2020 Snubby Awards: Top films that weren’t nominated for Oscars

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If the 2020 slate of Academy Award nominations for best picture demonstrate anything, it’s that 2019 was a wonderful year for movies. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences highlighted innovative, impeccably made and influential films that defined some of the best stories and performances of the year. While many may disagree on the merits of every film that made the cut, everyone can find something to love and look forward to at this year’s ceremony.

But like most years, the Academy Awards failed to recognize a number of key films, performances and scripts that expanded genres, challenged audiences and, in some cases, seemed all but sure to receive recognition before nominations were ultimately announced. Here are the winners of The Daily Californian’s fourth annual Snubby Awards: our picks for the most shocking, sad and suspicious snubs heading into the 2020 Oscars.

— Anagha Komaragiri

Best picture 

Winner: “Knives Out

Rian Johnson’s masterful whodunit once again proves the writer-director’s prowess for upending genre conventions and structuring immaculate plots. In “Knives Out,” the performances are excellent across the board, led by Daniel Craig’s crackpot detective character. The costume and production design blend elements of the goofy and the sumptuous, and the film’s perfectly written script is packed full of sharp dialogue, leaving no plot thread untied. There’s a reason why this film has managed to mount a resounding success at the box office, seemingly based on word-of-mouth alone: It’s one of the year’s very best.

— Grace Orriss

  • “Uncut Gems”
  • “The Farewell”
  • “Hustlers”
  • “Us”
  • “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”
  • “Doctor Sleep”

 

Best director

Winner: Greta Gerwig, “Little Women”

In a disappointing but unsurprising turn of events, the best director race at the Oscars will once again be all male. But that’s far from the only reason why Greta Gerwig deserved a nomination for her creative, heartwarming adaptation of the classic “Little Women.” The film, which features an ensemble cast, multiple timelines and a sprawling recreation of 19th-century New England, is a feat of filmmaking. Not only is every moment meticulously designed and executed, but each also exemplifies the humanity of the film, allowing it to carry on seamlessly. It’s a shame that Gerwig didn’t pick up her second best director nomination for her masterful second feature film.

— Anagha Komaragiri

  • Noah Baumbach, “Marriage Story”
  • Lulu Wang, “The Farewell”
  • Rian Johnson, “Knives Out”
  • Lorene Scafaria, “Hustlers”

 

Best actor 

Winner: Eddie Murphy, “Dolemite Is My Name”

The anticipation for Eddie Murphy’s return to acting following a limited number of releases in the 2010s was strong, and the comedy veteran truly delivered in the role of comedian and filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore. Murphy fills his role with plenty of natural charisma and ease, embodying the real-life figure while allowing his own persona to shine through. What results is a sort of meta-commentary on the life and career of the actor himself, as Murphy seems to send a powerful message about his own legacy in comedy through a believable, heartfelt portrayal of Moore.

— Anagha Komaragiri

  • Taron Egerton, “Rocketman”
  • Adam Sandler, “Uncut Gems”
  • Keanu Reeves, “John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum”
  • Ewan McGregor, “Doctor Sleep”

 

Best actress 

Winner: Lupita Nyong’o, “Us”

In “Us,” Lupita Nyong’o delivers dual performances as Adelaide Wilson and Adelaide’s doppelgänger, “Red.” Nyong’o does much of the heavy lifting in this film; the deep emotional rift between these two lead characters is manifested entirely through her performance, the drastic shifts in Nyong’o’s voice and physicality communicating these characters’ differences while her subtle emotionality underscores their connection. It’s a beautifully creepy, committed performance that deserves recognition.

— Grace Orriss 

  • Ana de Armas, “Knives Out”
  • Beanie Feldstein, “Booksmart”
  • Awkwafina, “The Farewell”
  • Samara Weaving, “Ready or Not”

 

Best supporting actor 

Winner: Song Kang Ho, “Parasite”

With all the academy’s love for Bong Joon Ho’s masterpiece “Parasite,” it is especially disappointing that none of the performers in the ensemble were recognized in acting categories. The most obvious snub for the actors from the film is Song Kang Ho, whose performance as Ki-taek, the patriarch of the poor Kim family, is the emotional anchor of the film. Ki-taek has the most intricate arc and complicated motivations of all the characters, making him both frustrating and sympathetic. Song conveys all the complexities of his character with a real emotional weight — by the time the film comes to a close, his performance leaves a lasting image and feeling that stays with the audience long after the credits have started to roll.

— Anagha Komaragiri

  • Chris Evans, “Knives Out” 
  • Daniel Craig, “Knives Out”
  • Timothée Chalamet, “Little Women”
  • Jack Dylan Grazer, “Shazam!”

 

Best supporting actress 

Winner: Jennifer Lopez, “Hustlers”

Possibly this year’s most egregious Oscars snub, Jennifer Lopez’s performance as Ramona is the heart of “Hustlers.” Lopez’s character is at turns maternal and vicious, committed unflinchingly to the film’s central con yet full of endless compassion for the girls she mentors. Her performance in this film juggles these divergent character traits while resisting the impulse to neatly resolve them, separating Lopez as a capable character actress who gave one of the year’s best performances.

— Grace Orriss

  • Zhao Shuzhen, “The Farewell”
  • Cho Yeo Jeong, “Parasite”
  • Park So Dam, “Parasite”
  • Laura Dern, “Little Women”

 

Adapted screenplay 

Winner: Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” takes on an interesting perspective in convincing its audience about the magic of Fred Rogers. Rather than creating a straightforward biopic that centers on the children’s television star, writers Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster focus on a downtrodden journalist’s attempts to profile Rogers, their budding friendship and the journalist’s emotional exploration through the process. Based on a 1998 Esquire article by Tom Junod, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” offers a fresh take on the lessons we can all still learn from a visit to Mister Rogers’ neighborhood.

— Anagha Komaragiri

  • Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, “Avengers: Endgame”
  • Lorene Scafaria, “Hustlers”
  • Scott Z. Burns, “The Report”
  • Scott Z. Burns, “The Laundromat”

 

Original screenplay 

Winner: Lulu Wang, “The Farewell”

Lulu Wang’s screenplay for “The Farewell” achieves a task that many more amateur films cannot: It makes the personal feel universal. Inspired by her own family, Wang’s screenplay is intimate and understated, deftly portraying the awkwardness and tragedy inherent in its premise with a quiet warmth. Wang’s writing makes Billi’s (Awkwafina) struggles palpable to audiences, inspiring empathy through subtle dialogue and richly drawn sequences. “The Farewell” is an excellently told, essentially human story — it’s a shame the academy chose to overlook it.

— Grace Orriss

  • Jordan Peele, “Us”
  • Josh and Benny Safdie, “Uncut Gems”
  • Emily Halpern, Sarah Haskins, Susanna Fogel and Katie Silberman, “Booksmart”
  • Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski, “Dolemite Is My Name”

Grace Orriss is the arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @graceorriss.

Anagha Komaragiri covers film. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @aaanaghaaa.