No Lady Gaga?
Tuesday's Oscar nominations highlighted many of the greatest film performances of 2021, with "The Power of the Dog" leading the pack with 12 nominations, and director Jane Campion making history as the first woman to be nominated for best director twice.
It's an impressive list of nominees. Until you look at the powerhouse performances NOT on the list. Then it's like, "What?"
The very nature of the imperfect awards competition means seminal performances, movies and songs are annually left off the final Oscar ballot. But this crop of overlooked nominees is especially noticeable in a pandemic-affected awards season where great movies lacked audience oxygen and momentum shifts were even more unpredictable.
Oscar nominations: 'The Power of the Dog' leads with 12, Kristen Stewart nabs first nod
Here are the top contenders who sadly missed out, and who will not be vying for Oscar glory on March 27.
Lady Gaga, 35, was a high profile front-runner for a best actress nomination for her role as Patrizia Reggiani in "House of Gucci" right up until Oscar nominations morning. However, the Oscar winner for best song in "A Star Is Born" was not announced in the best actress category.
Ben Affleck, 49, was in awards contention for two roles, supporting actor for director George Clooney's "The Tender Bar" and as a haughty French baron in director Ridley Scott's "The Last Duel." But Affleck, 49, was shut out in both categories.
The A-lister is at his most academically unglamorous as the comet-warning Dr. Randall Mindy in "Don't Look Up," writer-director Adam McKay's polarizing statement film on global warming. Despite earning a Golden Globe and British Academy of Film Television and Arts nominations for the role, Leonardo DiCaprio, 47, who won his best actor statue for "The Revenant" in 2016, missed out on his seventh acting Oscar nomination. "Don't Look Up" earned four nominations, including best original screenplay and best picture.
At 25, Jennifer Hudson became the youngest Black woman to win an acting Oscar for her stunning movie debut as Effie White in 2006’s "Dreamgirls." Hudson was the hand-chosen pick of Aretha Franklin to play the Queen of Soul in her biopic “Respect” and her standout performance put Hudson, now 40, in the best actress race and in best original song competition "Here I Am (Singing My Way Home)." But Hudson couldn't crack either the best actress nominations or best song.
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The brightest light in director Steven Spielberg's "West Side Story," 20-year-old Rachel Zegler has exploded into Hollywood in her film debut as Maria Vasquez. The first Latina actress to win a Golden Globe award for best actress, Zegler was not able to break into the Oscar best actress category. At least not this year. "West Side Story" received seven nominations, including for best picture, best director and supporting actress for Ariana DeBose.
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The four-time Emmy-winning "Game of Thrones" actor has received glowing reviews as thwarted lover and wordsmith Cyrano de Bergerac in director Joe Wright's sumptuous, but little-seen "Cyrano," but was not able to break into the highly competitive best actor race. "Cyrano" was nominated for best costume design.
'House of Gucci'
The awards light has burned brightly on "House of Gucci," which earned a Screen Actors Guild nomination for best ensemble cast, with Jared Leto and Lady Gaga earning individual SAG acting nominations. But the Ridley Scott-directed drama, which everyone and their grandmother is talking about, received mixed reviews overall. "House of Gucci" couldn't crack into any of the major acting categories and was denied a best picture nomination. "House of Gucci" earned just one Oscar nomination for makeup and hairstyling.
'Spider-Man: No Way Home'
With stellar reviews and boffo box office at $1.77 billion worldwide, couldn't we dream about a best picture nomination for Tom Holland's "Spider-Man: No Way Home"? Isn't that why the best picture category was expanded to 10 films, to ensure that fan favorite and comic book films like "Joker" and "Black Panther" had a crack at Oscar love? "Spider-Man" swung and missed, though it did nab a nomination for best visual effects.
The idea that Nicolas Cage was in a celebrated movie, and even in Oscar discussion, had the makings of a great comeback story. The 58-year-old actor earned raves for his "Pig" role as a truffle hunter looking for his beloved, kidnapped pig. But this story ended, sadly, without an Oscar best actor nomination for Cage, who took home an Oscar in 1996 for "Leaving Las Vegas."
Bradley Cooper returned to the awards race with vigor after leading his directorial debut, 2018's "A Star Is Born," to eight Oscar nominations. Cooper was the beating, dark heart in the center of Guillermo del Toro's "Nightmare Alley" and went full-tilt crazy in a movie-stealing supporting role as producer Jon Peters in "Licorice Pizza." Cooper was denied a nomination in both categories, though scored a best picture nomination as a producer on "Alley."
Even for a lightning-rod performer like Jared Leto, his latex-enhanced, hammy performance as Paolo Gucci in "House of Gucci" epitomized a polarizing film performance. Lauded with a SAG best supporting actor nomination in January, Leto earned an unwanted Razzie Award nomination for the same role this week. The "Dallas Buyers Club" Oscar winner missed out on a best supporting actor nomination for the second year in a row after being denied for last year's "The Little Things" following a surprise awards run.
Irish actress and "Outlander" breakout star Caitriona Balfe was an awards season front-runner for her supporting actress role as Ma in director Kenneth Branagh's "Belfast." The film earned an impressive seven nominations Tuesday, including best director, best picture and best supporting actress/actor nods for Judi Dench and Ciarán Hinds. However, Balfe was sadly overlooked.
After insisting on acting alongside deaf actors in the celebrated "CODA," a comedic drama centered around a singing Child of Deaf Adults, Matlin has earned raves for her performance as coolest mother ever Jackie Rossi. But the first deaf actor to win an Academy Award in 1987 for "Children of a Lesser God" did not receive a nomination for the 2022 Oscar best supporting actress race. Her onscreen husband, Troy Kotsur, made history as the first male deaf actor to be nominated for an Oscar for "CODA," which also earned a best picture nomination.
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Rita Moreno returned to the movie that brought her to Oscar glory, "West Side Story." Her role as Anita in the 1961 original musical was a landmark victory, making her the first Hispanic woman to win an Oscar. The Puerto Rican-born legend, 90, has gone on to earn the rare EGOT, with additional Emmy, Grammy and Tony wins. However, Moreno could not earn a second "West Side Story" nomination with her new role as drugstore owner Valentina in Steven Spielberg's celebrated remake.
The Netflix Western "The Harder They Fall" not only featured Jay-Z as producer but the rapper also collaborated with Kid Cudi in “Guns Go Bang" on the film's soundtrack. However, the power duo couldn't muster enough bang to earn a best original song nomination. It was still a good morning in his household: His wife Beyonce was nominated for her original "King Richard" song, "Be Alive," marking her first nomination.
Ruth Negga, who earned an Oscar nomination for 2016's "Loving," was a strong contender for supporting actress in the Netflix drama "Passing." After earning a SAG Award nomination last month, Negga, along with the movie "Passing," were thwarted in Oscar nominations.
The animated sequel to the 2016 original "Sing" featured a returning voice cast that included Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Scarlett Johansson along with a contending song by U2's Bono and the Edge, "Your Song Saved My Life." But neither the animated film nor the song earned nominations
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Oscar snubs: Nominations miss Lady Gaga, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Hudson