Sometimes the Oscar nominations present us with positive surprises. “Quvenzhané Wallis/Richard Jenkins/George Miller got a nom? The Oscar care about more than big-budget, SRS BSNS Hollywood movies? Awesome!” Other times the surprises are more of the “OK, who did the Weinsteins bribe this time?” variety. This is the second type.
2016 - Best Original Song - “Writing’s on the Wall” from Spectre
Literally no one liked Sam Smith’s snoozy addition to the James Bond canon. You don’t have to nominate a Bond song just because it’s there, Academy. If you insist upon having the franchise represented this year, just go back and nominate “Goldfinger” for a second time.
2015 - Best Supporting Actor - Robert Duvall in The Judge
You completely forgot about this one, didn’t you? No one was going to beat J.K. Simmons last year—and rightfully so—but… The Judge? Take Bob out, move Steve Carell’s Foxcatcher nom from Lead to Supporting (which is where it belonged), and throw some love to Jake G for Nightcrawler in the open spot. There. Fixed.
2014 - Best Actress - Meryl Streep, August: Osage County and
2015 - Best Supporting Actress - Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
…At a certain point, Academy, you’re just nominating her for shit because she’s Meryl Streep. That’s Golden Globes behavior, and I expect better from you. (Not really.)
2013 - Best Supporting Actress - Jacki Weaver, Silver Linings Playbook
I very much disliked Silver Linings Playbook. This is not about that. Jacki Weaver’s nomination was such a case of “well, we’re nominating SLP in every other acting category, so why the hell not?!” Weaver, playing Bradley Cooper’s mother, was barely in the film, but she wasn’t “barely in the film” in a “she had so little screen time and still made SUCH AN IMPRESSION” sort of way. She can do that. I saw Animal Kingdom. But in Silver Linings, she was just… there.
2012 - Best Picture - Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
2010 - Best Supporting Actress - Penelope Cruz, Nine
Nine was going to be Oscar catnip - a big-budget movie musical (based on Fellini’s 8 1/2) from the guy who directed Chicago and starring none other than Daniel Day-Lewis - until it came out, and everyone was just like… okay… that was a weird experience. It still got a nomination for Penelope Cruz, though. Why? Weinstein Company reasons.
2010 - Best Actor (Morgan Freeman) and Best Supporting Actor (Matt Damon), Invictus
Harvey Weinstein didn’t have his grubby little paws on Invictus, though, so I’m not sure what happened there. Academy members must have seen an Eastwood movie on the ballot and voted automatically.
2008 - Best Actress - Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth: The Golden Age
I’m sure she was great, but… really, though? Blanchett also got a Supporting Actress nom this very same year for I’m Not There. Calm down, Academy. We know you love Cate. Everyone loves Cate. Don’t be desperate.