Think you’ve seen all the Oscar contenders? Here’s what you missed.


Movies tend to last for about two hours, even longer these days. But there are dozens if not hundreds of hours of footage that never make it into the finished product. Filmmakers have all kinds of reasons to over-shoot what they need, to say nothing of the multiple takes they want of every scene. But it does mean that the edit room requires a certain reckoning: What will survive to the final cut? Here, directors and producers of seven best picture-nominated films reveal what was lost — but not forgotten.

“King Richard”

Missing scene: Richard (Will Smith) walks away from a licensing deal with Nike right before Venus (Saniyya Sidney) plays her first pro match. It’s a move that has infuriated her coach, Rick (Jon Bernthal), and Rick has some further words to share with Richard about why it’s a terrible idea for her to not take this lucrative deal.


Why it got cut: “First, he’s reiterating the scene from before,” says director Reinaldo Marcus Green. “We cut it because it changes the momentum of how we get into the match — it used to be a much longer match. Once we decided to cut to the middle of the match, which was an editing room decision, everything that came before it felt like it was taking the momentum away. We needed a way to get into the action. But the acting was so good it was hard to cut it — it’s like taking that third piece of bacon. You’re going to wish you hadn’t.”


Missing scene: Ruby (Emilia Jones) hunts through a thrift store’s record bin when she runs into Miles (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo), and they have their first connection outside of class. They bond over music, and he introduces her to a band called the Shags, convincing her to buy the record and a child’s record player.

Why it got cut: “We found an interesting thing in the edit,” says director Siân Heder. “When we lost that scene, suddenly this audiophile persona became Ruby’s — and wasn’t something Miles gave to her. This empowered this young woman: She already knew the Shags. By cutting it, we gave Ruby this whole other aspect to her identity, and it added a whole other layer to her character that made her more interesting and multidimensional.”

“Nightmare Alley”

Missing scene: What’s missing comes at the tail end of a scene that’s already in the film. Before the lie detector scene, Stan (Bradley Cooper) is informed by Lilith (Cate Blanchett) by phone that the powerful man he’s going to meet is Ezra Grindle (Richard Jenkins) and that there will be consequences for those who cross him; what’s missing is Lilith sharing information from her therapy sessions with Ezra about his involvement in a miscarriage with his young lover — and that she suspects it was actually a botched abortion.


Why it got cut: “Without this scene, you go to the lie detector scene, and you don’t know if Stan is flying blind or not, and that adds tension to the scene,” says producer J. Miles Dale. “It holds the tension through that part of the film and saves the revelation for later. As with many scenes that get cut from a movie, you don’t want the audience to be too far ahead of the information. You shoot these things, then can take them out later for rhythm or pace or character or filling in the blanks of the story.”

“West Side Story”

Missing scene: After Bernardo (David Alvarez) is killed by Tony (Ansel Elgort), Maria (Rachel Zegler) goes home and finds a romantic dinner for two. Maria turns off the burner, extinguishing a flame and finds Rosalia (Ana Isabel) crying. Maria orders her to leave, needing to be alone.

Why it got cut: “‘West Side Story’ is a tragedy,” says director Steven Spielberg. “That means up to a point in the story, before any blood’s been spilled, we feel hope that the characters will veer off the path they’re on, they’ll save themselves and each other. Once that point has been reached … a tragic ending becomes inevitable. The relentless force of that vortex was a surprise to me, something I discovered in the editing room, where it was clear that everything not essential to the story’s momentum had to go.”

“Don’t Look Up”

Missing scene: When President Orlean (Meryl Streep) is first introduced in the Oval Office, she’s on a very strange phone call that keeps everyone waiting.


Why it got cut: “We had to trim it down, and it became a weird almost conversation between us and reality — and I learned in [focus screenings] that the audience wanted her to be a little more legitimate from the first scene,” says director Adam McKay. “I wanted to let the good times roll, let’s go to crazy town, but in the end the phone call had to come out. But, man, I hate to waste good improv: [Streep] improvised a completely different, compact, ridiculous conversation in every take — maybe 20 to 25 different phone calls. This was so breathtakingly sharp, hilarious and tonally perfect. I’ve never seen anything like it on film. It set a tone for the rest of the cast that we were going to play and try stuff — if the greatest actor in history can put herself out like that with every single take, it sent a real positive message.”

“The Power of the Dog”

Missing scene: Peter (Kodi Smit-McPhee) and George (Jesse Plemons) move one of Phil’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) bookcases from the childhood bedroom Phil and George have shared for 30 years into Peter’s bedroom. Phil comes up the staircase to stop them from moving the bookcase.

Why it got cut: “The scene did a number of things: It told you a little bit more about these two odd brothers and their relationship, and it revealed more of Phil’s intellect and wide-ranging curiosity about the world whilst at the same time showing how petty and cruel he intends to be towards Peter and Rose [Kirsten Dunst],” says producer Tanya Seghatchian. “However, in the cutting room we saw that showing Phil’s outright hostility towards Peter this early on really sucked the tension out of the story. Also, the scene that follows directly on [where] Phil encourages the cowhands on their horses to surround and frighten Peter, this felt like a stronger and more subtle power play by Phil.”

“Drive My Car”

Missing scene: While Kafuku (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is being interviewed by Kon Yoon-su (Jin Dae-yeon) at a park about the multilingual theater he is creating, severe eye pain strikes him. At the hospital, he learns he’s had an acute attack of glaucoma, though it isn’t as advanced as before.


Why it got cut: “I felt the audience would be able to experience the play better without it,” writes director Ryûsuke Hamaguchi in an email. “I felt that the nuance it added was redundant…. However, if I had not left it out, the nuance of ‘He is definitely losing the ability to drive’ might have come out more clearly than it does now, and the nuance of the ‘story by Oto’ that [was] eventually told might have expanded somewhat.”