What was the biggest surprise of Oscar nominations?

Kristen Stewart as Princess Diana sits on the floor with her dress spread around her in “Spencer.”
Kristen Stewart earned an Oscar nomination for “Spencer.”

I’m enjoying my pal Mikael Wood’s Super Bowl hip-hop halftime show playlist while wondering if Ben Mims’ guacamole recipe has enough lime juice. Just six limes? They’d better be juicy. Let’s just say I’ll be stockpiling citrus before Sunday’s big game and leave it at that.

Also: Oscar nominations arrived this week. Did your favorite movies and actors make the cut?

I’m Glenn Whipp, awards columnist for the Los Angeles Times, host of The Envelope’s Friday newsletter and the guy who’s telling anyone making guacamole not to forget the cilantro. (Unless you’re Marlee Matlin, part of the Oscar-nominated “CODA” ensemble, who once told me that she will not tolerate cilantro or onions in anything. And, yes, she realizes that makes her a “pain in the ass.”)

All the Oscar snubs and surprises

Oscar nominations arrived Tuesday morning, and, as you might expect, reactions around town ranged from finger-snapping approval to all the lonely people working out their disappointment by that tried-and-true “Power of the Dog” method of walking outside and twirling a hula hoop with the burning rage of a thousand suns.


There were surprises, of course, pleasant and otherwise. And there were omissions, which, for the sake of alliteration and search engine optimization, we’ll call “snubs” — though in all but the rarest of cases, motion picture academy voters weren’t deliberately setting out to signal their disapproval. Or, who knows, maybe they were. This is Hollywood, after all, where grudges run deeper than the fault lines that cross our fair land of sunshine and enchantment.

I ran down all the “snubs” and surprises for the 94th Academy Awards, which will be handed out on March 27, a date so far away that it feels like a surprise and a snub in and of itself.

Adam Driver and Lady Gaga at a ski resort in a scene from "House of Gucci."
“House of Gucci” earned only one Oscar nomination ... and it didn’t go to Adam Driver or Lady Gaga.
(Fabio Lovino / Metro-Goldwyn-May)

All 10 best picture nominees ranked, from worst to best

Times film critic Justin Chang has been a vocal advocate for Ryûsuke Hamaguchi’s acclaimed drama “Drive My Car,” so there’s not a ton of suspense about which movie would top his rankings of the 10 movies nominated for best picture.

And while I’m in full agreement with the No. 1 pick, having droned on myself for quite some time about the merits of “Drive My Car,” I’m not in accord with Justin’s choice for “worst.” But now that “Nightmare Alley” is streaming on HBO Max, maybe I’ll give it another chance, making sure that the fast-forward button on my remote is well within reach at all times.

Hidetoshi Nishijima in "Drive My Car."
(Janus Films)

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No surprise that family dominates the Oscar nominees

Times columnist Mary McNamara has written often and eloquently about living with the pandemic these last two years and, looking at the movies nominated for best picture, she saw a group of films — “Belfast,” “CODA,” “King Richard” and, yes, even “The Power of the Dog” — connected by family themes and relationships. (She also thinks “Spider-Man: No Way Home” should have been nominated.)

Like me, she’s generally happy with the slate the academy put forward.

“Are any of them the best?” Mary asks. “It almost always comes down to taste, politics and marketing, but if they had an Oscar for nomination list (and given Tuesday’s show, that could be the next promotional step), this year’s would definitely be a top contender.”

“And,” she adds, “it might remind us all to take a moment and tell our families we love them.”

I’ll be doing that myself ... just as soon as I’m done squeezing those limes for the guacamole, which, of course, is an act of love in and of itself.

Emilia Jones and Marlee Matlin in a scene from "CODA.”
Emilia Jones and Marlee Matlin in a scene from “CODA.”
(Seacia Pavao / Apple TV+)


I’d love to hear from you. Email me at

Can’t get enough about awards season? Follow me at @glennwhipp on Twitter.