The Biggest Surprises from the 2020 Oscar Nominations

While all the nominations for Quentin Tarantino and Martin Scorsese didn't come as a surprise, some of this year's snubs and major successes did.
Bettina Makalintal
Brooklyn, US
Screenshots via trailer

The nominees for the 92nd annual Academy Awards were announced this morning in a livestream by actors John Cho and Issa Rae, and film fan hives everywhere logged on excitedly to see if their faves would be acknowledged by this year's awards. While some of this year's nominations felt like the free space on Academy Awards bingo—Martin Scorsese earned a Best Picture and Best Director nod, of course—some of this year's nominations still came as a big surprise.


Here are all the nominations we didn't quite expect, and you can find the full list of 2020 Oscar nominations here.

The Adam Sandler-starring Uncut Gems received zero nominations.

Adam Sandler made his dramatic comeback in a big way with the Safdie Brothers' anxiety-inducing Uncut Gems, a media and critic favorite that doesn't seem to have landed quite as well with audiences. Following the same path as the Safdies' Good Time, however, Uncut Gems didn't land any Oscar nominations, though its been well-recognized by smaller movie awards and earned something of a cult following.

Todd Phillips' Joker got the most nods, with 11 nominations including Best Picture.

Despite mixed reviews from critics at the time of its release, the Joaquin Phoenix-starring Joker proved to be the Academy's darling this year, having picked up nominations for Actor in a Leading Role, Cinematography, Costume Design, Directing, Best Film Editing, Makeup and Hairstyling, Music (Original Score), Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Writing (Adapted Screenplay), and of course, Best Picture. Quentin Tarantino's Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood followed close behind with a total of 10 nominations.

Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker earned three nominations.

The newest installment in the Star Wars franchise has been divisive, having earned mostly positive acclaim from audiences but solid disappointment from reviewers. Ignoring its plot entirely, the Academy agreed that it was at the very least a technical success, giving the J.J. Abrams film three nominations in the categories of Music (Original Score), Sound Editing, and Visual Effects.

Robert Eggers' The Lighthouse received only one nomination.

The Lighthouse was one of the weirder, more experimental movies of the year, and given the years of work by Eggers and cinematographer Jarin Blaschke to create the film's moody atmosphere through black-and-white film and a boxy aspect ratio, its nomination in the Cinematography category makes sense. Meanwhile, its stellar—and slightly unsettling—performances from Robert Pattinson and Willem Defoe went unnoticed.


The Farewell, Hustlers, and Queen & Slim were all missing from the nominations.

Save for Greta Gerwig's Little Women, movies directed by women were snubbed at this year's awards… yet again. While critics had speculated that Hustlers could finally earn Jennifer Lopez her first Oscar nomination, the Lorene Scafaria-directed film didn't pick up any nominations, nor did first-time film director Melina Matsoukas' topical Queen & Slim. And despite a Best Picture nomination and Awkwafina's Best Actress in a Motion Picture - Musical or Comedy win at this year's Golden Globes, Lulu Wang's The Farewell wasn't recognized by the Oscars either.

Little Women didn't earn Greta Gerwig a Best Director nod.

With nominations in categories including Best Picture and Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Gerwig's masterful adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic was well-recognized. And yet, Gerwig didn't receive a nod for Best Director, a category that remained full of exactly who we'd expect, like Martin Scorsese for The Irishman, Quentin Tarantino for Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, and Sam Mendes for 1917.

The Oscars Remain #SoWhite.

OscarsSoWhite began trending after the 2015 Academy Awards, but it remains relevant this year. The big successes of Bong Joon Ho's Parasite aside, this year's nominations still fall short in terms diversity, with Antonio Banderas (Pain & Glory) and Cynthia Erivo (Harriet) the only actors of color nominated for awards and directors of color like Melina Matsoukas and Lulu Wang entirely unacknowledged. Just kidding, that's not really a surprise!