Too Well short film music video following an aggressive campaigning effort, she once again came up empty-handed on Tuesday morning. Swift was a contender for her song, "Carolina," which she wrote specifically for Where the Crawdads Sing before even being approached by filmmakers. The song category is still stacked with pop stars, notably Lady Gaga and Rihanna, but Swift was looking to grab her first Oscar nomination before heading out on tour this year.

TO LESLIE, Andrea Riseborough
TO LESLIE, Andrea Riseborough

Everett Collection Andrea Riseborough in 'To Leslie'

SURPRISE: Best Actress — Andrea Riseborough (To Leslie)

If you're not a cinephile or extremely invested in the awards race, you may have been completely thrown for a loop by this nomination. British actress Andrea Riseborough has built a steady career over the last 15 years, appearing in films such as Birdman, The Death of Stalin, and Happy-Go-Lucky. And while To Leslie didn't make waves at its South by Southwest premiere or during its limited October release, it's become the toast of industry insiders over the last several weeks, pushing Riseborough to a late surge for her heart-wrenching portrayal of a destitute addict struggling to reconnect with her estranged son and piece her life back together.

SNUB: Best Actress – Viola Davis (The Woman King)

Viola Davis has often been an Academy darling (she's been nominated four times and won in 2016 for her work in Fences), which made her an odds-on favorite to be nominated for her portrayal of General Nanisca, the leader of an all-female group of warriors in Western Africa. Indeed, despite a strong early showing at TIFF and better-than-expected box office, Davis seemed likely to be one of the only nominees from The Woman King. But a late-season push for Riseborough and Michelle Williams' and Ana de Armas' inclusion bumped Davis from the category.

Till Danielle Deadwyler
Till Danielle Deadwyler

Lynsey Weatherspoon / Orion Pictures Danielle Deadwyler in 'Till'

SNUB: Best Actress — Danielle Deadwyler (Till)

The acting categories were predicted to be some of the most diverse ever at this year's Oscars, with Michelle Yeoh, Viola Davis, and Danielle Deadwyler marked as frontrunners for the Best Actress category. But alongside Davis, Deadwyler was also edged out of contention by Riseborough, Williams, and de Armas, leaving the category starkly white besides Yeoh. Deadwyler is more recognizable to television audiences for her work on Station Eleven and P-Valley, but she won legions of new fans for her stirring portrayal of Mamie Till, Emmett Till's mother. Her work even garnered her recognition for Best Breakthrough Performance from the National Board of Review, but she couldn't break through to the Oscar race.

SNUB: Best Cinematography — Claudio Miranda (Top Gun: Maverick)

Widely considered one of the most visually exciting films of 2023, it's something of a head-scratcher that Top Gun: Maverick didn't snag a nomination for Best Cinematography. Claudio Miranda is well-liked by the Academy, having previously won in the category in 2013 for Life of Pi. What's more, Maverick has been feted by top prognosticators in the category, earning a nod for Best Feature Film with the American Society of Cinematographers and winning recognition with the New York Film Critics Circle, the Critics Choice Awards, and the National Board of Review. Miranda innovated filmmaking with his work, taking audiences to new heights in the aerial sequences and even earning his pilot's license to perfect his work.


20th Century Studios Director James Cameron and Edie Falco on the 'Avatar: The Way of Water' set.

SNUB: Best Director — James Cameron (Avatar: The Way of Water)

When Avatar: Way of Water first debuted in December, James Cameron seemed a lock for the best director list. He's made three of the top-grossing films of all time and Way of Water has earned raves for its visual sorcery and its more emotional, cohesive story than the first Avatar. But while his credentials and the movie's technical prowess may make his omission a slight snub, it's not all that surprising given that voters could be waiting for him to complete the franchise and reward him big then.

SNUB: Best Director — Female Nominees

We wish we could say it's surprising that the Academy failed to nominate any women for their work behind the camera. At the start of awards season, hopes were high with the likes of Sarah Polley (Women Talking), Gina Prince-Bythewood (The Woman King), Chinonye Chukwu (Till) and Maria Schrader (She Said) in the mix. But as is often the case, other voting bodies and awards bellwethers, most notably, the DGA, didn't include any women on their Best Director list, making their exclusion from Oscar contention feel depressingly inevitable.

The 95th Academy Awards will air Sunday, March 12, at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on ABC. See the full list of 2023 Oscar nominations here.

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