Oscar nominations were unveiled this morning, and, as always, there were a number of surprises. While last year didn’t have too many shocking inclusions or omissions, the year before that did, and, after this morning, 2014 feels a lot more like 2012 than 2013. Check out the ten biggest surprises below, though you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to name a few more.

Selma is nominated for Best Picture – and pretty much nothing else

It’s completely true that Selma missed out on a lot of awards season because people just didn’t have the chance to see it. Snubs from every major guild, including SAG, did not bode well, but the Golden Globes nominated it for Best Director and Best Motion Picture – Drama, indicating that, when seen, it would do well. With Best Original Song as its one other nomination, this film was barely even on the map, and to include it as one of the top films of the year seems strange if most of its elements aren’t worthy of being honored.

Bennett Miller for Best Director for Foxcatcher

Miller felt like a sure thing for Best Director before his film came out, and it was only after the film didn’t quite show up consistently throughout awards season that it was no longer the case. I went into a New York Film Festival screening of this film in September expecting to see one of the future Best Picture nominees. A Golden Globe bid for Best Motion Picture – Drama and a PGA nomination didn’t help it break into the Best Picture race, but Bennett Miller, a past nominee for Capote, managed to earn the first Best Director nomination achieved without a corresponding nomination since the new expanded Best Picture field has existed. It’s an honor, to be sure, but not the decisive triumph those behind the film would surely have liked.

Bradley Cooper for Best Actor for American Sniper

Tell someone ten years ago that Bradley Cooper, star of Alias, would earn three consecutive Oscar nominations. It is certainly strange that Cooper is now in the company of Russell Crowe, the last actor to accomplish this feat. More impressively, Cooper did it without any precursor support, benefiting from the last-minute surge of his film and knocking David Oyelowo and Jake Gyllenhaal out of the race.

Marion Cotillard for Best Actress for Two Days, One Night

Jennifer Aniston seemed like a surefire bet for Cake with a Golden Globe nod and a SAG bid and no comedy contender strong enough to challenge her. But Marion Cotillard, who won in 2007 for La Vie en Rose, knocked her out of the race, earning a nomination for a French-language performance in a Belgian film that didn’t make the shortlist for Best Foreign Film. The craziest part – Cotillard was on this “Oscar surprises” list two years ago for being bumped the same way by two late-breaking opponents when she starred in Rust and Bone.

Laura Dern for Best Supporting Actress for Wild

With the exception of Best Actor, none of the acting races this year were particularly competitive. Four of the Best Supporting Actress contenders were chosen by both SAG and the Golden Globes, and it seemed like Jessica Chastain could easily edge out odd choice Naomi Watts for the fifth Oscar slot. But instead came an actress who seemed like an early favorite but then didn’t quite materialize, past nominee Laura Dern, starring opposite Reese Witherspoon in a highly underrated film that ended up earning nothing more than twin acting nominations for the two of them.

Gone Girl is pretty much gone

Things weren’t looking entirely smooth for Gone Girl from the start of awards season, but it played pretty well, and David Fincher’s Best Director nomination from the Golden Globes without a corresponding Best Motion Picture – Drama bid didn’t seem problematic since Fincher has a pretty good history with his films doing well if not excellently with Oscar. Gillian Flynn was a sure thing for Best Adapted Screenplay, at the very least, for adapting her own novel, and the score seemed solid as well. Instead, the film ended up with just one nomination: for the gone girl herself, Rosamund Pike.

Birdman scores nine nominations, but not one for Best Film Editing

Birdman didn’t disappoint this morning, but it missed out on a race that many would say is the most crucial to be able to win Best Picture. 1980 was the last time a film without a corresponding Best Film Editing bid, which that year was “Ordinary People,” took home the award. Moreover, the editing here was one of the film’s most notable and talked-about components, and therefore its omission is mind-boggling since the film did so well everywhere else.

The Lego Movie is missing from Best Animated Feature

When it didn’t get a nomination for its signature song, Everything is Awesome, from the Golden Globes, it was mildly disconcerting but not too troubling. But to see one of this year’s most acclaimed and enjoyable animated films left off that list is a true shock, especially since Oscar voters chose to recognize its song after all. The category needed to have room to absorb foreign animation Song of the Sea and The Tale of Princess Kaguya, but this hardly seemed like the film to cast aside. This was a great year for animated film, and as a result five nominees couldn’t do the format justice.

Life Itself, the movie about movies, isn’t nominated

The Best Documentary category is always hard to predict, but Life Itself, the heartwarming film that chronicled the life of the most well-known film critic in American history, seemed like a shoo-in. That and the film was actually good! Not good enough for Oscar voters, apparently, who may not have felt that Roger Ebert felt the same way about film that they did.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies absent from Best Visual Effects

All three Lord of the Rings films won the Best Visual Effects trophy, and both Hobbit films to date were nominated there too. The third and final entry, however, got pushed out by three Marvel movies and one interstellar epic. Its consolation prize: a lone nomination for Best Sound Editing to finish out the franchise.

The Oscars will be handed out on Sunday, February 22nd.

By Abe Fried-Tanzer

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