The Snubs and Surprises of the Oscar Shortlists

We’re one step closer to knowing the 2023 Oscar nominees, with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences releasing its shortlists for 10 categories on Wednesday.

Every year, the Academy announces shortlists for documentary and international features as well as documentary short subject, makeup and hairstyling, original score, original song, animated short, live-action short, visual effects and sound ahead of nominations voting.

So what do the tea leaves tell us this year? The snubs speak volumes. In the documentary feature category, Robert Downey Jr.’s documentary Sr., about his filmmaker father, failed to make the list, as did the crowdpleasing documentary about the Mars rovers, Good Night Oppy. Both had played at the fall festivals to critical acclaim. The list of 15 docs does however include many of this year’s buzziest titles, like All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, Fire of Love, Navalny and Retrograde.

The live-action short category, voted on by the short films and feature animation, directors, producers and writers branches, shied away from short films that were spin-offs of songs. The category excluded Taylor Swift’s All Too Well, her 15-minute video that many had assumed was a shoo-in for a nomination. She did, however, land on the original song shortlist for her work on Where the Crawdads Sing. Also left off the list was Kendrick Lamar’s We Cry Together, in which he stars opposite Taylour Paige.

But the story isn’t just about the snubs. For All Quiet on the Western Front, a German-language WWI film based on Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, had a strong showing in several categories. Not only did it make the international feature list, but the film, which was released by Netflix, also landed on the make-up and hairstyling, original score, sound and visual effects shortlists, indicating that it might land nominations beyond the international category.

The rest of the international feature film shortlist, which was expanded this year from 10 to 15, included all of the heavy favorites like Austria’s Corsage, Belgium’s Close, France’s Saint Omer and South Korea’s Decision to Leave. Pakistan made the shortlist for the first time ever, with its Joyland

The original song category is shaping up to be a big battle, even with it now whittled down to 15 films. Songs from notable names like Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Selena Gomez and The Weeknd all made the list, along with songs from RRRGuillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio and the latest from 13-time nominee Diane Warren. One glaring omission was “Nobody Like U” from the animated film Turning Red, which was written by past Oscar winners Billie Eilish and Finneas.

Another pair of Oscar winners, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, were omitted from the original score list, despite having done the score for two eligible films, Bones and All and Empire of Light. Both films have been on the bubble this awards season, so it’s possible their exclusion from these shortlists may indicate an uphill battle in other categories when the 95th annual Academy Awards nominations are announced on January 24. Until then, take a look at the complete shortlists for all 10 categories below.

“All That Breathes”
“All the Beauty and the Bloodshed”
“Bad Axe”
“Children of the Mist”
“Fire of Love”
“Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, a Journey, a Song”
“Hidden Letters”
“A House Made of Splinters”
“The Janes”
“Last Flight Home”
“Moonage Daydream”
“The Territory”

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