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01 March 2024

Oscar snubs: Mila Kunis, Inception's Nolan

Mila Kunis, also a Golden Globe nominee, might be wondering whether it was worth the effort to lose 20 pounds in three months, and dance five hours a day for seven days a week (FILE)

By Reuters

The good news for "Inception" director Christopher Nolan is that he received two Oscar nominations on Tuesday.

The bad news is that he failed to score a nomination for best director, perhaps the most notable snub at an announcement generally short on major surprises.

Of course, the 40-year-old British filmmaker is no stranger to the vicissitudes of Oscar voting. He was not nominated for his previous film, "The Dark Knight," and its omission from the best picture race prompted Oscar organizers to double the pool to 10 last year in a bid to include more crowd-pleasers.

But Nolan was considered a lock for a directing nomination this year in recognition of the vision he brought to the groundbreaking heist thriller set in the subconscious.

He was also one of five nominees for the Directors Guild of America Awards, which will take place on Saturday. The other DGA nominees received Oscar nominations, and Nolan lost his Oscar slot to Joel and Ethan Coen for "True Grit."

"They must have had their reasons for those decisions. It just seems strange from my point of view, but obviously I'm biased," said Guy Hendrix Dyas, the film's Oscar-nominated production designer.

No one at Warner Bros., the film's distributor, would talk on the record. But the studio noted that Nolan did land best picture and original screenplay nominations. The film earned eight nominations overall. Nolan's only other nomination was for his "Memento" screenplay in 2001.


Actors who failed to make the cut included Robert Duvall for his lead role in "Get Low" as a hermit who plans a living funeral, and Mila Kunis for her supporting role as a ballerina in "Black Swan." Both received nominations from the Screen Actors Guild Awards, which will take place on Sunday.

"To leave out Robert Duvall, who gave a career-defining performance in 'Get Low,' is nothing less than inexcusable. Not to mention inexplicable," said Robert Wilonsky, a columnist with the Dallas Observer.

Kunis, also a Golden Globe nominee, might be wondering whether it was worth the effort to lose 20 pounds in three months, and dance five hours a day for seven days a week. The regimen caused her to tear a ligament, dislocate her shoulder and vow never to put on ballerina slippers again.

Mark Wahlberg, another Golden Globe nominee, suffered an Oscar blow with "The Fighter," perhaps overshadowed by his nominated co-stars, Christian Bale, Melissa Leo and Amy Adams. But as with Nolan, it was not all bad news. He was among the producers who received a best picture nomination for the boxing drama.

Even a Golden Globe victory is no guarantee of success. Songwriter Diane Warren, who took home the prize earlier this month for a song from the musical "Burlesque," was tuned out by the Oscars. The film's star, Cher, was not amused.

"We didn't get a nomination (for) best song! That sucks! Diane's song is so beautiful," the actress wrote on Twitter.

And then there are the movies that never made it far from the starting gate, despite their pedigree and early buzz about Oscar prospects.

All of Martin Scorsese's collaborations with Leonardo DiCaprio -- "Gangs of New York," "The Aviator," "The Departed" -- garnered best picture nominations. But "Shutter Island" broke the streak.

The psychological drama could have been a contender at last year's Oscars, but Paramount decided at the last minute to delay its release by four months to February because it did not have enough marketing money left in its 2009 budget.

The film's $41 million opening set personal bests for both the director and the actor, and critical acclaim helped make the film an early awards frontrunner.

While end-of-year releases have a better chance of Oscar success, the studio was confident that voters would still remember the film while filling out their ballots. Alas, "Shutter Island" was shut out during awards season.