Capping off a movie awards season thought by some as lockstep, the reveal of the 95th Oscar nominations by Academy Award winner Riz Ahmed and "M3gan" star Allison Williams yielded a fair share of yelps and ooohs, with an equal number of new faces as well as a handful of films that, despite good showings elsewhere in the lead-up, did not make the ballot anywhere in the Academy's 23 categories.
Here is a deeper look at what elicited those gasps and puzzlements in the nominations reveal for Oscar's big night, set to take place at the Dolby Theatre on Sunday, March 12.
SURPRISE: Andrea Riseborough
Even though TheWrap did an entire story about the possibility of the adored Riseborough's wholly unexpected, peer-driven campaign, few thought a Best Actress realization would ever happen. Her film,"To Leslie", in which she mesmerically plays a recovring addict, got minimal distribution and had none of the awards campaign dough of other, higher-profile indies. But the morning produced one of the most audible gasps to be heard, and with the help of some big-time Hollywood elite, Riseborough emerges with her first-ever Oscar nomination.
SURPRISE: "All Quiet on the Western Front"
Oscar voters sure love their war films, and Netflix's gritty German remake of the famed 1929 novel emerged as the streamer's biggest showing for 2022, with a truly impressive nine nominations, including Best Picture, making it the second-highest in overall noms, only behind board-leader "Everything Everywhere All at Once", and tied with "The Banshees of Inisherin".
SNUB: "The Woman King"
Heavily favored to include at least leading actress and past winner Viola Davis or perhaps carve out a history-making recognition of director Gina Prince-Bythewood, the hit fall film failed to generate even one single Oscar nomination.
SURPRISE: Paul Mescal
In a leading actor category that has had four pretty rock-solid candidates for months, the rising star beat out contenders such as the Big Toms (Cruise and Hanks) to nab that fifth slot for his achingly vulnerable turn in A24's "Aftersun", which oddly enough, did not receive any other noms outside of Mescal's, despite a groundswell of acclaim.
SNUB: "Decision to Leave"
Widely acknowledged as Park Chan-wook's most accessible film to date, and whispered about as a shoo-in for International Film and possibly even Park in the directing category, his sleek neo-noir ended up as forlorn as its central detective does by the end of the picture, receiving no Oscar love.
SURPRISE: "Triangle of Sadness"
The buzz for this Palme d'Or winner seemed to subside a bit post-opening in the fall, with much of the buzz surrounding the (unnominated) Dolly De Leon as the film's best shot at Oscar nom glory. But Ruben Ostlund's social satire managed to pop up in three major categories (Picture, Director, Original Screenplay), solidifying him a major player in the industry.
SNUB: Danielle Deadwyler
It's been a real will they-won't they for Deadwyler this season, missing out on a Globe nom then recovering for a SAG nod. But Oscar eventually didn't bite for her shattering performance as activist and grieving mother Mamie Till. But with all that goodwill built up, one suspects you haven't seen the last of her.
SURPRISE: The full principal casts of "The Banshees of Inisherin" and "Everything Everywhere All at Once" get nominated
As with the SAG nominations this year, the four principal actors in each of these pictures (all first-time nominees too, by the way) get to attend the big shindig as a roundly nommed group. But sadly, Jenny the Donkey might have to sit this one out.
SURPRISE: Brian Tyree Henry
The "Atlanta" actor has been quietly racking up an impressive CV over several years, and his nuanced supporting turn in A24/Apple's "Causeway" has been just on the cusp of recognition for many of the pre-cursors only to leave him out, but Oscar embraced his turn as a soulful amputee forging a friendship with a PTSD-ridden soldier (Jennifer Lawrence, who crafted an admirable campaign but did not have Henry's luck).
SNUB: Claudio Miranda for "Top Gun: Maverick"
Oscar nominators certainly had the need for speed this year with "Maverick" earning several choice nods (including an adapted screenplay inclusion), but how did they overlook the craftsman who made the movie look so freaking phenomenal? Director of photography Claudio Miranda — a past Oscar winner for "Life of Pi" — literally got a pilot's license in order to best understand capturing modern aviation, but it wasn't enough to truly fly in the cinematography category apparently.
Sony Pictures Classics
SURPRISE: An abundance of newbies
16 of the 20 acting nominees this year are first-time nominees, including the entire leading actor category, which spans everyone from 26 year-old Paul Mescal to 73 year-old Bill Nighy (above).