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The Biggest Oscar Snubs And Surprises

After Oscar nominations were announced this morning, dozens of people across the movie industry are a step closer to their lifelong dream of winning an Academy Award (or their third). However, there’s another side to that coin; many, many more people are unhappy about not being nominated for an Oscar. Some folks were absurd long shots anyway — looking at you, “Deadpool” — but some have pretty good reason to be disappointed based on the pre-Oscar buzz they were getting from oddsmakers. So what’s the biggest miss?

On Monday evening, I pulled the latest odds from Paddy Power, an Irish gambling site that has taken bets on the acting, directing and best picture categories for the past several weeks. Now that we know everyone who got nominated, let’s find out who got snubbed.

In the lead acting categories, two unlikely nominees upended the apple cart. Ahead of their Oscar nominations Tuesday, Meryl Streep had 50-to-1 odds against winning the Oscar for “Florence Foster Jenkins,” and Viggo Mortensen had 66-to-1 odds against winning for “Captain Fantastic.” Five actresses with better odds than Streep — including Emily Blunt (13-to-1, for “The Girl on the Train”), Annette Bening (20-to-1, for “20th Century Women”) and Amy Adams (33-to-1, for “Arrival”) — were left out in the cold. Four actors with better chances than Mortensen, including Tom Hanks (25-to-1, for “Sully”) and Joel Edgerton (33-to-1, for “Loving”), failed to receive a nomination. “Sully” bought a disproportionately ridiculous amount of ad space in an attempt to garner an Oscar nomination, so this one must sting. According to a FiveThirtyEight analysis of “for your consideration” ads in industry publications leading up to the Oscar nominations, it was the fifth-heaviest advertiser.

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The supporting actor and actress categories came in fairly conventionally. Paddy Power’s odds had Viola Davis (“Fences”), Michelle Williams (“Manchester by the Sea”), Naomie Harris (“Moonlight”) and Nicole Kidman (“Lion”) as the favorites to win, and each received a nomination. The long shot that made the cut: Octavia Spencer (“Hidden Figures”), who was at 100-to-1.

So the only “snub” here is the peculiar case of Aaron Taylor-Johnson (“Nocturnal Animals”). Oddsmakers weren’t even taking bets on his Oscar chances until his surprise win at the Golden Globes, which propelled him overnight to 7-to-2 odds against winning an Academy Award for best supporting actor. As it turns out, the academy didn’t agree with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, which gives out the Globes, and promptly returned Taylor-Johnson to his pre-Globes best supporting actor chances of zero. The final spot in the group went to Dev Patel (20-to-1, for “Lion”), who beat out Liam Neeson (20-to-1, for “Silence”) and Hugh Grant (25-to-1, for “Florence Foster Jenkins”).

The real snubs show up in the nominations for best director and best picture. Mel Gibson (“Hacksaw Ridge”) and Denis Villeneuve (“Arrival”) — both 100-to-1 long shots in the directing category — received nominations over four directors with better odds: Denzel Washington (25-to-1, “Fences”), Ang Lee (33-to-1, “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk”), Martin Scorsese (33-to-1, “Silence”) and Ken Loach (50-to-1, “I, Daniel Blake”). And “Silence” is the true snub of the best picture race, according to Paddy Power, whose odds gave it a better chance of winning than six of the nine movies that made the list: “Fences,” “Hacksaw Ridge,” “Arrival,” “Lion,” “Hell or High Water” and “Hidden Figures.”

So who had the worst nomination day? “Sully” had the most ad space for a film without a single major nomination (its sole nomination is for sound editing). Looking at pre-nomination odds, the team behind “Silence” — which is a really incredible movie, for what it’s worth — can’t be too thrilled, nor can Amy Adams, snubbed for best actress in favor of a phoned-in Streep performance while her film and director make it into the big dance.


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Walt Hickey was FiveThirtyEight’s chief culture writer.

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