Oscar Isaac – The biggest snubs from this week’s Spirit Award nominations

AFI FEST 2014 Presented By Audi Opening Night Gala Premiere Of "A Most Violent Year" - Arrivals
First of all, Happy Turkey Day to you all! With a Thanksgiving mention out of the way, let’s talk movies. Whenever there is a big precursor announcement that isn’t just a winners list, there’s going to be some glaring omissions. Such was the case with the 30th annual Independent Spirit Awards, which made some excellent picks but also some head scratchers as well. That’s always the name of the game, but this year there especially was some unexpected shut outs. As such, I’m going to be running down ten of the most egregious ones that I noticed. A few will be personal surprises, but the others will be ones that were clearly noticed by others. The Spirit Awards do a solid job, but like any other precursor, they’re far from perfect.

Here now are the ten biggest snubs from the Spirit Award nominations:

1. Oscar Isaac for A Most Violent Year – Voters apparently liked the film, but they didn’t like what I felt was the best part in Isaac’s performance. Strange, to say the least. Isaac is the lead and a huge reason why the movie works. His co-star Jessica Chastain was cited, but not him. For me, it was the biggest omission and one of the bigger head scratchers as well. It just makes no sense.

AFI FEST 2014 Presented By Audi Opening Night Gala Premiere Of "A Most Violent Year" - Arrivals

2. The Skeleton Twins – If ever there was an under the radar title in need of a Spirit boost, it’s this one. Not just the film itself, but even more so the lead performances of Bill Hader and Kristen Wiig, both of whom could have at least stayed in the Oscar conversation had they turned a nomination into a surprise win. That didn’t happen though, so this contender is now pretty much DOA.

3. Bill Murray in St. Vincent – I’m sure The Weinstein Company was hoping that Murray popped up here in order to further their Oscar hopes for him. Considering all of the frontrunners are first time nominees (if they even get nominated), had Murray gotten nominated here and won, that could have helped fuel a potential Golden Globe win for Best Actor in a Comedy/Musical, which in turn would have made him a likely Oscar nominee. That narrative is gone now though, so it’s the Globes or bust for Murray.

4. The Imitation Game – Easily the most surprising shut out, TWC saw their first chink in the armor for this big time Academy Awards player. What should have popped up in all the biggest categories, potentially even coming close to leading the nomination totals (and at the very least helping star Benedict Cumberbatch), instead got absolutely nothing. Harvey Weinstein made sure that it was eligible, so this is without question a setback.

5. Miles Teller in Whiplash – The voters were very fond of Whiplash, but as with the case of Isaac, they snubbed a major aspect of it. Sure, co-star J.K. Simmons is best in show, but Teller is amazing as well. It almost seems like every single film managed to miss somewhere notable, so Whiplash was no exception. Still, we can now all but rule out Teller from the Oscar race.

6. Wild – Perhaps this was too mainstream for them, but a nomination for Reese Witherspoon probably should have happened. In all fairness, the far superior Into the Wild was also shut out, so the similar Wild might just represent material that the powers that be don’t respond to in a strong way. Whatever the case, nothing came through for Wild here.

7. Michael Parks in Tusk – Voters here used to often cite the work of Kevin Smith, so with his recent return to low budget filmmaking, they easily could have again, particularly for the top notch performance by Parks in the movie. Smith was ignored, along with star Justin Long, but Parks steals the show and should have been recognized, just like he should have been a few years ago for Smith’s Red State.

8. Begin Again – Another case of probably being too mainstream, I just can’t believe that no voters were charmed by this musical. They went for the more indie Once (giving it the Best Foreign Film award), of course, so you would have thought that filmmaker John Carney had some appeal to them. Alas, this was another place where Keira Knightley missed (also being snubbed for The Imitation Game), along with co-star Mark Ruffalo. That was a bummer, no doubt about it at all.

9. Jennifer Aniston in Cake – With her newly launched campaign for Best Actress out there, a citation here would have been a big get. Aniston was nominated once upon a time for The Good Girl, so a return to their good graces wasn’t out of the question. For whatever reason though, this didn’t catch on with the folks deciding on who the nominees would be.

10. Wish I Was Here – A film unjustly hated on, it really could have used some image rehabilitation and a nod for Zach Braff and/or the film itself would have gone a long way. Alas, a nom was not to be for this one. I suppose it was always a long shot, but I found myself disappointed all the same when its name was never once called out. Oh well, life goes on.

Stay tuned for more on this precursor when the actual show happens in February!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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