In theory, the only category that truly requires everything about a film to come together is Best Picture. In practice, every single category relies on the larger film it works within. Why? Because Academy members really don’t like voting for anything related to movies they hated, and they really like voting for everything related to movies they loved. Think about it like a restaurant. If the food is terrible, you’re probably going to think less, at least subconsciously, of the service, and if the floors are dirty, you’re probably going to be more suspicious of the food.

So, every year we see trends. Academy members will collectively like certain movies better than expected and the nominations will follow, and they’ll like certain movies less than expected and the support won’t be there, even in categories that were once considered slam dunks. We certainly saw that today. Films like Gravity, American Hustle and Wolf Of Wall Street strung together accolades in a ton of categories, and a few others, well, to put it nicely, the support just wasn’t there.

We’ll be covering very specific things about the nominations all day, but for the time being, let’s get generic. Here are five films Academy members really weren’t excited about…

Saving Mr. Banks
Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. Emma Thompson as P.L. Travers. A look back at the history of Disney. It all sounds so good on paper, but for whatever reason, the film didn’t connect with as many people as expected. Reviews were good, not great. Box office was good, not great. And apparently, Academy members thought "good, but not great", and that just wasn’t enough to earn many nominations.

Hanks, perhaps because he was expected to get an Academy Award nomination for Captain Phillips, missed out on a Best Supporting Actor nod. Thompson considered by many to be a near slam dunk for her turn as Travers, was also shut out, as was the larger film for Best Picture. You have to go all the way down to Best Score in order to find any love.
Ron Howard has always been an Academy favorite. Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man and Frost/ Nixon all picked up at least one nomination in a major category, and many of them got a whole lot more. So, it was assumed by some that Rush could, on the back of pretty decent foreign box office grosses, secure a Best Supporting Actor nomination for Daniel Bruhl, or perhaps even a Best Picture nomination. Nope.

The film likely wasn’t helped by its early September release date, and it likely wasn’t helped by its basic subject matter. Forward thinking and savvy as Academy voters might like to present themselves, they’re still mostly older white dudes, and on a list of sports that have caught on in America, Formula One racing is pretty damn low. After all, there are a lot of movies that get good reviews and leave a positive impact. It’s the ones voters really connect with that tend to make a dent during award season.

Inside Llewyn Davis
With a protagonist that’s basically an unlikeable jerk and the Coen Brothers typical off-beat vibe, Inside Llewyn Davis has been a pretty polarizing film. Look no further than Cinema Blend to discover that. Our own Eric Eisenberg called the film the Best of 2013, and yet, it didn’t make any of the three other Top 10 lists our critics ran. Given the Academy’s formula of weighing first place votes more heavily, many expected Inside Llewyn Davis to grab one of the last Best Picture slots, but the support just wasn’t there.

Nor was it there for lead actor Oscar Isaac. He’s really great as the unsympathetic Davis, but with McConaughey and Ejiofor as slam dunks, it was likely a five man race for three slots. In the end, Christian Bale, Bruce Dern and Leonardo Dicaprio found themselves in and Robert Redford and Isaac found themselves on the outside looking in. Luckily, the film did pick up some deserved hat tips in cinematography and sound.
The Butler
Thanks to an early release date and reviews that didn’t seem quite good enough, The Butler, excuse me Lee Daniels’ The Butler, seemed like it would spend award season on the outside looking in. Then, it unexpectedly crushed with the Screen Actors Guild, and all of the people who comment on and predict these things for a living assumed the film was back in the race, particularly in the Best Supporting Actress category on the back of Oprah Winfrey.

Nope. She might be the greatest daytime talk show host who has ever lived and a damn fine actress in her own right, but the votes weren’t there this year. She was shut out of her category and the film itself was shut out everywhere else. Were there one or two more nominations in each category, it’s likely we could be talking about a ton of nods for The Butler, but as it stands, it was shut out.

All Is Lost
You know that movie with Robert Redford? The one where he’s on a raft and something or other happens and there’s water? Chances are you didn’t see it, and apparently, neither did Oscar voters. Or they did and just didn’t like it. Regardless, more than a few people thought Redford was a shoe-in for Best Actor, and thanks to being in a crowded category, he now finds himself on the outside looking in.

Like with the Ron Howard/ Rush snub, this one is particularly surprising because you would think many would be more inclined to vote for someone who has accrued as much goodwill as Redford, but you never know exactly how these things go. It’s a matter of momentum and having good will toward a larger movie when boxes are checked, and in the end, All Is Lost just didn’t have that positive mojo.
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