Arts·My Favourite Season

The biggest winners and losers of this year's Oscar nominations

The nominations for the 95th Academy Awards are here, and it was a huge day for Andrea Riseborough, first-timers and the people of Ireland (but not Taylor Swift).

The nominations for the 95th Academy Awards are here, and there were some huge snubs and surprises

Actress Andrea Riseborough in a scene from the film To Leslie.
An army of celebrities successfully campaigned for Andrea Riseborough to get a nomination for her performance in the film To Leslie, which was a wild twist to this morning's announcement. (Momentum Films)

My Favourite Season is a monthly column by CBC Arts producer Peter Knegt that runs through the six-month "season" that is both his favourite and Moira Rose's. It explores all things awards in the leadup to the big one: the Oscars, which will take place on March 12, 2023.

For better or worse, the nominations for the 95th Academy Awards are here, and they did not entirely go as planned. There were many big surprises this morning, some welcome and some ... not so much (especially if you were one of the expected nominees excluded as a result).

Here's a few of the more notable winners and losers from the big announcement. (And speaking of winners, you can check out our predictions for who will take home this year's Oscars here.)

Winner: Everything Everywhere All At Once

Hopes were very high for Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert's Everything Everywhere All At Once to have a strong morning, but few expected it to almost literally be nominated for everything, everywhere.

Its 11 nominations led all films in contention, and they include the entire quartet at the core of its cast (Michelle Yeoh, Ke Huy Quan, Jamie Lee Curtis and Stephanie Hsu, the latter of whom is also only the second openly queer actor to ever be nominated for playing a queer role, following Ian McKellen for Gods and Monsters). Other surprising-but-deserved nods included costume design (for Shirley Kurata), score (experimental music trio Son Lux) and song (for Ryan Lott and David Byrne's "This is a Life").

Save for Mr. Byrne (who was nominated — and won — in 1987 for his score to The Last Emperor), every single one of the film's nominations went to Oscar first-timers. The big question now is ... how many can it win?

Michelle Yeoh raises a giant finger in a scene from Everything Everywhere All At Once.
Michelle Yeoh's best actress nomination was one a whopping 11 nominations for Everything Everywhere All At Once. (A24)

Losers: Avatar: The Way of Water and The Whale

One of my great hopes for the nominations was that both The Whale and the Avatar sequel would miss out on best picture nominations (primarily just because I didn't care much for either). That didn't quite happen (The Way of Water got in), but both films did perform way below what people were predicting overall. The Way of Water missed out on director, song, editing and cinematography (all nominations earned by its predecessor), while The Whale was snubbed for best picture (bless) and, in a big surprise, was left out of adapted screenplay in favour of ... Top Gun: Maverick.

Winner: Andrea Riseborough!

The out-of-nowhere, seemingly coordinated effort by half of Hollywood's elite to get actress Andrea Riseborough a nomination for her performance in the little-known (until now) indie film To Leslie was one of the wildest things to happen to an awards season in some time. Even wilder? It worked.

One of the more shocking things to happen in an acting category in some time, this nomination suggests that come next year, every single actor in contention is going to be asking their publicist for "the To Leslie."

Actress Danielle Deadwyler in a scene from the movie Till.
The Oscars snubbed Danielle Deadwyler for her extraordinary performance in Till. (UA Releasing)

Loser: The best actress category

Unfortunately, Riseborough's inclusion did not come without repercussions. Many had expected that if she did get in, it would knock out Michelle Williams (The Fabelmans) or Ana de Armas (Blonde). Instead, both Williams and de Armas got in too, leaving Viola Davis (The Woman King) and Danielle Deadwyler (Till) to be snubbed for performances that were incredibly deserving. 

It also meant that no Black women were nominated in a category that has only ever been awarded to one once in 95 years (Halle Berry, over 20 years ago) in part thanks to a bunch of white actresses starting a seemingly kinda random social media campaign for another white actress. Not a great look.

Winners: First-time nominated actors (and Judd Hirsch)

For the first time in 88 years, all five nominees for best actor (Austin Butler, Colin Farrell, Brendan Fraser, Billy Nighy and Paul Mescal) were getting their very first mention on Oscar nomination morning. And what's more is that almost all their supporting counterparts were in the same boat: Ke Huy Quan, Barry Keoghan, Brendan Gleeson and Brian Tyree Henry all got their first nods, alongside someone who indeed once had that pleasure ... 42 years ago.

In a welcome surprise, Judd Hirsch ended up getting in for his 10-minute turn as a version of Steven Spielberg's granduncle (and a former circus lion tamer!) in The Fabelmans. In doing so, he breaks the 41-year record held by by Henry Fonda, who waited 40 years between his nods for 1941's The Grapes of Wrath and 1981's On Golden Pond. Hirsch's previous nomination was for 1980's Ordinary People, when he lost to his then 20-year-old co-star Timothy Hutton (21 at the time, Hutton remains the youngest best supporting actor winner ever). So obviously another bigger winner this morning were Oscar nerds.

The cover for Taylor Swift's song from Where The Crawdads Sing.
The cover for Taylor Swift's song from Where The Crawdads Sing. (Republic)

Loser: Taylor Swift

Lots of other notable people became first-time Oscar nominees this morning, including Rihanna, Nan Goldin, Kazuo Ishiguro and Jamie Lee Curtis. But one person the Academy has once again decided not to invite to its club is none other than Taylor Swift. Despite actively campaigning, she did not get nominations for her song from Where The Crawdads Sing ("Carolina") or for directing a live-action short film (the extended music video for "All Too Well").

Swift can comfort herself having had achieved pretty much everything else, but for now the Oscar will remain elusive. 

Winner: Ireland

Yet another fun stat from this morning? 25% of all the acting nominees were Irish!

Aftersun's Paul Mescal joined the quartet from Banshees of Inisherin to make that happen, which was just some of the luck the Irish had this morning. Martin McDonagh got a whopping 3 nominations alone for writing, directing and producing Banshees, while the country itself got nominated for the very first time for international feature thanks to Colm Bairéad's Irish-language The Quiet Girl.

To top it all off, Tom Berekely and Ross White's "An Irish Goodbye" was nominated for best live action film. Comhghairdeas, Ireland!

Actors Barry Keoghan (left) and Colin Farrell in a scene from the film The Banshees of Inisherin.
Actors Barry Keoghan (left) and Colin Farrell were among the many Irish nominees for the film The Banshees of Inisherin. (Searchlight)

Winners: Canadians

While we didn't have quite a good a day as the Irish, Canada had much to celebrate too. We had two films directed by Canadians nominated for best picture (James Cameron's Avatar: The Way of Water and Sarah Polley's Women Talking), which has only happened once before (when the original Avatar was nominated alongside Jason Reitman's Up in the Air). Polley was also nominated for best adapted screenplay (if she wins, it will be a first for a Canadian woman), while Canadians Domee Shi and Daniel Roher saw their films Turning Red and Navalny nominated for animated feature and documentary feature, respectively.

Fire of Love producer Ina Fichman also got a nomination in the documentary category, while the National Film Board of Canada got a nod thanks to Canuck animation duo Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis' short film "The Flying Sailor." And then there was Brendan Fraser, a dual citizen who was born in Indiana but raised by Canadian parents partially in Toronto, whose best actor nomination for The Whale made him the first Canadian nominated in the category since Ryan Gosling in La La Land.

Check out all the nominees and our predictions for who might win at the 95th Academy Awards here.


Peter Knegt (he/him) is a writer, producer and host for CBC Arts. He writes the LGBTQ-culture column Queeries (winner of the Digital Publishing Award for best digital column in Canada) and hosts and produces the talk series Here & Queer. He's also spearheaded the launch and production of series Canada's a Drag, variety special Queer Pride Inside, and interactive projects Superqueeroes and The 2010s: The Decade Canadian Artists Stopped Saying Sorry. Collectively, these projects have won Knegt four Canadian Screen Awards. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also the filmmaker of numerous short films, the author of the book About Canada: Queer Rights and the host of the monthly film series Queer Cinema Club at Toronto's Paradise Theatre. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same obvious handle: @peterknegt.

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